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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Matthew 1



Verse 1

Matthew 1:1. βιβλος γενέσεωςthe Book, or Roll, of the Generation) A phrase employed by the LXX. in Genesis 2:4; Genesis 5:1. The books of the New Testament, however, being written at so early a period, abound with Hebraisms: and the Divine Wisdom provided, that the Greek version of the Old Testament should prepare the language, which would be the fittest vehicle for the teaching of the New. This title, however, the genealogy,(1) refers, strictly speaking, to what immediately follows (as appears from the remainder of the first verse), though it applies also to the whole book, the object of which is to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of David, etc., [in whom, as being the promised Messiah, the prophecies of the Old Testament have received their fulfilment. Hence it is that from time to time the evangelist frequently repeats the formula, “That it might be fulfilled.”—Vers. Germ.] See Matthew 1:20, and ch. Matthew 9:27, etc. For Scripture is wont to combine with genealogies the reasons for introducing them. See Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9.— ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, of Jesus Christ) The compound appellation, JESUS-CHRIST, or CHRIST-JESUS, or the simple one of CHRIST, employed by antonomasia,(2) came into use after the Pentecostal descent of the Holy Spirit. The four Gospels, therefore, have it only at their commencements and conclusions, the other writings everywhere.—See Notes on Romans 3:24 and Galatians 2:16. Comp. Matthew 1:16 below.— υἱοῦ δαυὶδ,(3) υἱοῦʼ αβραάμ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham) Our Lord is called the Son of David and the Son of Abraham, because He was promised to both. Abraham was the first, David the last of men to whom that promise was made; whence He is called the Son of David, as though David had been His immediate progenitor.—(See Rhenferd(4) Opera Philologica, p. 715.) Both of these patriarchs received the announcement with faith and joy (See John 8:56; and Matthew 22:43). Each of those mentioned in the following list was acquainted with the names of those who preceded, but not of those who came after him. Oh, with what delight would they have read this genealogy, in which we take so little interest! An allusion is here made by anticipation to the three Fourteens (afterwards mentioned in the 17th verse), of which the first is distinguished by the name of Abraham, the second by that of David, whilst the third, commencing, not like the others with a proper name, but with the Babylonian Captivity, is crowned with the name of Jesus Christ Himself: for the first and the second Fourteen contain the promise, the third its fulfilment. The narration, however, in the first verse goes backward from Christ to David, from David to Abraham. And so much the more conveniently is Abraham put here in the second place, because he comes on the scene immediately again in the following verse. St Mark, however, in the opening of his Gospel, calls Jesus the Son, not of David, but of GOD, because he begins his narration with the baptism of John, by whom our Lord was pointed out as the Son of God. Thus each of these evangelists declares the scope of his work in the title. The former part of this verse contains the sum of the New Testament—the latter part, the recapitulation of the Old.

Verse 2

Matthew 1:2. ἀβραάμ, Abraham) St Matthew, in enumerating our Lord’s ancestors, adopts the order of descent (though he employs that of ascent in Matthew 1:1), and begins also from Abraham, instead of Adam, not however to the exclusion of the Gentiles (cf. Matthew 28:19), since in Abraham all nations are made blessed.— καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ, and his brethren) These words are not added in the case of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, though they also had brethren, but only in that of Judah: for the promises were restricted to the family of Israel.

Verse 3

Matthew 1:3. καὶ τὸν ζαρὰ, and Zara) the twin-brother of Pharez.— ἐκ τῆς θάμαρ, of Thamar) St Matthew, in the course of his genealogy, makes mention of women who were joined to the race of Abraham by any peculiar circumstance. Thamar ought to have become the wife of Shelah (see Genesis 38:11; Genesis 38:26), and Judah became by her the father of Pharez and Zara: Rahab, though a Canaanitess, became the wife of Salmon: Ruth was a Moabitess, yet Boaz married her. The wife of Uriah became the wife of David.

Verse 4

Matthew 1:4. ναασσὼν, Naasson) Contemporary with Moses. The silence regarding Moses preserved throughout this pedigree is remarkable.

Verse 5

Matthew 1:5. τὸν βοὸζ ἐκ τῆς ῥαχάβ, Boaz of Rahab) Some think that the immediate ancestors of Boaz have been passed over; but it stands thus also in Ruth 4:21 : nor can the first Fourteen, the standard of the two others, admit of an hiatus. More correct is their opinion, who maintain that, in such a length of time, some of the ancestors mentioned lived to a great age. The definite article, τῆς, placed before the proper name ῥαχάβ, shows that Rahab of Jericho is here meant; nor does the orthography of the word ῥαχάβ interfere with this hypothesis: for both ῥαάβ (Raab or Rahab) and ῥαχάβ (Rachab) are written for רחב. See Hiller’s(5) Onomasticon Sacrum, p. 695. The Rahab of Jericho was very young when she hid the spies (Joshua 6:23): she outlived, however, Joshua and the elders (Ibid. Matthew 24:29-30); and her marriage with Salmon must have taken place still later, as it is not mentioned in that book, though it is recorded that she dwelt in Israel (See Joshua 6:25). In Ruth 1:1, the earliest times of the Judges seem to be meant, so that the verb שפט (which might otherwise be supposed redundant) may have an inceptive חַשֹֽׁפְטִים (translated in the E. V. the Judges ruled, marg. judged) ought to be rendered the Judges began to judge, so as to indicate with greater exactness the date of the event, at the commencement of the era of the Judges.—(I. B.)">(6) force, as in like manner מלך מָלַד 1) to regin, to be king; (2) to become king, 2 Samuel 15:10; 2 Samuel 16:8; 1 Kings 14:2.—GESENIUS.—(I. B.)">(7) often signifies he took the kingdom, or began to reign: and Naomi must have gone into Moab, before the Moabite domination mentioned in Judges 3:12. Rahab might therefore have been, as she actually was, the mother of Boaz. He did not marry Ruth till he was far advanced in life (see Ruth 3:10); and their grandson, Jesse, was very old (see 1 Samuel 17:12; 1 Samuel 17:14), when he became the father of David.—Cf. concerning Jehoiada, 2 Chronicles 24:15.

Verse 6

Matthew 1:6. δαυὶδ δὲ βασιλεὺς, but David the King) The appellation βασιλεὺς (the King), has been omitted by some early editors, but wrongly.(8) The kingship of David is twice mentioned here, as is the Babylonian captivity afterwards. The same title is understood, though not expressed, after the names of Solomon and his successors, as far as Matthew 1:11. David is, however, called especially the King, not only because he is the first king mentioned in this pedigree, but also because his throne is promised to the Messiah.—See Luke 1:32.

Verse 7

Matthew 1:7. ἐγέννησε, begat) Bad men, even though they are useless to themselves in their lifetime, do not exist in vain; since by their means the elect even are brought into the world.

Verse 8

Matthew 1:8. ἰωρὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησε τὸν ὀζίαν, but Joram begat Josiah) Ahaziah (who is the same as the Joahaz of 2 Chronicles 21:17; 2 Chronicles 22:1), Joash, and Amaziah (mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:11-12), are here passed over: so that the word ἐγέννησε (begat) must be understood mediately(9) instead of immediately: as frequently happens with the word υἱός (son), as in the first verse of this chapter, where our Lord is called the Son of David, who was His remote ancestor. In like manner Joram is here said to have begotten Josiah, who was his great-grandson,—that is to say, he was his progenitor. Thus, by referring to 1 Chronicles 6:7-9, we find, that six generations are left out in Ezra 7:3, between Azariah and Meraioth. St Matthew omitted the three kings in question, not because he was ignorant of their having existed (since the whole context proves his familiar acquaintance with his subject), but because they were well known to all: nor did he do so with any fraudulent intention, since, by increasing the number of generations, he would have confirmed the notion that the Messiah must have already appeared. Nor did he omit them on account of their impiety, for he has mentioned other impious men, as e.g. Jechonias, and him with especial consideration, and he has passed over several pious ones. But, as in describing roads and ways, it is necessary to be especially careful with regard to those points where they branch off in different directions, whereas a straight road may be found without any such direction, so does St Matthew in this genealogy point out with particular care those who have had brothers, and who, in contradistinction to them, have propagated the stem of the Messiah. He has indeed carried this so far that, having a reason(10) for not naming Jehoiakim, he has assigned his brothers to his only son; whilst he has passed over, without inconvenience, Joash, who was the only link(11) in his generation, together with his father and son. Furthermore, as in geography the distances of places from each other are, without any violence to truth, described sometimes by longer, sometimes by shorter stages,—so is it with the successive steps of generations in a pedigree; nor is the practice of Hebrew genealogists an exception to the general custom in this matter. The writers of the New Testament are accustomed also rather to imply than assert circumstances already well known on the authority of the Old Testament, and not liable to be mistaken, employing a brevity as congenial to the ardour of the Spirit, as desirable on other grounds.—See Gnomon on Acts 7:16. Oziah was previously called Azariah, but by the omission of one Hebrew letter ( ר, R) his name becomes Oziah.

