The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;And Jesse begat David the king;
…and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:1-16)
We begin the Nativity story of Matthew with a genealogy. Each gospel has unique spiritual burdens to communicate, Matthew’s burden is that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham and his seed, and that a King would descend from him who would bless all of the world, and that through him would come a Kingdom which would fill all of the earth.
This is a royal geneology, starting from Abraham, and leading all of the way down through the centuries to Joseph, who married Mary after she had conceived Jesus, the Messiah.
It is also an overview of the history of Israel, the chosen people of God. The History is roughly divided in this geneology into three periods, consisting of 14 generations each.
The history of Israel, represented in this genealogy, begins with the selection by God of Abraham. God chose Abraham, an elderly, childless , idolatrous Shepherd, to be the forefather of a new race of people. He would sire them through his barren and also elderly wife, Sarai.
Israel begins with a miracle birth, and continues through a series of miracle births. Abraham first had a Son Isaac, Isaac also was childless, until he begat Jacob, and then Jacob begat 12 Sons, who became Israel. The patriarchal period proceeds through the difficult period of the Exodus, the conquest of the Holy land under Joshua, then the period of the Judges.
One strange scene from the Patriarchal period is mentioned in this genealogy, that is the reference to Tamar and Judah. Tamar was chosen to be in the Messianic line, she was to be part of the great human conduit through which the Messiah, the Seed of Abraham would bless all of the families of the earth!.
The problem was that she was married to Judah’s son, and he was evil. He died young and according to levirate law, she was to be allowed to have a Son through Judah’s next son, Onan. He was evil also and practiced ‘coitus interruptus”. God struck him dead. Judah had one more Son, but feared to give her to Him, even though she was chosen to be in te Messianic line.
She disguised herself as a Harlot, and allowed Judah himself to take her. She conceived a son, Phares, through this act of trickery and there is not one word of condemnation for her doing so. She was to be in that Messianic line and she would not be denied! God condemned and reproved Judah but not her. This is one of the ways Jesus came into the world.
When Joshua beseiged the city of Jericho in the time of the conquest, he sent two spies in to reconnoiter the city. there was one woman in the city who proved to be sympathetic to the Israelites. Her name was Rahab and she was a harlot. But she believed in the God of Israel, and cried out for mercy in view of the coming destruction of her world. She was saved, and converted to Jahweh, and married into the house of Israel. She bore a Son named Boaz, the great, great grandfather of King David.
The Period of judges was marked by tremendous cycles of national apostasy, slavery, then repentance and deliverance by God appointed judges. But Boaz is an anomaly in his faithless times, a true and faithful man, blessed of God . His wife is a convert, from Moab.
When an Israelite family left the Holy land and went to Moab to seek relief in a famine, She married one of the sons of the family. Eventually both sons and the Father died, leaving Ruth, Orpah and Naomi, (their Jewish Mother-in-law) as widows.
Naomi wanted to go back to the Holy Land but gave Ruth and Orpah a chance to return to Moab and start life again with their own families. Naomi gave Ruth the opportunity to leave her as Orpah did. . What follows is one of the most heart rendering conversion prayers and pledges I have ever heard…
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.( Ruth 1:16-17)
The next period in the genealogy tracks the line of Jesus through the royal period. King David had wanted to build a temple, “A house for the name of God”. But God told him through his prophet Nathan, that David would not be allowed to build a “house for his name”, but that God would build a (Dynasty) house for David. David’s Sons would be “Sons of God”, God would discipline them should they go astray, but He would be A Father to them and they would be as his Sons. And one of David’s Sons would rule on the throne forever.
“He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.” ( 2 Samuel 7:13)
Thus David’s Son would build the true house of God and of his Kingdom there would be no end.
This second section of the geneology, the “Kingdom years” is an unsparingly honest account of that period.
David begets Solomon….but through “her who had been the wife of Uriah”. Uriah is not an ancestor of the Messiah, why is his name in there? We are reminded of the deep sin of even him who was regarded by God himself, as a “Man after God’s own heart”. How we see that we all need a Savior! Even the line of the very “seed of the woman’ is tainted by the deepest of sins.
