As I have pointed out, the reader who first comes to the New Testament, and so begins at the beginning, with Matthew chapter 1, first finds him/herself confronted with a genealogy. This may not seem like an auspicious beginning, but the genealogy is highly significant for understanding Matthew’s Gospel, since this genealogy is mean to emphasize Jesus’ “credentials” precisely as the messiah. And so v. 1 indicates that Jesus he was “the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (“son of” in this context obviously means: “descendant from”). And why highlight his relationship to David and Abraham in particular, before giving the details in the genealogy? It is because Matthew’s ancient reader would realize full well that Abraham was “the father of the Jews,” and David was the greatest king in the history of Israel, whose descendant was to resume his rule, enthroned in Jerusalem, reigning over a sovereign state of Israel as God’s anointed. This son of David would be descended from the Jewish greats and would, in fact, be the messiah. Thus Matthew begins his Gospel by indicating that Jesus was a Jew (from Abraham) in the line of the ancient kings (from David)l

This emphasis on Jesus’ Jewishness and his royal family lineage is confirmed by what follows, in the genealogy that traces his family line all the way back to the father of the Jews, Abraham himself. The genealogy is patterned consistently, almost monotonously, tracing fathers and sons first from Abraham (v. 2) to King David (v. 6), then from David to the deportation to Babylon (v. 12), and then from the deportation to Jacob (the father of Joseph, v. 16).

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