Genealogy of the KING! Matthew 1:1-17
At the time Christ was born, the Roman empire was in control over Israel. There were two types of taxes imposed on the Jewish people. A tax on your income and on your property. Rome was very systematic and unforgiving when it came to taxing the people of Israel. Tax collectors or publicans were viewed in the same way prostitutes and murderers were viewed. They gathered mercilessly from their own country men to give to wealthy Rome. They were traitors in the people’s minds.
Matthew is one of the most clear books in terms of authorship. All early manuscripts have Matthews name attached to it. Unanimously asserting Matthew’s (Levi’s) authorship.
One of the reasons we see the genealogy of Christ at the beginning of Matthew is because he is giving scriptural proofs of the Messiahship of Jesus. Matthew takes Jesus’ lineage all the way back to the nation’s inception in the Abrahamic Covenant. (See below for a detailed explanation of the Abrahamic Covenant.)
It concentrates on linking Jesus to King David, whose ‘son’ the Messiah was to be, & fits Him into the development of God’s purpose of salvation in the OT. The genealogy shows Christ’s right to reign as King of Israel. The genealogy places Jesus fully in line with the history of OT Israel. By organizing that history into a regular scheme of three groups of fourteen generations, it indicates that the time of preparation is now complete and that in Jesus the time of fulfillment has arrived.
~ Traces Jesus descent through the royal line of Judah, it stakes His claim to the title “King of the Jews”.
~ It establishes His status as “Son of David”, not only by emphasizing David’s place in the genealogy but by showing that Jesus is a legitimate heir to the throne by pedigree.
It is highly unusual for women to be mentioned in genealogies (there are at least 50 genealogies in the OT).
Matthew names five:
~ Tamar: canaanite woman who posed as a prostitute to seduce Judah (Gen 38:13-30)
~ Rahab: a gentile & prostitute (Jos 2:1)
~ Ruth: moabite woman & worshiper or idols (Ruth 1:3)
~ Bathsheba: wife of Uriah, committed adultery with David (2 Samuel 11)
~ Mary: bore the stigma of pregnancy outside of marriage
All of these women are mentioned, most possibly as a testimony of God’s divine grace!
The difference between Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogy is that Luke records the actual physical genealogy of Joseph (the legal line) by way of ascention…starting with Jesus. Matthew’s genealogy is descending from Abraham to Jesus, recording the line of succession to the throne. The royal line. This genealogy establishes Jesus as Joseph’s legal heir.
~ Matthew shows the royal line.
~Luke shows the blood line.
The royal line could only come from the father. Since Joseph was not Jesus’ earthly father, his blood line (from Mary) had to be directly linked to the seed of David to be able to claim the throne. Through Joseph He gets the claim to the throne and through Mary he gets the claim of being from the blood of David.
David had two sons; Solomon & Nathan.
Joseph is a descendant of Solomon while Mary is a descendant of Nathan. Both from the tribe of Judah, both from the house of David. Making Christ the only ligitament heir to the throne of David.
Pedigree was of the utmost importance to the Jews. If anybody was going to claim to be King, they must prove it by way of pedigree.
After the conquest of caanan (the land flowing with milk and honey), it was essential to determine what your tribe/heritage was so that you knew where you were to live because the land was divided into sections for each tribe.
Example: in Numbers 26 &35 – you had to know your tribe, heritage and location of your father’s house so that you could identify the right section of land for you to live. Tribal identification was essential.
Also, in Ezra 2:62 – After the Babylonian captivity, when the Jews started coming back to Israel, some were claiming to be priests (the tribe of Levi). A pedigree was essential to prove where they came from. If this did not show them as descendants from the tribe of Levi they were removed from priesthood.
In Romans 11:1 Paul lays out his pedigree.
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Today there isn’t a Jew in the world that can prove by pedigree what tribe they are from. All this information has been lost. Jesus Christ was the last verifiable claimant to the throne of David.
This is not an exhaustive genealogy. Several additional generations must have elapsed between Rahab (Joshua’s time) & David…nearly 400 years later. It is speculated this was done in order to abbreviate the listing.
A covenant is an agreement between two parties. There are two types of covenants: conditional and unconditional. A conditional or bilateral covenant is an agreement that is binding on both parties for its fulfillment. Both parties agree to fulfill certain conditions. If either party fails to meet their responsibilities, the covenant is broken and neither party has to fulfill the expectations of the covenant. An unconditional or unilateral covenant is an agreement between two parties, but only one of the two parties has to do something. Nothing is required of the other party.
