Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 12 October 2010; Revised 2 December 2019
Scripture: The Scripture text of Matthew used below is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Other Bible versions are also quoted. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Most versions can be accessed on the Internet. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations. Dates of Israelite kings are from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Dates of the nativity are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the definitions of Greek words are from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981). The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Law), Besekh (New Testament), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Book of Matthew" because that is how Matthew introduces his story (Matt 1:1).
Please see the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Matthew and his book.
Date of the Nativity
There is considerable debate concerning the year Yeshua was born. Matthew and Luke do not provide the year of Yeshua's birth, but they do set the nativity in the context of the reigns of the key political leaders (Caesar Augustus, Quirinius and Herod the Great). Church fathers placed Yeshua's birth in the 41st year of Caesar Augustus (3/2 BC), but for over a century scholars have asserted that the nativity must have occurred much earlier. Most modern Christian and Messianic Jewish scholars offer suggestions ranging from 8 BC to 4 BC. The birth narratives simply affirm that Yeshua was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus and well before the death of Herod the Great. Based on the evidence of the church fathers and other data I am placing Yeshua's birth in 3 BC. For commentary on Luke's account of the nativity click here: Luke 1.
Nativity Order of Events
Below are the events of the nativity of Yeshua the Messiah described in Matthew and Luke in their chronological order. These dates are meant to be suggestive and not dogmatic:
2048 BC to 4 BC
· The Genealogy of the Messiah (Matt 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38).
· June: Angelic visitation to Zechariah in Jerusalem (Luke 1:5-25).
· December: Angelic visitation during Hanukkah to Miriam in Nazareth and conception; Elizabeth "in her 6th month;" Miriam departs for Hebron (Luke 1:26-38).
· December-March: Miriam's visit to Elizabeth in Hebron (Luke 1:39-55).
· March: After three months Miriam returns to Nazareth (Luke 1:56).
· March: Birth of Yochanan (John) the Immerser; his Brit Milah and naming (Luke 1:57-63); and prophetic message of Zechariah (Luke 1:64-79).
· April: Miriam found to be pregnant (Matt 1:18).
· April-May: Angelic announcement to Joseph and his obedience (Matt 1:19-25).
· September: Travel to Bethlehem: birth of Yeshua in Bethlehem and Brit Milah (Luke 2:1-21).
· October: Purification offering of Miriam, messianic prophecies of Simeon and Anna, and return to Nazareth (Luke 2:22-39).
· Summer ― Fall: [Return of Yeshua's family to Bethlehem with the intention of settling there].
· December: The arrival and adoration of the Magi during Hanukkah (Matt 2:1-12); flight of Yeshua's family to and sojourn in Egypt (Matt 2:13-15), and massacre of the children in Bethlehem (Matt 2:16-18).
· January (28-29th): Death of Herod the Great (Matt 2:19).
· March: Return of Yeshua's family to Nazareth (Matt 2:19-23).
The Genealogy of the Messiah (1:1-17)
1 The book of the genealogy of Messiah Yeshua, son of David, son of Abraham;
The book: Grk. biblos, a written account, which may reflect a formal list, such as a registry, or as a literary production and rendered as "book." of the genealogy: Grk. genesis, birth or in an extended sense as presented here, a lineage. The verse contains no definite articles so it is lit., "The book of genealogy of Yeshua, Messiah, Son of David, Son of Abraham."
of Messiah: Grk. Christos, gen. case, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah (Danker). In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334). Christos was chosen deliberately by the Jewish translators of the LXX to render Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word.
The Heb. title Mashiach means 'anointed one' or 'poured on.' Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chr 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3 (King Saul); 2Sam 22:51 (King David); Isa 45:1 (King Cyrus); and most significantly (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. The Greek text of this verse contains no definite articles for any of the nouns, so probably the intended meaning is
The significance of being known as "The Anointed One" is that Israelite kings were crowned and priests were ordained in a ceremony of anointing with olive oil, which invested them with the authority of their positions. There was no comparable concept in Greek culture. Yeshua was not physically anointed in his commissioning for ministry, although He was anointed with the Spirit in accordance with Isaiah 61:1 (Matt 3:16). However, he was anointed with nard in preparation for his death (Mark. 14:3-8; John 12:3), so in that sense he was physically anointed for his final and greatest ministry.
Among Christians "Christ" is generally used first and foremost to mean the second person of the triune Godhead as presented in Christian creedal statements. Sometimes Christians use "Christ" as if the word was a last name, which is strange since no one would say "David King." It cannot be emphasized too many times that the title Christos was the invention of Jews long before Yeshua was born and not by Gentile Christians. In fact, "Christ" is not a translation of Christos, but a transliteration. If Gentile Bible versions really wanted to translate Christos literally, the correct rendering would be "Anointed One" or idiomatically "Jewish Messiah."
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, perhaps "yay-soos," is an attempt to replicate the pronunciation of Yeshua, the name of our Lord in Hebrew, the language he spoke. Iēsous does not translate the meaning of Yeshua, any more than "Jesus" does. Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y'hōshua, which means "YHVH is salvation" (BDB 221). Yeshua has the same Hebrew root as yoshia ("He will save") and is also the masculine form of the Hebrew word yeshu'ah, ("salvation") (Stern 4). In his thirty-some years on earth people called him Yeshua. Gentile believers must never forget that Yeshua was born to a Jewish mother, raised in a Jewish home in a Jewish community situated among the Jewish people in the land God gave to Abraham and his Jewish posterity. By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew.
For the Latin Vulgate (AD 405) Jerome translated the Greek name with Iesus. The earliest English versions (1525-1611) were divided in spelling the name "Iesu" and "Iesus" but the Mace New Testament in 1729 substituted the letter "J" for the "I" used for names of people and places in the previous Bibles. The 1769 revision of the KJV adopted the new spelling convention and Bible names have been misspelled and mispronounced by Christians ever since. For many Jews the name "Jesus" is a distinctly Christian word. Sadly, for many Christians the name "Jesus," while precious, does not evoke the reality of his Jewish identity.
son of: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5); (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32), as here; (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. 2Th 2:3), and this too applies here.
David: Grk. David, a transliteration of Heb. David ("dah-veed"), a personal name meaning "favorite" or "beloved" (HBD). David is one of the most important figures in Israelite history. See verse 6 below for a summary of his life and accomplishments. Matthew introduces David's name at the beginning of his genealogy for an important reason. God made a covenant with David in which he was promised that Israel would be assured of their Land, that the Lord would build David a house and that God would raise up a descendant of David and establish his throne forever (2Sam 7:11-15; 23:5; Ps 89:3). The sign of this enduring covenant would be a house, used with a dual meaning, both house of worship or Temple and his descendants that would one day produce the Messianic King (2Sam 7:12-13; Isa 9:6; 11:1-5; Jer 23:5; 33:14-22; Acts 11:23; Rom 1:4).
Yeshua's biological connection to King David is repeatedly emphasized in the Besekh. He was frequently identified as "son of David" (Matt 9:27; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9, 15; 22:42; Mark 10:47-48; 12:35; Luke 3:31; 18:38) and his lineage from David is mentioned by the apostles (Acts 13:34; Rom 1:3; 2Tim 2:8; Rev 5:5; 22:16). "Son of David" is not just a biological connection, but a Messianic title that is synonymous with "son of God." "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. In fact, it was commonplace in the ancient Near East to consider the king as God's son. The basis for "son of God" being a divinely appointed deliverer from the line of David, i.e., the Messiah, is found in two key passages that speak of God's revelation to David:
"I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me." (2Sam 7:12-14 NASB)
"But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain." 7 "I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, `You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. … 11 Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. 12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" (Ps 2:6-7, 11-12 NASB)
The revelation of God's son is also given in later passages:
"Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His son's name? Surely you know!" (Prov 30:4 NASB)
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:6 NASB)
God's promise that he would bring His Anointed from the line of David, an expectation set forth in rabbinic writings (Sukkah 52a; Sanhedrin 97a), explains the presence of the genealogies in the apostolic narratives. The genealogy of Luke 3:23-38 should be considered the line of his mother Miriam. The apostles demonstrated that Yeshua is the expected son of David on both sides of the family tree. David's words in Psalm 2:7 are replicated in Paul's sermon at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:33) and twice in his letter to the Hebrews (1:5; 5:5).
son of Abraham: Grk. Abraam, a transliteration of Heb. Avraham, a personal name. The first Hebrew patriarch, he became the prime example of faith. He was the son of Terah, a descendant of Noah's son, Shem (Gen 11:27). He grew up in Ur of the Chaldees, a prominent Sumerian city. He was known at the beginning as Abram ("father is exalted"), but his name was changed subsequently to Abraham ("father of a multitude") (Gen 17:5). Abraham was living in Haran when God called him to migrate to Canaan, and during his sojourn there God spoke to him and established a covenant with him.
