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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 1

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verse 1

1. βίβλος γενέσεως ] Not always used of a pedigree only: see reff. Here however it appears that it refers exclusively to the genealogy, by Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ being used in the enunciation, and the close being Ἰησοῦς ὁ λεγόμενος χριστός . Then Mat 1:17 forms a conclusion to it, and Mat 1:18 passes on to other matter.

Ἰησοῦ ] see on Matthew 1:21 .

χριστοῦ ] = מָשִׁיחַ , anointed. In reff. it is used of kings, priests, prophets, and of the promised Deliverer. Theophylact says, λέγεται ὁ κύριος , χριστός · καὶ ὡς βασιλεύς , ἐβασίλευσε γὰρ κατὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας · καὶ ὡς ἱερεύς , προσήγαγε γὰρ ἑαυτὸν θῦμα ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν · ἐχρίσθη δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς κυρίως τῷ ἀληθινῷ ἐλαίῳ , τῷ ἁγίῳ πνεύματι . It is here used (see Mat 1:16 ) in that sense in which it became affixed to Ἰησοῦς as the name of our Lord. It does not once thus occur in the progress of the Evangelic history; only in the prefatory parts of the Gospels, here and Matthew 1:16-18 : Mark 1:1 ; John 1:17 , and once in the mouth of our Lord himself, John 17:3 (on Pilate’s words, ch. Matthew 27:17 ; Matthew 27:22 , see note there); but passim in the Acts and Epistles. This may serve to shew that the evangelic memoirs themselves were of earlier date than their incorporation into our present Gospels.

υἱοῦ both times refers to our Lord. בֶּן דָּוִד (Ben-David) was an especial title of the Messiah: see reff. That He should be son of Abraham , was too solemn a subject of prophecy to be omitted here, even though implied in the other. These words serve to shew the character of the Gospel, as written for Jews: οὐδὲν γὰρ οὕτως ἀνέπαυε τοὺς ἐξ Ἰουδαίων πεπιστευκότας , ὡς τὸ μαθεῖν ὅτι ἐκ σπέρματος Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Δαυὶδ ἦν ὁ χριστός . Euthymius. Luke 3:23 ff., carries his genealogy further back.

Verses 1-17


Verse 2

2. καὶ τ . ἀδελφ . ] These additions probably indicate that Matt. did not take his genealogy from any family or public documents, but constructed it himself. Cf. also Grot., ‘Obiter Matthæus Christum ut cognatum omnibus Israelitis commendat.’

Verse 3

3. ] These children of Judah were not born in marriage: see Genesis 28:16-22 . Both the sons are named, probably as recalling the incident connected with their birth. The reason for the women (Thamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba) being mentioned, has been variously assigned: by Wets [2] ., ut tacitæ Judæorum objectioni occurreretur : by Fritzsche, for the sake of minute accuracy . It most probably is that given by Maldonatus: ‘Prætermisit Evangelista quod ordinarium erat, quod autem singulare et dubium exposuit.’ There may be something also in that suggested by Grotius: ‘Mulieres in hoc sensu obiter paucæ nominantur, extraneo ortiaut criminibus nobiles, quarum historia ad vocationem idololatrarum et criminosorum per Christi evangelium proludit:’ as also in De Wette’s view, that they serve as types of the mother of our Lord, and are consequently named in the course of the genealogy, as she is at the end of it.

[2] Wetstein.

Verse 5

5. Ῥαχάβ ] “Rachab illam Hierichuntinam dici, vel articulus, τῆς Ῥ ., ejusque vis relativa docet.” Bengel. It has been imagined, on chronological grounds, that this Rachab must be a different person from Rahab of Jericho. But those very grounds completely tally with their identity. For Naashon (father of Salmon), prince of Judah ( 1Ch 2:10 ), offered his offering at the setting up of the tabernacle ( Num 7:12 ) 39 years before the taking of Jericho. So that Salmon would be of mature age at or soon after that event; at which time Rahab was probably young, as her father and mother were living ( Jos 6:23 ). Nor is it any objection that Achan, the fourth in descent from Judah by Zara, is contemporary with Salmon, the sixth of the other branch: since the generations in the line of Zara average 69 years, and those in the line of Phares 49, both within the limits of probability. The difficulty of the interval of 366 years between Rahab and David does not belong to this passage only, but equally to Ruth 4:21-22 ; and is by no means insuperable, especially when the extreme old age of Jesse, implied in 1 Samuel 17:12 , is considered.