The “Sons of David”, who were the Kings of Judah, were a mixed bag. David, in spite of his flaws, loved the LORD. Solomon began well, He loved the LORD and the LORD named him Jedidiah, which means “Loved by the LORD”. But Solomon’s life record is a shocking account of apostasy, compromise and even idolatry! Solomon’s son Rehoboam, split the Kingdom, then proceeded a mixed bag of Sons who followed either in David’s steps of righteousness or were appalling apostates.
Ahaz remodeled the temple, stripping out features such as the brass sea, (Symbolizing Israel’s role as intercessor for the nations”), the covered, special entryway, (Symbolizing the unique relationship the Sons of David had had with Jahweh), and He even copied a pagan altar in Damascus and hauled it into the remodeled temple of Jahweh! But his Son, Hezekiah, was a shining example of faith and Sonship to God.
Hezekiah, (who had been raised and trained by the prophet Isaiah), had a Son named Mannaseh, who was completely sold out to evil.
When Mannaseh introduced Moloch worship to Judah, persecuted the prophets, (It is believed he sawed the prophet Isaiah in half, in a log), Judah crossed the line. She would be carried away to Babylon, and the temple would be destroyed. It didn’t happen in Mannaseh’s life, there would several other kings, including the reformer Josiah, ( a shining light), but his evil insured Judah’s destruction. ironically, Mannaseh repented to God, and received forgiveness of his sins and evil.
The last Kings of Judah, who were also Sons of David, and in the line of Jesus, are referred to as Jeconiah and his brethren. Jeconiah too was so evil, God pronounced a ban on him, neither He or his seed could ever be King,
Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah. (Jeremiah 22:30)
Jeconiah, the second to the last King of Judah, the Son of David, was disowned by God himself. God said through Jeremiah, “Even if he was my signet ring, I would tear him off!”. None of his descendants would be able to be King. In his Son’s day, (Zedekiah) the Kingdom was removed, and the last Sons of David disappeared, seemingly without the fulfillment.
Does this disqualify Jesus from being the ultimate Son of David?
Definitely not, because Matthew’s is the geneology of Joseph, not Mary. Jesus is a direct descendant of David from this line and from another branch, leading to Mary. Jesus is not physically the son of Joseph, so the curse on Jeconiah does not fall on him.
Finally we have the third set of fourteen generations, from the Captivity in Babylon, to the return from exile to the birth of Messiah.
We see the name “Zerubabel”. Zerubabel is a direct descendant of King David, an ancestor of Jesus, and a descendant of Jeconiah. He is the leader of the returning captives, but he is not called “King” because of the curse. He is the Governor of Judea. He oversaw, with Zechariah the prophet, the rebuilding of the temple, howbeit in a much reduced and truncated form.
All about this man is humiliation; the smaller temple and struggle to build it, the reduction in size of the Kingdom of Judah, the demotion, from King to “Governor”, and even his name is a name of humiliation.
All of the rest of the line of David were granted gracious names, usually incorporating the name of God in them, such as “Hezekiah” i.e. ” in the strength of God”, etc. Zerubabel is a title which reminds us of the humiliation of the captivity, for it means “The seed of Babel”.
But God delights in taking the crushed, the bruised and lowly reed, the dimly burning flax, and is able to make them into useful and beautiful vessels of glory. Thus he promises Zerubabel,
Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth;And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts (Haggai 2: 21-23)
Thus in the line of the Messiah, who would come as the real and true Israel, the fulfillment of the ideal name of Israel, “One who strives with God and Prevails”, the whole history is in the geneology through a series of names and the stories that surround them.
From Abraham, the lone rock who would become the quarry of the Kingdom, to David who would be used to establish the Kingdom, to Jeconiah and his brothers,, those who would flounder and squander the Kingdom, almost leaving it as a stump.
But a shoot would come out of the stump, unpromising looking for sure, but which would lead to nothing less than the Millenium and the Kingdom of God’s reign to come in all of the earth.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. (Isaiah 11:1-4)