The Genealogy of Jesus

Matthew 1: 1-17
Gn 49: 2. 8-10 / Ps 72: 1-4, 7-8, 17

Of her was born Jesus, Who is called the Messiah.
(Matthew 1:17)

Our Lord Jesus’s genealogy
Can be such a puzzling mystery...
But if we look deeply we can see
God’s plan in man’s Salvation History.

In today’s Gospel of Matthew, he outlines the genealogy of our Lord, Jesus Christ in the lineage of King David, starting from Abraham down to His father Joseph, the husband of Mary. The Gospel writer divides this genealogy of forty generations into three spans: from Abraham to David, from David to the exile in Babylon, and from the exile to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.


St. Matthew began his Gospel with a genealogy of Jesus because he was writing for the benefit of the Jews. As the Gospel of Mark was written for the Romans, and Luke wrote for the Greeks, Matthew wrote his Gospel for the Jews, and his first thesis was to prove to them that Jesus was truly the Messiah, and the descendant of King David (Isa 11:1-2). For the Jews, genealogies were important, to trace one’s lineage as well as tribal affiliation. In this way, Matthew was able to show the genuine “royal pedigree” of the Messiah.

And yet, it is strange to note that along the genealogical tree, Matthew included the names of four controversial women: Tamar (v.3), Rahab (v.5), Ruth (v.5), and “the mother of Solomon (Bathsheba), who had been the wife of Uriah” (v.6). And even stranger, after naming forty generations of fathers, Matthew ends his genealogy with a mother, the Virgin Mary. “Of her was born Jesus, called the Messiah.” (1:17)

Who was Tamar? We encounter her in the book of Genesis ch.38. She was the daughter-in-law of Judah, one of Jacob’s children. She was given in marriage to two of Judah’s sons, Er and Onan, who both died because they offended Yahweh. As Judah was afraid that his third son might befall the same fate, he did not allow him to marry Tamar. Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced Judah, her father-in-law in order to have an heir by him. She bore the twins Perez and Zerah.

“Salmon begot Boaz, whose mother was Rahab…” (1:5). In the book of Joshua (ch.2), we meet Rahab, a prostitute in Jericho. As a Canaanite, she was considered unclean, an outcast. In order to save herself and her family from the invading armies of Israel, she made a treacherous pact with the spies of Joshua, whom she hid in her house in Jericho. And yet this prostitute bore Boaz, who was a God-fearing man. Boaz married Ruth, who was another Gentile from the tribe of Moab. Although Ruth was known for her fidelity, piety and moral integrity, (Book of Ruth), nonetheless, she was a Moabite, the descendants of the incestious relationship of Lot with his daughters. “The elder daughter bore a son, who was named Moab” (Gen. 19:37).

Finally, who doesn’t know Bathsheba, the beautiful wife of Uriah, one of the generals of King David? He lusted for her when he spotted her bathing from his rooftop, and because of her, King David committed two great sins of murder and covetousness. He caused the death of her husband in order to have her. From her came the great and wise King Solomon, who, inspite of his great wisdom also fell from God’s favor.

So the Messiah was descended from two prostitutes, one from a tribe produced from incest, and from an adulteress. What does this tell us? Simply this: that Jesus Christ, the King of kings in heaven and on earth, was truly human, and the friend of sinners. He Himself said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt.9:13). And being also sinless, He was born of a sinless Mother, by the grace of God, His Father.

Thank You, Father God, for giving us Mary, the sinless Mother of Your Son, to be our Mother. May our generations be blessed through her loving intercession. Amen.

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