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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Matthew 1

 

 

Verse 1

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

The book of the generation - an expression purely Jewish; meaning, 'Table of the genealogy.' In Genesis 5:1 the same expression occurs in this sense [ towl


Verse 2

Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren. Only the fourth son of Jacob is here named, as it was from his loins that Messiah was to spring (Genesis 49:10).


Verse 3

And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;


Verse 4

And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminabab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;


Verse 5

And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;


Verse 6

And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her of Urias. [The words, "that had been the wife," introduced by our translators, only weaken the delicate brevity of our Evangelist - ek (Greek #1537) tees (Greek #3588) tou (Greek #3588) Ouriou (Greek #3774)]. Four women are here introduced: two of them Gentiles by birth-Rahab and Ruth; and three of them with a blot at them names in the Old Testament-Thamar, Rahab, and Bath-sheba. This feature in the print genealogy-herein differing from that given by Luke-comes well from him who styles himself in his list of the Twelve, what none of the other lists do, "Matthew the publican;" as if thereby to hold forth, at the very outset, the unsearchable riches of that grace which could not only fetch in "them that are afar off," but reach down even to "publicans and harlots," and raise them to "sit with the princes of his people." David is here twice emphatically called "David the king" (for the Manuscript authority against the repetition is insufficient), as not only the first of that royal line from which Messiah was to descend, but the one king of all that line from which the throne that Messiah was to occupy took its name - "the throne of David." The angel Gabriel, in announcing Him to His virgin-mother, calls it "the throne of David His father," sinking all the intermediate kings of that line, as having no importance except as links to connect the first and the last king of Israel as father and son. It will be observed that Rahab is here represented as the great-great-grandmother of David (see Ruth 4:20-22; and 1 Chronicles 2:11-15) - a thing not beyond possibility indeed, but extremely improbably, there being about four centuries between them. There can hardly be a doubt that one or two intermediate links are omitted. (See the notes at Matthew 1:17, and Remarks 1 and 2 at the end of this section.)


Verse 7

And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;

And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;


Verse 8

And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias (or Uzziah). Three kings are here omitted-Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah (1 Chronicles 3:11-12). Some omissions behoved to be made, to compress the whole into three fourteens (Matthew 1:17). The reason why these, rather than other names, are omitted must be sought in religious considerations-either in the connection of those kings with the house of Ahab (as Lightfoot, Ebrard, and Alford view it); in their slender right to be regarded as true links in the theocratic chain (as Lange takes it); or in some similar disqualification.


Verse 9

And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;

And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Bzekias;


Verse 10

And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;

And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;


Verse 11

And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren. Jechoniah was Josiah's grandson, being the son of Jehoiakim, Josiah's second son (1 Chronicles 3:15); but Jehoiakim might well be sunk in such a catalogue, being a mere puppet in the hands of the king of Egypt (2 Chronicles 36:4). The "brethren" of Jechonias here evidently mean his uncles-the chief of whom, Mattaniah or Zedekiah, who came to the throne (2 Kings 24:17), is, in 2 Chronicles 36:10, called "his brother," as well as here.

About the time they were carried away to Babylon , [ epi (Greek #1909) tees (Greek #3588) metoikesias (Greek #3350)] - literally, 'of their migration,' for the Jews avoided the word 'captivity' [aichmaloosia] as too bitter a recollection, and our Evangelist studiously respects the national feeling.


Verse 12

And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;

And after they were brought to ('after the migration of') Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel. So 1 Chronicles 3:17. Nor does this contradict Jeremiah 22:30, "Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man (Coniah, or Jechoniah) childless;" for what follows explains in what sense this was meant - "for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David." He was to have seed, but no reigning child.

And Salathiel (or Shealtiel) begat Zorobabel. So Ezra 3:2; Nehemiah 12:1; Haggai 1:1. But it would appear from 1 Chronicles 3:19 that Zerubbabel was Salathiel's grandson, being the son of Pedaiah, whose name, for some reason unknown, is omitted.


Verses 13-15

And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;

And Zorobabel begat Abiud ... None of these names are found in the Old Testament; but they were doubtless taken from the public or family registers, which the Jews carefully kept, and their accuracy was never challenged.


Verse 16

And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus. From this it is clear that the genealogy here given is not that of Mary, but of Joseph; nor has this ever been questioned. And yet it is here studiously proclaimed that Joseph was not the natural, but only the legal father of our Lord. His birth of a virgin was known only to a few; but the acknowledged descent of his legal father from David secured that the descent of Jesus Himself from David should never be questioned. See the note at Matthew 1:20.