(9) i.e., There being mediate or intervening persons.—ED

“The only spark in his generation to prevent the line being extinguished.”—ED.

Verse 11

Matthew 1:11. ἰωσίας δὲ ἐγέννησε τὸν ἰεχονίαν, But Josiah begat Jechoniah) Many transcribers both in ancient and in modern times, and those principally Greeks, have inserted Jehoiachim here, because, firstly, the Old Testament had that name in this situation, and secondly, the number of fourteen generations, from David to the Babylonian captivity, given by St Matthew, seemed to require the insertion. Jehoiachim, however, must not be inserted: for history would not suffer Jehoiachim to be put without his brothers, and brothers to be thus given to Jechoniah, who had none. Some have sought for Jehoiachim in St Matthew’s first mention of Jechoniah; Jerome(12) has done so especially, when answering Porphyry’s(13) objections to this verse on the ground of the hiatus. No transformation, however, will produce Jechoniah (in the LXX. ἰεχονίας) from the Hebrew יהויקים, the ἰωακεῖ΄ (Joakim) of the LXX., so as to make them one and the same name: nor have we any more reason for supposing that Jehoiachim and Jechoniah are intended by the repetition of the former, than that two separate individuals are intended by the repetition of Isaac’s name; and so on with the other names in the genealogy. The same Jechoniah is twice introduced under his own name: he was descended from Josiah through Jehoiachim, whose name is omitted. St Matthew calls Jechoniah’s uncles his brothers (cf. Genesis 13:8), and that with great felicity; for Zedekiah came to the throne after the commencement of the captivity, to the exclusion of the sons of Jechoniah, whom he succeeded, and who, though his nephew, was born eight years before him. The brothers, therefore, of Jehoiachim, of whom Zedekiah was chief, who is expressly called the brother in 2 Chronicles 36:10, and 2 Kings 24:17, instead of the uncle of Jechoniah, are appropriately mentioned after Jechoniah as his brothers.(14)ἐπὶ τὴς ΄ετοικεσίας, about the time of the migration(15)) The preposition ἐπὶ, which is contrasted with ΄ετὰ (after) in the twelfth verse, is also employed sometimes to denote the immediate sequence of that, during or about the time of which something else takes place.—See Gnomon on Mark 2:26. The Hebrew præfix ב has the same force in Genesis 10:25. The birth of Jechoniah was followed immediately by the removal to Babylon,—which is called by the LXX. both ἀποικεσία (the emigration), and μετοικεσία (the migration, immigration, or sojourning); the former with reference to Palestine, the latter with reference to Babylon.— βαβυλῶνος, of Babylon) i.e. to, or into Babylon. In like manner ὁδὸς αἰγύπτου, in Jeremiah 2:18, signifies the way into Egypt.

Verse 12

Matthew 1:12. μετὰ, after) sc. after he had migrated to Babylon.— σαλαθιὴλ δὲ ἐγέννησε τὸν ζοροβάβελ, but Salathiel begat Zorobabel) i.e., was the progenitor of; Pedaiah being the son of the former, and father of the latter. St Luke (Luke 3:27) mentions another Salathiel and Zorobabel, father and son, who must have lived about the same time with these.(16)

Verse 13

Matthew 1:13. ἐγέννησε τὸν ἀβιοὺδ, begat Abiud) This is the same as Hodaiah,(17) who was in like manner descended from Zorobabel, through several intervening ancestors (see 1 Chronicles 3:19; 1 Chronicles 3:24), as Hiller explains in his Syntagmata, pp. 361, sqq., where he shows, that the Jews acknowledged the genealogy in the said passage of Chronicles to be that of the Messiah: nor, indeed, was it necessary that any other genealogy should have been carried further down there than that of the Messiah. There can, therefore, be no doubt but that the passage in question was particularly well known to the Jews; and there was, consequently, the less need that St Matthew should repeat it in extenso. In this generation, then, concludes the scripture of the Old Testament. The remainder of the genealogy was supplied by St Matthew from trustworthy documents of a later date, and, no doubt, of a public character.

Verse 16

Matthew 1:16. τὸν ἄνδρα ΄αρίας, the husband of Mary) This turn of the genealogical line is evidently singular;(18) and in this place, therefore, I must advance and substantiate several important assertions.

I. Messias or Christ is the Son of David.

This is admitted by all.—See Matthew 22:42, and Acts 2:30.

II. Even in their genealogies both Matthew and Luke teach that Jesus is the Christ.

This is clear from Matthew 1:16, and Luke 3:22.

III. At the time when Matthew and Luke wrote the descent of Jesus from David had been placed beyond doubt.

Both Matthew and Luke wrote before the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, when the full genealogy of the house of David, preserved in the public records, was easily accessible to all: and our Lord’s adversaries did not ever make any objection, when Jesus was so frequently hailed as the Son of David.

IV. The genealogy in St Matthew from Abraham, and that in St Luke from the creation of man, to Joseph the husband of Mary, is deduced, not through mothers but fathers, and those natural fathers.

This is evident in the case of all those ancestors, whose names St Matthew and St Luke repeat from the Old Testament. Wherefore it is not said, whether Ruth had been the wife of Mahlon or Chilion; but Obed is simply said to be the son of his real father Boaz by Ruth [though his legal father was Mahlon.—See Ruth 4:10, etc.] From Abraham to David the same ancestors are evidently mentioned by both Matthew and Luke; so that there can be no doubt but that both Evangelists intend not mothers but fathers, and those, fathers by nature, from David to Joseph. Thus, in the books of Kings and Chronicles, as often soever as the mother of a king is mentioned alone, it is a sign that he whom her son is said to have immediately succeeded was his natural father.

V. The genealogy in Matthew from Solomon, and that in Luke from Nathan, is brought down to Joseph, not with the same, but with a different view [respectu, relation, regard.]

This is clear from the preceding section.

VI. Jesus Christ was the Son of Mary, but not of her husband Joseph.

This is evident from Matthew 1:16.

VII. It was necessary that the genealogy of Mary should be drawn out.

Without the genealogy of Mary, the descent of Jesus from David could not be proved, as follows from what has just been said.

VIII. Joseph was for some time reputed to be the father of the Lord Jesus.

The mystery of the Redeemer’s birth from a virgin was not made known at once, but by degrees; and, in the meanwhile, the honourable title of marriage was required as a veil for that mystery. Jesus, therefore, was believed to be the Son of Joseph, for instance, after His baptism, by Philip (John 1:45); in the time of His public preaching, by the inhabitants of Nazareth (Luke 4:22; Matthew 13:55), and only a year before His Passion by the Jews (John 6:42). Many still clung to this opinion even after our Lord’s Ascension, and up to the time, therefore, when, a few years subsequently to that event, St Matthew wrote his gospel.

IX. It was therefore necessary that the genealogy of Joseph also should in the meanwhile exist.

It was necessary that all those who believed Jesus to be the Son of Joseph, should be convinced that Joseph was descended from David. Otherwise they could not have acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of David, and consequently could not acknowledge Him to be the Christ. When therefore the angel first appeared to Joseph, and commanded him to take unto him his wife, he called him (Matthew 1:20) the son of David: because, forsooth, the Son of Mary would for a time have to bear that name as if derived from Joseph. In like manner, not only was Jesus in truth the first-born (Luke 2:7; Luke 2:23) of His mother, but it behoved also that He should be reputed to be the first-born of Joseph: those, therefore, who are called the brethren of Jesus, were His first cousins, not His half-brothers. It is needless to attempt, as some have done, to prove the consanguinity of Joseph and Mary from their marriage: for even if David be their nearest common ancestor, St Matthew’s object is attained. St Matthew then has traced the genealogy of Joseph, but still so as to do no violence to truth: for he does not say that Jesus is the Son of Joseph, but he does say that He was the Son of Mary; and in this very sixteenth verse he intimates, that this genealogy of Joseph, which had its use for a time, would afterwards become obsolete. Mary’s descent from David was equally well known at that time, as appears from St Luke.

X. Either Matthew gives the genealogy of Mary, and Luke that of Joseph; or Matthew that of Joseph, and Luke that of Mary.

This clearly follows from the preceding sections.

