Work in Progress

3R: Matthew – Chapter 1

Matthew 1

In our first day of study proper you will find some introductory notes and scattered sources for the book of Matthew. Don’t expect it all to make sense yet, or fit into place simply. This is the beginning of the journey not the end. Hopefully by the time we reach our destination may what is now a mystery may finally become clear.

Also remember, that with the addition of chapter 2 we’ll be returning to look at this opening salvo again with a little more structure and context. But what fun would it be with he had all the answers straight away?

____ was the Father of …

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Mt 1:1 NRSVA
  1. Abraham
  2. Isaac
  3. Jacob
  4. Judah (and his brothers)
  5. Perez (and Zerah by Tamar)
  6. Hezron
  7. Aram
  8. Aminadab
  9. Nashon
  10. Salmon
  11. Boaz (by Rahab)
  12. Obed (by Ruth)
  13. Jesse
  14. King David
  1. Solomon (by the wife of Uriah)
  2. Rehoboam
  3. Abijah
  4. Asaph
  5. Jehoshaphat
  6. Joram
  7. Uzziah
  8. Jotham
  9. Ahaz
  10. Hezekiah
  11. Manasseh
  12. Amos
  13. Josiah
  14. Jeconiah (and his brothers)
  1. Salathiel
  2. Zerubbabel
  3. Abiud
  4. Eliakim
  5. Azor
  6. Zadok
  7. Achim
  8. Eliud
  9. Eleazar
  10. Matthan
  11. Jacob
  12. Joseph (the husband of Mary)
  13. … Jesus

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations

Mt 1:17, NRSVA

Matthew’s genealogy is considerably more complex than Luke’s. It is overtly schematic, organized into three sets of fourteen, each of a distinct character:

The first is rich in annotations, including four mothers and mentioning the brothers of Judah and the brother of Perez.

The second spans the Davidic royal line, but omits several generations, ending with “Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.”

The last, which appears to span only thirteen generations, connects Joseph to Zerubbabel through a series of otherwise unknown names, remarkably few for such a long period.

The total of 42 generations is achieved only by omitting several names, so the choice of three sets of fourteen seems deliberate. Various explanations have been suggested: fourteen is twice seven, symbolizing perfection and covenant, and is also the gematria (numerical value) of the name David.

Wikipedia: Genealogy of Jesus


Three consecutive kings of Judah are omitted: Ahaziah, Jehoash, and Amaziah. These three kings are seen as especially wicked, from the cursed line of Ahab through his daughter Athaliah to the third and fourth generation. The author could have omitted them to create a second set of fourteen.

Another omitted king is Jehoiakim, the father of Jeconiah, also known as Jehoiachin. In Greek the names are even more similar, both being sometimes called Joachim. When Matthew says, “Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile,” he appears to conflate the two, because Jehoiakim, not Jeconiah, had brothers, but the exile was in the time of Jeconiah. While some see this as a mistake, others argue that the omission was once again deliberate, ensuring that the kings after David spanned exactly fourteen generations.

The final group also contains fourteen generations. If Josiah’s son was intended as Jehoiakim, then Jeconiah could be counted separately after the exile. Some authors proposed that Matthew’s original text had one Joseph as the father of Mary, who then married another man of the same name.

Fourteen generations span the time from Jeconiah, born about 616 BC, to Jesus, born circa 4 BC. The average generation gap would be around forty-four years. However, in the Old Testament, there are even wider gaps between generations. Also, we do not see any instances of papponymic naming patterns, where children are named after their grandparents, which was a common custom throughout this period. This may indicate that Matthew has telescoped this segment by collapsing such repetitions.

Wikipedia: Genealogy of Jesus

The birth of Jesus

  • Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.
    • When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph,
      • but before they lived together,
        • she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 
    • Her husband Joseph,
      • being a righteous man
      • and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace,
        • planned to dismiss her quietly. 
    • But just when he had resolved to do this,
      • an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
    • When Joseph awoke from sleep,
      • he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him;
        • he took her as his wife, 
          • but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; 
        • and he named him Jesus.

Bible Passage: Mt 1:18-24; NRSVA

Have a read around Matthew 1 again and see if by re-reading it you discover anything new or that surprises you. Tomorrow we will be taking a final look at the chapter but also beginning look forward to what happens next. So take the opportunity to read Matthew 2 today as well and then sit with it for a while.

Matthew 2

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