What a lot of names


The Nativity by Matthew – part 1

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Matthew’s Gospel does not start in a good way for a lot of people. A list of 42 names.

Matthew’s Gospel looks at Jesus the King, a major theme of this book. The first 17 verses are Jesus human heredity, it shows that Jesus was human. It differs from the list in Luke’s Gospel, but it is widely recognised that Luke is showing the genealogy through Mary and Matthew shows Joseph’s line.


Genealogies were important for the Jews, it was the way they proved their right to inheritance, anyone claiming the title Son of David had to be able to prove it. The list of names is important, it shows that Jesus was part of history. It is also unusual in that it contains in the list the names of four women, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. To add women’s names was very unusual at the time.

If you check these names against the family trees in the Old Testament you will see that Matthew left some out. For someone like Matthew, a former tax collector, that sort of omission would not have been accidental, but he separates the genealogy into three groups of 14 because 14 is the Hebrew equivalent to the name David. It was probably done as a memory aid.

But there were many in those days who could trace their family trees through David. The rest of the first chapter of Matthew deals with the Divine genealogy, but that is a future blog.

For those interested in family trees, here it is:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
Matthew 1:1-17 ESVUK


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