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Matthew 1:1-25
Introduction to Messiah
Last Updated 3/3/00

CHAPTER 1 TEXT:

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.  Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

1:1 Titles & Names

"Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham"

The name "Jesus" is an English transliteration of the Greek Iesous, which is a transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua. Greek has no "sh" sound and the custom then was for men's names to end in "-us" or "-os" or "-es" (i.e., "Apollos").

"Christ" is from Christos, which is from the root chrio, meaning anointed. This is tied to the Hebrew word Mashiach (Messiah) also meaning anointed, having to do with being the "Anointed One," given God’s priestly and kingly authority. It should be noted that Cyrus (Koresh), in the book of Isaiah, was also called God's "messiah," as He was anointed to do God's work in smiting Babylon.

The Messiah's proper name, Yeshua, is a contraction of Yehoshua (Joshua) meaning YHVH saves, having a similar root to "Yoshia," meaning "He (God) will save." This is key to understanding verse 21 (see below.)

The term "Son of David" is a "Messianic title found throughout Jewish literature. Davidic references are found throughout the Tenakh (Old Testament), i.e.: 2 Samuel: 7:12-13,16; Isaiah: 11:1; Jeremiah: 23:5-6; Zechariah: 3:8; Ezekiel: 37:24; Amos: 9:11-12; Psalms 89: 4-5, 36-37; 132:11.

1:1-1:16 Genealogy

The genealogies presented in Matthew and Luke present numerous difficulties. There are a number of issues that critics raise including:

  1. The problem with Yeshua not being Joseph's actual son
  2. The lineage in Luke's account passing through David's son Nathan, and not Solomon as Scripture said it had to (for the Kingship of Messiah)
  3. The inclusion of a lineage through Jehoiachin being invalid, as he was cursed by God
  4. The last segment of "14 generations" only having 13 generations listed
  5. Verse 11 stating that Josiah begat Jeconiah, which he did not.

Regarding #1, According to Jewish law, Yeshua was Joseph’s son if Joseph claimed him as such which he did. This however does not solve what many view to be a major problem - the brak in the physical lineage back to king David.

Regarding #2, many commentaries try to get around the problem of the cursed Jehoiachin (see #3, below) by simply using Luke's genealogy as the one for the Messianic lineage. There are two problems with this.

  • First is the issue of the genealogy passing through Nathan rather than Solomon (in Luke's genealogy). The promise of Messiah being a "son of David" went specifically through Solomon and not Nathan.
  • Second, lineage was passed through the father's side in first century Judaism (and before). The idea of tracing Jewishness through the mother's side developed later. Matthew's genealogy is that of Joseph, and Luke's genealogy is that of Miriam's. Matthew's is the one that "counts" however as it passes through Solomon.

Regarding #3, the curse on Jehoachin was reversed by God Himself in Haggai 2:20-23, when He chose Zerubbabel as His signet ring.

Regarding #4, this is an error in transcribing (more evidence of someone translating the book from an original Hebrew into the Greek). There is a version of Matthew that does not include this error and shows the (missing) 14th generation. The "DuTillet" Hebrew Matthew corrects "Abiud begat Eliakim," showing that Abiud actually begat Av'ner (Abner), who in turn begat Eliakim. The mention of 42 generations (3 x 14) is also of interest, as 14 is the numerical value of "David," and 42 is the numerical value of God (Eloah) in the Hebrew.

Regarding #5, this is evidently another error due to translation, as 1 Chronicles 3:15-16 says that Josiah was the father of Jehoiakim, who in turn was the father of Jeconiah. However, if we were to simply include the missing Jehoiakim, we would then have fifteen generations, which would cause verse 17 to be in error. The most reasonable explanation may be that although the curse was lifted on Jeconiah's lineage, his name was still to be "blotted out," but a careless scribe deleted Jehoiakim by mistake. By replacing the reference to Jeconiah with one to Jehoiakim, we would correct the error, offer an explanation for Jeconiah's ommission, and maintain the number of generations at fourteen.

It should also be noted that incomplete genealogies are not alien to the Tenakh. For instance, Ezra 7:1-5, gives a genealogy found also in 1 Chronicles 6:4-15.

