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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary for Schools and Colleges

Matthew 1

Verses 1-99

St Matthew

Ch. 1: 1 17 . The Lineage of the King. The Genealogy. Luke 3:23-42.3.38

1 . The book of the generation ] i. e. the pedigree extracted from the public archives which were carefully preserved and placed under the special care of the Sanhedrin. The expression recalls, perhaps designedly, Genesis 5:1 : The book of the Generations of Adam.

(1) The genealogy is an answer to the question which would be asked by every Jew of any one who claimed to be the Messiah, “Is he of the house of David?” for by no name was the Messiah more frequently spoken of by Jews and by foreigners (see ch. 15:22), and designated in the Talmud, than by that of the Son of David.

(2) Both this genealogy and that in St Luke’s Gospel trace Joseph’s descent. But see below, v . 16.

(3) St Matthew proves that Jesus is the Son of David and of Abraham; St Luke, true to the scope of his Gospel, traces the pedigree from the common Father of Jew and Gentile.

(4) St Matthew traces the royal succession , St Luke, the family lineage . This accounts for many variations in names.

(5) This genealogy descends from father to son, and is therefore probably the most exact transcript of the original document. St Luke’s ascends from son to father.

3 . Thamar ] St Matthew also differs from St Luke in naming women in the genealogy. Of the four mentioned two Rahab and Ruth are foreigners, and three Thamar, Rahab and Bathsheba were stained with sin. The purpose of the Evangelist in recording their names may be to shew that He who came to save “that which was lost,” the Friend of sinners, does not scorn such descent.

5 . Salmon … Jesse ] According to the received chronology the space of time between Salmon and Jesse was not less than 400 years. In that space there are only four generations recorded in the text. Either then the received chronology is wrong or the genealogy not complete. In all probability the former is at fault, and the shortening of the period named would bring “Jewish history into harmony with Egyptian and with the internal evidence of the Israelitish history itself.” See art. Genealogy in Bib. Dict. for this and other points.

6 . David the king ] A special hint of Christ the King, of whom David was the type.

It is at this point that St Luke’s genealogy branches off. According to natural descent Joseph was a descendant of Nathan , not of Solomon . The genealogies meet again in the names of Zorobabel and Salathiel. See below, v. 12.

8 . Joram begat Ozias (Uzziah)] The names of Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah are here omitted; see note, v. 17.

11 . Josias begat Jechonias (Jehoiakim)] but in the next v. Jechonias = Jehoiachin. Read, as in the margin, “Josias begat Jakim (Jehoiakim), and Jakim begat Jechonias (Jehoiachin).

Jechonias and his brethren ] Jehoiachin had no brethren, but Jehoiakim had three: a further proof that Jechonias in this verse=Jehoiakim.

12 . Jechonias begat Salathiel ] Jehoiachin had no children of his own, “write ye this man childless” (Jeremiah 22:30 ). Salathiel was the son of Neri (Luke), but heir to Jehoiachin.

13 . Zorobabel begat Abiud ] Here a step is omitted, Abiud the Hodaiah of 1 Chronicles 3:24 being the grandson of Zerubbabel. Rhesa, who is named as Zerubbabel’s son (Luke 3:27 ), is a title: the text in Luke should run, “which was the son of Rhesa Zorobabel.” The Juda of Luke is the same as Abiud.

16 . Jacob begat Joseph ] “Joseph which was the son of Heli” (Luke), see last note; probably Joseph was the son of Heli and the heir to Jacob. It is conjectured with much probability that Jacob was Mary’s father. In that case, although both genealogies show Joseph’s descent, they are in fact equally genealogies of Mary’s family.

17 . This division into three sets, each containing fourteen steps of descent, is an instance of a practice familiar to readers of Jewish antiquities. Lightfoot says, “They do so very much delight in such kind of concents, that they oftentimes screw up the strings beyond the due measure and stretch them till they crack.” Such a system necessitates the omission of steps in the descent: see notes vv. 8 and 13.

