Monday, December 13, 2010

Matthew 1:1-17, The Women In Jesus' Lineage

Matthew divided Jesus’ record into three sections. He left out certain names in Jesus’ genealogy on purpose. In the Hebrew language there were no vowels and no numbers. The vowels were intuited and Hebrew letters did double duty as numbers whenever needed. The Hebrew letters for “David” were “DWD,” which, when representing numbers, added up to 14. So Matthew put fourteen names in each section, and made three sections, one for each letter in David’s name. Jesus’s genealogy also mirrored the three great periods in Israel’s history up to that point.

1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

In our scientific age we would have wanted an exhaustive list as proof. But to the ancient Jewish mind, this was actually very convenient. Matthew was writing in a way to help people memorize his gospel because in his day not everyone possessed their own copy of the scriptures; memorizing was the only way people could have ready access to God’s word. “Father of” meant direct genetic descendant of, and if they wanted whatever names were left out they could easily look them up given the material they already had in Matthew’s record. What’s more, if they knew their history well, since it’s all in the Old Testament, they could have mentally filled in what was missing.

Contrary to common custom, five women, including Mary, are mentioned in this genealogy. In Matthew’s day women were not valued too highly. In fact they were so low in society that Pharisees would thank God every morning in prayer that they were not women. Were you amazed at who Matthew chose to include in this? I would have chosen Sarah, the wife of Abraham, maybe, or Rebecca, or maybe godly Leah. But if Matthew had ransacked the whole Old Testament he’d have been hard pressed to find four more unlikely candidates for the Messiah’s genealogy than these ladies.

Verse 3, Tamar – Was a schemer who posed as a prostitute to lure her father-in-law into bed with her and bore his twin sons out of wedlock
Verse 5, Rahab - Was running a robust trade as a high dollar hooker when she lied and betrayed her own country’s interests to help out two Hebrew spies.
Also in verse 5, Ruth - Was a Moabitess whose husband had been a Jew even though God had said through Moses that no Moabite would ever be given a chance to enter the Lord’s sanctuary because of how they had treated the Jews.
Verse 6, Wife of Uriah - She is more well-known by the name of Bathsheba. Given to public nakedness on her roof, she committed adultery with her nation’s leader and her firstborn child died under God’s judgement

Finally, down in verse 16, Mary - only Mary had a squeaky clean record. If you look in Luke’s gospel, you’ll see she was also descended from King David, just through a different son. Joseph’s is the legal royal line, that gave Jesus His qualification to claim the throne of Judah. Mary gave Jesus the bloodline to King David, Abraham, and all the way back to Adam, the first man.

[Tomorrow: Sinners Saved By Grace]

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation


  1. Hey Joan, my name is John. I read a lot of blogs on religion and prayer and I've ended up here once or twice before. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this prayer exchange website I thought it was an interesting idea and would be curious to hear what you (or other christians) think about it

    I'll check back here in the next day or two, thanks & God bless
    John W.

  2. thanks for stopping by, John. I took a look at the website you posted and, first pass, it wouldn't be a place I would frequent.

    I guess I have a different view of prayer than that it can be bought and sold, or that prayer would earn merit, or anything like that. My view of prayer is that it is the most intimate exchange we can experience with the Lord, and with each other, too, actually.

    Yes, there is great power in prayer -- as much power as God Himself, since He has said He will respond to prayer, and He asks us to ask HIm for that.

    But I guess, since God is so personal and relational in His approach, my thinking is that He would respond most to prayer that was first personal and relational, rather than the more impersonal approach that seemed to be discussed on the website you posted.

    But am not casting aspersion! This is just my personal response.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts