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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Matthew 1

Verses 1-17

Matthew 1:1-17 . The Genealogy of Jesus ( cf. Luke 3:23-38).— The Biblical part of this genealogy ( Matthew 1:2-12) is taken from 1 Chronicles 1-3, with some help from Ruth 4:18-20, Genesis 38:16 ff., and other OT passages. It contains devices for assisting the memory, e.g. ( a) three groups each of fourteen names, though one name is missing from the third group ( cf. Matthew 1:17); ( b) the three fourteens may be connected with the number (three) and the numerical value (fourteen) of the letters in the Heb. name David; ( c) notes like “ of Rahab,” “ of Ruth” ( Matthew 1:5), “ of her of Uriah” ( Matthew 1:6), and the reference to the Captivity ( Matthew 1:11). There are some slips in the Gr., e.g. Asaph ( mg.) for Asa, Amos ( mg.) for Amon. Three generations are omitted in Matthew 1:8 through a confusion of the Gr. name for Uzziah; and Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, is confused with Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Matthew 1:11) of the next generation. The second group should really have included eighteen names ( cf. Cod. Bezæ in Luke 3:23 ff.). Shealtiel and Zerubbabel ( Matthew 1:12) are the last biblical names; the remainder rests on tradition, and varies widely from Lk.’ s list. It is incredible that son should unfailingly succeed father in David’ s line for twenty generations: the Heb. for “ his son” often means simply “ his heir.” Legal, not physical, descent is meant throughout. The rabbis regard Rahab as a famous proselyte ( cf. Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25). While Mt.’ s list is of kings and (after the Exile) of claimants to the throne, Lk.’ s may be a list from the Bethlehem land-register of owners of Jesse’ s property. During the Exile no Jew held the land, and to fill the gap the names of Shealtiel and Zerubbabel as heirs of David might be inserted (Wright, Synopsis 3 , 299). The explanation that Lk. gives the line of Mary is not found in early Christian writers. Their view (Eusebius, Hist., i. 7) was that Joseph was the real son of Jacob (Mt.) but the legal son of Heli through a levirate marriage (p. 110, Deuteronomy 2:5 ff.*).

Wright shows that, dividing Lk.’ s list into four sections, we reach the following results:

Matthew 1:16 . The Sinaitic Syriac version ( c. A.D. 200), reads “ Jacob begat Joseph. Joseph, to whom was betrothed Mary the virgin, begat Jesus who is called the Messiah” (see JThS, Jan. 1910), but this need not be the original reading.

Verses 18-25

Matthew 1:18-25 . The Birth of the Messiah.— In Mt., Joseph has the principal rô le; in Lk., Mary. Six inspired dreams are narrated in Mt., three of them with “ the angel of Yahweh.” Five are in chs. 1 and 2, the sixth in Matthew 27. Early writers like Justin Martyr claimed credence for the virgin birth of Jesus because records of pagan religion were full of similar marvels. Philo is witness for similar Jewish beliefs about the patriarchs. One curious early idea was that Mary conceived by a shaft of Divine light through the ear.

Matthew 1:18 . Holy Ghost: in the OT sense, “ the power of God in active exercise.”

Matthew 1:19 . righteous: conscientious in observing the Law, “ and (yet) not willing,” etc. Lk. mentions no scruples and no thought of repudiation.

Matthew 1:21 . Jesus: Heb. Joshua, “ Yahweh is salvation.”— his people: the Jewish nation.

Matthew 1:22 f. Not part of the angel’ s address, but Mt.’ s comment ( cf. Isaiah 7:14 *). This introduces us to a marked feature of Mt., his use of OT., which has been referred to in Introd. See further the Comm. of Micklem (xxxi ff.); Burkitt, Gosp. Hist., pp. 124– 128; and especially R. Harris, Testimonies.

Matthew 1:25 is not a statement of the perpetual virginity of Mary, a doctrine bolstered up by one of two suppositions— that the brothers of Jesus were ( a) Joseph’ s children by a former marriage (Origen, Clem. Alex.), ( b) cousins of Jesus, sons of Mary the wife of Alphæ us ( Matthew 27:56 = Mark 15:40), “ brother” merely implying kinship (Jerome, Augustine). See “ Brethren of the Lord,” HSDB and HDB 1320.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Matthew 1". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.