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Matthew 1:1-17 – The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

Summary

The opening title describes this narrative as an "account" or "book" of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham, and then works out that genealogy in a carefully structured triad of fourteen generations each, tracing Jesus' ancestry from Abraham to Joseph.

Analysis

The genealogy begins Matthew's unique and distinctive narrative of the birth of Jesus (chapters 1 and 2) that has been added to the beginning of his model Mark and is replete with special Matthean themes and theology. Instead of the word "gospel" or "good news," used by Mark, Matthew uses the word biblos ("book") to describe his work, perhaps giving it more rational credibility for the reader. The translation "genealogy" actually represents the Greek word genesis and disguises the immediate literary and thematic connections to the opening book of the Jewish Scriptures, which Matthew's audience would have read in Greek, and also the connection to Matthew's use of the same word to begin the next section's more focused account of the birth of Jesus. The link certainly intends to bind these two stories closely together and to invite the reader to ponder the implications of God's creative activity that is both a continuation from the beginning and a new event in the birth of Jesus.

The intentional and purposeful design of this creative activity of the plan of God leading to its climax in the birth of Jesus the Messiah (1:16) is underscored in the carefully drawn symmetry of the genealogy, which the author summarizes in 1:17, and by the way in which the literary pattern is broken at the point of its end reference to Jesus. Significantly, the genealogy begins with Abraham, is traced through King David, and, for Jesus to truly be a son of David, depends on Joseph actually being the father of Jesus. In addition to the numerical symmetry, Matthew's interests have been noted in the choice of details of the genealogy, particularly the naming of four women, whose tainted stories may be intended to point to God's surprising and sovereign mercy in the completion of God's designs.

Matthew 1:1-17

The Gospel According to

Matthew

The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

1An account of the genealogy* of Jesus the Messiah,* the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, 4and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,* 8and Asaph* the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,* and Amos* the father of Josiah, 11and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.*

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah,* fourteen generations.

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10 February 2011

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