LINEAGE OF YESHUA
The Bible contains 66 books by at least 40 different authors, is written in three different languages, describing three different continents, all written over a period of at least 1,500 years. It has hundreds of characters and numerous genres. Sometimes it’s narrative; other times, you have beasts flying around with many different eyes, and then there are love poems. We don’t read many books this complex anymore. So it seems a compelling and summative introduction would be for the New Testament. to begin with Matthew’s introduction.
On his first page, Matthew begins speaking about Yeshua the Messiah, with His genealogy. We might be tempted to let our eyes skim down and get to the real action. But Matthew begins this way intentionally. In many ways, this is the most fitting and compelling introduction to the New Testament imaginable. Jewish culture focused upon the lineage of an individual, and great effort was made to highlight the import of notable lines. Here are five reasons Matthew’s genealogy is the introduction of all introductions. Especially, if one is curious about the True Messiah.
1. Matthew’s Genealogy Summarizes
the Story of the Bible
The first 16 words summarize the entire story of the Bible so far. Do you want to know how a disciple of Yeshua shortened the Old Testament story? Look no further than Matthew 1:1. "This is the genealogy [a] of Yeshua the Messiah[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham." The Bible's story can be understood by looking at key characters who carry the story, and Adam, Abraham, David, and Yeshua. Adam is not explicitly named, but his story is contained in words “the book of the genealogy,” which could also be translated as “the book of Genesis,” the origin of heaven and earth (place), and Genesis 5:1 , Adam and Eve (people).
Matthew tells us to look at these key people and the promises that were given to them to help structure how we read the entire story. From the beginning, God was in the business of establishing his people in his place by his power. It began with Adam and Eve, and it continued in the covenants given to Abraham and David. These are finally fulfilled in Yeshua: the Davidic king who will establish Israel’s kingdom. Matthew’s first words summarize the whole storyline so far.
2. Matthew’s Genealogy Reminds Us
This Is a True Story
A list of names is an odd way to begin. But the New Testament doesn’t begin with “once upon a time,” but with a family tree. Matthew draws on a rich tradition of genealogical texts, for genealogies are important in the Tanakh (an acronym for the Hebrew Bible’s three main divisions: Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim). Genesis, the first book of the Tanakh, is structured around ten genealogies. Chronicles, the last book of the Tanakh, begins with nine. The formal similarities between Genesis and Chronicles are hard to miss. Both are virtually the only books in the Hebrew Bible filled with genealogies. Chronicles commence with Adam and move rapidly through human history until arriving at David. Genesis also begins with Adam but moves quickly until Abraham comes on the scene. Most of the book of Genesis follows Abraham’s descendants.
So Matthew seems to have detected the “offspring” theme in the specific words and the specific genre that bookends the Jewish canon. The Jewish hopes centered around a genealogy because they were promised a child from the family of Israel. Matthew shows us his story is no myth––this is the narrative of the historical Messiah, Yeshua, who has a family lineage and was born in David's line.
3. Matthew’s Genealogy Highlights
Jesus’s Inclusive Family
Matthew’s genealogy, is an ancient text that deals with modern issues. Notice, for example, the women Matthew includes. In a patriarchal society, it’s surprising to include females at all. Even so, one might expect to see the matriarchs of the faith: Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, or Leah. But instead, Matthew includes less likely females who are (1) Gentiles, (2) have rough pasts, (3) but are tenacious in their loyalty to Yahweh. Though it’s only explicit that Rahab and Ruth are non-Israelites, a good case can also be made for Tamar and Bathsheba.
Bathsheba is listed as “the wife of Uriah” (1:6), probably because it makes her Gentile status explicit—Uriah was a Hittite (2 Sam. 11:3, 6). Tamaris also not explicitly identified as a Gentile in the Old Testament, but a Jewish tradition asserts she was a Syrian proselyte. Thus, all the evidence taken together—Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, Ruth a Moabite, and Bathsheba a Hittite’s wife. Jesus’s family includes all nations.
Second, Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba have sexual histories. Not only are they Gentiles, but their past is also overcast with shame and abuse. Each was taken advantage of sexually. Tamaris shunned by Judah, who imposes on her in a moment of sin. Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute, and Bathsheba was taken advantage of sexually by King David. Readers might be surprised to discover that an ancient genealogy has quite a bit to say to a #MeToo and #ChurchToo generation.
