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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Genealogy of Jesus Christ

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Needed, to show that redemption was no afterthought, but designed from the first. Abraham and David in Matthew's Gospel are singled out to prove the fulfillment in Christ of the promises made to Abraham 2,000 years previously, and to David 1,000. The Old Testament begins with "Genesis" ("generation"); so also the New Testament begins with the genesis ("generation," Matthew 1:1) of Jesus Christ. Matthew's Gospel contains, not Joseph's direct ancestors, but the succession of heirs to David's and Solomon's throne. The tracing of Christ's descent through Judah's royal line harmonizes with the kingly aspect of Jesus Christ in Matthew's Gospel. The steps of Joseph's direct parentage did not coincide with those of the succession to the throne. Solomon's line failed, and Nathan's and Neri's succeeded as legal heirs.

Hence the need of two genealogies, one (Matthew) of the succession, the other (Luke) of the parentage. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 22:30) declares Jeconiah, Coniah, or Jehoiachin was to be childless. He cannot therefore have been lineal progenitor of Jesus Christ. It is at this point in the genealogy, i.e. after Jehoiachin, the same names occur in both lists, Salathiel and Zerubbabel taken (in Matthew) from the line of Nathan (Luke) to supply the failure of Jehoiachin's issue. The promise was, Messiah was to be "of the fruit of the loins of David" (Acts 2:30), but to Solomon only that "his throne should be established evermore" (1 Chronicles 17:14). So a double genealogy of Jair is given, one of the inheritance, the other of birth (1 Chronicles 2:4-5; 1 Chronicles 2:21-22; Numbers 32:41). Matthew appropriately, as writing for Jews, gives Christ's legal descent; Luke, for Gentiles, the natural descent.

Matthew downward, from Abraham the father of the Jews (naturally, but of the Gentiles also spiritually: Genesis 17:5; Romans 4:16-17); Luke upward, to Adam, "who was the son of God" and the father of Gentiles and Jews alike. The words "as was supposed" (Luke 3:23) imply that Christ's sonship to Joseph was only a reputed not a real one. Yet He was God's extraordinary gift to Joseph through his proper wife Mary, and the fruit of his marriage to her, not as natural offspring of his body but as supernatural fruit. Hence attention is drawn to Joseph's being "son of David" (Matthew 1:20), "of the house and lineage of David" (Luke 2:4, compare Luke 1:32). Matthew omits three links of the pedigree. "Joram begat Ozias," i.e. Uzziah. But Joram really begat Ahaziah, Ahaziah Jehoash, Jehoash Uzziah. If the two genealogies contained anything false or mutually contradictory, Christ's enemies would have convicted them from the public documents.

Clearly men in that day saw nothing irreconcilable in them. From Abraham to David both agree, thenceforward the names differ. Luke has 42 names from David, Matthew only 27 names. The less number in Matthew is intelligible, if he be only tracing the heir's to the throne; for "the heir of my heir is my heir." So intermediate heirs are omitted without risk of misconception, for spiritual reasons; e.g., Simeon is omitted in Moses' blessing (Deuteronomy 33) on account of his cruelty, Dan in Revelation 7 for his idolatry. The full number is given in Luke, as naming the natural line. Mary must have been of the same tribe and family as Joseph, according to the law (Numbers 36:8). Isaiah 11:1 implies that Messiah was the seed of David by natural as well as legal descent. Probably Matthan of Matthew is the Matthat of Luke, and Jacob and Heli were brothers; and Heli's son Joseph, and Jacob's daughter Mary, first cousins. Joseph, as male heir of his uncle Jacob, who had only one child, Mary, would marry her according to the law (Numbers 36:8).

Thus the genealogy of the inheritance (Matthew's) and that of natural descent (Luke's) would be primarily Joseph's, then Mary's also. The number 14 has some mystic signification (compare Numbers 29:13; 1 Kings 8:65). It is the double of seven the number for completeness; the periods of 14 in Matthew are the sacred three. The period from Abraham to David is that of patriarchs; from David to the Babylonian captivity that of kings; from the captivity to Christ private individuals. The first and second tessaradecade have an illustrious beginning; the third not so, that its ending in Messiah might stand forth pre-eminent above all that went before.

The first is that of promise, beginning with. Abraham and ending with David, the receivers of the promise; the second adumbrates Christ's eternal kingdom through the temporary kingdom of David's line; the third period is that of expectation. On Cainan in Luke's Gospel, (See CAINAN. The name Jehoiakim seemingly has dropped out, Josiah's son and Jeconiah's father; otherwise David would have to be counted twice to make up the second 14. Five females are in Matthew's Gospel: incestuous Tamar, Rahab the Moabitess and a harlot, Ruth, Uriah's wife Bathsheba the object of David's adulterous love, and above all Mary; all extraordinary monuments of God's grace, that chooses out of the vilest to make vessels unto honor, for the bringing forth of the promised Seed, who was to save sinners of every type and race.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Genealogy of Jesus Christ'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/g/genealogy-of-jesus-christ.html. 1949.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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