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Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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Genebrard Gilbert
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the only one given in the New Testament.

1. Object of this Genealogical Record. From the foregoing article it is evident that no nation was more careful to frame and preserve its genealogical tables than Israel. Their sacred writings contain genealogies which extend through a period of more than 3500 years, from the creation of Adam to the captivity of Judah. Indeed, we find from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah that the same carefulness in this matter was observed after the captivity; for in Ezra 2:62 it is expressly stated that some who had come up from Babylon had sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but were not found; therefore were they, as polluted, removed from the priesthood. The division of the whole Hebrew nation into tribes, and the allotment to each tribe of a specified portion of the land of Canaan as an inalienable possession, rendered it indispensable that they should keep genealogical tables. God had, however, a still higher object than that of giving stability to property in Israel in leading successive generations of his people thus to keep an accurate list of their ancestry. That they should do this was especially required from the moment that the voice of prophecy declared that the promised Messiah should be of the seed of Abraham, of the posterity of Isaac, of the sons of Jacob, of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David.

The Rabbins affirm that after the Captivity the Jews were most careful in keeping their pedigrees (Babyl. Gemar. Gloss. fol. 14:2). Since, however, the period of their destruction as a nation by the Romans, all their tables of descent seem to be lost, and now they are utterly unable to trace the pedigree of any one Israelite who might lay claim to be their promised and still expected Messiah. Hence Christians assert, with a force that no reasonable and candid Jew can resist, that Shiloh must have come.

The priesthood of Aaron having ceased, the possession of the land of Canaan being transferred to the Gentiles, there being under the N.T. dispensation no difference between circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian and Scythian, bond and free, there is but one whose genealogy it concerns us as Christians to be acquainted with, that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Him the prophets announced as the seed of Abraham, and the son of David, and the angels declared that to him should be given the throne of his father David, that he might reign over the house of Jacob forever. His descent from David and Abraham being therefore an essential part of his Messiahship, it was right that his genealogy should be given as a portion of gospel truth. Considering, further, that to the Jews first he was manifested and preached, and that his descent from David and Abraham was a matter of special interest to them, it seems likely that the proof of his descent would be one especially adapted to convince them; in other words, that it would be drawn from documents which they deemed authentic. Such were the genealogical records preserved at Jerusalem. (See GENEALOGY). Now when to the above consideration we add the fact that the lineage of Joseph was actually made out from authentic records for the purpose of the civil census ordered by Augustus, it becomes morally certain that the genealogy of Jesus Christ was extracted from the public registers. Another consideration adds yet further conviction. It has often excited surprise that the genealogies of Christ should both seem to be traced through Joseph, and not Mary. But if these genealogies were those contained in the public registers, it could not be otherwise. In them Jesus, the son of Mary, the espoused wife of Joseph, could only appear as Joseph's son (comp. John 1:45). In transferring them to the pages of the gospels, the evangelists only added the qualifying expression "as was supposed" (Luke 3:23, and its equivalent, Matthew 1:16).

We find other traces of the existence of the public tables of descent in the New Testament: the taxation spoken of by Luke 2:2-3, would clearly indicate this, for how could each one be able to go to his own city unless he knew the specific tribe to which he belonged? Hence it was, we think, that Paul was able with confidence to appeal to the Hebrews concerning the lineage of Christ, "for it is evident," says he, "that our Lord sprung out of Judah" (Hebrews 7:14; 2 Timothy 2:8). To evince this beyond reasonable doubt, it pleased God to give us, by his inspired servants Matthew and Luke, these genealogies.

2. Statement of the Subject. The following is a tabular view of these records, with which it will be convenient to compare the parallel lists as found in the Hebrew copies of the Old Testament.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Genealogy of Jesus Christ'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​g/genealogy-of-jesus-christ.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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