1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king.
David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. 8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
- Matthew’s gospel is written especially to show Jesus’ Jewishness. He fulfills the prophecies, fulfills the law, and is descended from David, the son of Abraham. Since the Messiah is the descendant of David (see Psalm 110 and Micah 5), Jesus must be from the house of David, of the tribe of Judah, if he is to fulfill the prophecies. If we fail to understand Jesus’ Jewishness, we will miss a large part of Matthew’s message.
- The genealogy is through Joseph, his legal father. Luke (chapter 3) provides a genealogy of Jesus through Mary, and in the reverse direction (backwards in time).
- Of course Jesus is not David’s son, but his great great… grandson. But in Jewish thought, any descendant was called a “son.”
- Abraham – David – Jesus: three key characters of Scripture. If you know the story of the lives of these three men, you have a grasp of the most important persons in the Bible.
- The genealogy proves the incarnation, or the enfleshment of God. God visited our planet. ’Immanu-El is Hebrew for “With Us God,” or God with us. He could have come down from on high without an incarnation, but rather chose to become human. You can read more about the incarnation in John 1 and Philippians 2.
- Jesus means something like “God saves.” There is a double meaning: through Jesus God is reaching out to lost humanity, and Jesus is the incarnate God.
- Mary is “betrothed” (v.18). That meant that while they were not permitted to have sexual relations before the marriage ceremony, they were legally man and wife.
- The quotation (v.23) is from Isaiah 7:14, and amazing prediction about the virgin birth. It was uttered over 700 years before Jesus’ birth!
- Joseph was a great husband, protecting and trusting his wife, who technically could have been executed for promiscuity while still living in her father’s household (Deuteronomy 22:21).
- Joseph waited until after Jesus’ birth before having sexual relations with Mary. (“Know” very often in biblical Hebrew and Greek often refers to sexual intercourse.) Thus it is not surprising that he and Mary have other sons and daughters, mentioned in chapters 12 and 13. Jesus was only the "firstborn" (v.25). Can you name Jesus’ four brothers (skim chapter 13 if you are unsure)?
- An excellent film depicting what it might have been like for Mary and Joseph, especially when their kith and kin were skeptical about Mary’s miraculous conception, is The Nativity Story, which my family has watched several times. I highly recommend it!
- Technically, it appears not to be 14 generations x 3, or 14-14-14, but rather 14-14-13. However, Jeconiah (vv.11-12) does double duty in Greek for two Jewish kings: Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin. (Yes, it is confusing that translators are not consistent in how they render names in the Bible.) Thus this is not a true contradiction.
- From Abraham to David is about 1000 years (2000-1000 BC). From David to the Babylonian Exile is approximately 400 years (1000-600 BC). From the Exile to Jesus is another 600 years (600 BC to the birth of Christ, which most scholars place at 6 BC). Try to learn the approximate dates of the main biblical events. This will enable you to find your away around the scriptures—which are not always in chronological order—more easily.
- OT genealogies take their name from the progenitor, the first name in the list. But here the genealogy is designated according to the last member in the list. The difference would have been highly noticeable to ancient readers/listeners.
- Abraham marks the time when God began to create his people, having promised to make Abraham’s descendants numerous, and through them to bless the Gentiles (Genesis 12). David marks the high point of the people of God in the O.T., which lasts from his reign in Jerusalem until well into the reign of Solomon. The captivity marks the low point. Thus we see three points in history, and the fourth point will mark yet another high point—and yet in glory far more brilliant than anything seen yet.
- Notice the way that the Scriptures emphasize the key role of women in this genealogy: Tamar (v.3), Rahab (v.5), Ruth (v.5), Bathsheba (v.6), and Mary (v.16).
- Two of the women add Gentile blood to Jesus’ bloodline: Rahab is a Canaanite, and Ruth a Moabite. A third, Bathsheba, marries a Hittite. So much for the pure pedigree of which the Jews were so proud (Matthew 3:9ff).
- While the genealogy could easily have focused on Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah, all well known and uncontroversial characters, the Holy Spirit shines the spotlight on five other women, all of whom are characterized by scandal.
- One women commits incest (Tamar—see Genesis 38).
- Another, a reformed prostitute (I believe) was a Gentile (Rahab—see Joshua 2).
- The third was a Gentile (Ruth—see the eponymous book).
- The fourth was the object of David’s lust (2 Samuel 11).
- The last an engaged woman, pregnant but not by her husband!
- Going a little deeper, each of the five women outshone others in righteousness. They exemplified true biblical faith.
- Tamar was more “righteous” than Judah—read the story!
- Rahab not only had more faith than the Canaanite inhabitants of Jericho, but more faith than many of the Israelites themselves, as we read further in the narrative of Joshua and Judges.
- Ruth outshone the Jewish women of Bethlehem, and in faith surpassed her sister Orpah, converting to Judaism (Ruth 1.16).
- Bathsheba was widowed by the “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). Moreover, the contrast between faithful Uriah and the unfaithful David could hardly have been greater!
- Mary—initially, at least—had more faith than her husband, until the angel reassured him. She also outshines Zechariah (Luke 1): contrast her reaction to the news of her imminent pregnancy to his reaction to the news of Elizabeth’s imminent pregnancy!
- Many of the men in the genealogy were wicked, for example Amon and Manasseh (until the end of his life). This throws the virtues of the women selected into high relief.
- Isaiah 7:14 reads ’almah in the Hebrew, meaning young woman. Yet Matthew is quoting from the LXX. This was a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures made in the third century BC. (For more, please search the website.) The Jews who translated the Hebrew into Greek chose the word parthenos, which means virgin. The LXX was the Bible of the early church, and also of the Jews, at least until the mid-second century when, tired of Christians using it to prove Jesus was the Messiah, they opted for different Greek translations.
- In typical biblical fashion, the panorama precedes the zoom. That is, chapter 1 gives us the broad genealogical and historical sweep of the O.T. In chapter 2 the writer zooms in on the birth of Christ, even though it is already mentioned in chapter 1.
- Do you skip over the "drier" sections of scripture too quickly? (Did you have any idea that the opening chapter of the N.T. had so much to say about women in the O.T.?)
- Do you believe that the Lord can do great things in your life, despite your "genealogy" (pedigree, background, genetics, upbringing, etc)?
- When people claim to believe in the Bible and the perpetual virginity of Mary, how much excuse do you think they have when the last verse of the first chapter of the N.T. explodes this myth?
- Do you see, in light of Matthew 1 and the incarnation, why some writers speak of earth as "the visited planet"?
- God became flesh. He entered into our world of hardship, pain, dust and grime. Are we willing to "get our hands dirty," acting "incarnationally," serving others and following our Lord in his example (Philippians 2:6-8)?