XI. The genealogy in Matthew is that of Joseph; in Luke, that of Mary.

St Matthew traces the line of descent from Abraham to Jacob: he expressly states that Jacob begat Joseph, and expressly calls Joseph the husband of Mary. Joseph therefore is regarded throughout this genealogy as the descendant of those who are enumerated, not on Mary’s account, but on his own. Matthew, indeed, expressly contradistinguishes Joseph from Mary as the son of Jacob; but in St Luke, by a less strict mode of expression, Heli (Luke 3:23) is simply placed after Joseph. Since, then, Joseph is described in Matthew as actually the son of Jacob, St Luke cannot mean to represent him as actually the son of Heli. The only alternative which remains, therefore, is to conclude that he is the son of Heli, not in his own person, but by virtue of another, and that other his wife. Mary, then, is the daughter of Heli. The Jewish writers mention a certain מרים בת עלי, Mary, the daughter of Heli, whom they describe as suffering extreme torments in the infernal regions.—See Light-foot(19) on Luke 3:23, and Wolfius(20) on Matthew 1:20. St Luke does not, however, name Mary in his genealogy; for it would have sounded ill, especially to Jewish ears, had he written “Jesus was the Son of Mary, the daughter of Heli, the son of Matthat,” etc.—on which account he names the husband of Mary, but that in such a manner that all may be able to understand (from the whole of his first and second chapters), that the name of Mary’s husband stands for that of Mary herself.

XII. That in St Luke is the primary, that in St Matthew the secondary genealogy.

When a genealogy is traced through female as well as male ancestors, any descent may be deduced in many ways from one root; whereas a pedigree, traced simply from father to son, must of necessity consist only of a single line. In the genealogy, however, of Jesus Christ, Mary, His mother, is reckoned with His male ancestors, by a claim of incomparable precedence. In an ordinary pedigree ancestors are far more important than ancestresses. Mary, however, enters this genealogy with a peculiar and unrivalled claim, above that of every ancestor whatever of the whole human race; for whatever Jesus derived from the stock of man—of Abraham, or of David—that He derived entirely from His mother. This is the One Seed of Woman without Man. Other children owe their birth partly to their father, partly to their mother. The genealogy of Mary, therefore, which is given in St Luke, is the primary one. Nor can that of Joseph, in St Matthew, be considered otherwise than secondary, and merely employed for the time, until all should become fully convinced, that Jesus was the Son of Mary, but not of Joseph. St Matthew mentions Jechoniah, although he is passed by in the primary genealogy.—See Jeremiah 22:30; and cf. Luke 1:32-33.

XIII. Whatever difficulty yet remains regarding this whole matter, so far from weakening, should even confirm our faith.

The stock of David had, in the time of Jesus of Nazareth, dwindled down to so small a number (see Revelation 22:16), that on this ground also the appellation “Son of David” was used by Antonomasia(21) for “The Messiah.” And that family consisted so exclusively of Jesus and His relatives, that any one who knew Him to belong to it could not fail, even without the light of faith, to acknowledge Him as the Messiah, since the period foretold by the prophets for His manifestation had already arrived, and none of our Lord’s relations could be compared with Himself. Our Lord’s descent, therefore, from the race of David, as well as His birth at Bethlehem, were less publicly known; nay, rather He was in some degree veiled, as it were, by the name of Nazarene, that faith might not lose its price.(22)—See John 7:27; John 7:41-42. And thus men, having been first induced on other grounds to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, concluded, on the same grounds, that He must be the Son of David.—See Matthew 12:23. The necessary public documents, however, were in existence, whence it came to pass, that the chief priests, though employing every means against our Lord, never questioned His descent from David. Nay, even the Romans received much information concerning the Davidical descent of Jesus.—See Luke 2:4. Of old the facility with which His descent could be traced, showed Jesus to be the Son of David: now the very difficulty of so doing (caused as it is by the destruction of Jerusalem, and all the public records which it contained), affords a proof, against the Jews at least, that the Messiah must long since have come. Should they acknowledge any other as the Messiah, they must ascertain his descent from David in precisely the same manner that we do that of Jesus of Nazareth. As light, however, advanced, the aspect of the question has not a little changed. Jesus was called, on various occasions, “The Son of David,” by the multitude (ch. Matthew 12:23, Matthew 21:9), by children (Matthew 21:15), by the blind men (Matthew 9:27, Matthew 20:30), by the woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:22): but He never declared to His disciples that He was the Son of David, and they, in their professions of faith, called Him, not “The Son of David,” but “The Son of God;” He invited, also, those who called Him the Son of David, to advance further.—See Matthew 21:42-43, and Matthew 9:28. In the first instance our Lord’s descent from David was rather a ground of faith, afterwards it became rather an obstacle to faith. No difficulty can now be a hinderance to them that believe.—See 2 Corinthians 5:16. Jesus is the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.(23)

XIV. Matthew and Luke combine ulterior objects and advantages with the genealogy.

If the Evangelists had merely wished to show that Mary and also Joseph were descended from David, it would have been sufficient for their purpose, had they, taking the genealogies as they exist in the Old Testament for granted, commenced at the point where these conclude, namely, with Zorobabel, or at any rate with David himself, and traced the line through Nathan or Solomon down to Jesus Christ. St Matthew, however, begins further off, viz. with Abraham, and descends through David and Solomon. St Luke, on the other hand, ascends to Nathan and David, and thence beyond Abraham to the first origin of the human race. Each of them, therefore, must have had at the same time a further object in view.

St Luke, as is evident at first sight, makes a full recapitulation(24) and summary of the lineage of the whole human race, and exhibits with that lineage the Saviour’s consanguinity to all Gentiles, as well as Jews: St Matthew, writing to the Hebrews, begins with Abraham, thus reminding them of the promise which had been made to that Patriarch. Again, St Luke simply enumerates the whole series, through more than seventy steps, without addition or comment: whereas St Matthew, besides several remarkable observations which he introduces in particular cases concerning the wives and brothers of those whom he mentions, and the Babylonian Captivity, divides the whole series into three periods; and, as we shall presently consider, enumerates in each of these periods fourteen generations. And hence, also, we perceive the convenience of the descent in Matthew, and the ascent in Luke: for in this manner the former was enabled more conveniently to introduce those observations and divisions; the latter, to avoid the stricter word ἐγέννησε, begat, and take advantage of the formula ὡς ἐνομίζετο, as was supposed, and in an exquisite manner to conclude the whole series with God.— λεγόμενος χριστός, who is called Christ) St Matthew is dealing with the Jewish reader, who is to be convinced that Jesus is the Christ, by such means as His genealogy. And accordingly he here and there [throughout his Gospel] expresses and establishes what the other Evangelists take for granted. The force of the name Christ recalls especially the promise given to David concerning the Kingdom of the Messiah: and the force of the name Jesus recalls especially the promise given to Abraham concerning the Blessing.(25)

Verse 17

Matthew 1:17. πᾶσαι οὖν αἱ γενεαὶ, κ. τ. λ., So all the generations, etc.) An important summing up (ingens symperasma),(26) the force of which we exhibit, by the following positions.

I. St Matthew introduced this clause with the most deliberate design.

The Messiah was really descended from David through Nathan: the genealogy, however, in Matthew, descends from David through Solomon to Joseph. Therefore, those who already knew that Jesus was not the Son of Joseph, paid little heed to Joseph’s pedigree; St Matthew, therefore, traces this genealogy in such a manner as to be serviceable to all who either believed that Jesus was the Son of Mary, but not of Joseph, or thought that He was the Son of Joseph also, and so to lead both classes to Christ, the Son of David.

II. St Matthew makes three fourteens. We exhibit them in the following table:
























































JESUS, who is called CHRIST.

III. St Matthew, therefore, lays down three periods.

St Luke enumerates every step, ascending even to GOD. Yet, so far from counting the steps in each period, he does not divide his genealogy into periods at all: St Matthew, however, distinguishes three periods,—the first from Abraham to David, the second from David to the captivity, the third from the captivity to Christ; and in each of these periods, as we shall presently see, he mentions fourteen steps.

IV. St Matthew reduces each period to fourteen generations.

Matthew does not mention all the ancestors of Joseph who occur in the direct line, and yet he reduces those whom he does mention to a set number. Some seek here a division into sevens; the Evangelist, however, does not mention sevens, but fourteens. Again, he does not bring these fourteens together into a sum total, for he does not say, that they amount in all to 40, 41, or 42: nor is it our business to do so. As in the reigns of the kings of Israel, the last year of the preceding is frequently reckoned as the first of the succeeding sovereign, so must we admit that St Matthew has acted on the same principle, since the fact itself leaves no doubt of the case. Thus David undoubtedly is both the last of the first fourteen, and the first of the second fourteen. He is reckoned in the first; for it would otherwise comprise only thirteen generations. He is reckoned in the second, because as the first begins inclusively from Abraham, and the third inclusively from Jechoniah, so must the second begin inclusively from David. Jechoniah, however, is not reckoned in the same manner as the last of the second fourteen, because the fourteen generations, which commence with David, are counted not to Jechoniah, but to the Babylonian captivity. Vallesius(27) (p. 454) thinks Jechoniah, as it were, a double person; you might assert that with greater correctness of David.

