The Genealogy and Birth of Christ.
SUMMARY.--The Genealogy of Jesus Christ.
Three Series of Fourteen Generations.
The Betrothal of Mary and Joseph.
The Immaculate Conception.
The Purpose of Joseph.
The Lord's Message in a Dream.
The Name Jesus.
The Prophecy of the Virgin.
The Birth of Jesus.
1. The book of the generation. Literally, "the book of birth," or
genealogy. This title applies, not to the whole Gospel, but to the
tables of descent in the
first seventeen verses.
The title was possibly copied from some Hebrew document compiled from
the genealogical tables.
Jesus Christ. Jesus, the personal name, which means "Savior;"
Christ, the official title, which means "Anointed." He is our Anointed
Prophet, Priest, and King.
The son of David. The descendant. The prophets had declared that
the Messiah should be of David's seed.
The son of Abraham. The Lord had promised Abraham
(Gen. 12:3; 22:18)
that in his seed all the world should be blessed. David and Abraham
were the two greatest ancestors of Jesus, and are named because it had
been predicted that he would be their descendant.
2. Abraham begat Isaac. Matthew begins with Abraham to trace the
line down. He was writing for Jews, and Jewish history begins with
writing for Gentiles, goes back to Adam. For the differences between
Matthew and Luke, see
3. Tamar. Three women are named in this list: Tamar, Rahab, and
Ruth. These were all Gentile women, and are named for this reason, and
for their remarkable history. There were stains upon the character of
and of Rahab
but Ruth is one of the sweetest women of the Bible.
6. David the king. The greatest of line from Abraham to Christ, so
exalted that one of the titles of the Messiah was "the Son of David."
Of Uriah. The mother of Solomon is referred to, not by name,
but as the wife of Uriah. Uriah was a Hittite, a Gentile, and his wife
may have been also. She was certainly a partner of David in the greatest
guilt of his life.
8. Joram. Between Joram and Uzziah three names are intentionally
omitted. They are found in
1 Chron. 3:11, 12.
They were probably omitted to equalize the threefold division of
generations from Abraham to Joseph. Such omissions of unimportant links
are common in the Old Testament.
11. The carrying away to Babylon. The great seventy years'
captivity in Babylon, following the destruction of Jerusalem by
12. Zerubbabel. The descendant of the ancient kings who led the
Jews back from the Captivity
16. Jacob begat Joseph. The descendant of a long line of kings
was a poor carpenter of Nazareth. As the husband of Mary he was the
legal father of Jesus, and Matthew gives his line of descent. A
comparison of the table given by Luke will show that it differs in
part from that of Matthew. Between David and Joseph the lists are
widely different. Several views, all possible, have been presented,
but the most probable explanation is that Matthew gives the line of
Joseph, the legal line, and that Luke gives the line of Mary, the
mother of our Lord. As the Jews regarded only male descent, unless
Joseph, the supposed father, was a descendant of David they would not
have recognized the genealogy as a fulfillment of the prophecies that
Christ should be the Son of David; while Luke, himself a Gentile and
writing for Gentiles, was more particular to give the line that shows
that Jesus is really the Son of David. If Mary was the daughter of
Heli, especially if an heiress, Joseph, by marriage, would become the
"son of Heli." That there is no contradiction between the two tables
is shown by the fact that the Jews who best understood their
genealogies never charged it. These tables were preserved with great
care, for various reasons, until Christ was born, but it is asserted
that Herod destroyed them. If this is incorrect, they did not survive
the destruction of Jerusalem.
17. Are fourteen generations. There are exactly fourteen
generations from Abraham to David, and two other series are made to
From David to, etc. David's name is counted again to make the
number fourteen. The third series begins with Jeconiah and ends with
18. The birth of Jesus Christ. The
rendered here "birth" is the same in Greek that
is translated "genealogy" in
Mary having been betrothed. Not married, but engaged. Betrothal
was, from the times of the patriarchs, a formal ceremony
and was regarded a binding obligation. It generally lasted a whole year
before marriage. After betrothal unfaithfulness was regarded adultery.
Before they came together. Before marriage.
She was found. The angel
predicted her conception, and when the prediction was verified she
probably did not hesitate to reveal it. Her heart would be filled with
joyous pride instead of shame.
Holy Ghost. Correctly, Holy Spirit. The Divine power. Christ is
the only example of such a birth in all history. His birth, like his
life and his resurrection, is a miracle.
19. Joseph her husband. Betrothal, according to the law
made him her husband before marriage.
A righteous man. Just and humane. To put her away publicly was
to expose her to the penalty of death. Probably she had made her
defense to him, but her story was so wonderful that he was in doubt.
Privily. Give her a bill of divorce. See
20. While he thought. Reflected, still in doubt, perplexed.
An angel. Gabriel appeared to Mary
the name of the angel is not here given. Angels are messengers; an
angel of the Lord is the Lord's messenger. These messengers are usually
superhuman, but not always.
In a dream. Often messages were conveyed by impressions made in
sleep. Three times revelations were thus made to Joseph.
Thou son of David. It was fitting that he should now be reminded
that he belonged to the family from whence the Messiah was to come.
Fear not. His betrothed was pure.
21. Thou shalt call his name Jesus. That is, Savior. The Hebrew
form is Joshua; the full meaning is Jehovah's salvation.
Shall save his people. Not the Jewish nation, as Joseph probably
supposed, but all who accept and follow him.
From their sins. Not a temporal salvation, but from the curse of
sin, condemnation and banishment from God's favor and heaven.
22. That it might be fulfilled. Matthew neglects no opportunity
to show the Jews that their prophets described Christ. The prophecy
will be found in
23. Behold, a virgin. Rather the virgin, as in the
Revision. Isaiah had in view a particular virgin, the mother of the
Like many other prophecies, it
had a double, a typical and a true, fulfillment. The first was in the
reign of Ahaz, concerning a temporal deliverance, but the higher
reference is to the spiritual Deliverer of the world. The first is the
type, the second is the great event that inspired the message.
Immanuel. This means "God with us," an appropriate title for Jesus
24. And Joseph . . . did. He obeyed at once, a fitting example for
all men. When the Lord's will is spoken there should be no delay in
25. Knew her not. A Hebrew form for conjugal intercourse. The
language of the verse does not imply the perpetual virginity of Mary.