The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant. God made promises to Abraham that required nothing of Abraham. Genesis 15:18-21 describes a part of the Abrahamic Covenant, specifically dealing with the dimensions of the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants.
The actual Abrahamic Covenant is found in Genesis 12:1-3. The ceremony recorded in Genesis 15 indicates the unconditional nature of the covenant. The only time that both parties of a covenant would pass between the pieces of animals (animal sacrifices) was when the fulfillment of the covenant was dependent upon both parties keeping commitments. Concerning the significance of God alone moving between the halves of the animals, it is to be noted that it is a smoking furnace and a flaming torch, representing God, not Abraham, which passed between the pieces. Such an act, it would seem, should be shared by both parties, but in this case it is doubtless explained by the fact that the covenant is principally a promise by God. He is the one who binds Himself. God caused a sleep to fall upon Abraham so that he would not be able to pass between the two halves of the animals. Fulfillment of the covenant fell to God alone.
God determined to call out a special people for Himself through whom He would bring blessing to all the nations. The Abrahamic Covenant is paramount to a proper understanding of the kingdom concept and is foundational to Old Testament theology. (1) The Abrahamic Covenant is described in Genesis 12:1–3 and is an unconditional covenant. There are no conditions attached to it (no “if” clauses, suggesting its fulfillment is dependent on man). (2) It is also a literal covenant in which the promises should be understood literally. The land that is promised should be understood in its literal or normal interpretation—it is not a figure of heaven. (3) It is also an everlasting covenant; the promises that God made to Israel are eternal.
There are three main features to the Abrahamic Covenant:
1. The promise of land (Genesis 12:1). God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans to a land that He would give him (Genesis 12:1). This promise is reiterated in Genesis 13:14–18 where it is confirmed by a shoe covenant (a binding agreement see Ruth 4:7); its dimensions are given in Genesis 15:18–21 (precluding any notion of this being fulfilled in heaven). The land aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant is also expanded in Deuteronomy 30:1–10, which is the Palestinian Covenant.
2. The promise of descendants (Genesis 12:2). God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of him. Abraham, who was 75 years old and childless (Genesis 12:4), was promised many descendants. This promise is amplified in Genesis 17:6 where God promised that nations and kings would descend from the aged patriarch. This promise (which is expanded in the Davidic Covenant of 2 Samuel 7:12–16) would eventuate in the Davidic throne with Messiah’s kingdom rule over the Hebrew people.
3. The promise of blessing and redemption (Genesis 12:3). God promised to bless Abraham and the families of the earth through him. This promise is amplified in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31–34; cf. Hebrews 8:6–13) and has to do with “Israel’s spiritual blessing and redemption.” Jeremiah 31:34 anticipates the forgiveness of sin. The unconditional and eternal nature of the covenant is seen in that the covenant is reaffirmed to Isaac (Genesis 21:12; 26:3–4). The “I will” promises suggest the unconditional aspect of the covenant. The covenant is further confirmed to Jacob (Genesis 28:14–15). It is noteworthy that God reaffirmed these promises amidst the sins of the patriarchs, which further emphasizes the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic Covenant.
God’s method of fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant is literal, inasmuch as God partially fulfilled the covenant in history: God blessed Abraham by giving him the land (Genesis 13:14–17); God blessed him spiritually (Genesis 13:8, 18; 14:22, 23; 21:22); God gave him numerous descendants (Genesis 22:17; 49:3–28). The important element of the Abrahamic Covenant, however, demands a future fulfillment with Messiah’s kingdom rule:
(1) Israel as a nation will possess the land in the future. Numerous Old Testament passages anticipate the future blessing of Israel and her possession of the land as promised to Abraham. Ezekiel envisions a future day when Israel is restored to the land (Ezekiel 20:33–37, 40–42; 36:1–37:28).
(2) Israel as a nation will be converted, forgiven, and restored (Romans 11:25–27).
(3) Israel will repent and receive the forgiveness of God in the future (Zechariah 12:10–14). The Abrahamic Covenant finds its ultimate fulfillment in connection with the return of Messiah to rescue and bless His people Israel. It is through the nation Israel that God promised in Genesis 12:1–3 to bless the nations of the world. That ultimate blessing will issue in the forgiveness of sins and Messiah’s glorious kingdom reign on earth.