18 25 . The Birth of Jesus Christ. Luke 1:26-42.1.56 and 2:4 7

St Mark and St John give no account of the birth of Jesus, St Luke narrates several particulars not recorded by Matthew, (1) the annunciation, (2) Mary’s salutation of Elizabeth in a city of Juda (or Juttah), and (3) the journey from Galilee to Bethlehem.

18 . Jesus ] see v. 21.

Christ (anointed)] The title of Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King; for among the Jews, Prophets, Priests and Kings were anointed on entering upon their office. Christos , very rare as a classical Greek word, is a translation of the Hebr. Mashiach , a term applied to the Saviour in one passage only of the O. T. (Daniel 9:25 , Daniel 9:26 ). In the N. T. the Hebrew form is used twice (John 1:41 and 4:25), where it is explained “which is called Christ.” Note that one title Messiah or Christ has been adopted almost to the exclusion of others quite as common in the O.T., “The Branch,” “He that cometh” (Habba), “The Prophet.” This is partly due to the great influence of Daniel’s prophecy, partly to the appropriateness of the title to the Son of David.

Mary ] The Hebr. form is Miriam; the Greek Maria.

espoused (betrothed)] Among the Jews the betrothal took place a year before marriage, and during the interval the betrothed maiden remained with her own family. But from the day of betrothal the pair were regarded as man and wife.

19 . being a just man ] i. e. one who observed the law, and, therefore, feeling bound to divorce Mary. But two courses were open to him. He could either summon her before the law-courts to be judicially condemned and punished, or he could put her away by a bill of divorcement before witnesses, but without assigning cause. This is meant by “ putting her away privily ,” the more merciful course which Joseph resolved to adopt.

21 . Jesus =Saviour] Jesus represents the Greek form, while Joshua represents the Hebrew form of the same name. The same Hebrew root occurs in the salutation Hosanna: see note, ch. 21:9. Joshua who led the Israelites into the Promised Land, and Joshua or Jeshua, who was high priest at the time of the return from the Babylonish Captivity, are types of Jesus Christ in respect both of work and name.

save his people from their sins ] An announcement of a Spiritual Kingdom. Contrary to the thought of many Jews the salvation which Jesus brought was not to be a saving from the Roman or Herodian rule, but a life protected from sin.

22 . was done ] Rather, has come to pass . The Evangelist speaks as a contemporary.

that it might be fulfilled ] By this formula the Evangelist recognises in the event described a fulfilment of a type or prophecy. It matters little whether we regard “that” ( ἵνα ) as (1) final , “in order that,” or (2) by a late use consecutive , “so that,” in other words (1) as marking the conscious intention of the prophet or of God speaking through the prophet, or (2) a reflection of the Evangelist viewing the historical fact in connection with the prophecy and finding in the prophecy an analogy, if not a definite prediction. For in regard to divine action the intention and result are identical, that is, we cannot conceive of any result being unintentional with God.

23 . a virgin shall be with child ] Properly, according to the Greek text and to the original Hebrew, “ The virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they (Hebr. she) shall call his name God with us;” see Isaiah 7:14 . The historical crisis was this, Ahaz is alarmed by the threatened invasion of Pekah and Rezin the confederate kings of Samaria and Damascus. Isaiah reassures Ahaz, who hypocritically refuses to ask for a sign. Yet a sign is given. She, who is now unmarried, shall bear a son, probably a scion of the royal house of David; he shall be called Emmanuel, and before he arrives at years of discretion the deliverance shall come, though a heavier distress is at hand.

The prophecy is distinctly Messianic, but the sign in Isaiah is not concerned with the manner of the child’s birth, but with the name and the deliverance which should happen in his infancy. Therefore, the weight of the reference is to the name “Emmanuel” and to the true Son of David, whose birth was the sign of His people’s deliverance.

25 . knew her not till ] This expression cannot be considered as in any way decisive of the question, whether the Virgin Mary had or had not children besides our blessed Lord.

her firstborn son ] The oldest MSS. omit the word “first-born:” translate “a son.”

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 1". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/matthew-1.html. 1896.