V. In each case, his object was to prove that Jesus was truly called, and was, the Christ.

He proceeds in a marked manner from the name Jesus to the surname Christ, in verses 16, 17, 18; and he marks the dissimilarity in the character of the periods, and the equality in the number of the generations. That dissimilarity, and that equality, whether taken apart or together, tend to the one object of proving Jesus to be the Christ, as we shall immediately perceive.

VI. The three periods are dissimilar to each other.

If St Matthew had merely intended to compose a genealogy, he might have omitted all this Congeries(28) of names, or at any rate, have confined himself to the mention of proper names, and said, “From Abraham to David,” “from David to Jechoniah,” “from Jechoniah to Jesus.” Instead of so doing, however, after the other matters preceding, he says, “to the Captivity;” and again, “From the Captivity to Christ.” The land-mark, limit, standing-point, therefore, of the first period is David, of the second the Captivity, of the third Christ. The first period, then, is that of the Patriarchs; the second, that of the Kings; the third, for the most part, of private individuals.

VII. This dissimilarity strikingly proves that Jesus is the Christ.

The different heads under which St Matthew reduces the three periods, show, that the time at which Jesus was born, was the time appointed for the birth of the Christ, and that Jesus Himself was the Christ. The first and the second fourteen have an illustrious commencement; the third has one, as it were, blind and nameless. Hence is clearly deduced, and brilliantly shines forth, the end and goal of the third, and all the periods, namely, the CHRIST. The first period is that of promise, for in it Abraham stands first, and David last, to each of whom the promise was given; the second is that of adumbration, by means of the Davidical sovereignty, and the fact that it is considerably shorter than either of the others, furnishes a reasonable ground for expecting that the kingdom of David, as fulfilled in Christ (see Luke 1:32), will be far more glorious hereafter, and more lasting. The third period is that of expectation. The most distinguished personages in the first period are Abraham and David, who stand respectively first and last in it. The most distinguished personage in the second period is the same David, who is now found standing first. The first name which occurs in the third period is that of Jechoniah, so called also in 1 Chronicles 3:17, who was bound with chains, to whom no heir was promised of his throne; nay, further, against whom, as well as against his uncle and father, all other woes were denounced (Jeremiah 22:11; Jeremiah 22:18; Jeremiah 22:25), so that, though he was not actually without offspring, yet, as a warning to posterity, he should be written ערירי, childless (Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 22:30), without, that is to say, an heir to his throne; and it was with reference to these three kings that the earth was invoked thrice, “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord” (Ibid. Jeremiah 22:29). Hence it arises that, when stating the boundary between the second and third fourteens, St Matthew does not name Jechoniah; but, instead of so doing, mentions the Babylonian Captivity. Much additional weight accrues to this argument from the words of Jeremiah; for in the time of Moses, midway between Abraham and David, a covenant was made with the people of Israel, which was abrogated about the time of the captivity of Jechoniah.—See Jeremiah 29:1; Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:8; Hebrews 8:13. In the times of Abraham and David, Christ was promised; after the time of David, the Davidical sovereignty, which was overthrown at the Babylonian Captivity, did not last so long as the preceding period, that, namely, between Abraham and David. Then, indeed, it was that a new covenant was promised, the author and surety whereof should be Christ. The state, therefore, of the Jewish nation after the Captivity, could not but tend to, and end in the Christ. In the Psalms, and other predictions delivered during the time of the Kings, the sacred writers, as the march of prophecy moved onward, generally compared the present with the future; whereas, after the Babylonian Captivity, they contrasted the one with the other, whilst contemplating the future as coming nearer and nearer their own times.(29)

VIII. St Matthew makes the three periods equal with each other.

This is evident from his repeating the number FOURTEEN three times with the utmost deliberation.—See Section IV.

IX. He makes up both the third and the second Fourteens by omitting several links in the pedigree: in the first, however, he makes no such omission.

In the second period, he, after Jehoram, passes over Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah, and, after Josiah, he leaves out Jehoiakim: in the third period, after Salathiel, he omits Pedaiah. Nor, indeed, was Zorobabel the immediate father of Abihud; for, whereas his sons are Mesullam and Hananias, each of these two names differs from Abihud. Hiller enumerates nine links omitted after Zorobabel, and shows that Hodaiah and Abihud are the same individual. The descendants of David from Solomon to Hodaiah are enumerated in 1 Chronicles 3:5; 1 Chronicles 3:10-24. Now, since neither the second nor the third Fourteen consist in themselves of exactly fourteen generations, the first must of necessity have that number: for otherwise the number Fourteen, by which the three periods are arranged and represented as equal, would be without any foundation in fact, and the number fifteen, or some greater still, would have to be substituted for it. Fourteen generations are clearly enumerated in the Old Testament from Abraham to David.—See 1 Chronicles 1:34; 1 Chronicles 2:1; 1 Chronicles 2:4-15. Whence Rabbi Bechai(30) says, that King David was the fourteenth from Abraham, according to the number of the letters of his name דוד, which make fourteen.(31) In early ages men generally became fathers at a more advanced period of life, than they did in later times. Hence it is that the first Fourteen stands on its own foundation, the second is produced by a less, the third by a greater omission. And though some generations, with which we are already acquainted from the Old Testament, are in St Matthew passed over and left to be understood, the Evangelist has not omitted in the New Testament a single generation, which was subsequent to those that are mentioned in the Old: and in the Old Testament, not a single generation is omitted. The first Fourteen, therefore, is so in fact, the second and third are so in form.

X. The number of generations which St Matthew omits, accords with the numbers which both he and St Luke mention.

Between Jehoram and Abihud, St Matthew omits in all fourteen generations, see Sect IX.; and though he only mentions three Fourteens for the sake of the number of the periods from Abraham to Christ, he nevertheless implies, in accordance with his system, that there were really four.(32) In this way Matthew has by implication, from Abraham to the birth of Christ, fifty-five generations. St Luke expressly enumerates fifty-six generations to the time when Jesus was thirty years of age. They therefore agree.

XI. The equality of the Fourteens is not fulfilled in the actual number XIV., by which they are distinguished.

The Talmudists are fond of reducing the proximate numbers of different things to actual equality. Lightfoot has collected examples of this in illustration of the present passage, and they afford a satisfactory reply to the Jews, when they sneer at the Fourteens of St Matthew. He defends, however, somewhat too slackly the actual truth of the Fourteens. What James Rhenford adduces on this passage is far more to the purpose, viz., that the fifteen generations before Solomon, and the fifteen after him, were so enumerated by the Jews, as to correspond with the days of the increasing [waxing] and waning moon. But this line of argument also is somewhat weak. St Matthew did not follow any technical(33) or masoretic(34) aid to the memory, or anything else of the kind. For what great purpose could it serve to retain in the memory the names and number of these ancestors, in preference to those which are omitted, or to adopt a method never before employed in the many genealogies and other important chapters of the Old Testament, for impressing them more fully on the minds of the Jews, who retained them in their memory accurately enough of themselves. But if he had wished to secure the integrity of this enumeration by a kind of Masora, it would have been better for the purpose to have made one sum of all the generations. In the last place, it would have ill suited the grave character of an apostle and evangelist, first to enumerate the generations as suited his own convenience, and then admire the equality of the Fourteens. The number Fourteen is not mentioned for its own sake, but for the sake of something else: it is not an end, but a means to obtain an end of greater importance.

