The word “Cousin” in Greek is “suggenis” which means “kinswoman” or “relative.” Suggenis does not necessarily mean “cousin,” for it implies no more than that Mary and Elizabeth were relatives, with no indication as to degree of relationship. The law made provision for the intermarriage of the tribes (Num. 36:6), and members of the tribes of Levi and Judah often intermarried.
The word “cousin” was first used here in Wycliffe’s translation, at a time when the word did not have the specific meaning it does now. There is no exact term in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic to denote what we describe as a “cousin.” A misunderstanding of the problem has led some commentators to the false conjecture that Jesus was a descendant of both Levi and Judah. There is, however, no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Mary was other than a direct descendant of David.
Elizabeth was of the tribe of Levi (Luke 1:5); Mary was of the tribe of Judah (vs. 27, 32). If Mary was of Judah, it seems that Mary’s father would also be of Judah, and therefore it is probable that Mary’s connection with Elizabeth was either through her mother or through Elizabeth’s mother.
In His service,
A closing message from BibleAsk:
- If you enjoyed and agree with this answer, please like and share! If you don’t agree, please leave a comment below, and we’ll be sure to respond!
- If you have another question you would like to ask, please click here and someone from our team will personally answer it (don’t worry, your email address will never be shared).
- Check out our Bible Answers page to see just Bible verses answering thousands of questions.
- If you feel impressed to support this ministry, kindly visit our donate page to send a tax-deductible love gift to BibleAsk. Any donation size helps 🙂