Calling Yeshua "son of Abraham" is not just a biological connection. The mention of David and Avraham in close proximity hints at the particular covenants God made with these two men. In the covenant with Abraham God promised him a great name, that all nations would be blessed through him, that a direct heir would come from his body and Sarah, that he would be the Father of many people and nations, that his descendants would be delivered from bondage, and that his descendants through Isaac would possess the lands from the Nile River to the Euphrates River, especially the land of Canaan. The covenant was unconditional and everlasting and circumcision was the sign of this covenant (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-22). Being the son of David and Abraham meant that Yeshua would be the fulfillment of those covenants. For more information on the great patriarch see my web article The Story of Abraham.
Historical Note: This commentary assumes the principal authorship of historical books of the Tanakh as determined by Jewish tradition:
2 Abraham fathered Isaac; and Isaac fathered Jacob; and Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers.
Abraham fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor., means to father, beget or procreate. In the LXX gennaō is used chiefly for Heb. yalad (SH-3205), to bear, bring forth, to beget, to father (first use in Gen 4:18), which can refer to either the male or female role in conception and birth (DNTT 1:176). The Greek verb gennaō may refer to the female role in bearing and giving birth (Luke 1:13, 57; 23:29; Heb 11:23), but most often the verb emphasizes the male role. Many versions translate the birth record as if the verbs were passive voice when they are actually active voice. The genealogy follows the pattern of patrilineal genealogies in Genesis 5, 10; 1 Chronicles 1―9, etc. The lineage record provided by Luke (3:23-38), which traces the genealogy to Adam, is different in a number of details and probably reflects the family tree of Miriam.
Gale says that Jews regard Abraham as the first Jew and the first proselyte (3; cf. Sukkah 49b), and, of course, all Jews trace their ancestry to Abraham as father of the Hebrew people (Isaiah 51:1-2; John 8:53; Acts 3:25; 7:2). Matthew demonstrates that being the descendant of Abraham the first Hebrew (Gen 14:13) Yeshua was also a Hebrew. God made a covenant with Abraham in the land of Canaan. God promised Abraham a great name, that all nations would be blessed through him, that a direct heir would come from his body & Sarah, that he would be the Father of many people and nations, that his descendants would be delivered from bondage, and that his descendants through Isaac would possess the lands from the Nile River to the Euphrates River, especially the land of Canaan. The covenant was unconditional and everlasting and circumcision was the sign of this covenant (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-22).
Isaac: Grk. Isaak, a transliteration of Heb. Yitschaq ("laughter"), the only son of Abraham by Sarah when Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah was ninety (Gen 21:1-6). Isaac was actually Abraham's second-born child, Ishmael being his first-born by Hagar, Abraham's concubine-wife. God made it clear to Abraham that being the child of promise the Messianic line would go through Isaac (Gen 21:12). Isaac became a child of sacrifice and a type of Yeshua when God commanded Abraham to kill his son in a worship ceremony in the "land of Moriah" (Gen 22:1-14), in the vicinity where Yeshua would be crucified. Later, through the matchmaking efforts of his father, Isaac married his second cousin Rebekah (Gen 22:15, 51, 57-58, 67). God reiterated the covenant He made with Abraham with his son Isaac (Gen 26:2-5, 23-24; Ex 2:24; 6:4; Lev 26:42).
and: Grk. de, conj. particle marking the superaddition of a clause and used to indicate (1) a contrast, "but;" (2) a transition without contrast, "now, then;" (3) continuation of a thought, "and, also, moreover" (BAG). De never stands as the first word in sentence as kai ("and"), the standard conjunction for continuing a thought, often does. Many versions omit translation of the particle, but de is used throughout the genealogy, which has the effect of giving emphasis to each clause with three effects: (1) each clause creates a clear sequence and chronology of events; (2) each clause summarizes a lengthy time of history into a few words; and (3) each clause marks each man as important in furthering of the Messianic line.
Isaac fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Jacob: Grk. Iakobos attempts to transliterate Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob"). The meaning of Jacob's name, "heel-catcher," had no pejorative connotation when first given by Isaac to his son. As indicated by Hosea 12:3, "heel-catcher" illustrated the strength and power he had with God. (For more on the background of the name and the first "Jacob" see my web article Our Father Jacob.) The son of Isaac held great honor among the people of Israel and so it is not surprising that five different men bear this name in the Besekh, including the apostle misnamed "James." Each Jacob mentioned in Scripture is usually distinguished from the others by the mention of his family relations.
God reiterated the Abrahamic covenant with Isaac's son Jacob (Gen 28:10-22; 35:9-12), affirming the same promises and specifying that the Messianic line would not go through Esau. The covenant with Jacob introduced something new: Jacob's name was changed to Israel ("God perseveres," BDB 975) and God promised that from him would come a nation and an assembly of nations (Gen 35:11). Since Yeshua is a direct descendant of Jacob then he is an Israelite.
and: Grk. de, conj. Jacob fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Judah: Grk. Ioudas, a transliteration of Heb. Y'hudah ("praise YHVH," Gen 29:35; BDB 397), son of Jacob and progenitor of the tribe of Judah. Although born fourth (Gen 29:35) to Jacob's wife Leah, Judah benefited greatly from Reuben's forfeiture of his leadership rights by defiling his father's bed (Gen 35:22; 49:4; 1Chr 5:1ff). Indeed, far more is said about the tribe of Judah in the Scriptures than any other tribe.
Before he died Jacob pronounced blessings on his twelve sons. In his patriarchal blessing of Judah (Gen 49:8-12) Jacob offers four prophecies of Judah's future (Gen 49:8-12). Moses summarizes these themes in his blessing on Judah (Deut 33:7). First, Judah would be the leader of his brothers. As a testament to this preference Judah went first in the order of march in the wilderness and was always the largest tribe in numbers. Second, Judah would be a great conqueror, which was manifest very early by Caleb and Othniel (Judg 1:11-15, 20; 3:9-11). King David who came from Judah then accomplished the greatest military conquests in Israel's history.
Third, Judah would produce a royal line of kings and after King Saul God would never give legitimacy to any king that did not come from the tribe of Judah. Fourth, Jacob used the name "Shiloh" to promise that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. The Talmud lists Shiloh as one of the names of the Messiah (Sanh. 98b) and the most ancient Jewish commentary on Genesis, Bereshit Rabba, also adopts this interpretation (Varner 47), as does the noted Jewish commentator Rashi (note on Gen 49:10). In addition, the Messiah would be born of David's line in a town of Judah, Bethlehem (2Sam 7:12-16; Mic 5:2). The nativity accounts of Yeshua confirm Jacob's prophecy.
A significant derivation of Ioudas is the word Ioudaios, "Jew, Judean, Jewess," with respect to birth heritage. Ioudaios translates the Heb. term Y'hudi (pl Y'hudim), which first appears in 2 Kings 16:6 to refer to Judeans. Y'hudi was derived from Y'hudah, the name of Jacob's son (Gen 29:35) and thereafter his tribal descendants (Ex 31:2). During the exile Y'hudi became a synonym for all Israelites regardless of tribal origin (cf. Ezra 4:12, 23; Neh 4:1f; Esth 4:3, 7; Jer 34:9). Since Yeshua is a descendant of Judah, the tribe of Judah, and a member of the nation of Israel, he is a Jew.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder Hebraic writing style of the apostles.
his brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a biological brother. In the LXX adelphos renders Heb. ach (SH-251), generally a brother as one born of the same mother (first in Gen 4:2). The term ach is also used of other blood relatives (Gen 13:8; 29:12), a member of the same tribe (Num 16:10), or a member of the same people (Gen 9:5; Ex 2:11). The rabbis in the first century regarded the proselyte as a brother (DNTT 1:255). In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites with whom there is a blood relationship. Judah had three brothers born of his mother Leah: Reuben, Issachar, and Zebulon. Judah had eight half brothers - Simeon, Levi Gad, Asher, Dan, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin. While the brothers were not directly in the Messianic line, their development into the nation of Israel became the context for God's great redemptive plan. (For background information on these tribes see my notes on Revelation 7:4-8.)
3 Moreover Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar; then Perez fathered Hezron; then Hezron fathered Ram,
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See the previous verse. Judah fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See the previous verse. Perez: Grk. Phares, a transliteration of Heb. Perets, a personal name meaning "breach" (Gen 38:29). He became a clan chieftain, but nothing more is known of his life. and: Grk. kai, conj. See the previous verse. Zerah: Grk. Zara, a transliteration of Heb. Zerach, a personal name meaning "sunrise" (HBD), the twin brother of Perez (Gen 38:30). Like Perez he had many descendants, but nothing more is known of his life. by: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of." Tamar: Grk. Thamar, a transliteration of Heb. Tamar, a personal name meaning "date palm" (Gen 38:6). Genesis 38 tells the family story.
