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Bible Commentaries

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
Matthew 1




Verse 1



Liber Generationis. Greek: Biblos geneseos. So Genesis ver. 1. Hic est liber generationis Adam, Greek: Biblos, &c.

Verse 2

begins with Abraham, the father of the faithful, because to him the promise was made, that all generations should be blessed in his seed. (Theophylactus)

Verse 3

Genesis xxxviii, ver. 6. & dein. and Zera of Thamar, her daughter-in-law. (Haydock)

Verse 5

Josue. chap. ii. & dein. We nowhere else find the marriage of Salmon with Rahab; but this event might have been known by tradition, the truth of which the divinely inspired evangelist here confirms. (Bible de Vence) Rahab was a debauched woman, preserved in the pillage of Jericho, where she had been born. In this genealogy only four women are mentioned, of which two are Gentiles, and two adulteresses. Here the greatest sinners may find grounds for confidence in the mercies of Jesus Christ, and hopes of pardon, when they observed how the Lord of life and glory, to cure our pride, not only humbled himself by taking upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh, but by deriving his descent from sinners, and inspiring the holy evangelist to record the same to all posterity. (Haydock)

Verse 6

from St. John Chrysostom's first Homil. upon the first chapter of St. Matthew: "How, you say, does it appear that Christ descended from David? For if he be born not of man, but of a virgin, concerning whose genealogy nothing is said, how shall we know that he is of the family of David? We have here two difficulties to explain. Why is the genealogy of the Virgin passed over in silence, and why is Joseph's mentioned, as Christ did not descend from him? ... How shall we know that the Virgin is descended from David? Hear the words of the Almighty addressed to the archangel Gabriel: 'Go to a virgin espoused to a man, whose name is Joseph, of the house and family of David.' What could you wish plainer that this, when you hear that the Virgin is of the family of David? Hence it also appears that Joseph was of the same house, for there was a law which commanded them not to marry any one but of the same tribe. ... But whether these words, of the house and family of David, be applied to the Virgin or to Joseph, the argument is equally strong. For if he was of the family of David, he did not take a wife but out of the same tribe, from which he had descended. Perhaps you will say he transgressed this law. But the evangelist has prevented such a suspicion, by testifying beforehand that Joseph was a just man. Beware how you attach crime to him, whose virtue is thus publicly acknowledged. ... It was not the custom among the Hebrews to keep the genealogies of women. The evangelist conformed to this custom, that he might not at the very beginning of the gospel offend by transgressing ancient rites, and introducing novelty."

Verse 8

Joram begot Ozias, three generations are omitted, as we find 2 Paraliponenon xxii; for there, Joram begot Ochozias, and Ochozias begot Joas, and Joas begot Amazias, and Amazias begot Ozias. This omission is not material, the design of St. Matthew being only to shew the Jews that Jesus, their Messias, was of the family of David; and he is equally the son, or the descendent of David, though the said three generations be left out: for Ozias may be called the son of Joram, though Joram was his great-grandfather. (Witham) --- It is thought that St. Matthew omitted these three kings, Ochozias, Joas, and Amazias, to preserve the distribution of his genealogy into three parts, each of fourteen generations; and, perhaps, also on account of their impiety, or rather on account of the sentence pronounced against the house of Achab, from which they were descended by their mother Athalia. (3 Kings xxi. 21.) (Calmet)

Verse 11



See St. Epiphanius hær. vi. pag. 21. Edit. Petav. Greek: epeide tines &c.

In transmigratione, Greek: epi tes metoikesias, i.e. circa tempus transmigrationis.

Verse 12

the text of the first book of Paralipomenon iii. 17, 19. it appears that Zorobabel was grandson to Salathiel. In comparing the present genealogy with that of St. Luke, (chap. iii.) we find that in this last part St. Matthew has suppressed many generations, to bring the list to the number 14; for there are a greater number from Zorobabel to Jesus Christ in St. Luke, but in a different branch. (Bible de Vence) --- The evangelist was well aware that the suppressed names could be easily supplied from the Jewish records; and that every person could reply most satisfactorily to any objection on that head, who was the least acquainted with the Jewish tables. In the first fourteen of these generations, we see the family of David rising to the throne; in the second, a race of kings descending from him; in the last, the royal family descending to a poor carpenter. Yet, when every human appearance of restoring the kingdom to David's house was at an end, Jesus arose to sit on his father's throne, (Luke i. 32.) and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Haydock)

Verse 16



Joseph virum Mariæ, Greek: ton anera Marias. And Ver. 19, vir ejus, Greek: aner autes. But Ver. 18, Greek: mnesteutheises, desponsata, Greek: mnesteuomai, is not properly the same as Greek: gamein.