I may add that, considering Rahab’s father and mother were alive, the house would hardly be called the house of Rahab except on account of the character commonly assigned to her.

Verse 6

6. τῆς τοῦ Οὐ . ] This construction, which is not properly elliptical, but possessive (Grotius compares ‘Hectoris Andromache,’ Virg., Meyer, Luther’s Katharina , and Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 160, Διὸς Ἄρτεμις , Ζηνὸς Ἀπόλλων Plut. de Pyth. or. p. 402, Ἱππίου Ἀρχεδίκην Thuc. vi. 59, &c.), occurs in the Gospels to designate various relations: see reff.

Verse 8

8. Ἰωρὰμ Ὀζείαν ] Three kings, viz., Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah ( 1Ch 3:11-12 ), are here omitted (supplied in syr-c [3] , lat [4] [5] , [6] in Luke). Some (Spanheim, Lightf., Ebrard, &c.) think that they were erased on account of their connexion, by means of Athaliah, with the accursed house of Ahab. Simeon is omitted by Moses in blessing the tribes ( Deu 33:1-29 ): the descendants of Zebulun and Dan are passed over in 1 Chron., and none of the latter tribe are sealed in Revelation 7:1-17 . But more probably such erasion, even if justifiable by that reason, was not made on account of it, but for convenience, in order to square the numbers of the different portions of the genealogies, as here. Compare as illustrating such omissions, 1Ch 8:1 with Genesis 46:21 .

[3] The Syriac version discovered by Dr. Cureton amongst the Nitrian MSS. in the British Museum. Perhaps the earliest and most important of all the versions.

[4] Codex Vercellensis fourth century .

[5] Codex Vercellensis fourth century .

[6] The CODEX CANTABRIGIENSIS, or BEZÆ, so called because it was presented by Beza in 1581 to the University Library at Cambridge; where it is now exposed to view in a glass case. He procured it in 1562, from the monastery of St. Irenæus at Lyons. It is on parchment, and contains the Gospels and Acts, with a Latin version. Its lacunæ, which are many, will be perceived by the inner marginal letters in this edition. It once contained the Catholic Epistles: 3Jn 1:11-14 in Latin is all that now remains. It was edited with very accurate imitative types, at the expense of the University of Cambridge, by Dr. Kipling, in 1793. A new edition carefully revised and more generally accessible was published by Mr. Scrivener in 1864, and has been collated for this Edition. In the introduction some ten or twelve correctors are distinguished, whose readings are found in the notes at the end of the volume. The text of the Codex Bezæ is a very peculiar one, deviating more from the received readings and from the principal manuscript authorities than any other. It appears to have been written in France, and by a Latin transcriber ignorant of Greek, from many curious mistakes which occur in the text, and version attached. It is closely and singularly allied to the ancient Latin versions, so much so that some critics have supposed it to have been altered from the Latin: and certainly many of the phænomena of the MS. seem to bear out the idea. Where D differs in unimportant points from the other Greek MSS., the difference appears to be traceable to the influence of Latin forms and constructions. It has been observed, that in such cases it frequently agrees with the Latin codex e (see the list further on). Its peculiarities are so great, that in many passages, while the sense remains for the most part unaltered, hardly three words together are the same as in the commonly received text. And that these variations often arise from capricious alteration, is evident from the way in which the Gospels, in parallel passages, have been more than commonly interpolated from one another in this MS. The concurrence with the ancient Latin versions seems to point to a very early state of the text; and it is impossible to set aside the value of D as an index to its history; but in critical weight it ranks the lowest of the leading MSS. Its age has been very variously given: the general opinion now is that it was written in the latter end of the fifth or the sixth century .

