1. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.2. And Abraham began Isaac. And Issac begat Jacob. And Jacob begat Judah and his brethren.3. And Judah begat Pharez and Zarah by Tamar. And Pharez begat Hezron. and Hezron begat Ram.4. And Ram begat Amminadab. And Amminadab begat Nahshon. And Nahshon begat Salma.5. And Salma begat Boaz by Rahab. And Boaz begat Obed by Ruth. And Obed begat Jesse.6. And Jesse begat David the king. And David the king begat Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.7. And Solomon begat Rehoboam. And Rehoboam begat Abijah. And Abijah begat Asa.8. And Asa begat Jehoshaphat. And Jehoshaphat begat Jorem. And Joram begat Uzziah.9. And Uzziah begat Jotham. And Jotham begat Ahaz. And Ahaz begat Hezekiah.10. And Hezekiah begat Manasseh. And Manasseh begat Amon. And Amon begat Josiah.11. And Josiah begat Jeconiah and his brethren, about the Babylonish exile.12. And after the Babylonish exile, Jeconiah begat Salathiel. And Salathiel begat Zerubbabel.13. And Zerubbabel begat Abiud. And Abiud begat Eliakim. And Eliakim begat Azor.14. And Azor begat Zadok. And Zadok begat Achim. And Achim begat Eliud.15. And Eliud begat Eleazar. And Eleazar begat Matthan. And Matthan begat Jacob.16. And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.17. Therefore all the generations from Abraham till David are fourteen generations; and from David till the Babylonish migration are fourteen generations; and from the Babylonish migration till Christ are fourteen generations.
23. Jesus was supposed to be the son of Joseph, who was the son of Heli, 24. Who was the son of Matthat, who was the son of Levi, who was the son of Melchi, who was the son of Janna, who was the son of Joseph, 25. Who was the son of Matthias, who was the son of Amos, who was the son of Nahum, who was the son of Esli, who was the son of Nagge, 26. Who was the son of Maath, who was the son of Mattahtias, who was the son of Semei, who was the son of Joseph, who was the son of Judah, 27. Who was the son of Joanna, who was the son of Rhesa, who was the son of Zerubbabel, who was the son of Salathiel, who was the son of Neri, 28. Who was the son of Melchi, who was the son of Addi, who was the son of Cosam, who was the son of Elmodam, who was the son, of Er, 29. Who was the son of of Joses, who was the son of Eliezer, who was the son of Joriam, who was the son of Matthat, who was the son of Levi, 30. Who was the son of Simeon, who was the son of Judah, who was the son of Joseph, who was the son of Jonan, who was the son of Eliakim, 31. Who was the son of Meleah, who was the son of Mainan, who was the son of Mattatha, who was the son of Nathan, who was the son of David, 32. Who was the son of Jesse, who was the son of Obed, who was the son of Boaz, who was the son of Salmah, who was the son of Nahshon, 33. Who was the son of Amminadab, who was the son of Ram, who was the son of Hezron, who was the son of Pharez, who was the son of Judah, 34. Who was the son of Jacob, who was the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham, who was the son of Terah, who was the son of Nahor, 35. Who was the son of Serug, who was the son of Reu, who was the son of Peleg, who was the son of Heber, who was the son of Salah, 36. Who was the son of Cainan, who was the son of Arphaxad, who was the son of Shem, who was the son of Noah, who was the son of Lamech, 37. Who was the son of Methuselah, who was the son of Enoch, who was the son of Jared, who was the son of Mahalaleel, who was the son of Cainan, 38. Who was the son of Enos, who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam, who was the son of God.
As all are not agreed about these two genealogies, which are given by Matthew and Luke, we must first see whether both trace the genealogy of Christ from Joseph, or whether Matthew only traces it from Joseph, and Luke from Mary. Those who are of this latter opinion have a plausible ground for their distinction in the diversity of the names: and certainly, at first sight, nothing seems more improbable than that Matthew and Luke, who differ so widely from each other, give one and the same genealogy. For from David to Salathiel, and again from Zerubbabel till Joseph, the names are totally different.