XII. The Equality here intended is Chronological.

The apostles, looking back from the New to the Old Testament, have great regard to the fulness of the times; and the Jews are wont to describe the chief divisions of chronology by numbers of generations, as, for example, in Seder Olam.(35) St Matthew, therefore, skilfully propounds to the reader a Chronology under the garb of a Genealogy, combining both in this summary. The particle οὖν (therefore) has an inferential, and the article αἱ(36) (the) a relative force, indicating that those identical generations are intended, which have been just enumerated in the preceding verses. Each clause, moreover, of this verse has the word γενεαὶ (generations), both in the subject and predicate. In the subject it corresponds with the Hebrew תלדת,(37) as in Genesis 25:12-13; but in the predicate it corresponds with the Hebrew דו̇ ר,(38) and has a chronological force, as is evident from the addition of the numeral fourteen;—Cf. Genesis 15:16. In the Greek there is an instance of Antanaclasis,(39) one Greek word performing the part of two Hebrew ones: so that we may paraphrase the verse thus—All those genealogical generations, therefore (never mind the tautology), reduced for the sake of method to fourteen, are actually fourteen chronological generations,—from Abraham to David, etc. Such being the case, we perceive a sufficient cause for St Matthew’s reducing to such numbers the genealogy, which would have been in itself much plainer without such an enumeration. Well does Chrysostom(40) say, that St Matthew enumerates generations, times, years, and lays them before the hearer as subjects for further investigation.—See Chrys. Hom. iv. on St Matthew. Let us, however, consider wherein the chronological equality consists. It does not consist in the number Fourteen which is employed in all the three periods for the sake of method; see Sect. XI.: nor in the years of generations in the Fourteens taken separately; for in the first Fourteen the generations are, for the most part, much longer than in the second and third: but it consists in the periods them selves. Consider the following scheme:—


1946 Birth of Abraham.

2016 The Promise, I. [characteristic of the first period].

2121 Death of Abraham.

2852 Birth of David.

2882 David becomes King, II. [characteristic of the second period].

2923 Death of David.

3327 Birth of Jechoniah.

3345 Jechoniah Bound, III. [characteristic of the third period].

3939 Birth of Christ.

3969 Baptism of Christ.

Now, in the first place, take the sum of the years in each Fourteen, and divide them by fourteen, which is the number of generations, and you will obtain the length of the single generations in each period: so that, in the first period, a generation will contain sixty-two, in the second, thirty-three, and in the third, forty-two years. The mean length will be about forty-six years: this, however, I will not press. Take, in the second place, which is more to the purpose, the nine hundred and twenty-three years from the promise given to Abraham till the birth of Christ, and divide them by three, which is the number of the periods: the mean length of the periods will not come up to that of the first, will exceed that of the second, but will agree admirably with that of the third. The third therefore stands as the primary period (to which the two others are subservient), between the excess of the first and the defect of the second, which mutually compensate each other. And the Evangelist has acted as geographers do, who, when wishing to express the distance between two cities, enumerate the stations interposed between them, in such a manner, that they add to one stage the paces which they take from another, and thus produce more conveniently the real total without any violence to truth. In fact, the Evangelist has done that, which every chronologer does, when he enumerates the years in his canons so as to absorb the excesses and defects of the months and days. In short, the years of the first and second period, taken together, are exactly double those of the third period. On the same principle, Moses has reduced the times of Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses, which might have exhibited more or fewer genealogical generations in this or that family, to four chronological generations, or four centuries, those years only being omitted, in which Levi, Kohath, and Amram became parents. It is difficult to represent in words the design of Moses or Matthew; nor can the interpretation of such a matter appeal, at first sight, otherwise than crude and harsh: if, however, it be frequently pondered upon, the acerbity will disappear.

XIII. The chronological equality of the three periods, is a proof that Jesus is the Christ.

There is a perpetual analogy between the periods of time, defined by Divine Wisdom; and these three most important periods correspond remarkably with each other. From the Captivity to Christ, are Fourteen generations, says St Matthew; just as Gabriel, when revealing to Daniel the seventy weeks, said, that the city should be built [“in seven weeks, and three-score and two weeks from the going forth of the commandment”] unto the Messiah the Prince.—See Daniel 9:25. And St Matthew had that same system of times in his mind. The Captivity, the revelation which was vouchsafed to Daniel, the Return, the actual commencement of the Seventy Weeks, are separated by short but remarkable intervals. From that point downwards, the Seventy Weeks, throughout their long course, accompany this the last Fourteen, until Christ completes both, and the Fourteen before the Weeks. The Seventy Weeks consist of less than 560 years, as I have shown in the Ordo Temporum, and comprise about twelve generations, each of them (as we have observed in Section IX.) being about forty-six years in duration. It behoved that Christ should come within the Seventy Weeks. The expectation of Israel, therefore, could not be delayed for more than fourteen generations after the Captivity.

XIV. The dissimilarity of the three periods, and the equality of the Fourteens, when taken together, confirm this important conclusion still more, by a cumulative argument.

If any one will compare together, and combine what we have said in the Seventh and Thirteenth Sections, he will perceive that these two arguments reciprocally strengthen each other. The first and second periods were far more glorious than the third, which could not therefore fail to have the conclusion most desired, after so long a cessation of both the Promise and the Kingdom.(41)

In the Treatise on the birth of the Lord JESUS, published A.D. 1749, by Dr S. J. Baumgarten,(42) in the name of the Academy of Halle, my Gnomon is openly assailed in three places.

In the first place, after refuting the opinion of William Reading, who concluded from the right of Jesus Christ to the Jewish kingdom, that Joseph had had no sons before his birth, he says (p. 20), that I appear to maintain the same view. I however only showed (p. 10, Sec. IX.) that Jesus must have been reputed to be the first-born of Joseph, just as much as He was reputed to be his Son. I said nothing there concerning His right to the kingdom.

The second passage, which occurs soon afterwards, runs thus:—“They double and wonderfully increase the difficulty, who consider that Phaidaiah has been passed over by St Matthew, so as to make Zorobabel the grandson of Salathiel, and the great grandson of Jechoniah; a view which has found favour with many interpreters, although Phaidaiah is expressly called (1 Chronicles 3:18-19) the brother of Salathiel, and the son of Jechoniah. This opinion, however, is far more tolerable than that put forward by Matthew Hiller, in the third chapter of his dissertation on the true meaning of the words which composed the inscription on our Lord’s Cross (Syntagmata Hermeneutica, pp. 361–363). Bengel, however, in the eighth and fourteenth pages of his Gnomon, has gone still further, declaring that the Abiud of Matthew is the same with the Hodaiah or Hodauihu mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:24, as the tenth from Zorobabel. By which immense leap, he has so far pleased himself, as seriously to think that Matthew has purposely and deliberately passed over an entire Fourteen, which is made up of these nine descendants of Zorobabel, of the father of the same Phaidaiah, of three descendants of Joram, and of the father of Jechoniah, and that this is not without mystery for the construction of the three periods of time, which he then computes according to his own pleasure. We will give his own words. ‘Between Jehoram and Abiud, St Matthew omits in all fourteen generations; see section IX.; and though he only mentions three fourteens for the sake of the number of the periods from Abraham to Christ, he nevertheless implies, in accordance with his system, that there were really four.’(43)

“Greatly and sadly do we fear lest the credit of Holy Scripture should be brought into danger by this fictitious systematizing,(44) a danger not to be averted by any distinction between implied or expressed meaning. Even if the Book of Chronicles expressly mentioned Abiud, this hypothesis would still be inadmissible (since many men have undoubtedly borne the same name); and it will appear utterly inexcusable to any one who carefully considers with himself, both what tortures must be employed to transform Abiud into Hodaiah, and also how very much the divine credit of the Book of Chronicles must be imperilled, if it be laid down (the only argument by which the conjecturers support their improbable opinion), that no genealogy is carried further in that book, than the genealogy of the Messiah, of which the writer of Chronicles must certainly have been ignorent without a special revelation.”

What follows in the Programm(45) has nothing to do with me. To the objections quoted above, I reply:

(1.) I have computed the three periods of time, not according to my own pleasure, but from the observations which occur in the text of St Matthew. For the first and second periods are divided by “David, the King,” who, in the mere genealogy of Ruth 4:22, is not called “the king:” the second and third are divided by the Babylonian Captivity, which is not a generation, but an epoch. Dr Baumgarten’s Programm itself (p. 24) does not differ much from this.

(2.) I am more doubtful now than I was formerly whether St Matthew has passed over Jehoiakim: it is certain, however, that he has passed over three generations, viz., Ahaz, Joash, and Amaziah; and my Gnomon suggests one reason, his Programm another, why the Evangelist should have passed over these three rather than any others. It ought, therefore, to be carefully considered, whether the observations which are made in that Programm against the other generations, which have also been omitted, do not bring the credit of the sacred writers into danger. The Programm also lays it down (p. 18) that six generations are omitted in Ezra 7:3.

(3.) Whether it was one man, called indiscriminately Hodaiah and Abiud, or whether two individuals are represented respectively by these names, Hiller has assuredly demonstrated that the meaning of both is the same, whose modes of eliciting the truth(46) many would find serviceable, if they would condescend to employ them.