Comparing the two:

1 Chronicles 6:4-14 Ezra 7:1-5
Eleazar Eleazar
Phinehas Phinehas
Abishua Abishua
Bukki Bukki
Uzzi Uzzi
Zerahiah Zerhiah
Meraioth Meraioth
Amariah *
Ahitub *
Zadok *
Ahimaaz *
Azariah *
Johanan *
Azariah Azariah
Amariah Amariah
Ahitub Ahitub
Zadok Zadok
Shallum (Meshullam) Shallum
Hilkiah Hilkiah
Azariah Azraiah
Seraiah Seraiah
Jehozadak Ezra

Women & Gentiles

Women (three of whom were gentiles) are found in Matthew's genealogy. This is highly unusual in texts of that era. Tamar, Rachav and Ruth were born gentile, but considered to be Jewish through conversion. Bat-sheva (wife of Uriyah) was born Jewish.

Miriam, the mother of Yeshua is of course Jewish. It is interesting to note that Miriam is also the name of Moses' sister. Christian Bibles refer to the latter by her Hebrew name, but call Yeshua's mother, "Mary." This was done to make the "New Testament" sound less Jewish (similar to calling Yeshua, "Jesus." and His brother Ya'acov "James," - though the latter is quite absurd as the English should be "Jacob.")

1:18 Joseph & Mary’s relationship

Engagement/Betrothal was considered as good as being married in Jewish culture. In fact any children conceived during this time were considered legitimate. To dissolve the betrothal, it was necessary to acquire a "get" - a bill of divorce. The penalty for fornication with a betrothed woman was more serious than that for fornication with a fully married woman. (This is found in Talmud Sanhedrin 7:4 and 11:1.)

1:18 "Holy Spirit" (Ruach Ha Kodesh)

Similar to "Spirit of God" (Ruach Elohim) in Genesis 1:2. Also, Genesis 3:8, is typically translated, "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." Here, "cool of the day" is actually "ruach" in the Hebrew text, suggesting the translation, "in the Spirit of the day." See also; Isaiah 48:16, 57:13, 63:10-11.

1:21 For you shall call His name "Jesus"

The English "Jesus" (as well as the Greek Iesous) are not the proper name for the Messiah, and as such, cause the text to lose some of its meaning. To say; "For you shall call his name "Jesus" for He will save His people from their sins,"carries as much meaning as, "You shall call His name, 'Frank' or 'Ralph'." However, the Hebrew name "Yeshua," as mentioned in the introduction, actually means "God will save," thus making sense of the text (through a play on words.)

Regarding the "name" of Yeshua, it should also be noted that elsewhere is the "New Testament," we are instructed to pray or ask for things, "in His name." This is not teaching that our prayers are in vain unless we use the properly pronounced and spelled Hebrew name. Nor are we to pray "to the Messiah" as opposed to God. Rather, to teach, pray or ask for things (to/from God) "in someone's name," means "in their merit," a concept found in Orthodox Judaism.

1:22 "Lord"

Hebrew texts use Adonai in place of YHVH. The English pronunciation and spelling is Yahweh. The term Jehovah is a hybrid word using German letters (JHVH) and vowels for the Hebrew vowel points (e-o-a) making "JeHoVaH."

1:22 Prophecy

Verse 22 is the first "New Testament" reference to prophecy. There have been many people claiming to be Messiah, or having their followers make the claim, since Yeshua's time. Two of the more famous would be; Simon Bar Kokba (early 2nd century) who lead the failed Jewish revolt against Rome, and the Hassidic leader, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson of Brooklyn New York, who passed away just a few years ago. What is interesting in the case of Schneerson, is that his followers believed he would resurrect three days after his death, citing Hosea 6:2, "After two days he will revive us, On the third day He will raise us up."

Matthew focuses on Tenakh prophecy at great length (i.e., 2:5,15,17; 3:3; 4:14; 8:17; 11:10; 12;17; 13;14,35; 21:4; 22:43). This is important as for Yeshua to be the promised Jewish Messiah, He must fulfill the conditions set forth by the Jewish prophets and cannot violate any of them. To make a claim that He is the Messiah, separate and apart from what the Tenakh says, gives Him no more validity than any other person making such a claim. Yeshua Himself said "Salvation is of the Jews," claiming legitimacy for Himself as well as the Jewish Scriptures, and the proper Jewish interpretation of those Scriptures.

1:23 "Virgin"

This is a controversial verse due to the use of term "Almah" in Isaiah (as opposed to "B’tulah"). Arguments can be made for either term meaning, "virgin" or "young woman." Matthew may be quoting from the Septuagint. (This is the Greek version of the Tenakh, circa 200 BCE, also called the LXX). 

1:23 "Emmanuel/Imanuel"

Imanuel means "El(ohim) (is) with us," in Hebrew.

IM = with
ANU = us
EL = Elohim

Yeshua was never actually called this however. This is an example of a "remez," - a hint at who He is. Other Messianic names in the Tenakh are; Shiloh, Branch, Sprout, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


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