Matthew 1:1-17; Don’t Skip the Genealogy

You might be tempted to skip the genealogy section when you start to read Matthew’s gospel. Unless you are clueless about the Hebrew Scriptures—the Old Testament—don’t skip it. There are several points of interest you would miss if you gloss over the genealogy.

Note the women

There are four women in this genealogy of Jesus as it comes down from Abraham through David to Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father. Including women is unusual in Jewish genealogies. These women are special cases. Tamar (who committed incest with her father-in-law because she was not treated according to the law), Rahab (a prostitute who helped the Israelites conquer Jericho), Ruth (a great example of faith and God’s faithfulness), and Bathsheba (the rooftop bather who caught the eye of King David). All were likely Gentiles. All contributed to the history of Israel.

Actually, there was another woman. Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Note the “exiles”

Abraham was promised a land, but his descendents ended up in Egypt, in slavery.

David was promised an everlasting dynasty, but his kingdom continued in sin, split in two, and was eventually conquered and the people were removed from the land.

NT Wright proposes that the true exile continued even after some of the people returned to the land. Jesus cane to bring a kingdom that will be the final end of exile.

Note Joseph

Even though the list denotes that Jesus was born of Mary and not of Joseph, the line comes down through him. Joseph is a son of David. More on Joseph in the next section.

The messiah was expected to be a new David. Actually, the expectations of the messiah during the New Testament period were quite varied. We Christians sometimes oversimplify the diversity of beliefs and expectations of the Jewish people.

Matthew declares Jesus to be the messiah. The gospel he wrote will explain, I think, what he means by that.

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