Judah, son of Jacob, had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah. Judah arranged a marriage for Er to a woman named Tamar. But, Er was evil, so God put him to death. The nature of Er's evil is not explained, but his conduct must have been egregiously wicked for God to act with summary judgment. In due course Judah expected Onan to marry Tamar in order to continue Er's name. Judah's decision demonstrates that following the custom was not based on the character of the deceased. This story emphasizes that the duty of yibbum (levirate marriage) predated the Sinai covenant, and as a principle of law that has existed from the beginning (cf. Matt 19:4), yibbum may not be impugned.
Onan did not want to produce an heir that would belong to his dead brother. The reason is not explained, but one might give him the benefit of the doubt and assume Onan considered it offensive to name a child of his flesh after an evil man. Even more probable is that Onan knew that he could not perpetuate his family through a first-born son with Tamar. Just as grievous is that not only would Er's property be conveyed to the first-born, but Onan's own inheritance as well. If Onan had already married and had a first-born son there would have been no problem. Onan could have taken Tamar as a second wife and completed his duty.
Onan did not refuse Tamar her conjugal rights, but at the critical moment of intercourse he ejaculated his semen on the ground rather than into his wife. As a result, God was displeased with Onan and put him to death for refusing to do his marital duty, not because his semen made contact with the ground. With two dead sons Judah became afraid that the same consequence would befall his son Shelah who was still a lad. Perhaps Judah knew that Shelah was of the same moral character as his two brothers. In any event Judah's fear denied Tamar her due.
Once Shelah was fully grown and Judah denied the marriage, Tamar put a plan in motion. She disguised herself as a harlot and waited in a place she knew that Judah would pass. The fact that Judah could be enticed by someone he viewed as a harlot says much about his own character. In the end when Tamar was discovered to be pregnant by Judah, he was forced to admit his error. Thus, Tamar obtained the security and justice that Judah had withheld from her. Many commentators condemn Judah and Tamar by the later law that forbids sexual union between a man and his daughter-in-law (Lev 18:15; 20:12), but God does not apply His laws in an ex post facto manner (retroactively). Tamar is clearly the object of sympathy in the story and as with Lot and his daughters there was no sin. As a result of the union of Tamar and Judah she became part of the Messianic line.
and: Grk. de, conj. Perez fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Hezron: Grk. Hesrōm, a transliteration of Heb. Chetsron, a personal name meaning "camping place" or "reeds," Gen 46:12). Like many others in early Bible times, nothing is known of the man beyond his name and family connection. and: Grk. de, conj. Hezron fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Ram: Grk. Aram, a transliteration of Heb. Ram, a personal name meaning "high, exalted" (Ruth 4:19).
4 Moreover Ram fathered Amminadab; then Amminadab fathered Nahshon; then Nahshon fathered Salmon.
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Ram fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Amminadab: Grk. Aminadab, a transliteration of Heb. Amminadav, a personal name meaning "my people are generous" (Num 1:7; Ruth 4:19). There are four men named Amminadab in the Tanakh, including the father-in-law of Aaron, and two Levites (Barker 31). Many scholars believe this Amminadab to be the same as Aaron's father-in-law (Ex 6:23).
and: Grk. de, conj. Amminadab fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Nahshon: Grk. Naassōn, a transliteration of Heb. Nachshon, a personal name meaning "serpent" (HBD), a leader of the tribe of Judah in the wilderness years (Num 1:7) and brother-in-law of Aaron (Ex 6:23). and: Grk. de, conj. Nahshon fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Salmon: Grk. Salmōn, a transliteration of Heb. Salma, four times (1Chr 2:11, 51, 54), Heb. Salmah, one time (Ruth 4:20), and Heb. Salmôn, one time (Ruth 4:21). The personal name means "cloak or clothing." All Bible versions spell the name as "Salmon." In the Targum he is called "Salma the righteous" (Ruth 4:20).
5 Moreover Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab; and Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth; and Obed fathered Jesse,
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Salmon fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Boaz: Grk. Boes, which transliterates Heb. Boaz, a personal name meaning "lively." by: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of." Rahab: Grk. Rhachab, a transliteration of Heb. Rachav, a personal name derived from rachab (SH-7337; 'grow wide or large'). Rahab is identified as a harlot in Jericho who hid two spies sent by Joshua to determine the strength of the city (Josh 2:1). When the king of Jericho learned of the spies' presence, he sent men to arrest them. Rahab outsmarted the king and hid the men on her roof, sending the arresting officers on a false chase toward the Jordan River. In return for her help Joshua spared her and her clan when the Israelites destroyed Jericho (Josh 6:17-25).
Interestingly, the Tanakh passes no judgment on the Rahab's character other than noting her sinful past. The Hebrew text describes her as "ishshah zônah." Only a few Bible versions translate ishshah, which means 'woman' or 'wife.' There is no mention in the narrative of Joshua that she was married. In any event, the coming of the spies changed her life. HBD notes that some interpreters believe the Rahab in this genealogy is another woman, thinking the name of Rahab to be too scandalous for the Messiah's ancestry. However, there are men in this genealogy far more wicked than Rahab.
Jewish tradition makes Rahab the wife of Joshua and named her the ancestor of notable Israelites, such as Baruch, Jeremiah, Hilkiah the priest, and Hulda the prophetess (Megillah 14b). The Jewish legend is without biblical support and Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim, not Judah. Only Matthew names Rahab as the mother of Boaz, but there is no reason to doubt his historical accuracy. The apostle Paul lists this courageous woman among the heroes of faith (Heb 11:31) and Jacob, the half-brother of Yeshua, considers Rahab as righteous based on her assistance to the spies (Jas 2:25).
and: Grk. de, conj. Boaz fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Obed: Grk. Iōbēd, which transliterates Heb. Oved, a personal name meaning "serving" or "worshiper." Nothing more is known of Obed, but his inclusion in the genealogy of David makes him significant. by Ruth: Grk. Routh, which transliterates Heb. Rut, a personal name meaning "companion." Ruth was a Moabite who married an Israelite, Chilion, from an Ephrathite family that had moved into Moab to escape famine. The story is told in the book of Ruth. Her husband and her mother-in-law's (Naomi) husband subsequently died. The Torah included the Moabites with those who had been banned from sharing God's covenant (Deut 23:3), but God had warned Israel not to provoke them to war since being the offspring of Lot He had given them land as a possession (Deut 2:9).
In reality the basis for restricting other tribes from the covenant with the God of Israel had to do with their non-compliance with Torah religion and morality. God intended from the beginning that Gentiles would be included in Israel. Jacob was informed that he would be a "company of nations" (Gen 35:11) and foreigners had been included in Israel from the time of the Exodus. Ruth joined herself to Naomi and the people of Israel by her great statement of fidelity, "where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God" (Ruth 1:16). By her example, Gentiles are only saved by joining Israel.
Christian scholars treat the marriage between Boaz and Ruth as Levirate marriage (Heb. yibbum, "perform the duty of a husband's brother"). Jewish Rabbinic scholars, however, consider the case of Ruth and Boaz as being connected rather with the institution of the go'el, meaning next of kin and therefore redeemer. In ancient Israel any duty which a man could not perform by himself had to be taken up by his next of kin, as well as any rights possessed by a man which lapsed through his inability to perform the duties attached to such rights, could be and should be assumed by the next of kin.
The go'el duty was applied especially to parcels of land which any Israelite found it necessary to sell (Lev. 25:25). Another duty of the go'el was to raise offspring for his kinsman if he happened to die without any. The relative nearness of kin is not very definitely determined in the Hebrew Scriptures. The brother appears to be the nearest of all, after whom comes the uncle or uncle's son (Lev. 25:49; Num 36:11).
Boaz was Ruth's kinsman by marriage. He wasn't her brother-in-law since Naomi had only two sons and both died in Moab. Ruth 4:3 describes the relation of Naomi's husband Elimelech to the unnamed relative and Boaz as "our brother" (Heb. ach), which is used in the Tanakh of a sibling (same father and mother), half-sibling (same father), but also other blood relatives as uncle or cousin, and even a member of the same tribe. Given that Boaz points out that the unnamed relative is closer in consanguinity than he (Ruth 3:12), then the unnamed relative could be a sibling of Elimelech, making him an uncle to the husband of Ruth and Boaz a cousin.
After Naomi's arrival home Boaz takes Ruth under his protection. Naomi realized her dead husband had property that she could sell to obtain security for her and Ruth, plus gain a husband for Ruth at the same time. Of course, as a Jewish proselyte Ruth would have to marry within Naomi's tribe (cf. Num 36:1-7). However, the land had to remain within the clan and would have to be purchased by a relative. So, in this story the law of property redemption and Levirate marriage become intertwined.
