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  • Writer's pictureAnush A. John

December 11

Scripture Reading


Matthew 1: 1-17

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

Reflection

There are very few things more uninteresting than reading a list of names that we don’t know or recognize (it is highly possible that you skipped some of the names in the list above!) However, Matthew starts with the genealogical account of Jesus to set the stage and show where in history Jesus was born. Jesus was an actual historical figure, not a mythological one. Some worldviews are based on mythological figures with stories of heroism and imagined capabilities. However, the account of Jesus is strictly grounded in historical fact. (See Historical accounts of Jesus outside the Bible). There are at least three important aspects of this list.


First, the opening sentence of the passage summarizes the lineage of Jesus. Jesus was the son of David and the son of Abraham. This serves to take the readers back to the promises that were given to David and Abraham regarding the future Messiah.


Another aspect of this list is the intentionality with which Matthew mentions the names of five women. In genealogical lists from that time, men are almost exclusively mentioned. Yet in this list, shockingly, five different women are listed.


He talks about Tamar, whose story is so sordid that one is shocked at its inclusion in the Bible. But the Bible is a story of unvarnished human history. The next woman that is mentioned, Rahab, was a foreigner who helped Israel during its early geographic formation. Ruth is another foreigner who chose to follow the God of Israel. Bathsheba is called "the wife of Uriah" to bring home the point of the scandal involved in the lineage. It is highly unusual to mention four mothers all of whom had some irregularity associated with their inclusion. Matthew is likely setting the stage to show the scandal related to the birth of Jesus through an unwed mother.


Finally, Matthew is specific in his use of the Greek words. Specific distinctions are made in singular, plural, masculine, feminine, and neuter pronouns.

Throughout this account, he follows the formula: X was the father of Y and Y was the father of Z. When he comes to the birth of Jesus, however, there is a clear difference.

and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ (Matthew 1:16).

The relative pronoun “whom” is in the feminine, singular form that indicates Mary, not Joseph. Matthew intentionally shows that Mary alone was the human parent of Jesus Christ. Unlike any other person in history, Jesus came to earth, became a human being, born of a virgin.






Notes

Song: Little Drummer Boy, for King & Country.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV®Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright© 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Picture: Family tree of the de Landas family. Made in the C.E.17th century.


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