Again, it is alleged, that it would have been idle to bestow so great pains on a thing of no use, in relating a second time the genealogy of Joseph, who after all was not the father of Christ. |Why this repetition,| say they, |which proves nothing that contributes much to the edification of faith? If nothing more be known than this, that Joseph was one of the descendants and family of David, the genealogy of Christ will still remain doubtful.| In their opinion, therefore, it would have been superfluous that two Evangelists should apply themselves to this subject. They excuse Matthew for laying down the ancestry of Joseph, on the ground, that he did it for the sake of many persons, who were still of opinion that he was the father of Christ. But it would have been foolish to hold out such an encouragement to a dangerous error: and what follows is at total variance with the supposition. For as soon as he comes to the close of the genealogy, Matthew points out that Christ was conceived in the womb of the virgin, not from the seed of Joseph, but by the secret power of the Spirit. If their argument were good, Matthew might be charged with folly or inadvertence, in laboring to no purpose to establish the genealogy of Joseph.
But we have not yet replied to their objection, that the ancestry of Joseph has nothing to do with Christ. The common and well-known reply is, that in the person of Joseph the genealogy of Mary also is included, because the law enjoined every man to marry from his own tribe. It is objected, on the other hand, that at almost no period had that law been observed: but the arguments on which that assertion rests are frivolous. They quote the instance of the eleven tribes binding themselves by an oath, that they would not give a wife to the Benjamites, (Judges 21:1.) If this matter, say they, had been settled by law, there would have been no need for a new enactment. I reply, this extraordinary occurrence is erroneously and ignorantly converted by them into a general rule: for if one tribe had been cut off, the body of the people must have been incomplete if some remedy had not been applied to a case of extreme necessity. We must not, therefore, look to this passage for ascertaining the common law.
Again, it is objected, that Mary, the mother of Christ, was Elisabeth's cousin, though Luke has formerly stated that she was of the daughters of Aaron, (Luke 1:5.) The reply is easy. The daughters of the tribe of Judah, or of any other tribe, were at liberty to marry into the tribe of the priesthood: for they were not prevented by that reason, which is expressed in the law, that no woman should |remove her inheritance| to those who were of a different tribe from her own, (Numbers 36:6-9.) Thus, the wife of Jehoiada, the high priest, is declared by the sacred historian to have belonged to the royal family, --
|Jehoshabeath, the daughter of Jehoram,
the wife of Jehoiada the priest,|
(2 Chronicles 22:11.)
It was, therefore, nothing wonderful or uncommon, if the mother of Elisabeth were married to a priest. Should any one allege, that this does not enable us to decide, with perfect certainty, that Mary was of the same tribe with Joseph, because she was his wife, I grant that the bare narrative, as it stands, would not prove it without the aid of other circumstances.
But, in the first place, we must observe, that the Evangelists do not speak of events known in their own age. When the ancestry of Joseph had been carried up as far as David, every one could easily make out the ancestry of Mary. The Evangelists, trusting to what was generally understood in their own day, were, no doubt, less solicitous on that point: for, if any one entertained doubts, the research was neither difficult nor tedious. Besides, they took for granted, that Joseph, as a man of good character and behavior, had obeyed the injunction of the law in marrying a wife from his own tribe. That general rule would not, indeed, be sufficient to prove Mary's royal descent; for she might have belonged to the tribe of Judah, and yet not have been a descendant of the family of David.
My opinion is this. The Evangelists had in their eye godly persons, who entered into no obstinate dispute, but in the person of Joseph acknowledged the descent of Mary; particularly since, as we have said, no doubt was entertained about it in that age. One matter, however, might appear incredible, that this very poor and despised couple belonged to the posterity of David, and to that royal seed, from which the Redeemer was to spring. If any one inquire whether or not the genealogy traced by Matthew and Luke proves clearly and beyond controversy that Mary was descended from the family of David, I own that it cannot be inferred with certainty; but as the relationship between Mary and Joseph was at that time well known, the Evangelists were more at ease on that subject. Meanwhile, it was the design of both Evangelists to remove the stumbling-block arising from the fact, that both Joseph and Mary were unknown, and despised, and poor, and gave not the slightest indication of royalty.