When Boaz discovers Naomi's plan, he is willing to marry Ruth, but he has to resolve the matter of legal entitlement that belongs to the nearer relative. The uncle elects not to marry Ruth, probably because he already had a wife, but no son, and he did not want to invest capital in property he would gain no benefit from and be forced to bequeath his own inheritance to the first-born of Ruth. Boaz was then free to acquire the property and Ruth.
It is very possible that Boaz had a wife or concubine and even children since an unmarried man of his age and prominence would have been unusual (cf. Ruth 3:2). Wives are only mentioned in Scripture for a reason. In reality the story of Ruth is told to provide background to the story of David. Boaz's character stands in stark relief with his uncle. Boaz was not concerned about the impact on his estate but doing justice for Ruth, which makes him a giant of a man in the annals of Scripture.
and: Grk. de, conj. Obed fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Jesse: Grk. Iessai, a transliteration of Heb. Yishay, a personal name meaning "man" or "manly" (HBD). Jesse was a respected citizen of Bethlehem (1Sam 16:1, 18) and owner of flocks of sheep. He was the father of eight sons―Eliab, Abinadab, Shimea, Nethanel, Raddai, Ozem, Elihu, and David―and two daughters, Zeruiah and Abigail (1Chr 2:13-16). David is often called "son of Jesse," which emphasized the stature of Jesse (1Sam 16:18; 20:27; 22:7-9, 13; 25:10; 2Sam 20:1; 23:1; 1Kgs 12:16; 1Chr 10:14; 12:18; 29:26; 2Chr 10:16; 11:18; Ps 72:20). The name of Jesse appears in Messianic prophecies. Isaiah spoke of a "Rod from the stem of Jesse (11:1) and of "a Root of Jesse" (11:10). For Paul, the "root of Jesse" (Rom 15:12) was a prophecy fulfilled in Yeshua.
6 Moreover Jesse fathered David the king; and David fathered Solomon by the one of Uriah.
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Jesse fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. David: Grk. David which transliterates perfectly the Heb. David ("dah-veed"), a personal name meaning "favorite" or "beloved" (HBD). His name first appears in 1 Samuel 16:13 when God sent Samuel to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons as the next king. At that time David was only a shepherd. Because of his musical abilities David came to the attention of King Saul who had been forsaken by God and troubled by an evil spirit. From time to time David would play the harp for Saul. During one of these visits the Philistines had invaded the area. Samuel recounts the story of David encounter with Goliath and his victory over the Philistines (1Sam 17). As a result of David's popular appeal Saul turned against David and made him a fugitive for several years.
the king: Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek. In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed (often a city), but the authority wielded. The executive and judicial functions (and sometimes legislative) of government were vested in one person. David initially became king over the tribe of Judah (1Sam 2:11) because the other tribes considered Ish-bosheth, son of Saul as the true king (2Sam 2:10). After reigning seven and a half years over Judah, he became king over all Israel at the age of 30 and reigned a total of 40 years (2Sam 5:4; 1Chr 3:4). David made a tremendous impact on the nation of Israel. In the military sphere he broke the power of all the pagan peoples in the land of Canaan and in the civil sphere he made Jerusalem his capital and solidified central authority.
Perhaps most important is his accomplishments in the religious sphere. He erected the Tabernacle on Mt. Zion, centralized religion in Jerusalem and established Levitical choirs. He wrote many psalms and 73 psalms are specifically ascribed to him. He was known as the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2Sam 23:1). Especially important is that he compiled and organized psalms into what we now know as the Book of Psalms (2Chr 29:30). David was a true worshipper, a man imbued with the Holy Spirit (1Sam 13:14; 16:13; 2Sam 23:2).
God chose David to be king because He "sought out for Himself a man after His own heart" (1Sam 13:14). Then, God made a personal and everlasting covenant with him by which God promised that He would establish the throne of David forever, build a house for Himself and send forth a king from the loins of David to rule over his people Israel (2Sam 7:12-14; 23:5; 2Chr 7:18; 13:5; Ps 89:3; Isa 55:3; Jer 33:21). Jeremiah left a simple eulogy of David's life: "David did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite" (1Kgs 15:5).
David's family life has been the subject of much analysis and not a little criticism among commentators. He was a polygamist with 8 wives (Heb. ishshah) and 10 concubines (Heb. pilegesh) (2Sam 3:3-5, 13-14; 5:13; 12:7-8, 24; 15:16), of whom the names of Michal (1Sam 18:27), Ahinoam and Abigail (1Sam 25:42-43), Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah (2Sam 3:3) and Bathsheba (2Sam 11:27) are known. The concubines were probably the servants of his wives (2Sam 6:20-22). He had 19 named sons of his wives, besides the sons of his concubines, and one named daughter, although many other daughters were born to him (1Chr 3:1-9; 14:3-7). David's adultery with Bathsheba and conspiracy to kill her husband Uriah was especially egregious (2Sam 12:7-8).
Yet, in spite of his moral failure the Scripture record is highly complimentary of David. During the time of the divided kingdoms after the death of Solomon there is an oft repeated phrase to describe the good kings of Judah, "He walked before me as David his father walked" (1Kgs 3:3, 14; 11:4, 6, 33, 38; 14:8; 15:3, 5, 11; 2Kgs 14:3; 16:2; 18:3; 22:2). Jeremiah left a simple eulogy of David's life: "David did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite" (1Kgs 15:5). The last comment on David's life in the Tanakh is from Ezra who twice refers to David as a "man of God" (2Chr 8:14; Neh 12:24).
David also has a highly favorable standing in the Besekh. The apostles tell the story of Yeshua as the story of the Son of David from His birth (Matt 1:1; Rom 1:3; 2Tim 2:8; Rev 22:16). At least twelve times the apostolic narratives refer to him as "Son of David." David is cited as a model of behavior (Matt 12:3), identified as a servant of God (Luke 1:69) and regarded as a Spirit-inspired prophet (Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; 2:34; 4:25; Rom 11:9; Heb 4:7). David thus took his place in the roll call of faithful heroes (Heb 11:32). This was "David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will" (Acts 13:22). Josephus, the Jewish historian, left this beautiful eulogy of David:
"This man was of an excellent character, and was endowed with all virtues that were desirable in a king, and in one that had the preservation of so many tribes committed to him; for he was a man of valor in a very extraordinary degree, and went readily and first of all into dangers, when he was to fight for his subjects, as exciting the soldiers to action by his own labors, and fighting for them, and not by commanding them in a despotic way. He was also of very great abilities in understanding, and apprehension of present and future circumstances, when he was to manage any affairs. He was prudent and moderate, and kind to such as were under any calamities; he was righteous and humane, which are good qualities, peculiarly fit for kings; nor was he guilty of any offense in the exercise of so great an authority, but in the business of the wife of Uriah. He also left behind him greater wealth than any other king, either of the Hebrews or, of other nations, ever did." (Ant. VII, 15:2)
and: Grk. de, conj. David fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Solomon: Grk. Solomōna, a transliteration of Heb. Shelomoh, a personal name meaning "his peace." Solomon was the tenth son of David and the second son of Bathsheba. He became the third king of Israel by the expressed will of God (1Kgs 1:29-30) and reigned forty years, c. 970-930 B.C. (1Kgs 11:42). Solomon is remembered for his wisdom, which the historical record offers anecdotes of the judging of two harlots over a baby (1Kgs 3:16-27) and the visit of the Queen of Sheba who came to test him with difficult questions (1Kgs 10:1). Solomon was credited with originating three thousand proverbs and a thousand and five songs (1Kgs 4:32). Thus, it is not surprising that Proverbs (Heb. Mishlei), Ecclesiastes (Heb. Qohelet) and Song of Songs (Heb. Shir HaShirim) in the Bible are attributed to Solomon, as well as Psalm 72 and Psalm 127.
Solomon expanded his kingdom until it covered about 50,000 square miles, from Egypt to Mesopotamia (NIBD 1000). Solomon also increased trade by land and sea, which promoted the prosperity of the nation and helped build his personal fortune. He engaged in important building projects, including a magnificent Temple constructed according to detailed plans that his father David prepared with divine inspiration (2Sam 7:13; 1Kgs 5—8; 1Chr 28:10-19; 2Chr 8:14). The Temple complex in Jerusalem was composed of several buildings including Solomon's palace, other ostentatious buildings, and a palace for one of his wives, the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt (1Kgs 7:1). While the Temple was the most famous of his building projects, it was by no means the only one.
Solomon fortified a number of cities that helped provide protection to Jerusalem, built "store-cities" for stockpiling the materials required in his kingdom, and established military bases for contingents of charioteers (1Kgs 9:15-19). Solomon divided the country into 12 administrative districts that did not correspond to the old tribal boundaries (1Kgs 4:7-19) and had the districts provide provisions for the central government. This system, combined with control of vital north/south trade routes, made it possible for Solomon to accumulate vast wealth. This wealth was supplemented both from trading in horses and chariots and from trade carried on by a fleet of ships (1Kgs 9:26-28; 10:26-29).