(4.) I now, however, acknowledge that Hodaiah and Abiud were distinct individuals; but I am induced to do so by the single argument, that the nearer Abiud is to Christ, the farther he must be from the ancient times of the Chronicles, and of Hodaiah himself. I have nowhere said that the genealogy of the Messiah or Joseph is carried farther in Chronicles than the other genealogies, neither have I had any cause for so saying.

(5.) The number of Fourteen generations which Hiller has specified as being omitted by St Matthew, received a certain additional appearance of probability from their accordance with the three Fourteens of generations mentioned by the Evangelist.

(6.) Where the Programm in question abruptly concludes with those words of mine concerning St Matthew, there the Gnomon goes on immediately to say, “St Luke expressly enumerates fifty-six generations from Abraham to the time when Jesus was thirty years of age. They agree, therefore.” On considering this passage, it will, I think, become evident, that the antithesis between the words “implied” and “expressed” is perfectly harmless; and that the apparent difference in the numbers of generations mentioned by the two evangelists can be satisfactorily reconciled by means of those which St Matthew has omitted.

(7.) If St Matthew has omitted rather fewer generations, this does not detract from the remainder of my explanation.

(8.) Since the Programm (p. 13) touches on the passage in Luke 3:23, we shall offer some observations also on it. In these words, ὢν, ὡς ἐνομίζετο, υἱὸς ἰωσὴφ, τοῦ ἡλεὶ, κ. τ. λ. (being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, etc.), Baumgarten expunges the comma after ἐνομίζετο (was supposed), so as to make ὡς ἐνομίζετο υἱὸς ἰωσὴφ (as was supposed the son of Joseph) a parenthesis; though the word ἐνομίζετο (was supposed) belongs rather, without any diminution of truth, to the whole genealogy, as I have shown in the present work. I remark by the way—on the passage in question, that, when our Lord is said to have been about thirty years of age, some latitude is ascribed to the year xxx. by the word ὡς (about), so that there may have been an excess, or rather a defect, of some days, without detriment to the precise number of thirty years. Baumgarten, however, in his Church History, Sec. i. p. 105, introduces some few years above thirty: a license which is quite unallowable, since in this manner the most important calculations of time which occur in the evangelists, are put entirely out of joint. Scripture records many and various ages of men, and introduces odd numbers of years, such as 21 and 29, although they approach very nearly to round numbers, such as 20 and 30. We ought not, therefore, to imagine that the most important of all, namely, the age of Jesus, can have been left in doubt.

The third passage occurs at p. 26, and runs thus:—“They who attempt to produce any other equalization or comparison of these periods, seek to serve unwisely the interests of a good cause, which is not benefited by crude and harsh fancies, such as Bengel himself confesses that his own opinion (of the chronology which he imagines to be concealed in this genealogy, and to be conducive to the exposition in his Gnomon) must appear at first sight. We at least have not experienced that which he thought would be the case, namely, that it would grow less harsh by being more frequently thought over; for though we have read it again and again at least ten times, and thought it over diligently, it has by this process become more and more repugnant to us: in fact, we are clearly convinced, that whatever is by means of arithmetical operations made out of the numbers which we meet with in the sacred history, ought not to be attributed to the sacred writers, and cannot be referred to their meaning, unless we wish to excel even Jewish ingenuity by our cabalistic sagacity.”

Others have followed and added to this censure. For at Leipsic there has appeared both a certain academical exercise and the revision of an academical exercise, in which these words are applied to me,—“He almost surpasses the fabrications of Jews and Cabalists, since he introduces his RAW fancies into the sacred chronology.” But I return to the Hallian censure. The author of that censure should take care lest the last words which I have quoted from it strike the sacred writer himself, whose meaning is placed at a far greater distance above mere accommodation to Jewish tastes than the Programm either acknowledges or permits to be acknowledged. If, however, another sufficient interpretation be given, I will willingly give up my own. It has not happened to the author of the Programm to find my opinion grew, upon consideration, less harsh: it does, however, happen to others, who weigh well my notes on Matthew 1:16-17. For, in fact, I am neither the only one nor the first who have asserted that the Evangelist propounds a chronology under cover of the genealogy. I have already cited Chrysostom, at p. 30. I must add Daniel Chamier,(47) who says that thrice fourteen chronological ages are intended by the genealogical steps, which were really more numerous than those mentioned. See by all means his Panastratiæ Catholicæ, vol. iii. b. 18, ch. 2. Very lately also John Frederick Fresenius has produced a commentary on the thrice fourteen generations of Matthew 1, which not only exists in a separate form, but has also been inserted by his brother with equal advantage into his fifth pastoral collection from John D’Espagne.(48) The very Programm itself employs words which accommodate themselves to my opinion in spite of their author; for at p. 24 he says,—“By the gradual evolving of the Divine promise,(49) the complete time which had elapsed from GOD’S entering into covenant with Abraham was divided into three periods, nearly equal in length, if you reckon that length by ages of men.” He is right in employing the word Ages (Aetates); for the equality consists properly in the number of ages intimated by the number of generations expressed; whereas the actual number of generations, some of which are expressed and some omitted, is somewhat larger than that of those which are expressed. Such being the case, the numbers stated in Holy Scripture invite the diligent reader to arithmetical calculations, nor can they safely be treated with contempt where they accord with the matter under consideration. The Hebrews frequently express numbers of years by generations. Away with Jewish Ingenuity! away with Cabalistic Sagacity! Christian research will rightly endeavour, if not to attain to, at least to follow after, the sagacity of the Evangelist, mentioned in the Programm (p. 25.) It may easily be supposed that the Programm, delivered on a solemn occasion in a celebrated spot, must have found many more readers than this my explanation. I trust, however, that it may confer some little advantage on some few readers; and it is better to induce even one man to search after truth, than to estrange many from a single trace of it, however slight.

He was appointed in 1612 Professor of Divinity at Montauban, and during the siege of that town by Louis XIII., was killed by a cannon-ball in 1621. He is supposed to have had great part in composing the Edict of Nantes.—(I. B.)

Verse 18

Matthew 1:18. τοῦ δὲ χριστοῦ γέννησις οὓτως ἦν, The generation, however, of Christ was on this wise) By this most ancient reading(50) the text refers to Matthew 1:17, and the advent of the Messiah, expected for so many generations, is declared and exhibited (exsertè demonstratur) to the reader. Thus, too, the words, ἐγεννήθη, (was generated), and γὲννησις, (generation), refer mutually to each other. The particle δὲ (however) subserves both references. In like manner, the name “JESUS” is repeated in ch. Matthew 2:1, from ch. Matthew 1:25. In later ages, most of the Greek copyists have added ἰησοῦ(51) (the genitive case of ἰησοῦς, Jesus) before χριστοῦ (the genitive case of χριστός, Christ), according to which reading, the expression would refer with less force to either the first or sixteenth verse indifferently. It was the CHRIST whom Mary had in her womb by the Holy Ghost, and whom Joseph, afterwards, by the command of the angel, called JESUS. Elegantly, and in accordance with the order of events, the name JESUS is reserved till Matthew 1:21; Matthew 1:25.—Cf. Gnomon on Luke 2:11. The word γέννησις (generation) includes (Matthew 1:18-25) both the Conception (cf. γεννηθὲν, conceived, Matthew 1:20) and the Nativity (cf. γεννηθέντος, having been born, Matthew 2:1). For Matthew 1:18 contains the introductory statement (propositionem)(52) of those matters which follow, to which, also, the οὕτως (thus, or on this wise) refers: and the conjunction γὰρ (for) commences the handling of the subject (tractationem), which corresponds with the introductory statement.—Cf. the use of γὰρ in Hebrews 2:8.(53) The particle οὕτως guards us from thinking, on account of the preceding genealogy, that Joseph was the natural father of Jesus.— μνηστευθείσης γὰρ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ ΄αρίας, For after His mother Mary had been betrothed) The LXX. render the Hebrew ארש (to betroth) by ΄νηστεύο΄αι in Deuteronomy 20:7, etc.— πρὶν συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς, before they came together) Joseph had not yet even brought Mary home (see Matthew 1:20); but in these words, and the more firmly on that account, the commercium tori is specifically denied, in order to assert her pregnancy by the Holy Spirit. Nor does the expression, πρὶν (before), imply that they came together after our Lord’s birth.— εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost) There can be no doubt but that Mary disclosed to Joseph (perhaps when he proposed to consummate their marriage) the sacred pregnancy, which she had concealed from every one else.— ἐκ, of) The expression ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου (of the Holy Spirit) occurs again at Matthew 1:20. See, also, John 3:6.

