The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:1-16)
His Family Tree
The study of the family tree of Jesus is a character lesson on the humanity of man. Genealogies are not the most exciting passages to read with this person ‘begetting’ this person who ‘begets’ more people and the names run together and are hard to pronounce. Most of us skip these lists and go on to more important details. However, there is a lot of material in a genealogy listing and Jesus’ is no exception.
Matthew begins the ancestors of Jesus as a summation of the lineage of David and Abraham. This represents the promise of the seed first made to Abraham and lastly confirmed to David. Two important starting points show the fulfillment of a promise made in the Garden of Eden. Abraham tops the list (Luke’s account will carry the ancestry to Adam). He was a great man of faith and called the “Friend of God.” He also had trouble telling the truth about his wife. On more than one occasion, for fear of his life, he convinces Sarah to tell others she is his sister. When the son of promise did not come, Abraham agrees to bear a son by Hagar at the insistence of Sarah. It seems a lack of faith and trust on his part. Isaac will follow in the footsteps of his father telling people his beautiful wife, Rebekah, is his sister. Jacob, youngest son of Isaac, takes the birthright away from Esau and through a devised plan of deception steals the birthright blessing from his brother. He flees for his life and through another devised plan of deception marries two sisters, Leah and Rachel. Jacob loves Rachel more than Leah and the pain of being unloved weighs heavy on Leah. The lineage of Jesus does not come through Rachel as the loved wife but Leah the unloved: parabolic!
Judah is the fourth son of Jacob and Jesus will trace His lineage through him. This is where the ancestry of Jesus takes an unusual turn. Judah had three sons by a Canaanite woman. His oldest son married a woman named Tamar. Because he was wicked, the Lord struck him down. Widowed, Tamar marries Judah’s second son, Onan. He disrespected Tamar and God struck him dead. Judah told Tamar when his youngest son was grown she would be married to him. This never happened. Following the death of his own wife, Judah went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah. Hearing her father-in-law was in the land, Tamar dressed herself like a harlot and placed herself in his path. When Judah saw her, he took her and conceived twins by her (he was unaware at first). The son’s names were Perez and Zerah. It was through the relation of Judah to his daughter-in-law Tamar, the lineage of Jesus was passed through the family of Perez.
Along with Tamar, three other women are mentioned in the genealogy. Rahab was a prostitute living in Jericho when the children of Israel came against it. She would marry Salmon and their son Boaz would marry Ruth, a woman of Moab, whose lineage is traced back to the daughters of Lot bearing children by their father. Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah whom David murdered to cover up his sin of adultery. Notice that Bathsheba is not named but the sin is referenced in Matthew’s listing. Solomon would be a great king but have seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; who would turn his heart away from God.
The kings that followed Solomon were miserable examples of devotion to God. Few of the sons of Solomon throughout the divided kingdom extolled the greatest of David. Often it is said the kings of Judah walked in the sins of their fathers or Ahab the wicked king of Israel. Uzziah tried to make himself a high priest and was struck with leprosy by God. Ahaz offered his children as burnt offerings. Manasseh also made his children pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums doing more evil in the sight of the Lord than those before him. The lineage of Jesus was taken away to Babylon as captives and slaves.
The pedigree of Jesus was not filled with sinless people. They were all sinners. Some worse than others. Some better than others. The account by Matthew and Luke established the fulfillment of the seed promise but it also shows why Jesus came to earth. His own lineage proves the need for redemption. Everyone needs the saving grace of God to bring them to holiness. It gives me comfort to read the names in the family of Jesus and see that I can have hope of eternal life through the life of Jesus Christ. I need my Savior.
Now that is a great story.