Verse 18

account of the birth of Jesus Christ follows his genealogy. From these words, "before they came together," Helvidius and others have started objections, which have been answered long ago by St. Jerome, where he shews in many examples from Scripture, that the words before and until do not signify what happened afterwards; for that point is left indefinite, but only what was done before, or not done. Thus when it is said, Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thine enemies they footstool, Psalm cix, by no means signifies, that after the subjection of his enemies, the Son of God is no longer to sit at the right hand of his Father. In common conversation, when we say that a man died before he reached his 30th year, we do not mean that he afterwards attained it. Or, should we say that Helvidius died before he did penance, we cannot mean that he afterwards did penance: the same conclusion should be deduced from the words, "before they came together," the end being accomplished by the power of the operation of the Holy Ghost, without their going together. If we should advance, that such a man was cured before he went to a physician, the natural inference would be, that he did not go to a physician at all. Thus also in the language of Scripture, the word first-begotten does not mean after whom others were born, but before whom no one was born, where there were further issue or not. And the reason is, because the law required that a sacrifice should be offered for the first-born, and that he should be redeemed very soon after his birth; nor did it allow the parents to wait and see if any other son should be born. (Estius) --- True and perfect marriage, and continual living in the same, without knowing each other. (St. Augustine, lib. ii. Consen. Evang. chap. i.) (Bristow)

Verse 19

Joseph her husband, knowing her strict virtue, was surprised at this her pregnancy, but "being a just man," and not willing to expose her, by denouncing her, or giving her a bill of divorce, he had a mind to dismiss her privately, committing the cause to God. Let us learn from Joseph to be ever tender of our neighbour's reputation, and never to entertain any injurious thoughts, or any suspicions to his prejudice. (Haydock)

Verse 20

Fear not to take, &c. i.e., fear not to marry her, if we suppose them not yet married, or if married already, the sense is, fear not to keep and remain with thy chaste wife; lay aside all thoughts of dismissing and leaving her. (Witham) --- As the incarnation of the Son of God was effected by the whole blessed Trinity, it may be asked why this operation is peculiarly attributed to the Holy Ghost, not only here, but in Luke ii., and in the apostles' creed? The answer is, because as power is attributed to the Father, wisdom to the Son, so goodness is attributed to the Holy Ghost, and the gifts of grace which proceed from it. (Estius in different location)

Verse 21

Jesus . . . he shall save, &c. The characteristic name of Saviour was peculiar to the Messias, by which he was distinguished, as well as by the adorable name of Jesus. The expectations of both Jew and Gentile looked forward to a saviour. St. Augustine, in the 18th book, 23d chapter, de Civitate Die, introduces a curious anecdote. He mentions there, that he received from the eloquent and learned Proconsul Flactianus, a book containing in Greek the verses of one of the Sybils, which related to the coming of Christ. The substance of them is much the same as occurs in the prophecies of Isaiah, from which Virgil has likewise copied into his Pollio, many of the sublime thoughts which we find in that beautiful eclogue. It is remarkable that of the initials of these verses, St. Augustine had formed an acrostic to the following import, Greek: Iesous Christos Deos huios soter; that is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Saviour. (Haydock)

Verse 22

Greeks in general, after St. John Chrysostom, look upon this as a continuation of the angel's speech to St. Joseph. The other Fathers and commentators think it a reflection of the evangelist.

Verse 23



Ecce Virgo, Greek: idou e parthenos. So is it read, not only here in St. Matthew but in the Septuagint Isaias vii. St. Hier. [St. Jerome] lib. 1. Cont. Jovin. tom. iv. parte 2. pag. 174. Ostendant mihi, ubi hoc Verbo (Alma) appellentur et nuptæ, et imperitiam confitebor.


Verse 24

heretic Helvidius argues from this text, and from what we read in the gospel of Christ's brethren, that Christ had brothers, and Mary other sons. But it is evident that in the style of the Scriptures, they who were no more than cousins were called brothers and sisters. (Haydock)

Verse 25

note on ver. 18. --- St. Jerome assures us, that St. Joseph always preserved his virginal chastity. It is "of faith" that nothing contrary thereto ever took place with his chaste spouse, the blessed Virgin Mary. St. Joseph was given her by heaven to be the protector of her chastity, to secure her from calumnies in the birth of the Son of God, to assist her in her flight into Egypt, &c. &c. We cannot sufficiently admire the modest reserve of both parties. Mary does not venture to explain to her troubled husband the mystery of her pregnancy; and Joseph is afraid of mentioning his uneasiness and doubts, for fear of troubling her delicate mind and wounding her exquisite feelings. So great modesty, reserve and silence, are sure to be approved by heaven; and God sends an angel to Joseph in his sleep, to dissipate his doubts, and to expound to him the mystery of the incarnation. (Haydock)


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Bibliography Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Matthew 1:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

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Tuesday, May 26th, 2020
the Seventh Week after Easter
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