PZ and Rec. Text read ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, which, therefore, Lachmann prefers. B, and Origen 3, 965d read χριστοῦ ἰησοῦ. But Iren. 191, 204, and a b c d Vulg. read only χριστοῦ, which Tischendorf prefers.—ED.

Verse 19

Matthew 1:19. δίκαιος, just(54)) It is disputed in what sense this epithet is applied to Joseph. The thing is clear. Joseph wished to put away Mary, and he also wished to put her away privately. The Evangelist indicates the cause of both wishes. Why did he wish to do it privately? Because he was unwilling to publish the matter, and exact the penalty which the law permitted in the case of women guilty, or suspected, of adultery, and thus to make an example of one, whose sanctity he had in other respects so greatly revered. But why did he wish to put her away at all? We learn from the context. Because he was just (justus), and did not think it reputable (honestum) to retain as his wife one who appeared to have broken her conjugal faith. His thoughts were many and conflicting; his mind was in doubt. St Matthew expresses this with great beauty, by a phraseology somewhat ambiguous in this its brevity: for Greek participles may be resolved into the corresponding verbs with the conjunctions although, because, or since: [and μὴ θέλων, therefore, may be rendered either although he was unwilling, because he was unwilling, or since he did not wish]. Elsewhere δίκαιος is sometimes found with the signification of yielding and kind, as injustus(55) (which signifies primarily unjust or unrighteous) with that of severe.— παραδειγμάτισαι, to make an example of) Thus the LXX. in Numbers 25:4, have— παραδειγμάτισον αὐτοὺς τῷ κυρίῳ, κατέναντι τοῦ ἡλίου, Make an example of them to the Lord before the sun: where the expression is used of persons executed by hanging. The simple form, δειγματίζειν, occurs in Colossians 2:15 : for both δεῖγμα and παράδειγμα [from which the verbs are respectively derived] denote that which is exhibited as a public spectacle.— λάθρᾳ, privily) i.e. without a public trial, without even a record of the reason on the writing of divorcement. Two witnesses were sufficient.— ἀπολυσαῖ, to put her away) fearing to take her.

Verse 20

Matthew 1:20. ἰδοῦ, behold) He was not left long in doubt.(56)κατʼ ὄναρ, in a dream) Dreams are mentioned also in Acts 2:17, in a quotation from the Old Testament. With this exception, St Matthew is the only writer of the New Testament who has recorded dreams; viz., one of Pilate’s wife, ch. Matthew 27:19; one of the Magi, ch. Matthew 2:12; one of Joseph, in this passage; a second in ch. Matthew 2:13; a third in ch. Matthew 2:19; and a fourth in Matthew 2:22. This mode of instruction was suitable to those early times of the New Dispensation.(57)αὐτῷ, to him) In the first instance, Gabriel was sent to Mary, afterwards the remaining particulars were revealed to Joseph. Thus all things were made sure to both of them.— ἰωσὴφ, Joseph) In visions, those to whom they are vouchsafed are generally addressed by name, as if already well known [to the speaker].—See Acts 9:4; Acts 9:10; Acts 10:3; Acts 10:13.— παραλαβεῖν, to take unto thee) sc. to the companionship of life and board, under the name of wedlock: on which ground the angel adds the words, τὴν γυναῖκά σου (thy wife).— ΄αριὰμ, Mary) This termination was more usual in early times (from the example of the Hebrew and the LXX.) than the Greek form ΄αρία, which soon, however, prevailed. St Matthew, therefore, uses ΄αριὰμ here, in the angel’s address, for the name of our Lord’s mother; but ΄αρίας [the genitive case of the Greek form ΄αρία] when speaking of her (Matthew 1:16; Matthew 1:18) in his own person; and in like manner, he employs the Greek form when mentioning other women of the same name. And St Luke does mostly the same. Miriam, according to Hiller, signifies Rebellion, sc. of the Israelites in Egypt. Scripture teaches us to look to the etymology of the name, not of Mary, but of JESUS.— τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν, for that which is conceived in her) The foetus, as yet unborn, is usually spoken of in the neuter gender.—Cf. note on Luke 1:35.

Verse 21

Matthew 1:21. τέξεται, shall bring forth) The word σοι (to thee), which is added (Luke 1:31) concerning Zachariah, is not introduced here;(58)καλέσεις, thou shalt call) By the use of the second person singular, the duties and obligations of a father are committed to Joseph. St Matthew records more particulars than the other evangelists regarding him; afterwards, when men had become acquainted with the truth, the first place is given (in Luke 1:31) to Mary.— ἰησοῦν, Jesus) Many names of the Messiah were announced in the Old Testament; but the proper name “JESUS” was not expressly announced. The meaning and force of it are, however, proclaimed everywhere, namely, SALVATION and the name itself was divinely foretold in this passage before our Lord’s birth, and in Luke 1:31, even before His conception. The name יֵשוּעַ (Jeshua), which occurs in Nehemiah 8:17, is the same as יְהוּשׁוּעַ or יֵהוֿשֻעַ (Jehoshua, commonly called Joshua): both of which are rendered ἰησοῦς (Jesus) by the LXX. And in so far, learned men have been right in declaring that the name Jesus contains the Tetragrammaton, [ יהוה] or ineffable name of God.—See Hiller’s Syntagmata Hermeneutica, p. 337, where the name of Jesus is thus interpreted, HE WHO IS is SALVATION: yea, the angel interprets it αυτοσ σωσει (He shall save), where αὐτὸς (He) corresponds with the Divine Name.—Cf. Gnomon on Hebrews 1:12. Nor does the name Jehoshua differ from the original. Hoshea (See Numbers 13:16) in any thing else, except the addition of the Divine Name, which transforms the name from a prayer, Save (Salva), into an affirmation, Jehovah Salvation. And, since the name Emmanuel mentions GOD most expressly together with SALVATION, the name Jesus itself, the force of which, the Evangelist of the Old Testament, Isaiah (whose own name signifies the same thing) clearly indicates by the synonym Emmanuel, requires much more the mention of the Divine Name: for Emmanuel and Jesus are equivalent terms.—See notes on Matthew 1:22-23. Nay, even if the י in ישוע be considered as merely the sign of the third person, still, as is frequently the case with Hebrew names, “GOD” must be understood, and here with especial force.— αὐτὸς, He) The pronoun αὐτὸς, in the nominative, is always emphatic; here it is peculiarly so. In the oblique case, it is frequently a mere relative.— σώσει, shall save) As often, therefore, as the words, “to save,” “Saviour,” “salvation,” “salutary,(59)” occur with reference to Christ, we ought to consider, that the name of JESUS is virtually mentioned.— τὸν λαὸν, αὐτοῦ, His people) sc. Israel, and those who shall be added to the fold of Israel.(60)αὐτοῦ, His) and at the same time God’s.—Cf. ch. Matthew 2:6.

Verse 22

Matthew 1:22. τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον, γέγονεν ἵνα, But the whole of this came to pass, that) The same phrase occurs in ch. Matthew 26:56. There are many particulars, in which St Matthew observes that the event announced by the angel corresponded exactly with the prediction of Isaiah. (1.) A virgin pregnant and becoming a mother; (2.) A male child (Cf. Revelation 12:5); (3.) The Nomenclature of the child; (4.) The Interpretation of the Name.— ἵνα πληρωθῇ, that it might be fulfilled) The same phrase occurs in ch. Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17; Matthew 2:23, Matthew 4:14, Matthew 8:17, Matthew 12:17, Matthew 13:35, Matthew 21:4, Matthew 27:9; Matthew 27:35. Those things have been fulfilled in Jesus, not only which He performed Himself (and which might therefore appear to the unbelieving to be open to suspicion), but those also which were done to Him by others. Wherever this phrase occurs, we are bound to regard and recognise the character and dignity of the Evangelists, and (however dull our own perception may be in the matter) to believe that they mention an event, not merely corresponding [accidentally] with some ancient prophecy, but one which in consequence thereof, and agreement therewith, could not have failed to occur at the commencement of the New Dispensation, on account of the Divine Truth which was pledged to its fulfilment. The evangelists, however, frequently quote prophecies, the context of which must, at the time that they were first delivered, have been interpreted of things then present, and that, too, according to the Divine intention. But the same Divine intention, looking forward to remote futurity, so framed the language of prophecy, that it should apply with still greater specialty to the times of the Messiah. And this hidden intention (some portion of which the learned observe to have oozed out even to the Jews) the apostles and evangelists, themselves divinely taught, teach us: and we are bound to receive their statements concerning the fulfilment of prophecy in a teachable spirit, on account of the correspondence between the predictions which they adduce, and the events to which they apply them. This is enough for the defence of the Evangelists, until any one is led to acknowledge their authority on other grounds. Their sincerity is clearly evidenced by the fact, that they have amplified, as far as possible, the number of prophecies relating to the Messiah, and therefore the labour (delightful indeed!) of proving(61) that Jesus is the Christ. The Jews, on the other hand, endeavour as eagerly to turn aside in any other direction whatever, everything which the prophets have predicted concerning Christ, so that it is wonderful that they still believe that there either is, or ever will be, a Messiah.— διὰ τοῦ προφήτου, by the prophet) St Matthew quotes the prophets with especial frequency, to show the agreement between the prophecies and the events which fulfilled them: the other Evangelists rather presuppose that agreement.(62)λἐγοντος, saying) This should be construed with προφήτου (prophet); see ch. Matthew 2:17. Isaiah is not mentioned by name. The ancients were studious readers; there was less need, therefore, in those times, to cite books and chapters.