Again, the supposition that Luke passes by the descent of Joseph, and relates that of Mary, is easily refuted; for he expressly says, that Jesus was supposed to be the son of Joseph, etc. Certainly, neither the father nor the grandfather of Christ is mentioned, but the ancestry of Joseph himself is carefully explained. I am well aware of the manner in which they attempt to solve this difficulty. The word son, they allege, is put for son-in-law, and the interpretation they give to Joseph being called the son of Heli is, that he had married Heli's daughter. But this does not agree with the order of nature, and is nowhere countenanced by any example in Scripture.
If Solomon is struck out of Mary's genealogy, Christ will no longer be Christ; for all inquiry as to his descent is founded on that solemn promise,
|I will set up thy seed after thee; I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son,| (2 Samuel 7:12-14.)
|The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne,|
Solomon was, beyond controversy, the type of this eternal King who was promised to David; nor can the promise be applied to Christ, except in so far as its truth was shadowed out in Solomon, (1 Chronicles 28:5.) Now if the descent is not traced to him, how, or by what argument, shall he be proved to be |the son of David|? Whoever expunges Solomon from Christ's genealogy does at the same time, obliterate and destroy those promises by which he must be acknowledged to be the son of David. In what way Luke, tracing the line of descent from Nathan, does not exclude Solomon, will afterwards be seen at the proper place.
Not to be too tedious, those two genealogies agree substantially with each other, but we must attend to four points of difference. The first is; Luke ascends by a retrograde order, from the last to the first, while Matthew begins with the source of the genealogy. The second is; Matthew does not carry his narrative beyond the holy and elect race of Abraham, while Luke proceeds as far as Adam. The third is; Matthew treats of his legal descent, and allows himself to make some omissions in the line of ancestors, choosing to assist the reader's memory by arranging them under three fourteens; while Luke follows the natural descent with greater exactness. The fourth and last is; when they are speaking of the same persons, they sometimes give them different names.
It would be superfluous to say more about the first point of difference, for it presents no difficulty. The second is not without a very good reason: for, as God had chosen for himself the family of Abraham, from which the Redeemer of the world would be born, and as the promise of salvation had been, in some sort, shut up in that family till the coming of Christ, Matthew does not pass beyond the limits which God had prescribed. We must attend to what Paul says,
|that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers,| (Romans 15:8)
with which agrees that saying of Christ, |Salvation is of the Jews,| (John 4:22.) Matthew, therefore, presents him to our contemplation as belonging to that holy race, to which he had been expressly appointed. In Matthew's catalogue we must look at the covenant of God, by which he adopted the seed of Abraham as his people, separating them, by a |middle wall of partition,| (Ephesians 2:14,) from the rest of the nations. Luke directed his view to a higher point; for though, from the time that God had made his covenant with Abraham, a Redeemer was promised, in a peculiar manner, to his seed, yet we know that, since the transgression of the first man, all needed a Redeemer, and he was accordingly appointed for the whole world. It was by a wonderful purpose of God, that Luke exhibited Christ to us as the son of Adam, while Matthew confined him within the single family of Abraham. For it would be of no advantage to us, that Christ was given by the Father as |the author of eternal salvations| (Hebrews 5:9,) unless he had been given indiscriminately to all. Besides, that saying of the Apostle would not be true, that |Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever,| (Hebrews 13:8,) if his power and grace had not reached to all ages from the very creation of the world. Let us know; therefore, that to the whole human race there has been manifested and exhibited salvation through Christ; for not without reason is he called the son of Noah, and the son of Adam. But as we must seek him in the word of God, the Spirit wisely directs us, through another Evangelist, to the holy race of Abraham, to whose hands the treasure of eternal life, along with Christ, was committed for a time, (Romans 3:1.)
