The Son of Who?By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Chapter 3 starts by naming the sons of David by their mothers. From there, it lists the royal line, starting with Solomon, who succeeded David as king. After Tzidkiyahu, who was the last king of Judah, it continues by enumerating the descendants of Yehoyachin. (The situation with the last three kings of Judah was a little complicated, involving uncles and brothers, rather than father-to-son as was normally the case. Nebuchadnezzar eradicated Tzidkiyahu’s line, so royal succession reverted to the sons of Yehoyachin.)
One of the people in the royal lineage is Zerubavel, who was instrumental in the Jews’ return to Israel. We know Zerubavel to be the son of She’altiel, but here his father is Fedaya, who is either She’altiel’s son or brother. If Fedaya is She’altiel’s son, that’s easy enough, since people in the Bible are of called the son of their grandfather, but how can we reconcile things if Fedaya was She’altiel’s brother? One explanation is that Fedaya died and She’altiel raised Zerubavel as an adoptive father; another is that Zerubavel was the offspring of yibum (levirate marriage), in which a person has children to carry on a deceased brother’s name. In either case, the seeming discrepancy is not a source of concern.