Sunday, 15 December 2013

Jesus' genealogy

Matthew begins,
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1)
This is reminiscent of Genesis which states,
This is the book of the generations of Adam. (Genesis 5:1)
Comparing Matthew to the Septuagint
  • Βίβλος γενέσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Matthew 1:1)
  • αὕτη ἡ βίβλος γενέσεως ἀνθρώπων (Genesis 5:1)
These phrases in Genesis likely represent toledoth though this is the only occurrence where the word "book" is added. In the same way that Genesis 5 introduces tho story of man (or Adam), Matthew introduces the story of Jesus. It also means ancestry which Matthew subsequently gives, much as Genesis 5 gives the descendants of Adam. Prior to giving the ancestry of Jesus Matthew tells us that Jesus is the Christ, or Messiah, that is the anointed one that the Jews were anticipating. He is also saying that the Messiah was both a son of David and a son of Abraham. The first indicating confirming that the Messiah would indeed come from David's seed, and related to that his authority as a king; the second indicating he was of the promised line of Abraham, the progenitor of Israel and the father of faith. In Matthew's first sentence there is great depth of meaning for those steeped in the Jewish Scriptures.

Matthew then outlines an abbreviated and stylised genealogy of Jesus starting from Abraham. There are 3 sections of 14 names. Matthew possibly uses groups of 14 as the Hebrew gematria of David is 14.

LatinHebrewValue
Dד4
Vו6
Dד4

The genealogy, while accurate in the names it contains, excludes several generations to keep 14 names in each list. The 3 groups are Abraham to David, David to the Babylonian Exile, and the Exile to Jesus.

#FatherSon#FatherSon#FatherSon




David Solomon
Jechoniah Shealtiel
1 Abraham Isaac 1 Solomon Rehoboam 1 Shealtiel Zerubbabel
2 Isaac Jacob 2 Rehoboam Abijah 2 Zerubbabel Abiud
3 Jacob Judah 3 Abijah Asa 3 Abiud Eliakim
4 Judah Perez 4 Asa Jehoshaphat 4 Eliakim Azor
5 Perez Hezron 5 Jehoshaphat Joram 5 Azor Zadok
6 Hezron Ram 6 Joram Uzziah 6 Zadok Achim
7 Ram Amminadab 7 Uzziah Jotham 7 Achim Eliud
8 Amminadab Nahshon 8 Jotham Ahaz 8 Eliud Eleazar
9 Nahshon Salmon 9 Ahaz Hezekiah 9 Eleazar Matthan
10 Salmon Boaz 10 Hezekiah Manasseh 10 Matthan Jacob
11 Boaz Obed 11 Manasseh Amon 11 Jacob Joseph
12 Obed Jesse 12 Amon Josiah 12 Joseph
13 Jesse David 13 Josiah Jechoniah 13 Jesus
14 David
14 Jechoniah 14


It is uncertain whether the last list ends at 13 persons or whether Mary should be considered number 13 with Jesus number 14.

Matthew also includes 5 women ancestors. Mary Jesus' mother as mentioned. Also Tamar the mother of Perez by Judah; Rahab the wife of Salmon; Ruth the wife of Boaz; and the wife of Uriah (Bathsheba) who became the wife of David.

This is the ancestry of Joseph the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus. Compare Luke's list which is the ancestry through Mary. Luke starts his list thus,
Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,... (Luke 3:23 ESV)
This may possibly be better translated,
Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son, as it was supposed, of Joseph, but was actually the son of Heli,...
This seems to me to be a better option than the claim that Heli was the adoptive father of Joseph.

Thus this genealogy is that of Jesus via Mary which Luke traces back to Adam the son of God.

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