Verse 11

11. Ἰωσείας Ἰεχον . ] Eliakim, son of Josiah and father of Jechonias, is omitted; which was objected to the Christians by Porphyry. The reading which inserts Joacim (i.e. Eliakim) rests on hardly any foundation, and would make fifteen generations in the second tesseradecade. The solution of the difficulty by supposing the name to apply to both Eliakim and his son, and to mean the former in Mat 1:11 and the latter in Matthew 1:12 , is unsupported by example, and contrary to the usage of the genealogy. When we notice that the ἀδελφοί of Jechonias are his uncles , and find this way of speaking sanctioned by 2 Chronicles 36:10 , where Zedekiah, one of these, is called his brother, we are led to seek our solution in some recognized manner of speaking of these kings, by which Eliakim and his son were not accounted two distinct generations. If we compare 1Ch 3:16 with 2 Kings 24:17 , we can hardly fail to see that there is some confusion in the records of Josiah’s family. In the latter passage, where we have “his father’s brother,” the LXX render τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ . Lord A. Hervey, in his careful work on the genealogies of our Lord, has suggested a reason for the difficulty: viz. that the text may originally have stood thus: Ἰωσείας δέ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωακεὶμ καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ , Ἰωακεὶμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωαχεὶμ ἐπὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος , μετὰ δὲ τὴν μετ . Β . Ἰωαχεὶμ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Σαλαθιήλ , κ . τ . λ ., and a copyist may have omitted the Ἰωακ . δ . ἐγ . τὸν Ἰωαχ . as an accidental repetition. This view may perhaps be imagined to derive some support from the digest: but it seems to me that the objection to it is, the present occurrence of Ἰεχονίαν and - ας in all our copies. This Lord A. Hervey does not satisfactorily account for in saying “the form Ἰεχονίας was doubtless substituted in St. Matthew’s Gospel much later, to bring it into accordance with 1 Chronicles 3:1-24 .”

ἐπὶ τῆς μετ . ] at the time of the migration to Babylon (on this usage of ἐπί with a gen., derived from its meaning of local juxta- , or superimposition , see Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 246): and μετὰ τὴν μετ ., after the migration. For the construction, μετ . Βαβ ., see reff.

Verse 12

12. Ἰεχον .… Σαλαθ . ] So also the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3:17 . When, therefore, it is denounced ( Jer 32:30 ) that Jeconiah should be ‘childless,’ this word must be understood as explained by the rest of the verse, ‘for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah.’ The LXX render this word עֲרִירִי , ἐκκήρυκτον : but the Talmudical writers explain it according to our rendering.

Σαλαθ .… Ζοροβ . ] There is no difficulty here which does not also exist in the O.T. Zerubbabel is there usually called the son of Shealtiel (Salathiel). Ezra 3:2 , &c.: Nehemiah 12:1 ; Haggai 1:1 , &c. In 1 Chronicles 3:19 , Zerubbabel is said to have been the son of Pedaiah, brother of Salathiel. Either this may have been a different Zerubbabel, or Salathiel may, according to the law, have raised up seed to his brother.

Verse 13

13. Ζοροβ .… Ἀβιούδ ] Abiud is not mentioned as a son of the Zerubbabel in 1 Chronicles 3:1-24 .

Lord A. Hervey, p. 122 ff., has made it probable that Abiud is identical with the Hodaiah of 1 Chronicles 3:24 , and the Juda of Luke 3:26 . Dr. Mill (p. 178, note) mentions this conjecture, but does not adopt it. The objection, that thus the first generation after Zerubbabel would be omitted, need not have much weight, after the omission of three generations in the last tesseradecade. I cannot but recommend to the student the perusal of Lord A. Hervey’s work. Whether or not we may be inclined to adopt his conjectures on so intricate and uncertain a subject as the reconciling of the genealogies, too much praise cannot be given to the spirit of combined Christian reverence and enlightened critical courage in which it is treated throughout.

On the comparison of this genealogy with that given in Luke, see notes, Luke 3:23-38 .