Of all the extravagances for which Solomon is known his marriage practice is especially notable. He "loved many foreign women" (1Kgs 11:1) and as a result he had seven hundred wives, all noble women, and three hundred concubines (1Kgs 11:3). Solomon's many wives were the result of political alliances, the first of whom was the daughter of Pharaoh of Egypt (1Kgs 3:1). Solomon thus violated the Torah prohibition of marrying women of idolatrous nations (Deut 7:3-4; Josh 23:11-13) and multiplying wives (Deut 17:15-17). Polygamy was widely practiced in ancient times. There is no biblical prohibition of polygamy, but the Torah did provide some regulation for proper treatment of wives (Ex 21:10; Deut 21:15-17). For more information on this ancient practice see my web article Polygamy.
Unfortunately, Solomon allowed his many wives to worship their native gods and even had altars to these gods constructed in Jerusalem (1Kgs 11:7-8). This toleration of evil, not found in his father, would eventually reap the whirlwind of God's judgment. Solomon's egregious marriage practice may explain the omission of any names of Solomon's wives and concubines, except for Naamah, the mother of his son Rehoboam (1Kgs 14:21). When he died he was buried in the City of David (1Kgs 11:43).
In the Besekh Solomon is mentioned in Yeshua's teaching about anxiety (Matt 6:29; Luke 12:27). Yeshua noted that the queen of Sheba came a long way to see Solomon and that "something greater than Solomon is here" (Matt 12:42; Luke 11:31). Yeshua walked in "Solomon's colonnade," the only remains of his great Temple (John 10:23; cf. Acts 3:11; 5:12) that King Herod incorporated into his rebuilt temple. Stephen noted that though David sought to find a place for God, it was Solomon who "built a house for Him" (Acts 7:47).
by the wife: Grk. hē, fem. definite article and demonstrative pronoun, gen. case. For some reason the normal word for wife, Grk. gunē, is omitted from the text. Curiously, Matthew also omits the name of Bathsheba. of Uriah: Grk. Ourias, which transliterates Heb. Uriyah, a personal name meaning "fire of Yah" (HBD). Uriah was an Hittite (2Sam 11:3) and a member of David's elite warriors (2Sam 23:39). To gain this status Uriah must have embraced the Israelite religion and was circumcised. His ancestry makes the story ironic since the Hittites were to have been completely destroyed by the Israelite conquest (Ex 23:23; Deut 20:17). although there is no mention of his circumcision it was likely done because of their relationship.
The genitive case of the clause "the one of Uriah" depicts Bathsheba as belonging to Uriah. The syntax may imply that Bathsheba was his only wife, alluding to Nathan's parable of the poor man who had "one little ewe lamb" (2Sam 12:3). While Bathsheba is identified in the Tanakh as the wife (Heb. ishshah) of Uriah (2Sam 11:3), the genitive case might also imply she was his concubine. Concubines (Heb. pilegesh) were called ishshah (Gen 25:1; 30:4; 35:22; 2Sam 12:11; 16:22; 1Chr 1:32). Stern assumes that Bathsheba, like Rahab and Ruth was a non-Israelite, but her father's name is given as Eliam (2Sam 11:3), a Hebrew name. Thus, Bathsheba was allowed to marry Uriah because he became a proselyte.
7 Moreover Solomon fathered Rehoboam; and Rehoboam fathered Abijah; and Abijah fathered Asa;
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Solomon fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Rehoboam: Grk. Rhoboam, a transliteration of Heb. Rechabam, a personal name meaning "he enlarges the people" (HBD). Rehoboam was a son of Solomon by Naamah, an Ammonitess, acceded to the throne at age 41 (1Kgs 11:43; 14:21) and reigned seventeen years (c. 931-913 BC). While at Shechem for his crowning ceremony as king over Israel (1Kgs 12:1), the people asked Rehoboam if he would remove some of the tax burden and labor laws which Solomon had imposed on them. Instead of taking the advice of the older men, he acted on the counsel of those who wanted to increase the burden.
The northern tribes revolted and made the rebel Jeroboam their king. With a much reduced kingdom Rehoboam did not change his values, but continued the pagan ways which Solomon had allowed (1Kgs 14:21-24). Rehoboam wanted to march against the rebellious tribes, but he was prevented by warnings from the prophet Shemaiah and by the invasion of Shishak of Egypt. Rehoboam was further disgraced by having to empty the Temple treasury to buy off Shishak.
The marriage practice of Rehoboam was similar to his father, with three names of his wives given, as Ezra records:
"Then Rehoboam took as a wife Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David and of Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse, 19 and she bore him sons: Jeush, Shemariah and Zaham. 20 After her he took Maacah the daughter of Absalom, and she bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza and Shelomith. 21 Rehoboam loved Maacah the daughter of Absalom more than all his other wives and concubines. For he had taken eighteen wives and sixty concubines and fathered twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters." (2Chr 11:18-21 NASB)
When Rehoboam died he was buried in the City of David (1Kgs 14:31).
and: Grk. de, conj. Rehoboam fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Abijah: Grk. Abia, which transliterates Heb. Abiyyah, a personal name meaning "Yah is my father." The spelling of Abbiyah actually comes from Ezra (1Chr 3:10). In 1 Kings, penned by Jeremiah, he is called Abijam (Heb. Abiyyam, 1Kgs 15:1), a name meaning, "my father is Yam" (or sea), possibly a reference to Canaanite god (HBD). Abijah was his father's favorite son (2Chr 11:22). Abijah followed the sins of Rehoboam (1Kgs 15:3) but still maintained proper worship in Jerusalem (2Chr 13:10). Like his father Abijah was a polygamist with fourteen wives and begat 22 sons and 16 daughters (2Chr 13:21). The only notable achievement of Abijah was a military victory over Jeroboam of Israel (2Chr 13:15-20). Abijah reigned only three years (c. 913-911 BC) and when he died he was buried in the City of David (1Kgs 15:2, 8; 2Chr 14:1).
and: Grk. de, conj. Abijah fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Asa: Grk. Asaph, the reading of the NU-Text, but the Maj-Text has Grk. Asa, a transliteration of Heb. Asa, a personal name meaning "healer." There is no king by the name of Asaph in the Tanakh and yet a few versions give the name of Abijah's son as Asaph (CEB, ESV, ISV, MRINT, NAB, NRSV). Asa succeeded his father Abijah to the throne of Judah (1Kgs 15:8) and reigned forty-one years, c. 911-869 BC (2Chr 16:13). A pious man, Asa instituted several reforms to remove foreign gods and foreign religious practices from the land, even removing his mother from political power (1Kgs 15:12-13; 2Chr 14:2-3).
Scripture is silent on the marriage practice of Asa, so he may have had only one wife or just a few wives. Asa was rebuked by the prophet Hanani (2Chr 16:7) for relying on the king of Syria rather than on the Lord (1Kgs 15:17-20). Ezra, the chronicler, further reported that when Asa developed a disease in his feet, he relied on physicians rather than on the Lord (2Chr 16:12). When he died he was buried in his own tomb in the City of David (2Chr 16:14).
8 Moreover Asa fathered Jehoshaphat; and Jehoshaphat fathered Jehoram; and Jehoram fathered Uzziah
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Asa fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Jehoshaphat: Grk. Iōsaphat, a transliteration of Heb. Yehoshaphat, a personal name meaning "YHVH has judged." Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of Judah from the time of Rehoboam. The Greek spelling owes to the fact Greek does not have a letter with the "sh" sound. The English spelling of Bible names beginning with a "J" for the Hebrew letter Yod owes to the development of the English language. Originally the "J" was a vowel, simply a fancy "I," and pronounced phonetically as the Yod, but after the Renaissance (14th-17th century) it became a consonant with a hard sound. The Vulgate spelled the name Iosophat, and Wycliffe (1395) translated the Latin as Josaphath. The early English versions (1525-1611) spelled the name Iosaphat.
The Mace New Testament (1729) spelled the name as Josaphat, but it was the Wesley New Testament (1755) that initiated the spelling of Jehoshaphat. Ironically the KJV (1769) spelled the name Josaphat, but modern versions returned to the spelling of Jehoshaphat. The Tanakh notes the name of Jehoshaphat's mother, Azuba, and that he reigned as king over Judah reign as twenty-five years, c. 873-848 BC (1Kgs 22:42; 2Chr 20:31). He was a faithful worshiper of God (1Kgs 22:43; 2Chr 17:6) and in time of danger prayed for God's help (2Chr 20:6-12). He attacked pagan idolatry and he sent teachers to the people to teach them more about God (2Chr 17:6-9). As a ruler Jehoshaphat had a high regard for justice and instructed judges to be impartial (2Chr 19:4-11).