We come now to the third point of difference. Matthew and Luke unquestionably do not observe the same order; for immediately after David the one puts Solomon, and the other, Nathan; which makes it perfectly clear that they follow different lines. This sort of contradiction is reconciled by good and learned interpreters in the following manner. Matthew, departing from the natural lineage, which is followed by Luke, reckons up the legal genealogy. I call it the legal genealogy, because the right to the throne passed into the hands of Salathiel. Eusebius, in the first book of his Ecclesiastical History, adopting the opinion of Africanus, prefers applying the epithet legal to the genealogy which is traced by Luke. But it amounts to the same thing: for he means nothing more than this, that the kingdom, which had been established in the person of Solomon, passed in a lawful manner to Salathiel. But it is more correct and appropriate to say, that Matthew has exhibited the legal order: because, by naming Solomon immediately after David, he attends, not to the persons from whom in a regular line, according to the flesh, Christ derived his birth, but to the manner in which he was descended from Solomon and other kings, so as to be their lawful successor, in whose hand God would |stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever,| (2 Samuel 7:13.)
There is probability in the opinion that, at the death of Ahaziah, the lineal descent from Solomon was closed. As to the command given by David -- for which some persons quote the authority of Jewish Commentators -- that should the line from Solomon fail, the royal power would pass to the descendants of Nathan, I leave it undetermined; holding this only for certain, that the succession to the kingdom was not confused, but regulated by fixed degrees of kindred. Now, as the sacred history relates that, after the murder of Ahaziah, the throne was occupied, and all the seed-royal destroyed |by his mother Athaliah, (2 Kings 11:1,) it is more than probable that this woman, from an eager desire of power, had perpetrated those wicked and horrible murders that she might not be reduced to a private rank, and see the throne transferred to another. If there had been a son of Ahaziah still alive, the grandmother would willingly have been allowed to reign in peace, without envy or danger, under the mask of being his tutor. When she proceeds to such enormous crimes as to draw upon herself infamy and hatred, it is a proof of desperation arising from her being unable any longer to keep the royal authority in her house.
As to Joash being called |the son of Ahaziah,| (2 Chronicles 22:11,) the reason is, that he was the nearest relative, and was justly considered to be the true and direct heir of the crown. Not to mention that Athaliah (if we shall suppose her to be his grandmother) would gladly have availed herself of her relation to the child, will any person of ordinary understanding think it probable, that an actual son of the king could be so concealed by |Jehoiada the priest,| as not to excite the grandmother to more diligent search? If all is carefully weighed, there will be no hesitation in concluding, that the next heir of the crown belonged to a different line. And this is the meaning of Jehoiada's words,
|Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the Lord hath said of the sons of David,|
(2 Chronicles 23:3.)
He considered it to be shameful and intolerable, that a woman, who was a stranger by blood, should violently seize the scepter, which God had commanded to remain in the family of David.
There is no absurdity in supposing, that Luke traces the descent of Christ from Nathan: for it is possible that the line of Solomon, so far as relates to the succession of the throne, may have been broken off. It may be objected, that Jesus cannot be acknowledged as the promised Messiah, if he be not a descendant of Solomon, who was an undoubted type of Christ But the answer is easy. Though he was not naturally descended from Solomon, yet he was reckoned his son by legal succession, because he was descended from kings.
The fourth point of difference is the great diversity of the names. Many look upon this as a great difficulty: for from David till Joseph, with the exception of Salathiel and Zerubbabel, none of the names are alike in the two Evangelists. The excuse commonly offered, that the diversity arose from its being very customary among the Jews to have two names, appears to many persons not quite satisfactory. But as we are now unacquainted with the method, which was followed by Matthew in drawing up and arranging the genealogy, there is no reason to wonder, if we are unable to determine how far both of them agree or differ as to individual names. It cannot be doubted that, after the Babylonish captivity, the same persons are mentioned under different names. In the case of Salathiel and Zerubbabel, the same names, I think, were purposely retained, on account of the change which had taken place in the nation: because the royal authority was then extinguished. Even while a feeble shadow of power remained, a striking change was visible, which warned believers, that they ought to expect another and more excellent kingdom than that of Solomon, which had flourished but for a short time.