Verse 17

17. γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες ] If we carefully observe Matthew’s arrangement, we shall have no difficulty in completing the three tesseradecades. For the first is from Abraham to David, of course inclusive. The second from David (again inclusive) to the migration; which gives no name, as before, to be included in both the second and third periods, but which is mentioned simultaneously with the begetting of Jechonias, leaving him for the third period. This last, then, takes in from Jechonias to JESUS CHRIST inclusive. So that the three stand thus, according to the words of this verse: (1) ἀπὸ Ἀβραὰμ ἕως Δαυίδ . (2) ἀπὸ Δαυὶδ ἕως τ . μετ . Βαβ ., i.e. about the time when Josiah begat Jechonias. (3) ἀπὸ τ . μετ . Βαβ . (i.e. from Jechonias) ἕως τοῦ χριστοῦ . We may safely say, that the πᾶσαι does not , as Meyer, imply that Matthew intended to give the genealogy complete, and was not aware of the omissions. For why should this be so? May it not just as well be said, that having, for the convenience of his readers, reduced the genealogy to this form, he then says to them, “So then you have from Abraham to David, 14 generations, &c.?”

Verse 18

18. τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ ] The combined name is emphatically put first as resuming the subject of Matthew 1:1 , and the δέ takes up the δέ which has connected all the previous members of the series, introducing a reason for this inversion ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη , with which this last one had been brought in, Matthew 1:16 .

γένεσις ] The ordinary reading γέννησις seems to have been taken up from Matthew 1:16 , and the γάρ , which follows, appended to account for the exception in this last case to the direct sequence of ἐγέννησεν throughout the genealogy. γένεσις must be understood in a wide sense, as nearly identical in meaning with γέννησις ; as “= ‘ origo ,’ not merely ‘ birth ,’ ” Me [7] . It probably is chosen by the Holy Spirit to mark a slight distinction between the γέννησις of our Lord and that of ordinary men. See schol. in digest.

[7] Meyer.

μνηστευθείσης ] The interval between betrothal and the consummation of marriage was sometimes considerable, during which the betrothed remained in her father’s house, till the bridegroom came and fetched her. See Deuteronomy 20:7 .

[ γάρ ] here is explicative; ‘ quum videlicet …’ So Soph. Trach. 475, πᾶν σοι φράσω τἀληθὲς οὐδὲ κρύψομαι . ἔστιν γὰρ οὕτως ὥσπερ οὗτος ἐννέπει . Lysias, Eratosth. § 19, εἰς τοσαύτην … αἰσχροκέρδειαν ἀφίκοντο , τῆς γὰρ πολεμάρχου γυναικὸς κ . τ . λ . See more examples in Hartung, Partikellehre, i. 469. We may perhaps with equal likelihood say that it is apologetic for the οὕτως : ‘thus it took place; and an account of it is needed, for &c.’

πρὶν ἤ is said to belong to the middle age of Attic. With an aor. following, it betokens the entire completion of the act indicated. See it treated in Hermann on Viger, p. 442; Klotz on Devarius, p. 726.

συνελθεῖν ] Here to be understood of living together in one house as man and wife; the deductio in domum mariti: see especially Kypke, Observationes Sacræ, p. 1 ff., who remarks well, that it answers to the word παραλαβεῖν , Matthew 1:20 ; Matthew 1:24 . Chrys. Hom. iv. 2, vol. vii. p. 49, opposes this view: οὐκ εἶπε πρὶν ἢ ἀχθῆναι αὐτὴν εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ νυμφίου , καὶ γὰρ ἔνδον ἦν . ἔθος γὰρ τοῖς παλαιοῖς ὡς τὰ πολλὰ ἐν οἰκίᾳ τὰς μεμνηστευμένας ἔχειν , κ . τ . λ . But it seems most agreeable to the context. His following remark is doubtless a just one: καὶ τίνος ἕνεκεν οὐ πρὸ τῆς μνηστείας ἐκύησεν ; ἵνα … συσκιασθῇ τὸ γινόμενον τέως , καὶ ἵνα πᾶσαν πονηρὰν διαφύγῃ ἡ παρθένος ὑπόνοιαν .