Nevertheless, Jehoshaphat did one thing that ultimately proved to be disastrous: he made an alliance with Ahab, king of Israel, through the marriage of his son Jehoram to Ahab's daughter Athaliah (2Chr 21:5-6). The alliance led to further dealings with Ahab (2Chr 18:1-34), which received the rebuke of the prophet Jehu (2Chr 19:1-30). After the death of Ahab a coalition of Ammonites, Moabites and Meunites attacked Judah but God provided a miraculous deliverance and victory (2Chr 20:1-25). Jehoshaphat's life record ends with an unfortunate mistake of making an alliance with Ahaziah, king of Israel for which the prophet Eliezer rebuked him (2Chr 20:35-37). Jehoshaphat reigned twenty-five years (2Chr 20:31) and when he died he was buried in the City of David (2Chr 21:1).
and: Grk. de, conj. Jehoshaphat fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Jehoram: Grk. Iōram, a transliteration of Heb. Yehoram, a personal name meaning "YHVH is exalted." The Greek name is a variant spelling that occurs in the LXX for Jehoram (2Kgs 9:15) and thus many versions translate the name here as Joram. This can create confusion because there was a king of Israel named Joram (2Kgs 8:16). The name of this king of Judah appears in Chronicles only as Jehoram. Some versions identify the king correctly here as Jehoram (CEV, ERV, GNB, NCV, NIRV, NIV, NLT, TLB).
Jehoshaphat had seven sons but Jehoram received the throne because he was the first-born (2Chr 21:3). Due to the alliance between Jehoshaphat and Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoram was given the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, Athaliah, as his bride. She was just as pagan and wicked as her mother. Athaliah dominated her husband and persuaded him to reintroduce and encourage Baal worship in Judah. Jehoram even murdered his six brothers when he was crowned king. During his reign Libnah and Edom broke away from Judah. He was so hated by the people that when he died they refused him burial in the royal tombs.
Upon Jehoram's death his son Ahaziah by Athaliah succeeded to the throne, c. 841 BC, but his reign only lasted a year before being killed by Jehu, the general of Jehoram's army who vowed to destroy the house of Ahab. Athaliah then took control of the government and ordered the massacre of all her grandchildren. Joash, the son of Ahaziah, was hidden from Athaliah for six years and then she was finally executed for her many crimes at the order of the high priest Jehoiada (2Kgs 11:15-16).
and: Grk. de, conj. Jehoram fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Matthew's genealogy omits without explanation Jehoram's son Ahaziah (who reigned about a year in 841 BC), his grandson Joash (who reigned 40 years, 835-796 BC, 2Chr 24:1), and his great grandson Amaziah (who reigned 29 years, 796-767 BC, 2Chr 25:1). Gale suggests these three kings were omitted in order to have the list add up to fourteen (3), but there could have been another reason. Gill comments that these three kings were omitted either because of the curse pronounced on Ahab's family, into which Jehoram married, whose idolatry was punished to the third or fourth generation; or because these princes were of no good character; or because their names were not in the public Jewish registers.
It could be argued that other names in Matthew's list lacked good character and there is no reason to believe that Jewish records were incomplete, given the presence of their history in the LXX. Gill's first reason has the greatest merit. For Matthew to say that Jehoram fathered Uzziah is consistent with the Hebraic viewpoint of paternity, which does not always mean the immediate biological father. Isaiah told Hezekiah that his sons would go into captivity (Isa 39:7), even though the captivity would not occur until several generations thereafter. Also, Paul said that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek because he was in the loins of Abraham when the tithes were actually paid (Heb 7:9).
Matthew's omission does not effect his express purpose, which is to show that Yeshua, the true Messiah, is of the house of David and of the tribe of Judah. Genealogical omissions are not uncommon in the Tanakh since Ezra omits six generations in his post-exile genealogy of high priests (Ezra 7:1-6), but they are contained in his longer genealogy of Chronicles (1Chr 6:1-14). Also, the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 are shorter in the Masoretic Text than they are in the LXX. (See Barry Setterfield, The Alexandrian Septuagint History, 2010).
Uzziah: Grk. Ozias, which attempts to transliterate the Heb. Uzziyyahu, a personal name meaning "my strength is Yah." Uzziah was also known as Azariah (2Kgs 15:1; Heb. Azaryah and sometimes Azaryahu, "Yah has helped"). The son of Amaziah, he succeeded his father to the throne when his was sixteen years old and reigned 52 years (2Kgs 15:2). The lengthy time likely includes years he functioned as co-regent after his father's imprisonment by the king of Israel (2Chr 25:23) and thus his singular reign would be c. 767-740 BC.
During most of his tenure Uzziah was a wise, pious and powerful king. He extended Judah's territory by successful campaigns against the Philistines, Arabs, Meunites, and Ammonites (2Chr 26:6-8). He fortified Jerusalem and built cisterns and military outposts to provide greater security. Unlike his predecessors who relied on the troops to supply their own arms, Uzziah armed his troops with the most advanced weapons (2Chr 26:14-15). Uzziah brought the nation to a time of great material prosperity. He was a lover of the soil who promoted agriculture (2Chr 26:10).
Yet, Uzziah is not so much remembered as the greatest leader since King Solomon, but as the "leper king." He was portrayed as a king who did what "was right in the sight of the Lord" (2Kgs 15:3), but Jeremiah offers no explanation for the king's affliction other than "the Lord struck the king" (2Kgs 15:5). On the other hand, Ezra traced Uzziah's leprosy to his prideful attempt to offer incense in the Temple (2Chr 26:16-20), reminiscent of Korah's rebellion (Num 16:1-40). Thereafter, his son Jotham reigned in his stead, though Uzziah likely remained the power behind the throne (2Chr 26:21). As a leper, Uzziah was denied burial in the royal tombs at Jerusalem and was buried instead in a field (2Chr 26:23). At Uzziah's death the prophet Isaiah had a transforming vision of the Lord, high and lifted up on a throne (Isa 6:1-13).
9 Moreover Uzziah fathered Jotham; and Jotham fathered Ahaz; and Ahaz fathered Hezekiah;
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Uzziah fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Jotham: Grk. Iōatham, a transliteration of Heb. Yotham, a personal name meaning "YHVH is perfect." He was the tenth king of Judah since Rehoboam (2Kgs 15:32-38; 2Chr 26:21-23). The royal record indicates that Jotham was twenty-five years old when he began to reign as king and he reigned for sixteen years. His mother's name was Jerusha (2Kgs 15:32). Scholars give the period of his reign as 750-731 BC. The sixteen-year period given for his reign may not includes the time that he acted as co-regent for his father Uzziah after he contracted leprosy (2Chr 26:21).
Jotham evidently was an effective ruler. His reign was a godly one, although the people persisted in idolatry. He had the benefit of the prophetic ministry of Isaiah, Hosea and Micah during his reign (Isa 1:1; Hos 1:1; Mic 1:1). His accomplishments included building the Upper Gate of the Temple and strengthening the Jerusalem wall of Ophel. He also built cities and fortified buildings throughout the countryside to further strengthen Judah. He had military success against the Ammonites and exacted tribute from them for three years (2Chr 27:3-5). Jotham's strength and prosperity were attributed to the fact that "he ordered his ways before the Lord His God" (2Chr 27:6). When he died he was buried in the City of David.
and: Grk. de, conj. Jotham fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Ahaz: Grk. Achaz, a transliteration of Heb. Achaz, a personal name meaning "he has grasped." Ahaz was the eleventh king of Judah from Rehoboam (732-716 BC). He was twenty years old when he became king and ruled sixteen years (2Kgs 15:38; 16:1-20). He was an ungodly king who promoted the worship of Molech, with its pagan rites of human sacrifice (2Kgs 16:3-4; 2Chr 28:1-4). The reign of Ahaz was contemporary with the prophets Isaiah and Micah. During this time Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, joined forces to invade Judah with horrific success The prophet Oded rescued many captives taken to Samaria (2Chr 28:9-15).
Isaiah gave counsel to Ahaz to seek the Lord's help, but Ahaz refused the prophet's advice and appealed for help to Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria (Isa 7:1). That appeal and the resulting entanglement had unfortunate results religiously and politically in that Ahaz surrendered to Assyrian domination. He even placed an altar made from a Syrian model in the Temple (2Kgs 16:11). This time of spiritual rebellion was the time God chose to give a significant Messianic prophecy through Isaiah to Ahaz:
"Then ADONAI spoke again to Ahaz saying, 11 'Ask for a sign from ADONAI your God—from the depths of Sheol or the heights of Heaven.' 12 But Ahaz said, 'I won't ask—I wouldn't test ADONAI!' 13 Then he said, 'Hear now, house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men? Will you also weary my God? 14 Therefore ADONAI Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive. When she is giving birth to a son, she will call his name Immanuel.'" (Isa 7:10-14 TLV)
Ahaz refused to turn to God and fell deeper into idolatry and self-destruction. He had the audacity to have the high priest to construct a copy of an altar he saw in Damascus and install it in the Temple in Jerusalem (2Kgs 16:10-16). As a result of his ungodly conduct God sent judgment to Judah in the form of military defeats from every direction. When he died Ahaz suffered the final humiliation of not being buried in the royal tombs (2Chr 28:15).
and: Grk. de, conj. Ahaz fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Hezekiah: Grk. Hezekias, a transliteration of Heb. Chizqiyyahu (2Kgs 16:20) occurring 77 times, a personal name meaning "Yah has strengthened." An alternate Hebrew spelling is Yechizqiyyahu (2Kgs 20:10), occurring 38 times. Hezekiah was the twelfth king of Judah from Rehoboam. He was twenty-five when he succeeded to the throne and he reigned 29 years (2Kgs 18:2), c. 716-686 BC. Hezekiah began his reign by bringing religious reform to Judah. Places of idol worship were destroyed. Hezekiah even destroyed the bronze serpent Moses had erected in the wilderness so the people would not view the bronze serpent as an object of worship.