It is also worthy of remark, that the additional number in Luke's catalogue to that of Matthew is nothing strange; for the number of persons in the natural line of descent is usually greater than in the legal line. Besides, Matthew chose to divide the genealogy of Christ into three departments, and to make each department to contain fourteen persons. In this way, he felt himself at liberty to pass by some names, which Luke could not with propriety omit, not having restricted himself by that rule.
Thus have I discussed the genealogy of Christ, as far as it appeared to be generally useful. If any one is tickled by a keener curiosity, I remember Paul's admonition, and prefer sobriety and modesty to trifling and useless disputes. It is a noted passage, in which he enjoins us to avoid excessive keenness in disputing about |genealogies, as unprofitable and vain,| (Titus 3:9.)
It now remains to inquire, lastly, why Matthew included the whole genealogy of Christ in three classes, and assigned to each class fourteen persons. Those who think that he did so, in order to aid the memory of his readers, state a part of the reason, but not the whole. It is true, indeed, that a catalogue, divided into three equal numbers, is more easily remembered. But it is also evident that this division is intended to point out a threefold condition of the nation, from the time when Christ was promised to Abraham, to |the fullness of the time| (Galatians 4:4) when he was |manifested in the flesh,| (1 Timothy 3:16.) Previous to the time of David, the tribe of Judah, though it occupied a higher rank than the other tribes, held no power. In David the royal authority burst upon the eyes of all with unexpected splendor, and remained till the time of Jeconiah. After that period, there still lingered in the tribe of Judah a portion of rank and government, which sustained the expectations of the godly till the coming of the Messiah.
1. The book of the generation Some commentators give themselves unnecessary trouble, in order to excuse Matthew for giving to his whole history this title, which applies only to the half of a single chapter. For this epigraphe, or title, does not extend to the whole book of Matthew: but the word biblos, book, is put for catalogue: as if he had said, |Here follows the catalogue of the generation of Christ.| It is with reference to the promise, that Christ is called the son of David, the son of Abraham: for God had promised to Abraham that he would give him a seed, |in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed,| (Genesis 12:3.) David received a still clearer promise, that God would |stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever,| (2 Samuel 7:13;) that one of his posterity would be king |as long as the sun and moon endure,| (Psalm 72:5;) and that |his throne should be as the days of heaven,| (Psalm 89:29.) And so it became a customary way of speaking among the Jews to call Christ the son of David
2. Jacob begat Judah and his brethren While Matthew passes by in silence Ishmael, Abraham's first-born, and Esau, who was Jacob's elder brother, he properly assigns a place in the genealogy to the Twelve Patriarchs, on all of whom God had bestowed a similar favor of adoption. He therefore intimates, that the blessing promised in Christ does not refer to the tribe of Judah alone, but belongs equally to all the children of Jacob, whom God gathered into his Church, while Ishmael and Esau were treated as strangers.
3. Judah begat Pharez and Zarah by Tamar This was a prelude to that emptying of himself, of which Paul speaks, (Philippians 2:7). The Son of God might have kept his descent unspotted and pure from every reproach or mark of infamy. But he came into the world to
|empty himself, and take upon him the form of a servant,| (Philippians 2:7)
|a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people,| (Psalm 22:6)
and at length to undergo the accursed death of the cross. He therefore did not refuse to admit a stain into his genealogy, arising from incestuous intercourse which took place among his ancestors. Though Tamar was not impelled by lust to seek connection with her father-in-law, yet it was in an unlawful manner that she attempted to revenge the injury which she had received. Judah again intended to commit fornication, and unknowingly to himself, met with his daughter-in-law. But the astonishing goodness of God strove with the sin of both; so that, nevertheless, this adulterous seed came to possess the scepter.
