This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: …Tamar…Rahab…Ruth …Uriah’s wife [Bathsheba] …Mary
Matthew 1:1, 3, 5, 6, 16 (NIVUK)
Genealogies were important in Old Testament scripture because land rights were apportioned to families in Israel, and because certain offices, such as priest and king, were inherited from father to son. The genealogy of Jesus shows that Jesus is the rightful legal heir to the covenant promises given to Abraham’s seed, plus the covenant promises associated with King David.
The Greek word translated ‘genealogy’ in Matthew 1:1 is genesis, meaning ‘origin’, ‘source’, ‘beginning’. The Old Testament book of Genesis gives the story of one beginning, while Matthew gives the story of a new beginning – the arrival of Jesus the Messiah and the kingdom of God. The Hebrew name for Jesus is Yeshua which means ‘salvation’.
The inclusion of five women in Jesus’ genealogy is unusual, since descent was usually traced through the man as head of the family. The first four women in the genealogy: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba) are all recorded in scripture as committing sexual misdemeanours. However, Mary was falsely accused of adultery and carried this stigma for most of her life. This highlights an important theological point: the four women, foreshadowed, and are all types of Mary who was falsely accused of a sexual misdemeanour. By including them in Jesus’s genealogy Matthew shows that God is reversing the gender marginalisation of women to bring about his purposes.
Tamar was a seducer and adulteress but she respected the law more than Judah, her father-in-law, who said of her ‘She is more righteous than I’ (Genesis 38:1-26). Rahab (a Canaanite) was a rejected gentile. She was a prostitute who showed great faith in God (Joshua 2:1-24). Ruth (a Moabite) was a citizen of a hated nation, but she was a woman who chose to become associated with God and his people (Ruth 1: 6-22). Bathsheba sinned with David, but she sought God’s forgiveness along with David (2 Samuel 11:2,3; 2 Samuel 12:1-25). The lineage of Jesus consists of a diverse group of men and women: Jews and Gentiles; sinners and the faithful; heroes and villains – and Jesus will be Saviour of all.
Loving Father, thank you that in your grace salvation through Jesus the Messiah is for everyone: men and women, Gentile and Jew, immoral and pure: all are included. In Jesus’s name, we pray, Amen.
Study by Stuart Bellini
About the writer:
Stuart Bellini is a member of Grace Communion International, Scotland.
Grace Communion International Central Glasgow
St Andrews West
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