In our study of Matthew chapter one, we see the family tree of Jesus and the fact that He was legally Jewish. This gospel account is written for the Jewish population and it lays the important foundation to show the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
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This is the genealogy of Yeshua the Messiah, son of David, son of Avraham:
This gospel account begins like a legal document. We see that its purpose is to show the direct relationship between Jesus, David, and Abraham but the order in which it is presented is not what we would expect. Avraham was born before David so we would think that he should be listed first but this reversal of the order is used to emphasize the fact that, first and foremost, Yeshua is the Messiah. Then, as Messiah, He is the fulfillment of the promise to Avraham. God promised David that his throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7) and so it was important that Jesus was his descendent. This is known as the Davidic Covenant. God promised Abraham that he would be a great nation and that all people on the earth would be blessed through him (see Genesis 12). This is known as the Abrahamic Covenant and Abraham is known as the father of the faith.
Avraham was the father of Yitz'chak, Yitz'chak was the father of Ya`akov, Ya`akov was the father of Y'hudah and his brothers, Y'hudah was the father of Peretz and Zerach (their mother was Tamar),
We notice that it is from the line of Jacob that Jesus came and not Isaac's firstborn son Esau (Jacob's twin brother). We are reminded that it was God that selected Jacob and that He told Rebekah that the older would serve the younger (Genesis 25). God promised Jacob (whose name He changed to Israel) the land and that kings would be among his descendants (Genesis 35). This passage shows that Jesus was from the tribe of Judah which was important to fulfill the prophecy of Jacob (Genesis 49). There he said that the tribe of Judah would produce the leaders until the final kingdom is established on the earth. Here, we see that Jesus fulfills both of those promises while the Jews were looking for two different messiahs; one to fulfill each promise. We are also introduced to the first of four Gentile (non-Jewish) women in Jesus' family tree. Tamar, a Canaanite woman, was actually the wife of Judah's son Er until the Lord put him to death. After that, she tricked Judah into sleeping with her so that she could become his wife (Genesis 38). It is interesting to note that Judah said of her that she was "more righteous" than he was in this event.
Peretz was the father of Hetzron, Hetzron was the father of Ram, Ram was the father of `Amminadav, `Amminadav was the father of Nachshon, Nachshon was the father of Salmon, Salmon was the father of Bo`az (his mother was Rachav),
We now come to the second Gentile woman listed in the family tree of Jesus. In Joshua 2, we were introduced to Rahab the prostitute/inn keeper. She was spared from destruction when Joshua led Israel against the inhabitants of Jericho. She was spared because she believed God was going to deliver the land to His people. Afterwards, she married Salmon and must have accepted the Jewish faith. We, too, can be brought into the family of God by simply believing God and His Word. When confronted with the facts, Rahab chose to believe and we have that same choice. Like Rahab, you have the opportunity to choose to believe and be saved.
Bo`az was the father of `Oved (his mother was Rut), `Oved was the father of Yishai, Yishai was the father of David the king.
We now meet the third Gentile woman in the family which is Ruth who was from Moab. You can get the whole story of how she was redeemed and brought into the family in the book of Ruth. She would have been the great-grandmother of King David and it reminds us that we, too, can be redeemed and have a close relationship with the King.
David was the father of Shlomo (his mother was the wife of Uriyah),
We now come to the fourth Gentile woman and, even though she is not named, we can easily tell that it is referring to Bathsheba. This is a reminder of the sin of king David and the fact that any earthly king is inferior to the King of Kings. He had committed adultery as well as murder and yet repented and remained the king of Israel. This is a reminder to us, as well, that whatever your sins are they can be removed and God can still use you in a mighty way. We remember that David was just a little shepherd boy that God raised up. When he stumbled, God raised him up again and used him to establish the land boundaries of the nation of Israel.
Shlomo was the father of Rechav`am, Rechav`am was the father of Aviyah, Aviyah was the father of Asa, Asa was the father of Y'hoshafat, Y'hoshafat was the father of Yoram, Yoram was the father of `Uziyahu,
In the first section of the family tree, we saw the establishment and rise of the nation of Israel. Solomon was the height of the kingdom and, now, this list begins the decline. We notice that Matthew skips some of the ancestors such as from Jehoram to Uzziah. As we shall see, there was a reason for this.
`Uziyahu was the father of Yotam, Yotam was the father of Achaz, Achaz was the father of Hizkiyahu, Hizkiyahu was the father of M'nasheh, M'nasheh was the father of Amon, Amon was the father of Yoshiyahu, Yoshiyahu was the father of Y'khanyahu and his brothers at the time of the Exile to Bavel.
We see the decline of the nation to the point that God hands them over to the Babylonians. We see that even though there were some good rulers, such as Hezekiah, the people would not worship God alone. We see that, once again, Matthew has skipped some of the relatives from Josiah to Jeconiah. This exile fulfilled the prophecy that no descendant from Jehoiachin would sit upon the throne of King David (see Jeremiah 22). This was a devastating prophecy because, with the fulfillment of it, there would be no earthly way for a messiah as the messiah had to be descended from King David.