εὑρέθη ] not merely for ἦν , as some have said, but in its proper meaning: she was discovered to be , no matter by whom: ἐπί τῶν παραδόξων , καὶ παρ ʼ ἐλπίδα πᾶσαν ἐκβαινόντων , καὶ οὐ προσδοκωμένεν λέγεσθαι εἴωθε , Chrys. the words ἐκ πν . ἁγ . are the addition of the Evangelist declaring the matter of fact, and do not belong to the discovery.

ἐκ πν . ἁγ . ] by (the agency of) the Holy Ghost. See reff. and those to Matthew 1:20 : and compare by all means Chrys.’s remarks, Hom. iv. 3, p. 50 f. The interpretation of πν . ἁγ . in this place must thus be sought: (1) Unquestionably τὸ πν . τὸ ἅγ . is used in the N.T. as signifying the Holy Ghost . Luke 3:22 ; Acts 1:16 ; Ephesians 4:30 . (2) But it is a well-known usage to omit the articles from such words under certain circumstances, e.g. when a preposition precedes, as εἰς λιμένα (Plato, Theæt. § 1), &c. We are therefore justified in interpreting ἐκ πν . ἁγ . according to this usage, and understanding τὸ πν . τὸ ἅγ . as the agent referred to. And (3) even independently of the above usage, when a word or an expression came to bear a technical conventional meaning, it was also common to use it without the art. as if it were a proper name: e.g. θεός , νόμος , υἱὸς θεοῦ , &c.

Verses 18-25


Verse 19

19. ἀνήρ ] so called, though they were as yet but betrothed: so in Genesis 29:21 ; Deuteronomy 22:24 .

δίκαιος ] just; καὶ μὴ θ . being, as the μή plainly shews, not the explanation of δίκαιος , but an additional particular. He was a strict observer of the law, and (yet) not willing to expose her. The sense of ‘ kind ,’ ‘ merciful ,’ is inadmissible.

λάθρα ] Not ‘ without any writing of divorcement ,’ which would have been unlawful; but according to the form prescribed in Deuteronomy 24:1 . The husband might either do this, or adopt the stronger course of bringing his wife (or betrothed, who had the same rights, Maimon. in Wetstein, and Philo de legg. spec [8] , ad cap. 6 Esther 7:0 decal. § 12, vol. ii. p. 311, αἱ ὁδμολογίαι γάμοις ἰσοδυναμοῦσι ) to justice openly. The punishment in this case would have been death by stoning. Deuteronomy 22:23 . Maimonides (quoted by Buxtorf de divort.) says, “Femina ex quo desponsata est, licet nondum a viro cognita, est uxor viri, et si sponsus earn velit repudiare, oportet, ut id faciat libello repudii.”

[8] The Latin readings contained in a MS. ‘Speculum’ at Rome. Published by Mai.

ἐβουλήθη ] intended, was minded: θέλω expresses the mere wish , βούλομαι the wish ripened into intention: see 1 Timothy 5:14 , note, and Buttmann’s Lexilogus, i. p. 26.

Verse 20

20. ] ἰδού answers to the Hebrew הִנֵּה , and is frequently used by Matt. and Luke to introduce a new event or change of scene: not so often by Mark, and never with this view in John.

ἄγγελος κ . ] The announcement was made to Mary openly, but to Joseph in a dream; for in Mary’s case faith and concurrence of will were necessary, the communication was of a higher kind, and referred to a thing future; but here it is simply an advertisement for caution’s sake of an event which had already happened, and is altogether a communication of an inferior order: see Genesis 20:3 . But see on the other hand the remarks at the close of the notes on Matthew 1:21 .

κατ ʼ ὄναρ ] ὄναρ , simply, is the classical equivalent, κατ ʼ ὄναρ belonging to later writers, Strabo, Plutarch, &c. οὐ χρὴ κατ ʼ ὄναρ λέγειν , ὥσπερ οὐδὲ καθ ʼ ὕπαρ , ἀλλὰ ὄναρ καὶ ὕπαρ οἷον ; ὄναρ εἶδον τὸν δεῖνα , Thom. Mag. See Lobeck on Phrynichus, p. 423.

