I find it hard to believe that there was no word for that kind of thing but this source explains that Jesus' genealogy is harmonized by that claim. I really want that claim to be true and solidly backed up. I'm at a loss as to how to find out how to back up that claim though.

Why are Jesus' genealogies in Matthew and Luke so different?


2 Answers 2


In the Bible the Greek word ‘hyuos’ which translates into English as ‘son’ can also mean a legitimate son, a son artificially constituted, a descendant, a son as implying connection in respect of membership, service, resemblance, manifestation, destiny, etc. (Source: Wm.D.Mounce Interlinear)

With regard to Luke 3:23: “Jesus was known as the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Heli.”

NLT Study Bible Note: “If this is actually Mary’s genealogy, then Joseph was Heli’s son-in-law, a possible understanding of the Greek sentence.”

ESV Study Bible Note: “Some commentators have suggested that Heli was Mary’s father, but that there were no male heirs in the family, so Heli adopted Joseph as his “son” when Mary and Joseph were married.”

I hope someone who actually knows Greek will be able to give you a satisfactory explanation as to whether there was a word for "son-in-law."

As far as I know, Luke is recording Mary’s genealogy and Matthew is recording Joseph’s. Matthew is following the line of Joseph (Jesus’ legal father), through David’s son Solomon, while Luke is following the line of Mary (Jesus’ blood relative), through David’s son Nathan. Regarding Matthew's genealogy, this article may be helpful: https://www.gotquestions.org/14-generations.html

  • The 3 groups of 14s are not a big issue because it just depends on how you look at it. In my opinion, it stands to reason that the father-in-law status was not a foreign concept to greeks or greek speaking Jews. That's why it's odd to me that a specific word is not used. I will have to to more research.
    – Calicoder
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 17:46

You will find son-in-law is translated as 'gambros' in the Septuagint - e.g. Gen 19:12 (see this citation. This is referenced in While the Bridegroom is With Them, p. 14) seen here and summarized in this wiktionary entry. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/γαμπρός)

Alternative forms γαμβρός m (gamvrós) (uncommon)
From earlier γαμβρός (gamvrós), from Ancient Greek γαμβρός (gambrós), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵeme-.
Noun γαμπρός • (gamprós) m (plural γαμπροί)
son-in-law, specifically daughter's husband
brother-in-law, specifically sister's husband
bridegroom, groom
eligible bachelor

The Septuagint was the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which the New Testament writers were familiar with. So I'm quite sceptical of the claim that there was no word for son-in-law in Greek.

  • 1
    Welcome Matthew. Links can rot, so pulling out some of the related text from a link is necessary to show the support for this answer that you are trying to provide. I edited in the wiki bit, but I'd suggesst you also add that passage form page 14 of the book that you cite. Glad to see you join us at Christianity.SE. The tour and the help center provide some guidance on how to get the best out of SE formatted Q&A sites. Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 13:26

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