Who is called Christ , [ Christos (Greek #5547)] - from the Hebrew [ maashiyach (Hebrew #4899)], both signifying 'anointed.' It is applied in the Old Testament to the kings (1 Samuel 24:6; 1 Samuel 24:10); to the priests (Leviticus 4:5; Leviticus 4:16, etc); and to the prophets (1 Kings 19:16) - these all being anointed with oil, the symbol of the needful spiritual gifts, to consecrate them to their respective offices; and it was applied, in its most sublime and comprehensive sense, to the promised Deliverer, inasmuch as He was to be consecrated to an office embracing all three by the immeasurable anointing of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 61:1; compare John 3:34).


Verse 17

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away (or migration) into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into ('the migration of') Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. That is, the whole may be conveniently divided into three fourteens, each embracing one marked era, and each ending with a notable event, in the Israelite annals. Such artificial aids to memory were familiar to the Jews, and much larger gaps than those here are found in some of the Old Testament genealogies. In Ezra 7:1-5 no fewer than six generations of the priesthood are omitted, as will appear by comparing it with 1 Chronicles 6:3-15. It will be observed that the last of the three divisions of fourteen appears to contain only thirteen distinct names, including Jesus as the last. Lange thinks that this was meant as a tacit hint that Mary was to be supplied, as the thirteenth link of this last chain, as it is impossible to conceive that the Evangelist could have made any mistake in the matter. But there is a simpler way of accounting for it. As the Evangelist himself (Matthew 1:17) reckons David twice-as the last of the first fourteen and the first of the second-so, if we reckon the second fourteen to end with Josiah, who was coeval with the "carrying away into captivity" (Matthew 1:11), and the third to begin with Jechoniah, it will be found that this last division, as well as the other two, embraces fourteen names, including that of our Lord.

Remarks:

(1) When superficial readers ask what can be the use of those long, dry catalogues of names which fill whole chapters of the Old Testament, they may be referred to this and the corresponding genealogy in Luke for one very sufficient answer. They enable us, in some measure, to trace the golden thread which connects our Lord with David, Abraham, and Adam, according to the flesh, and so make good one of His claims to the Messiahship. The links in the chain of those two genealogies which we can test by the corresponding tables of the Old Testament serve to verify those which must be received on their own sole authority. And that this is thoroughly reliable is manifest, both because these catalogues would not have been published at a time when, if inaccurate, they could easily have been refuted by reference to the well-known family and public registers; and because there is not a particle of evidence that they were ever questioned, much less invalidated.

(2) That there should be difficulty in these genealogies is not surprising, considering, first, the want of sufficient materials of comparison; second, the double or triple names given to the same persons; third, the intermediate names omitted; fourth, the name of sons given to those who were only in the direct line of descent, and of brothers to those who were only collaterally related; and, finally, the Levirate law, by which one is called the son, not of his actual, but of his Levirate father (see Deuteronomy 25:5-6; Luke 20:28). From these causes great perplexity and much discussion have arisen, nor is it possible to solve every difficulty. So much, however, is clear as to make it "evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda" (Hebrews 7:14), and was "the Seed of the woman" "who should bruise the Serpent's head." (For a beautiful remark of Olshausen's on this whole subject, see the note at Luke's genealogy, Luke 3:1-38, at the close.) To a Jewish Christian how delightful it must have been, and to any unprejudiced Jew how conciliatory, to find themselves, in the very first section of this Gospel, so entirely at home, and to see even the more external lines of their ancient economy converging upon Jesus of Nazareth as its proper goal; but this only to pave the way for the exhibition of that same Jesus, in the sequel of this Gospel, in a still deeper relation to the old economy-as the very "Travail of its soul, its Satisfaction!"


Verse 18

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ , [Tischendorf and Tregelles read 'the birth of Christ;' a very ancient reading, but otherwise most insufficiently attested.]

Was on this wise, (or 'thus:') When as his mother, Mary was espoused, [ mneesteutheisees (G3423) - rather, 'betrothed'] - to Joseph, before they came together, she was found (or discovered to be) with child of the Holy Spirit. It was, of course, the fact only that was discovered: the explanation of the fact here given is the Evangelist's own. That the Holy Spirit is a living, conscious Person is plainly implied here, and is elsewhere clearly taught (Acts 5:3-4, etc.); and that, in the unity of the Godhead, He is distinct both from the Father and the Son, is taught with equal distinctness (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). On the Miraculous Conception of our Lord, see the note at Luke 1:35.


Verse 19

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

Then Joseph her husband: compare Matthew 1:20, "Mary, thy wife." Betrothal was, in Jewish law, valid marriage. In giving Mary up, therefore, Joseph had to take legal steps to effect the separation.