The Temple in Jerusalem was reopened, idols removed and vessels reconsecrated (2Kgs 18:1-4). He restored the musical ministry of the Levites and organized the priests and Levites for the conducting of religious services. The tithe was reinstituted. Plans were made to observe the religious feasts called for in the Law. In particular the celebration of Passover was organized to which Hezekiah invited the northern Israelites to share. This Passover is described as of a magnitude not observed since the time of the Judges (2Kgs 23:21-23; 2Chr 30:1-27).
At this time Assyria was the dominant power. Just a few years after Hezekiah had become king, Sargon II of Assyria captured Ashdod. Hezekiah anticipated the time when he would have to confront Assyrian armies. Hezekiah fortified the city of Jerusalem and organized an army. Knowing that a source of water was crucial, Hezekiah constructed a tunnel through solid rock from the spring of Gihon to the Siloam pool. The city wall was extended to enclose this important source of water.
Isaiah warned Hezekiah not to become involved with Assyria (Isa 20:1-6). The critical time for Hezekiah came in 705 B.C. when Sennacherib became king of Assyria and levied a heavy tribute of silver and gold. In 701 B.C., Hezekiah became seriously ill (Isa 38:1-21). Isaiah warned the king to prepare for his approaching death, but Hezekiah prayed that God would intervene. God answered by promising Hezekiah fifteen more years of life and deliverance of Jerusalem from Assyria (Isa 38:4-6).
In the meantime, Sennacherib had besieged Lachish and then sent messengers to the Jerusalem to urge the people to surrender. Sennacherib boasted of having conquered 46 walled cities and having taken 200,000 captives. Sennacherib's messengers taunted that God would not come to Judah's defense. Hezekiah, dressed in sackcloth and ashes, went to the Temple to pray. He also called for Isaiah, the prophet. Isaiah announced that Sennacherib would "hear a rumor" and return to his own land where he would die by the sword (2Kgs 19:7).
Hezekiah's faith and physical recovery brought him recognition from the surrounding nations (2Chr 32:33). The Babylonian leader, Merodachbaladan, even congratulated Hezekiah on his recovery. Hezekiah hosted this Babylonian leader at a reception, but Isaiah met this event with a warning that succeeding generations would be subjected to Babylonian captivity (Isa 39:1-8).
Sennacherib destroyed the city of Babylon in 689 B.C. He then marched toward Egypt. Hoping to ward off any interference from Judah, Sennacherib sent letters to Hezekiah ordering him to surrender (Isa 37:9-38). Hezekiah took the letters to the Temple and prayed for God's help. From Isaiah came the message that Sennacherib would not prevail. In fact, Sennacherib's army was destroyed in a miraculous way (2Kgs 19:35-37). In 681 B.C., Sennacherib was killed by two of his sons as had been predicted by Isaiah in 701 B.C. When Hezekiah died he was buried in the upper section of tombs of the sons of David (2Chr 32:33).
10 And Hezekiah fathered Manasseh; and Manasseh fathered Amon; and Amon fathered Josiah;
And: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Hezekiah fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Manasseh: Grk. Manassēs, a transliteration of Heb. Menashsheh, a personal name meaning "causing to forget." Manasseh, the only son of Hezekiah, was born within his 15-year life extension. The naming of Manasseh may have reflected Hezekiah's feelings of hope for the future, as expressed in his prayer (Isa 38:9-20). The name of his mother Hephzibah, too, was the symbol of the happy union of the land with its loyal sons (2Kgs 21:1; Isa 62:4). He was the thirteenth king of Judah from Rehoboam, and succeeded to the throne at twelve years of age, probably as co-regent at first. He reigned fifty-five years, the longest of any Judean king (B.C. 696-642). Yet, by comparison little is known of his tenure.
After the death of Hezekiah, Manasseh ceased to serve the God of his father. He did whatever his evil imagination prompted. The historical record (2Kgs 21:1-16; 2Chr 33:1-9) mentions no beneficial accomplishments, but is highly censorious of his idolatrous reign, and blames him for Judah's ultimate destruction and exile. His reign was a continuation of that of Ahaz, both in religion and national polity. His principal offenses are listed as erecting altars for Baal and made an Asherah, which he put in the temple; building altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD; making his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; practicing witchcraft and divination; and consorting with mediums and spiritists.
Ginzberg says that "All his acts were calculated to cast contempt upon Judaism and its tenets. It did not satisfy his evil desire to obliterate the name of God from the Holy Scriptures; he went so far as to deliver public lectures whose burden was to ridicule the Torah" (Vol. IV, Chap. IX, "Manasseh"). The success of instituting his vices showed that the reformation under his father had been to a large extent only superficial (Isa 7:10). Amid this wide-spread religious decay, faithful prophets (Isaiah, Micah) spoke out in reproof and in warning. But their fidelity to the Lord and their messages only aroused bitter hatred, and a period of cruel persecution against the godly began. There is an old Jewish tradition that Isaiah was put to death at this time (2Kgs 21:16; 24:3-4; Jer 2:30), having been sawn asunder in the trunk of a tree (Yebamoth 49b; Heb 11:37).
In response to such wickedness God brought judgment. Esarhaddon, Sennacherib's successor on the Assyrian throne, who had his residence in Babylon for thirteen years, took Manasseh prisoner (681 BC) to Babylon. Such captive kings were usually treated with great cruelty. They were brought before the conqueror with a hook or ring passed through their lips or their jaws, having a cord attached to it, by which they were led (cf. 2Chr 33:11; 2Kgs 19:28). The severity of Manasseh's imprisonment brought him to repentance. God heard his prayer for mercy (2Chr 33:12-13, 18-19), a prayer ascribed to him is in the Apocryphal work Prayer of Manasseh. He was then restored to Jerusalem and his kingdom (2Chr 33:13), where he undertook to restore the worship of the God of Israel (2Chr 33:14-17). When he died Manasseh was buried in the garden of Uzza, the "garden of his own house" (2Kgs 21:17, 18; 2Chr 33:20), and not in the city of David, among his ancestors.
and: Grk. de, conj. Manasseh fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Amon: Grk. Amōs in the NU-Text and Amōn in the Maj-Text, a transliteration of Heb. Amôn, a personal name meaning "master workman" according to BDB, but his name is derived from aman (SH-539), which means "confirm, support or be faithful." Some versions translate the Grk. name as "Amos" (BLB, CEB, ESV, ISV, MRINT, NAB, NRSV, RSV, TLB), which might cause some readers to confuse him for the prophet. Amon succeeded his father to the throne upon his death in 642 BC and reigned two years (2Kgs 21:19). His mother's name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. Amon repeated the same evil as his father, but as Ezra comments, he did not humble himself as his father (2Chr 33:23). After two years he was assassinated in a palace revolt, but the people of the land killed the conspirators. Amon was buried in the garden of Uzza with his father.