6. Begat David the King In this genealogy, the designation of King is bestowed on David alone, because in his person God exhibited a type of the future leader of his people, the Messiah. The kingly office had been formerly held by Saul; but, as he reached it through tumult and the ungodly wishes of the people, the lawful possession of the office is supposed to have commenced with David, more especially in reference to the covenant of God, who promised that |his throne should be established for ever,| (2 Samuel 7:16.) When the people shook off the yoke of God, and unhappily and wickedly asked a king, saying, |Give us a king to judge us,| (1 Samuel 8:5,) Saul was granted for short time. But his kingdom was shortly afterwards established by God, as a pledge of true prosperity, in the hand of David. Let this expression, David the King, be understood by us as pointing out the prosperous condition of the people, which the Lord had appointed.
Meanwhile, the Evangelist adds a human disgrace, which might almost bring a stain on the glory of this divine blessing. David the King begat Solomon by her that had been the wife of Uriah; by Bathsheba, whom he wickedly tore from her husband, and for the sake of enjoying whom, he basely surrendered an innocent man to be murdered by the swords of the enemy, (2 Samuel 11:15.) This taint, at the commencement of the kingdom, ought to have taught the Jews not to glory in the flesh. It was the design of God to show that, in establishing this kingdom, nothing depended on human merits.
Comparing the inspired history with the succession described by Matthew, it is evident that he has omitted three kings. Those who say that he did so through forgetfulness, cannot be listened to for a moment. Nor is it probable that they were thrown out, because they were unworthy to occupy a place in the genealogy of Christ; for the same reason would equally apply to many others, who are indiscriminately brought forward by Matthew, along with pious and holy persons. A more correct account is, that he resolved to confine the list of each class to fourteen kings, and gave himself little concern in making the selection, because he had an adequate succession of the genealogy to place before the eyes of his readers, down to the close of the kingdom. As to there being only thirteen in the list, it probably arose from the blunders and carelessness of transcribers. Epiphanius, in his First Book against Heresies, assigns this reason, that the name of Jeconiah had been twice put down, and unlearned persons ventured to strike out the repetition of it as superfluous; which, he tells us, ought not to have been done, because Jehoiakim, the father of king Jehoiakim, had the name Jeconiah, in common with his son, (1 Chronicles 3:17; 2 Kings 24:15; Jeremiah 27:20; 28:4.) Robert Stephens quotes a Greek manuscript, in which the name of Jehoiakim is introduced.
12. After the Babylonish exile That is, after the Jews were carried into captivity: for the Evangelist means, that the descendants of David, from being kings, then became exiles and slaves. As that captivity was a sort of destruction, it came to be wonderfully arranged by Divine providence, not only that the Jews again united in one body, but even that some vestiges of dominion remained in the family of David. For those who returned home submitted, of their own accord, to the authority of Zerubbabel. In this manner, the fragments of the royal scepter lasted till the coming of Christ was at hand, agreeably to the prediction of Jacob, |The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come,| (Genesis 49:10.) And even during that wretched and melancholy dispersion, the nation never ceased to be illuminated by some rays of the grace of God. The Greek word metoikesia, which the old translator renders transmigration, and Erasmus renders exile, literally signifies a change of habitation. The meaning is, that the Jews were compelled to leave their country, and to dwell as |strangers in a land that was not theirs,| (Genesis 15:13.)
16. Jesus, who is called Christ By the surname Christ, Anointed, Matthew points out his office, to inform the readers that this was not a private person, but one divinely anointed to perform the office of Redeemer. What that anointing was, and to what it referred, I shall not now illustrate at great length. As to the word itself, it is only necessary to say that, after the royal authority was abolished, it began to be applied exclusively to Him, from whom they were taught to expect a full recovery of the lost salvation. So long as any splendor of royalty continued in the family of David, the kings were wont to be called christoi, anointed. But that the fearful desolation which followed might not throw the minds of the godly into despair, it pleased God to appropriate the name of Messiah, Anointed, to the Redeemer alone: as is evident from Daniel, (9:25, 26.) The evangelical history everywhere shows that this was an ordinary way of speaking, at the time when the Son of God was |manifested in the flesh,| (1 Timothy 3:16.)