Being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example - or 'to expose her' (see Deuteronomy 22:23-24) --

Was minded to put her away privily ('privately') - by giving her the required writing of divorcement (Deuteronomy 24:1), in presence only of two or three witnesses, and without cause assigned, instead of having her before a magistrate. That some communication had passed between him and his betrothed, directly or indirectly, on the subject, after she returned from her three months' visit to Elizabeth, can hardly be doubted. Nor does the purpose to divorce her necessarily imply disbelief, on Joseph's part, of the explanation given him. Even supposing him to have yielded to it some reverential assent-and the Evangelist seems to convey as much, by ascribing the proposal to screen her to the justice of his character-he might think it altogether unsuitable and incongruous in such circumstances to follow out the marriage.


Verse 20

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

But while he thought on these things. Who would not feel for him after receiving such intelligence, and before receiving any light from above? As he brooded over the matter alone, in the stillness of the night, his domestic prospects darkened and his happiness blasted for life, his mind slowly making itself up to the painful step, yet planning how to do it in the way least offensive-at the last extremity the Lord Himself interposes.

Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David. This style of address was doubtless advisedly chosen to remind him of what all the families of David's line so eagerly coveted, and thus it would prepare him for the marvelous announcement which was to follow.

Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: q.d., 'Though a dark cloud now overhangs this relationship, it is unsullied still.'

For that which is conceived, [`begotten,' genneethen (G1080)] in her is of the Holy Spirit.


Verse 21

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

And she shall bring forth a son. Observe, it is not said, 'she shall bear thee a son,' as was said to Zacharias of his wife Elizabeth (Luke 1:13).

And thou (as his legal father) shalt call his name JESUS , [ Ieesoun (Greek #2424)] - from the Hebrew [ Y


Verse 22

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet (Isaiah 7:14), saying.


Verse 23

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Behold, a virgin - it should be 'the virgin' [ hee (Greek #3588) parthenos (Greek #3933), exactly as in the Hebrew, haa`almaah (Hebrew #5959)]; meaning that particular virgin destined to this unparalleled distinction.

Shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, [ `Imaanuw (H5973) 'Eel (H410), nobiscum-Deus], which, being interpreted, is, God with us. Not that He was to have this for a proper name (like "Jesus"), but that He should come to be known in this character, as God manifested in the flesh, and the living bond of holy and most intimate fellowship between God and men from henceforth and forever.


Verse 24

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

Then Joseph, being raised from sleep (and all his difficulties now removed), did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. With what deep and reverential joy would this now be done on his part; and what balm would this minister to his betrothed one, who had until now lain under suspicions of all others the most trying to a chaste and holy woman-suspicions, too, arising from what, though to her an honour unparalleled, was to all around her wholly unknown!


Verse 25

And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

And knew her not until she had brought forth her first-born son. [ ton (Greek #3588) proototokon (Greek #4416). Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles, on certainly ancient, but, as we think, insufficient authority, exclude ton (Greek #3588) proototokon (Greek #4416) from the text here, though inserting it in Luke 2:7, where it is undisputed. Here they read simply huiou (Greek #5207) - 'until she had brought forth a son.']

And he called his name JESUS. The word "until" does not necessarily imply that they lived on a different footing afterward (as will be evident from the use of the same word in 1 Samuel 15:35; 2 Samuel 6:23; Matthew 12:20); nor does the word "first-born" decide the much disputed question, whether Mary had any children to Joseph after the birth of Christ; because, as Lightfoot says, 'The law, in speaking of the first-born, regarded not whether any were born after or no, but only that none were born before.' (See the notes at Matthew 13:55-56.)

Remarks:

(1) Was faith ever more tested than the Virgin's faith, when for no fault of hers, but in consequence of an act of God Himself, her conjugal relation to Joseph was allowed to be all but snapped asunder by a legal divorce? Yet how glorious was the reward with which her constancy and patience were at length crowned! And is not this one of the great laws of God's procedure toward his believing people? Abraham was allowed to do all but sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-24); the last year of the predicted Babylonian captivity had arrived ere any signs of deliverance appeared (Daniel 9:1-2); the massacre of all the Jews in Persia had all but taken place (Esther 7:1-10; Esther 8:1-17); Peter, under Herod Agrippa, was all but brought forth for execution (Acts 12:1-25); Paul was all but assassinated by a band of Jewish enemies (Acts 23:1-35); Luther all but fell a sacrifice to the machinations of his enemies

(1521); and so in cases innumerable since-of all which it may be said, as in the song of Moses "The Lord shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants, when He seeth that theirs power is gone" (Deut shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants, when He seeth that theirs power is gone" (Deuteronomy 32:36).

(2) What divine wisdom was there in the arrangement by which our Lord was born of a betrothed virgin, thus effectually providing against the reproach of illegitimacy, and securing for His Infancy an honourable protection! "This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working" (Isaiah 28:29).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/matthew-1.html. 1871-8.


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Thursday, September 21st, 2017
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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