υἱὸς Δαυείδ ] These words would recall Joseph’s mind to the promised seed, the expectation of the families of the lineage of David, and at once stamp the message as the announcement of the birth of the Messiah. May it not likewise be said, that this appellation would come with more force, if Mary also were a daughter of David?

The nom. for the vocative is frequent in the Gospels: generally with an article. See Luke 8:54 ; ch. Matthew 11:26 , alli [9] ., and particularly John 20:28 .

[9] alii = some cursive mss.

τὴν γυν . σου ] Not ‘ as thy wife: ’ but in apposition with Μαριάμ , Mary thy wife: see Matthew 1:24 , which decides this, as Meyer, Exodus 3:0 , now acknowledges. The addition serves to remind Joseph of that relation which she already held by betrothal, and which he was now exhorted to recognize. See above on Matthew 1:19 .

τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐ . γ . ] ἐν is here not instrumental, ‘ that which is conceived by her ,’ but local, that which is begotten in her. The gender here is not to be pressed as involving any doctrinal consequence, but to be regarded as the usual way of speaking of the unborn fœtus: we have υἱόν first after τέξεται , Matthew 1:21 . See also John 3:6 ; 1 John 5:4 .

Verse 21

21. Ἰησοῦν ] The same name as Joshua, the former deliverer of Israel. It is written יְהוֹשֻׁעַ in the Law and Prophets, but יֵשׁוּעַ in the Hagiographa. Philo says, Ἰησοῦς ἑρμηνεύεται , σωτηρία κυρίου . De mut. nom. § 21, vol. i. p. 597.

αὐτός ] He, emphatically: He alone: best rendered, perhaps, ‘ it is He that .’

τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ] (not αὑτοῦ , any where, except when a special emphasis is intended: and there is none here, no distinction between His people, and the people of any other , being made). In the primary sense, the Jews , of whom alone Joseph could have understood the words: but in the larger sense, all who believe on Him: an explanation which the tenor of prophecy (cf. Genesis 22:18 ; Deu 32:21 ), and the subsequent admission of the Gentiles, warrant. Cf. a similar use of ‘Israel’ by St. Peter, Acts 5:31 .

ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ] It is remarkable that in this early part of the evangelic history, in the midst of pedigrees, and the disturbances of thrones by the supposed temporal King of the Jews, we have so clear an indication of the spiritual nature of the office of Christ . One circumstance of this kind outweighs a thousand cavils against the historical reality of the narration. If I mistake not, this announcement reaches further into the deliverance to be wrought by Jesus, than any thing mentioned by the Evangelist subsequently. It thus bears the internal impress of a message from God, treasured up and related in its original formal terms.

Meyer understands the words of a political emancipation and prosperity of the Jewish people, and strangely enough refers to Luk 1:68 for confirmation of this idea; adding, however, that a religious and moral reformation was considered as intimately connected with such a change.

ἁμαρτία is not put for the punishment of sin , but is the sin itself the practice of sin, in its most pregnant sense. ‘How suggestive it is,’ remarks Bishop Ellicott, ‘that while to the loftier spirit of Mary the name of Jesus is revealed with all the prophetic associations of more than David’s glories to Joseph, perchance the aged Joseph, who might have long seen and realized his own spiritual needs, and the needs of those around him, it is specially said, Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for He shall save his people from their sins .’ Historical Lectures on the Life of our Lord, p. 56.

Verse 22

22. τοῦτο δὲ ὃλον ] It is impossible to interpret ἵνα in any other sense than in order that. The words τοῦτο δὲ ὅ . γέγ . and the uniform usage of the N.T., in which ἵνα is never used except in this sense, forbid any other. Nor, if rightly viewed, does the passage require any other. Whatever may have been the partial fulfilment of the prophecy in the time of Ahaz, its reference to a different time, and a higher deliverance, is undeniable: and then, whatever causes contributed to bring about τοῦτο ὅλον , might be all summed up in the fulfilment of the divine purpose, of which that prophecy was the declaration. The accomplishment of a promise formally made is often alleged as the cause of an action extending wider than the promise, and purposed long before its utterance. And of course these remarks apply to every passage where ἵνα or ὅπως πληρωθῇ are used. Such a construction can have but one meaning. If such meaning involve us in difficulty regarding the prophecy itself, far better leave such difficulty, in so doubtful a matter as the interpretation of prophecy, unsolved, than create one in so simple a matter as the rendering of a phrase whose meaning no indifferent person could doubt.

