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The Bible comprises 66 books authored by over 40 distinct writers, composed in three different languages, covering the narratives of three continents, and spanning a timeframe of at least 1,500 years.  It features a multitude of characters and encompasses various literary genres, including narratives, imagery-rich passages with fantastical elements like multi-eyed creatures, and even love poems. This level of intricacy and diversity is seldom found in contemporary literature. Therefore, an apt and comprehensive introduction for the New Testament could be found in Matthew's opening.

In the initial pages of Matthew, he commences by discussing Yeshua the Messiah, starting with His ancestral lineage. While there might be a tendency to swiftly move through this section and reach the core action, Matthew intentionally begins this way. This introduction aligns remarkably well with the essence of the New Testament. In the context of Jewish culture, significance was placed on tracing one's lineage, and special emphasis was given to notable family lines. Here are five compelling reasons why Matthew's genealogy serves as an unparalleled introduction, particularly for those seeking insights about the True Messiah:


1.  Matthew's Genealogy Offers a Concise Recapitulation of the Bible's Narrative: The first 16 words encapsulate the entire narrative of the Bible until that point. To grasp how a disciple of Yeshua distilled the Old Testament's storyline, one can refer directly to Matthew 1:1: "This is the genealogy of Yeshua the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham." The essential characters that shape the narrative—Adam, Abraham, David, and Yeshua—are evident. While Adam isn't explicitly mentioned, his story is encapsulated in the phrase "the book of the genealogy," which could be equated with "the book of Genesis," the origin of both heaven and earth (location), and Genesis 5:1, which discusses Adam and Eve.

2.  Matthew prompts us to examine these key figures and the promises tied to them, which helps structure our understanding of the entire narrative. Right from the beginning, the theme involves God establishing His people in their designated place through His power. This journey starts with Adam and Eve and progresses through the covenants established with Abraham and David, culminating in the fulfillment through Yeshua: the Davidic king destined to establish Israel's kingdom. Matthew's opening words concisely summarize the narrative's trajectory. 


3. Matthew's Genealogy Asserts the Authenticity of the Story: Initiating the New Testament with a list of names might seem unconventional. Yet, the New Testament doesn't begin with a typical "once upon a time," but rather with a family lineage. Matthew draws on a rich heritage of genealogical texts, as genealogies hold a pivotal place in the Tanakh (comprising Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim in Hebrew Bible). Genesis, the Tanakh's inaugural book, revolves around ten genealogies, and Chronicles, its concluding book, commences with nine. The structural parallels between Genesis and Chronicles are conspicuous. Both books, within the Hebrew Bible, prominently feature genealogies. Chronicles starts with Adam and swiftly navigates through history until reaching David. Similarly, Genesis begins with Adam and accelerates the narrative with the entry of Abraham. Most of Genesis then focuses on Abraham's descendants.


4. Matthew appears to recognize the theme of "offspring" woven into the specific words and genre that bookend the Jewish canon. The emphasis on genealogy in Jewish tradition was linked to the anticipation of a child from the lineage of Israel. Through this, Matthew conveys that his narrative isn't a mere legend; it's an account of the historical Messiah, Yeshua, who possesses a tangible family lineage, descending from David.

    a. Matthew's Genealogy Highlights the Inclusivity of Jesus's Ancestry: Matthew's genealogy, an ancient text, resonates with contemporary concerns. It's noteworthy, for instance, that Matthew includes women in the lineage. This is surprising given the patriarchal context of that era. Even if females were included, one might anticipate the inclusion of prominent matriarchs like Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, or Leah. However, Matthew chooses less conventional women who possess distinct characteristics: (1) Gentile heritage, (2) complex pasts, and (3) unwavering commitment to Yahweh. While Rahab and Ruth's non-Israelite status is explicit, there's a strong case to consider Tamar and Bathsheba within this category.


Bathsheba's description as "the wife of Uriah" (1:6) underlines her Gentile identity—Uriah was a Hittite (2 Sam. 11:3, 6). While Tamar isn't explicitly identified as a Gentile in the Old Testament, a Jewish tradition suggests she might have been a Syrian proselyte. Considering the evidence, Tamar and Rahab are Canaanites, Ruth is a Moabite, and Bathsheba is associated with a Hittite husband. Yeshua's lineage encompasses people from all nations.


Furthermore, Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba share histories marred by exploitation. They weren't just Gentiles but had endured pasts overshadowed by shame and abuse. Each woman had experienced sexual mistreatment: Tamar faced rejection by Judah, Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute, and Bathsheba was exploited by King David.

Lastly, three of these women—Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth—demonstrate unwavering loyalty. Tamar remains committed to her family, Rahab's loyalty to Yahweh transcends her non-Israelite status, and Ruth forsakes her idols to follow Naomi's God. Yeshua extends his embrace to those steadfastly loyal to him, irrespective of their diverse backgrounds and challenging life circumstances.

5. Matthew's Genealogy Illustrates God's Unfailing Faithfulness: Matthew's genealogy isn't primarily about individuals; it centers on God's faithfulness. He preserves this lineage despite the individuals' shortcomings. God remains true to His promises. A central pledge was made to King David (2 Sam. 7), and even the structure of the genealogy emphasizes David's significance.


Evidently, this is a theological retelling, as Matthew omits several generations. The focus on the number 14 is deliberate, showcasing gematria—where a set of letters corresponds to a numerical value to convey a theological message. In Hebrew, the name "David" comprises three letters, equating to fourteen (dalet [4] + waw [6] + dalet [4]). The divisions emphasize both the reign of kings and the successes or failures of the kingdom. This harmonizes with Matthew's theological retelling of the Old Testament within a triadic framework. David's name appears as the 14th and 15th positions in the genealogy, marking a pivotal point (1:6). He's also named both at the start and conclusion (1:1, 17). When God commits Himself, that commitment remains unyielding, unaffected by human failings. Israel couldn't transgress beyond the bounds of God's promises, and the same applies universally.


From the outset, Matthew intends readers to perceive Yeshua through the lens of David. The genealogy, as well as Matthew's entire Gospel, revolves around Yeshua being David's descendant. God's binding commitment to David's lineage finds fulfillment in Yeshua, and this genealogy traces the realization of that promise. While human vows are fallible, divine promises are unassailable. Once God pledges Himself, that pledge stands unshakable, irrespective of human actions. 


6. Matthew's Genealogy Portrays Yeshua as the Ultimate Hope: Matthew's narrative reaches into the realm of prophetic anticipation. Following 400 years of silence, the ongoing context is one of redemptive-historical exile. Notably, outside of Yeshua's birth, Matthew explicitly mentions the exile (1:11–12), which serves as a pivotal point structurally and imparts perspective to the Gospel's entirety. Matthew's view of Israel's trajectory is framed within the paradigm of exile and return. The king arrives to rescue Israel from exile, embodying the mission to gather the lost sheep. While the Babylonian exile is a crucial reference, the exile's origin traces back to Adam (Gen. 3).


Despite the context of exile, hope shines through the shadows. A new dawn emerges with the arrival of a child. While Genesis 5 paints a picture of genealogical death, Matthew's conclusion portrays resurrection life. A child is born, destined to endure eternally. Matthew's genealogy spans past, present, and future. Through Yeshua, we are embraced into this lineage; Abraham and David become our forebears. This genealogy becomes our own, our family tree. While various avenues seek historical roots and future renewal, only one figure ushers in the new creation—Yeshua is the focal point of this genealogy, just as He is the crux of the Bible's narrative.

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