After the Babylonian Exile, Y'khanyahu was the father of Sh'altiel, Sh'altiel was the father of Z'rubavel, Z'rubavel was the father of Avihud, Avihud was the father of Elyakim, Elyakim was the father of `Azur, `Azur was the father of Tzadok, Tzadok was the father of Yakhin, Yakhin was the father of El'ichud, El'ichud was the father of El`azar, El`azar was the father of Mattan, Mattan was the father of Ya`akov, Ya`akov was the father of Yosef the husband of Miryam, from whom was born the Yeshua who was called the Messiah.
As we see, Matthew does not say that Joseph was the father of Jesus. But, he demonstrates that legally Jesus was his son and therefore a direct descendant of King David. In this section of the family tree, we see the restoration of Israel. Although the way for the restoration has been paved, it has not fully taken place yet as the full measure of God's people have not accepted Him as the Messiah. This will happen in the last days and, in fact, is the focus of the Book of Revelation.
Thus there were fourteen generations from Avraham to David, fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian Exile, and fourteen generations from the Babylonian Exile to the Messiah.
Now, we see why Matthew used the practice of telescoping to list the family tree. He deliberately skipped some so that the resulting number would be equal to fourteen. Why fourteen? He was establishing the fact that Jesus was in the royal line of David and the numerical equivalent for David's name is fourteen. We also see that there are three divisions in the line and are reminded that the number three is associated with the earthly display of God's will. In this, we see that all along it was God's plan to bring Jesus from the line of David to restore His people. We see an apparent contradiction as, if you count the names after the exile to Jesus, there are only thirteen but the verse says there are fourteen. Judaism is always concerned with the next generation and it was thirteen to the birth of the Messiah but His return to establish the kingdom will be in another generation. Therefore the total number is fourteen and fourteen is a significant number as it represents a double blessing.
Here is how the birth of Yeshua the Messiah took place. When his mother Miryam was engaged to Yosef, before they were married, she was found to be pregnant from the Ruach HaKodesh.
Now, that Matthew has established the fact that Jesus was of the line of David, he begins to establish that He was also God. The term "pledged to be married" is the equivalent of what we call being engaged but it is also much more. For the Jewish people, this was a time of legal commitment without physical relations.
Her husband-to-be, Yosef, was a man who did what was right; so he made plans to break the engagement quietly, rather than put her to public shame.
According to the Law, Joseph could have accused her of adultery and she would have been found guilty and stoned to death. He truly loved her and so had decided to just sign the necessary legal papers for the divorce without taking her to the religious authorities.
But while he was thinking about this, an angel of ADONAI appeared to him in a dream and said, "Yosef, son of David, do not be afraid to take Miryam home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Ruach HaKodesh.
An angel was dispatched by God to explain the situation to Joseph. The angel reminded him of his family heritage and the fact that he was in the line of David. This would have also reminded him of the fact that King Solomon would have been considered a child of adultery as he was conceived even without the engagement of David and Bathsheba. The angel went on to explain that Jesus was sent directly from God.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, because he will save his people from their sins."
The angel completes his mission to Joseph by explaining that the child will be named Yeshua (Jesus) because He will be the Savior of His people. In Hebrew, the name is Yeshua and it means "Adonai saves". Even as Israel is threatened more and more in these last days, they can be strong and hold onto this promise. Those who accept Him will be victorious. We know that Joseph was a "good Jew" and so would have known about the promised Messiah. We can only guess at what was going through his head as the angel announced that the Messiah would legally be considered his son.
All this happened in order to fulfill what ADONAI had said through the prophet, "The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him `Immanu El."a (The name means, "God is with us.")
The word that is translated from the Greek as "happened" means more than can be simply expressed with a word as it refers to past, present, and future. Matthew reminds the Jewish people of the prophecy of Isaiah. When Judah was being threatened by both Syria and the northern kingdom, God promised them a sign that they would be saved from the enemy. This was to be a sign that God would never allow His people to be completely defeated. Yeshua came first for the Jews and that fulfills the words of Isaiah. Even as Israel is threatened more and more in these last days, they can be strong and hold onto this promise. Those who accept Him will be victorious while those who oppose Him will be judged.
When Yosef awoke he did what the angel of ADONAI had told him to do -- he took Miryam home to be his wife, but he did not have sexual relations with her until she had given birth to a son, and he named him Yeshua.
Many people try to dispute and even mock the idea of the virgin birth. We must simply accept it as fact based on the events of Yeshua's time here on the earth. It was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt with the resurrection. The virgin birth is important as it establishes the fact that Yeshua was the first son and the first son received the double portion of the father's inheritance.