Verse 23

Matthew 1:23. ἰδοὺ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται υἱὸν, καὶ καλέσουσι τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ἐμμανουὴλBehold the virgin shall have in her womb [or conceive], and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.—The LXX. render Isaiah 7:14, thus— ἰδοὺ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ λήψεται υἱὸν, καὶ καλέσεις κ. τ. λ.—Behold the virgin shall conceive in her womb a Son, and thou shalt call, etc.— ἰδοὺ, Behold!)—a particle especially adapted for pointing out a Sign.—See Isaiah 7:14.— παρθένος, the virgin) In the original Hebrew, the word employed is העלמה;(63) and עלמה denotes a virgin;(64) whether you derive it from עלם,(65) so that it may be one who has escaped the notice of man,(66) who has not been known by man (cf. Matthew 1:25, and Luke 1:34), for נעלם (to be hidden, to lie hid, to escape the notice of), and ירע (to know, etc.), are opposed to each other, both in their general signification, as in Leviticus 5:3-4, and also in this special one: or whether עלמה (the verb cognate with which the Syriac translator has employed to represent ἠκ΄ασεν(67) in Revelation 14:18), signify ἀκμάια, in the flower of her age. The Hebrew article ה (the), prefixed in the original to the word under consideration (concerning which article cf. Gnomon on ch. Matthew 18:17), points out a particular individual visible on the mirror of Divine prescience. For the prophet is speaking of a Sign, and introduces it by the word “Behold,” and then immediately addresses the Virgin herself, with the words, THOU shalt call, etc. Isaiah indicates, in the first instance, some woman who lived at the time, and whose natural fecundity was considered doubtful, who, from a virgin, was to become a mother, and that of a son: she, however, as the sublimity of the prophet’s words clearly show, was a type of that Virgin, who, still a virgin, brought forth the Messiah; so that the force of the Sign was twofold, applying to that which was close at hand, and to that which was far distant in the future.—See Alexander More.(68) The virginity of our Lord’s Mother is not fully proved by the words of the prophet taken alone; but the manifestation of its fulfilment casts a radiance back on the prophecy, and discloses its full meaning.— υἱὸν, a Son) sc. the Messiah, to whom the land of Israel belongs.—See Isaiah 8:8.— καλέσουσι, THEY shall call) Both the Hebrew and the LXX. have “Thou shalt call,” i.e., “THOU Virgin-Mother”—“THOU shalt call,” occurs also in Matthew 1:21, addressed to Joseph: whence is now substituted “THEY shall call,” i.e., all, thenceforth. The angel says to Mary, in Luke 1:28, The Lord is with THEE. Not one or the other of His parents however, but all who call upon His name, say, “with us.”—Cf. Luke 1:54.—Those words deserve particular attention in which the writers of the New Testament differ from the LXX., or even from the Hebrew.— τὸ ὄνομα, the name) This does not mean the name actually given at circumcision, but yet the true name (cf. Isaiah 9:5), aye, the proper name too, by which he is called, even by his parents (cf. Isaiah 8:8), and which is even especially proper to Him, inasmuch as it is synonymous with the name Jesus.—See an example of synonymous names in the note on Matthew 1:8. Many of the faithful actually address the Saviour by the name of EMMANUEL, as a proper name, though it would have been less suitable in Jesus to call Himself God-with-us.— ἐστι μεθερμηνευόμενον, ΄εθʼ ἡμῶν θεόςwhich is, being interpreted, God with us). This interpretation of a Hebrew name shows, that St Matthew wrote in Greek. Such interpretations subjoined to Hebrew words show that, the writers of the New Testament do not absolutely require that the reader of Holy Scripture should be acquainted with Hebrew. The Son of Sirach also uses the word μεθερμενεῦσαι (to interpret) in his preface. The name God-with-us, in itself, so far as it involves an entire assertion, is not necessarily a Divine name (See Hiller Onomasticon Sacrum, p. 848); and it was, therefore, given also to a boy who was born in the time of Isaiah; and the same is the case with the name Jesus: but in the sense in which each of them applies exclusively to Christ, it signifies θεάνθρωπος or God-Man. For the union of the Divine and human natures in Christ is the foundation of the union of God with men, nor can any one consider the latter apart from the former, especially when treating of the birth of Christ.

Verse 24

Matthew 1:24. ἐποίησεν, did) sc. without delay.— ὡς κ. τ. λ., as, etc.) Hence the command of the angel and the performance of Joseph are described in the same words in this passage, and in ch. Matthew 2:13-14; Matthew 2:20-21.— παρέλαβε τὴν γυναἰκα αὐτοῦ, took unto him his wife) sc., with the same appearance to those without, as though they lived together according to common custom.

Verse 25

Matthew 1:25. καὶ, and) St Matthew says “and,” not “but.” He took her, and knew her not: both by the command of the angel.— οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν αὐτὴν, ἓως οὗ, knew her not until) It does not follow from this ἓως (until) that he did so afterwards. It is sufficient however, that her virginity should be established up to the time of her delivery. With regard to the remainder of her married life, the reader is left to form his own opinion. The angel did not expressly forbid Joseph to have conjugal intercourse with her: but he perceived such a command to be implied by the very nature of the case.— ἓως οὗ ἔτεκε τὸν υἱὸν, until she brought forth the Son) A very old Egyptian version has only these words, without the addition of “her first-born:(69) according to which reading, the address of the angel, the declaration of the prophet, and the act of Joseph [in naming Him as the angel directed] are expressed in words which exactly correspond together.—sc., “She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus,”—“She shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Jesus,”—She brought forth TON υἱὸν, THE Son, and he [Joseph](70) called His name Jesus. The article TON (the) has a relative value here, and refers to Matthew 1:21 with the same meaning, “until she brought forth THAT Son” The same reading is found in Codex Barberini I. (by which name we suppose the celebrated Vatican MS. to be intended in this place), and we have assured ourselves that beyond doubt such must have been originally that of the Latin Vulgate. For Helvidius,(71) and Jerome in the commencement of his book against him, thus quote the words of St Matthew—et non cognovit eam, donec peperit filium suum, i.e., and he knew her not till she brought forth her Son; but more commonly they quote thus donec peperit filium, i.e., until she brought forth ((72) or the) Son, without the addition of either suum (her) or primogenitum (first-born); nor can it be argued, that they have in these instances intended to abridge the text, since Jerome in one place thus quotes the passage in full, “Exurgens autem—accepit uxorem suam et non cognovit eam, donec peperit filium: et vocavit nomen ejus Jesum,” i.e., But on rising from sleep—he received his wife, and knew her not until she had brought forth [the] Son: and he called His name Jesus.(73)

Both these writers, after a long dispute upon this passage of St Matthew, seek for a fresh argument grounded on the appellation πρωτότοκος, first-born, not from this passage of St Matthew, but solely from Luke 2:7. If the Codex Barberini I., and the Coptic version already mentioned, obtained this reading from Greek MSS., their testimony is on that ground of great weight: if, on the other hand, they obtained it from Latin sources, they greatly corroborate the genuine reading of the very ancient Latin version. The words αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, “her first-born,” appear to have been introduced into St Matthew, from the parallel passage in St Luke already cited: and the very idea of the Son of a Virgin, implies that He must have been the first-born in a pre-eminent and strictly singular manner. [Such as He is expressly declared to be in Luke 2:7, Vers. Germ.]

In some passages our criticism takes a different view of matters from what it did formerly. Yet no one can fairly accuse me of inconstancy; for I do not confine myself to those views, which have gained acceptance by long usage (though I do not reject such assistance where truth requires it): but I proceed to draw forth, by degrees, from their concealment, those things which have been buried out of sight.

ἐκάλεσε, he called) i.e., Joseph did so; as we learn from Matthew 1:21.


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 1:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 24th, 2017
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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