The House of David

NOTE: This page does not endorse any opinion on the historicity of King David. I believe he was most likely real, but many of the deeds ascribed to him were exaggerated. The Tanakh was written down centuries after many of the events took place and that a lot of story elements were exaggerated or fabricated. I'm just very proud to be descended from the Beit David, whether or not its patriarch was real or fictional.

The House of David, or Beit David in Hebrew, is a lineage purporting to be descended from King David. The Messiah of the Abrahamic faiths is traditionally claimed to be a descendant of David.

Proven or highly likely descendants of Beit David


Solomon (Shlomo ben David) became King of Israel upon his father's death. He is reputed to have had over 700 wives and 300 concubines, the most notable of whom was Naamah, the Ammonite-born mother of Rehoboam (Rehavan ben Shlomo). He is credited with building the First Temple in Jerusalem, as well as writing the Biblical books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs. Several mystical texts are also attributed to him including the popular Key of Solomon. Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as some other faiths recognise him as one of the greatest prophets.
However, he was a controversial figure during his lifetime for building temples to foreign gods. While he officially opposed the worship of any god except the God of Israel, rumours spread that he was worshipping these gods alongside him. By the time of his death he was extremely unpopular, and the north in particular refused to accept Rehoboam as his successor, splitting from the southern half of the kingdom (which became known as Mamleket Yehudah, the Kingdom of Judah) appointing Jeroboam (Yaraboam ben Nebat) instead.

The Kings of Judah

When the north (Samaria) nominated Jeroboam as king, this only heightened tensions between them and Judah. The Judeans refused to acknowledge Jeroboam as a legitimate king, believing that the king must be of Davidic lineage. Rehoboam fit the bill as he was David's grandson.

The Exilarches

The exilarches (roshei galutim) were a lineage of men who headed the Jewish community of Babylonia (roughly equivalent to today's Iraq) after the exile.

Habibai David- a Babylonian Jew turned French noble

Habibai ben Nehemiah ben Natronai David was born in Babylon in 683, a descendant of the great exilarch Bustanai and, by extension, King David. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1908, his grandfather Natronai ben Habibai was himself a candidate for exilarch. However, Natronai was defeated by Yehudah Zakkai and banished to the west where he is reputed to have written down the entire Talmud from memory.
Sometime in his youth, Habibai followed his grandfather west. From Spain, he ventured into France and married into the local nobility. His wife was named Rolinde de Aquitaine and it is more than likely he converted to Christianity to marry her. A son, Thierry ben Habibai David de Autun, was born in 720. Thierry married Aude de France, a daughter of Charles Martel and aunt of Charlemagne who gave birth to William, count of Toulose, in 755.

St. William of the Desert, count of Toulose

William was born to Thierry, the count of Autun, and his wife Aude de France, a daughter of Charles Martel. He was three-quarters Frankish and one-quarter Jewish through his paternal grandfather Habibai David. Born, raised and remaining a devout Catholic, he led the Frankish Christian resistance against the Muslim Saracens and spent the final years of his life as a monk. He was beatified in 1066 and is venerated as St. William of the Desert.
William's wife was Guitburgi, a Saracen princess. His descendants include his son Bernard, Count of Barcelona; the Boteville/Thynne family of Shropshire (including the House of Bath); and yours truly. Read more about his highly unusual relationship here.

Unproven claims of Davidic origin

These individuals and families are claimed to be of Davidic descent; however, scanty evidence exists to verify these claims.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Jesus (Yeshua bar Yosef), is reputed to have been of the House of David through his adoptive father Joseph (Yosef bar Yaakov). However, Jewish sages of the time used the claim of Jesus being the product of a virgin birth as one of many reasons to exclude the possibility of him being the Messiah, and the controversial Middle Ages manuscript Toledat Yeshu draws on these sources. These sages were writing five hundred years before the Talmud (Megillah 13a) codified the current Jewish position that "anyone who raises an orphan boy or girl in his house, the (Book of Esther) ascribes him credit as if he gave birth to him"*. So Toledat Yeshu, for its popularity amongst certain sections of the population (and Christian antisemites wanting to score a point against the Jews), diverged significantly from the accepted understanding.
Mary (Maryam bat Yehoaqim) is also reputed to be a patrilineal descendant of David, with proponents of this theory claiming that the genealogy of Jesus according to Luke was errorneous and that it was supposed to recount Mary's line and not Joseph's. Some Christians have attempted to use this supposed matrilineal descent to counter the claims of the sages; however, descent from David was traditionally calculated via the male lineage exclusively. It is possible that Jesus, as a Jewish reformer (I like to call him the first Reform Jew), believed in ambilineal descent, but whether or not he actually believed himself to be the Messiah by virtue of Mary's possible descent from David is unknown.

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Ari

Yitzchak (Isaac) Luria was born in Jerusalem and raised in Cairo. His father Shlomo was Ashkenazi; his mother Sephardic.

Judah Loew ben Bezalel- the Maharal of Prague

One of the most influential rabbis of his time. It is believed that he descends from David through the Exilarches, but his family tree is hard to trace. His likely Y-DNA haplogroup E1b1b1a1c is a subclade of E1b1, a haplogroup shared with other noted families of professed Davidic descent including the Lurias. However, as E1b is considered a founding haplogroup of the Jewish people, it is difficult to determine whether or not this is an indicator of Davidic descent. As there are studies on the Y-DNA of the kohanic caste, I propose

Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l, seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe

A direct patrilineal descendant of the Maharal, tracing his ancestry back to the Maharal's greatx6-grandson Shneur Zalman of Liadi. A charismatic leader of Hasidic Orthodox Judaism in the United States. Under his leadership, the Chabad Lubavitch organisation began specialising in kiruv (outreach) to secular and unaffiliated Jews. They operate various Chabad houses throughout the world, even in locations as remote and un-Jewish sounding as Iceland. These Chabad houses provide kosher food, residency and Shabbat dinners to travellers.
After suffering a delibating stroke in 1992, many members of Chabad began to believe in him as the Messiah, a belief they maintained long after his death in 1994. In fact, a lot of these people believe he is not dead but in hiding, similar to some Christian ideas about Jesus and Twelver Shia Muslim beliefs regarding the Mahdi. The worldwide Chabad organisation Agudas Chasidei Chabad and the rabbinical council Vaad Rabonei Lubavitch have officially denounced this messianism, yet it is still a very common belief amongst Chabadniks. The phrase "Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v'Rabbeinu Melech haMoshiach l'olam vo'ed" ("Long live our master, teacher and rabbi, King Messiah, forever," Ashkenazi pronunciation) is very often used amongst Chabadniks and is frequently seen on posters and merchandise.
He had no children and named no successor. As such, after some controversy, leadership of Chabad passed to Agudas Chasidei Chabad.

*I know that the Talmud (Gittin 57a) also states that a certain Yeshu is boiling in excrement in hell. Most Jews today find this passage abhorrent, and rightly so, due to changing attitudes about Jesus and the fact that it has been used by Christians to persecute Jews to this day. It is important to remember that the Babylonian Talmud is basically a book of arguments and even the most Orthodox Jews reject some of the opinions presented.