The Genealogy of Jesus

Matthew 1: 1-17
Gn 49:2.8-10 / Ps 72

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

Fully human by His ancestry,
Yet Jesus proved His divinity;
By grace we believe this mystery
As God’s plan in His saving mercy.

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Thus there were 14 generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. (Matthew 1:1-17)

Reflection

Matthew began his Gospel with a genealogy of Jesus because he wanted to be consistent with his purpose of writing it 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 primary thesis was to prove to them that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the descendant of King David (Isa 11:1-2). Genealogies were important to the Jews, 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.

It is important 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, in spite 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.

Comments are closed.