πληρωθῇ ] The immediate and literal fulfilment of the prophecy seems to be related in Isaiah 8:1-4 . Yet there the child was not called Emmanuel: but in Mat 1:8 that name is used as applying to one of far greater dignity. Again, Isa 9:6 seems to be a reference to this prophecy, as also Micah 5:3 .

Verse 23

23. ἡ παρθένος ] Such is the rendering of the LXX. The Hebrew word is the more general term הָעַלְמָה . and is translated by Aquil., Symm., and Theodot. ἡ νεᾶνις . De Wette cites the LXX rendering as a proof that the prophecy was then understood of the Messiah. But is it not much more probable that Aquila and the others rendered it νεᾶνις to avoid this application? Can it be shewn that the birth of the Messiah from a παρθένος was matter of previous expectation? Certainly Pearson (on the Creed, art. iii.) fails to substantiate this.

καλέσουσιν ] This indefinite plural is surely not without meaning here. Men shall call i.e. it shall be a name by which He shall be called one of his appellations. The change of person from καλέσεις , which could not well have been cited here, seems to shew, both that the prophecy had a literal fulfilment at the time, and that it is here quoted in a form suited to its greater and final fulfilment. The Hebrew has קָרָאת , ‘ thou shalt call ’ (fem.).

Ἐμμανουήλ ] = עִמָּנוּ אֵל , God ( is ) with us. In Isaiah, prophetic primarily of deliverance from the then impending war; but also of final and glorious deliverance by the manifestation of God in the flesh.

ὅ ἐστιν μεθ . ] This addition is by some used to shew that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Greek, not in Hebrew, in which it would not be likely to occur. On the other hand, it is said, it might have been inserted by the person who translated the Gospel into Greek. See Prolegomena, and John 4:25 .

Verse 24

24. ] ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕπνου , from his sleep the sleep which was on him when he had the dream.

Verse 25

25. ] “ ‘ non cognovit eam, doneo .’ Non sequitur, ergo post: sufficit tamen confirmari virginitatem ad partum usque: de reliquo tempore lectori æquo relinquitur existimatio.” Bengel. And with regard to the much-controverted sense of this verse we may observe, (1) That the primâ facie impression on the reader certainly is, that οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν was confined to the period of time here mentioned. (2) That there is nothing in Scripture tending to remove this impression, either ( α ) by narration, and the very use of the term, ἀδελφοὶ κυρίου (on which see note at ch. Mat 13:55 ), without qualification, shews that the idea was not repulsive: or ( β ) by implication, for every where in the N.T. marriage is spoken of in high and honourable terms; and the words of the angel to Joseph rather imply, than discountenance, such a supposition. (3) On the other hand, the words of this verse do not require it: the idiom being justified on the contrary hypothesis. See reff. On the whole it seems to me, that no one would ever have thought of interpreting the verse any otherwise than in its primâ facie meaning, except to force it into accordance with a preconceived notion of the perpetual virginity of Mary . It is characteristic, and historically instructive, that the great impugner of the view given above should be Jerome, the impugner of marriage itself: and that his opponents in its interpretation should have been branded as heretics by after-ages. See a brief notice of the controversy in Milman, Hist. of Latin Christianity, i. 72 ff. As to the expression , compare the remarkable parallel, Diog. Laert. iii. 1. 2, where he says of the father of Plato, καθαρὰν γάμου φυλάξαι , ἕως τῆς ἀποκυήσεως , with ib. 4 (said of Plato) ἔσχε δ ʼ ἀδελφοὺς Ἀδείμαντον κ . Γλαύκωνα κ . ἀδελφὴν Ποτώνην .

ἐκάλεσεν ] i.e. Joseph; see Matthew 1:21 .

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 1". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/matthew-1.html. 1863-1878.
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