The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17 is so much more than a list of Jesus’ ancestors. It is the beginning of the good news about Jesus. Matthew does something quite extraordinary with the inclusion of the four women in Jesus’ genealogy–not because he included women, but because of who the women are. Right from the beginning, Matthew makes it clear who is included in the story of Jesus and that Jesus is not ashamed of people the world tends to sideline.
THIS EPISODE’S HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
- The genealogy of Jesus is found in Matthew 1:1-17.
- The first two words in Greek of Matthew’s gospel are biblos geneseos.
- In the NIV translation these words are translated, “This is the genealogy….”
- A very literal translation of these word would be “book of genesis.”
- Matthew seems to be indicating that he’s going to tell the story of a new creation, a new creation that begins with the coming of Jesus.
- Matthew calls Jesus “the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
- The genealogy of Jesus mentions four women.
- In ancient genealogies, women were mentioned if they ensured the purity of the person’s heritage or the person’s dignity.
- The women mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy do neither of these.
- The four women mentioned are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (“Uriah’s wife”).
- Tamar posed as a prostitute to get her father-in-law, Judah, to sleep with her (Genesis 38:6-26).
- Rahab was a prostitute who helped the Israelite spies who were scoping out the Promised Land (Joshua 2:1-6).
- Ruth was a Moabite (Ruth 1-4). Moabites were the descendants of Lot’s incestuous relationships with his daughters.
- Bathsheba (“Uriah’s wife) committed adultery with King David (2 Samuel 11:1-27).
- All four of these women were foreigners.
- Tamar was a Canaanite.
- Rahab was a Jerichoite.
- Ruth was a Moabite.
- Bathsheba, by marriage to her husband, was a Hittite.
- Matthew is not making a generalization about women, suggesting that women tend toward immorality. He is making a statement about Jesus.
- Jesus brings a mercy that is both deep and wide.
- It is deep because it is for all who are sinners.
- It is wide because it is for all people, for all the nations.
- By including these four women in Jesus’ genealogy, Matthew begins the story of his gospel by showing us that Jesus is not ashamed of sinners.
RELEVANT RESOURCES AND LINKS:
- Matthew: A Commentary. Volume 1: The Christbook, Matthew 1-12. By Dale Bruner.
- This is a fantastic commentary that has been incredibly helpful to me over the years.
- Dale Bruner also has two other commentaries: