|Artwork info below|
Matt 1:16 "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."
Luke 3:23 "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli."
There seems to be a contradiction here. Matthew claims Jacob is Joseph's father and Luke says Heli is Joseph's father. They can't both be right!
Those who do not believe that the bible is the inerrant word of God would claim that these two verses are in conflict with each other, creating a contradiction. How can Christians claim that the bible contains no errors if the authors can't even get the name of Joseph's father right?!? That is where the non-believer would stop, but since I believe that the bible is in fact the inspired and inerrant word of God, I have the incentive to try to figure out why these two scriptures seem to be in conflict. It didn't take me long to find out that...
...Joseph was the son of both Jacob AND Heli. How could that be? How am I going to twist the words of the bible to make it fit into my beliefs? I'm glad to say that there was no twisting necessary, just a limited understanding of Jewish law.
Joseph was the genetic son of Jacob, but the genealogical son of Heli. Let me explain...
Heli died without fathering any children. Jacob, being Heli’s half-brother, fulfilled the law by marrying Heli’s widow and fathered Joseph. Heli and Jacob both had different fathers (but the same mother), so the genealogies listed were not in conflict with one another. One was the genealogy of Jacob's biological father and one was the genealogy of his father (his mother's first husband) "by law."
So although "Jacob begat Joseph" through his seed, Joseph (by Jewish law) was legally the "son of Heli."
No contradiction here!
Here is a visual representation of what I'm talking about. Perhaps this will help clear things up a bit.
Artwork from: http://sfpbiblicalcharacter.pbworks.com/w/page/1716115/Group:-1-Mary-and-Joseph