|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
SolomonSolomon (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 JudahWhen 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 (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.
St. William of the Desert, count of TouloseWilliam 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.
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.
*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.