Finally, three of these women (Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth) are characterized by tenacious fidelity. Tamaris loyal to her family; Rahab is loyal to Yahweh despite not being a part of the nation; Ruth forsakes her idols and follows Naomi’s God. Yeshua welcomes those who are fiercely loyal to him from diverse backgrounds and difficult circumstances in life.
4. Matthew’s Genealogy
Shows Us God Is Faithful
Matthew’s genealogy isn’t primarily about the people, but about God. He carries along this family line despite their failures. He has been and will be faithful to his promises. One of God’s most significant promises was to King David (2 Sam. 7)—and even the form of the genealogy points to David’s importance.
Clearly, this is a theological retelling, for Matthew omits many generations. His emphasis on 14 is purposeful, and an example of gematria—when a set of letters’ numerical value makes a theological point. In Hebrew, David consists of three letters and has the numeric value of fourteen (dalet  + waw  + dalet ). The periods are then divided to emphasize both the kings and the success or failure of the kingdom. This fits Matthew’s theological retelling of the Old Testament story in the structure of three. David's name is also placed at the 14th and 15th spot in the genealogy, putting him at the list's important pivot of the story (1:6). He is also named at the beginning and the end (1:1, 17). If God has pledged himself to you, he isn’t letting you go, no matter what you do. Israel couldn’t out-sin the promises of God—and neither can you.
You see, from the outset, Matthew wants readers to see Yeshua through the person of David. The genealogy—and Matthew’s entire Gospel, for that matter—is about how Yeshua is David’s son. God made a binding promise to David concerning one of his sons; the genealogy shows how he’s fulfilled it. Human promises are flawed, but when God promises something, we can take it to the bank. If he has pledged himself to you, he isn’t letting you go, no matter what you do. Israel couldn’t out-sin the promises of God—and neither can you.
5. Matthew’s Genealogy Displays
Yeshua as Our Only Hope
Matthew speaks into the prophetic future. There have been 400 years of silence, and so the redemptive-historical context is ongoing exile. Indeed, the one “event” Matthew names outside of Yeshua's birth is the exile (1:11–12), which acts as a hinge for the genealogical structure and provides perspective for the Gospel as a whole. Matthew views the plot of Israel under the banner of exile and return. The king, therefore, comes to rescue Israel from exile; he has been sent for her lost sheep. This exile stretches farther back than the Babylonian exile, though: it begins with Adam (Gen. 3).
But though God’s people are in exile, hope bursts through the shadows. A light has dawned because a child has come. While Genesis 5 is a picture of genealogical death, the ending of Matthew’s is resurrection life. A child has been born who will never perish. Matthew’s genealogy has a past, a present, and a future. In Yeshua, we’re now brought into this family; Abraham and David become our fathers. It becomes our genealogy, our family tree. Though this world seeks historical rooting and future life in various ways, only one child establishes the new creation. Yeshua is the point of this genealogy, for Yeshua is the point of the Bible.
Matthew Account of Messiah's lineage:
1:1 A roll of the birth of Yeshua, son of David, son of Abraham.
2 Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren,
3. Judah begat Pharez and Zarah of Tamar, and Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, 4 Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,
5 Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab, and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth, and Obed begat Jesse,
6 Jesse begat David, the king. And David the king begat Solomon, of her [who had been] Uriah’s,
7 Solomon begat Rehoboam, and Rehoboam begat Abijah, and Abijah begat Asa,
8 Asa begat Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat begat Joram, and Joram begat Uzziah,
9 Uzziah begat Jotham, and Jotham begat Ahaz, and Ahaz begat Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah begat Manasseh, and Manasseh begat Amon, and Amon begat Josiah,
11 Josiah begat Jeconiah and his brethren at the Babylonian removal.
12 And after the Babylonian removal, Jeconiah begat Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel begat Abiud, and Abiud begat Eliakim, and Eliakim begat Azor,
14 Azor begat Sadok, and Sadok begat Achim, and Achim begat Eliud,
15 Eliud begat Eleazar, and Eleazar begat Matthan, and Matthan begat Jacob,
16 Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, begotten Yeshua, who is named Christ.
17 All the generations, therefore, from Abraham unto David [are] fourteen generations, and from David unto the Babylonian removal fourteen generations, and from the Babylonian removal unto the Christ, fourteen generations.