Since I’ve started talking about Matthew’s genealogy, I’ve decided to stick with it a bit longer. Most of my students, when they pick up the New Testament and I have them start at the beginning, they begin with Matthew 1:1 and moan. A genealogy?!? Ugh.
I tell them to get over it. This thing is only 16 verses long. C’mon! If you want a GENEALOGY, read 1 Chronicles 1-9. Nine CHAPTERS of fathers and sons, starting with Adam. Now *that* is a genealogy!
(Anecdote: when I was an undergraduate at Moody Bible Institute in the mid 70’s, for some reason I had to take a correspondence course to fill out one of my requirements. This is back when a correspondence course meant doing it as correspondence — through the mail! It was some kind of broadly based Bible class, and one of the requirements was that you had to memorize and then reproduce a certain number of verses from the Bible. You could choose. Just your favorite verses. They were expecting, of course, things like Psalm 23 or John 1:1-4 or John 3:16-18 or Phil. 2:6-11. So I made my choices and they were all like my opening passage: 1 Chronicles 4:11-16. They didn’t think it was very funny….)
Anyway, Matthew’s genealogy may be short, but it is fascinating and telling — not only because of the 14-14-14 schema I’ve discussed. For another thing, there are four women who appear in it. Women?? In an ancient Jewish genealogy? What’s *that* all about? And those particular women! Now that’s a serious puzzle. Here’s the brief discussion I devote to it in my NT textbook.
There is one other interesting and frequently-noted feature of Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (actually, not of Jesus, but of Joseph). That is the fact that it makes explicit reference to women among Jesus’ ancestors. That is highly unusual. Women scarcely ever appear in most ancient Israelite and Jewish genealogies, which invariably trace a person’s lineage from father to son (or vice versa) all the way back through the family line; see, as I pointed out earlier, 1 Chronicles 1-9. Where are the women? For ancient genealogists, as a rule, they were not important enough to mention.
But Matthew not only ends his genealogy by mentioning Mary, Jesus’ mother, but he also includes reference to four other women: Tamar (v. 3), Rahab (v. 5), Ruth (v. 5), and the “wife of Uriah” that is, Bathsheba (v. 6). Stories about all four of these women are found in the Jewish Scriptures (Tamar: Genesis 38; Rahab: Joshua 2, 6; Ruth; Ruth 1-4; and Bathsheba: 2 Samuel 11-12).
But why does Matthew mention them here? Among the numerous theories proposed over the years, two are particularly intriguing….
Hey, who ever thought a biblical genealogy could be interesting? Want to see why it is? If you’re a blog member, you can — just keep reading. If you’re not? Tough bananas. On the upside, you *could* join! It won’t cost much; every nickel you pay goes to charity; and you’ll know more about Matthew’s genealogy than anyone on your block!