Ginzberg comments that Amon was in the habit of saying,
"'My father was a sinner from early childhood, and in his old age he did penance. I shall do the same. First I shall satisfy the desires of my heart, and afterward I shall return to God.' Indeed, he was guilty of more grievous sins than his predecessor; he burned the Torah; under him the place of the altar was covered with spiderwebs; and, as though of purpose to set at naught the Jewish religion, he committed the worst sort of incest, a degree more heinous than his father's crime of a similar nature. Thus he executed the first half of his maxim literally. For repentance, however, he was given no time; death cut him off in the fulness of his sinful ways." (Vol. IV, Chap. IX, "Manasseh")
and: Grk. de, conj. Amon fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Josiah: Grk. Iōsias, a transliteration of Heb. Yoshiyah, which occurs only once in the Tanakh (Zech 6:10), whereas his name is spelled 52 times as Yoshiyahu, a personal name meaning "Yah supports." The reason for the difference in spelling from Hebrew to Greek is that Greek has no letter with the "sh" sound, so the closest letter is the sigma ("s"). Josiah succeeded his father to the throne when he was eight years old at the insistence of those who killed his father's murderers (2Kgs 21:24). Jeremiah's record begins by summarizing the good of Josiah's reign,
"he ruled for thirty-one years [640-609 BC] in Yerushalayim. His mother's name was Y'didah the daughter of 'Adayah from Botzkat. 2 He did what was right from ADONAI's perspective, living entirely in the manner of David his ancestor and turning away neither to the right nor to the left." (2Kgs 22:1-2 CJB)
The story of Josiah's reign is set forth in 2Kings 22:1―23:26 and 2Chronicles 34:1―35:26. The narratives are clearly more positive than negative. There are several hallmarks of his reign: (1) he destroyed pagan shrines and refurbished the Temple; (2) he gave heed to a newly found book of Torah; (3) he was influenced by godly leaders, the high priest Hilkiah, the scribe Shaphan and prophetess Huldah; and (4) he led a great observance of Passover (2Chr 35:1-19). In his youth Josiah began to seek the God of David (2Chr 34:3). In his twelfth year on the throne Josiah initiated a religious purge of Jerusalem, Judah, and surrounding areas (2Chr 34:3-7). This purge included tearing down pagan altars devoted to Baal on the high places.
In his eighteenth year as king an unexpected event turned his energies in new directions. A "Book of the Law" (Heb. Sepher HaTorah) was discovered while repairs were being made on the Temple. Hilkiah, the high priest, found the book and gave it to Shaphan, the scribe, who in turn read it to King Josiah. During the reading Josiah heard that God had prophesied great wrath against Israel. Upon hearing the message of the book, Josiah tore his clothes, a sign of repentance, and humbled himself before God. Josiah was assured that the promised destruction would not come in his time (2Kgs 22:8-20; 2Chr 34:15-28). The reading of this book prompted Josiah to instigate the most far-reaching religious reforms in Israel's history.
The book of the Torah that was found and read to Josiah is not identified, but most scholars believe it to be Deuteronomy. The reaction of Josiah to the threat of wrath could refer to the list of curses in Deuteronomy 28, particularly the prophecy that Israel would be scattered among the nations (Deut 28:64-67). However, the "book" could just as easily been the entire Torah scroll. What impacted Josiah the most was the clear warnings at the end to keep God's instructions to avoid the curses for disobedience.
The Bible is silent about the remaining years of Josiah until his death. Outside Israel Assyria's power was waning, and Babylon's was on the rise. Assyria had aligned itself with Egypt against Babylon. Pharaoh Neco's troops passed through territory north of Judah en route to join forces with Assyria. Josiah made the unwise decision to have his army block the movement of Egyptian forces at Megiddo and in the ensuing battle Josiah was mortally wounded (2Kgs 23:29). His body was taken to Jerusalem where he was buried. There was great mourning for him throughout the land (2Chr 35:24-25). Though only thirty-nine when he died, Josiah was remembered as a great king:
"No previous king was like him; because he turned to ADONAI with all his heart, with all his being and with all his power, in accordance with all the Torah of Moshe; nor did any king like him arise afterwards." (2Kgs 23:25 CJB)
11 And Josiah fathered Jeconiah and his brothers before the exile to Babylon.
And: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Josiah fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Matthew omits Jehoahaz, a son of Josiah who reigned three months after the death of his father (609 BC). Jehoahaz was then taken captive to Egypt where he died (2Kgs 23:34). Matthew also omits Eliakim (named Jehoiakim by Pharaoh), a son of Josiah who reigned eleven years (609-597BC), and whose downfall was prophesied by Jeremiah. Jehoiakim ignored justice and righteousness, and exploited the people to build an expensive house for himself. His reign was filled with abominable acts (2Kgs 23:37; 24:3-4; 2Chr 36:8). Jeremiah predicted that no one would lament his death (Jer 22:18). He was finally taken in captivity to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. No mention is made of where he died or his burial place.
Jeconiah: Grk. Iechonias, a transliteration of Heb. Yekonyah, a shortened form of Jehoiachin (Heb. Yehoyakin), a personal name meaning "YHVH appoints." The name Jeconiah occurs 7 times (in Chronicles, Jeremiah and Esther); and the alternate name Jehoiachin occurs 10 times (in Kings, Chronicles and Jeremiah). Jeconiah was eighteen years old when he came to the throne late in 597 B.C., and he reigned for three months in Jerusalem before being taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (2Kgs 24:8-12). The mention of his mother Nehushta may imply that she exercised considerable influence during the time that her son was in office. Jehoiachin evidently was a throne name taken at the time of his accession. Jehoiachin's original name seems to have been Jeconiah or Coniah (HBD). He retained the title "king of Judah" even in exile, but he never returned to Judah. Nevertheless, he was ultimately released from prison by Evil-Merodach of Babylon and accorded some honor in the land of his captivity (2Kgs 25:27-30).
and: Grk. kai, conj. his brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See verse 2 above. before: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon," but with the genitive case of the noun following the preposition may be translated as "upon, on, at, by, or before" (DM 106). Most versions translate the preposition as "at the time of," but there is no word for "time" in the Greek text. The use of the preposition "after" in the next verse suggests that Matthew is contrasting "before" with "after," but the preposition here could have the meaning of "before and into." the exile: Grk. metoikesia, relocation, resettlement. The noun occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in Matthew's narrative. The term refers to the fact that ancient empires relocated conquered peoples to minimize rebellion. to Babylon: Grk. Babulōn, a transliteration of the Heb. Babel, a name that stood for both a Mesopotamian empire and its capital city.
Babylon is mention in the Tanakh only in Genesis 10:8-12; 11:1-9; and in the history of the decline and fall of the kingdom of Judah and the period of the exile. The beginning of Babylon may be found in the Bible story of Nimrod (Ninus in ancient literature) who founded an empire centered in Shinar (Gen 10:10), the same area as Sumer and later identified in Scripture as Babylonia. It was Nimrod with his wife Semiramus who founded pagan religion with a pantheon of many deities that would be copied by other cultures. This early history is recounted in Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons; Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, Chapter 10; and Henry Morris, The Long War Against God, Chapter Five.
12 And after the exile to Babylon, Jeconiah fathered Shealtiel; and Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel;
And: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. after: Grk. meta, prep. used here to mark a sequence that follows; after. the exile: Grk. metoikesia. See the previous verse. to Babylon: Matthew repeats the same words as in the previous verse. When Matthew refers to the time of before, during and after the exile of Judah he is summarizing a series of events that took place over a century. Here is an historical outline:
Reign of Nebuchadnezzar, 606-562 BC
Babylonian invasion, 606 BC
Daniel + friends taken as hostages (Dan 1:1-6)
Babylonian invasion, 597 BC
Ezekiel + 10,000 taken captive (2Kgs 24:14-16; Ezek 1:1)
Babylonians destroy Jerusalem, 586 BC
Surviving Jews taken captive (2Chr 36:20)
Reign of Cyrus the Great, 559-529 BC
Persians capture Babylon, 539 BC
Return of Jews led by Zerubbabel, 539 BC (Ezra 2:2)
Reign of Cambyses, 529-522 BC
Reign of Darius I, 522-486 BC
Rebuilt Temple dedicated, 516 BC
Reign of Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) and Queen Esther, 486-465 BC
Reign of Artaxerxes, 465-424 BC
Ezra and more exiles come to Judah, c. 458 BC (Ezra 7:1-7)
In the prophetic books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah the exile appears to be determined for seventy years. However, calculating the beginning and ending dates of this period has been the subject of considerable scholarly discussion. Should the time begin with the first captivity involving Daniel, the second captivity involving Ezekiel or the third captivity following the destruction of Jerusalem? Both Daniel (9:2) and Zechariah (1:12) relate the expression to the period of the desolation of Jerusalem, which is normally thought to last from the destruction of the temple to its rebuilding (586–516 BC).
The mention of "seventy years" in Jeremiah (25:8-12; 2910) associates the period with the period of Babylonian rule, which could be dated from the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. to the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. (73 years) or the accession of Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. to the fall of Babylon (66 years) or to the edict of Cyrus the following year. In fact, when giving the termination of the seventy years in Jeremiah 29:10 the Lord says, "When seventy years have been completed for Babylon," NOT "when seventy years have been completed for you."
Ezekiel (as confirmed by Ezra writing in 2 Chronicles) adds the interpretation of the captivity being a judgment for failing to keep the sabbath years.
"Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them. 13 But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness. They did not walk in My statutes and they rejected My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live; and My sabbaths they greatly profaned. Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them in the wilderness, to annihilate them." (Ezek 20:12-13 NASB)
"Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans … 21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete." (2Chr 36:17, 21 NASB)
The Torah specified a number of sabbaths, the most important of which was the seventh day Sabbath (Ex 20:8). Every major festival functioned as a sabbath, since work was prohibited during those times (Leviticus 23). In addition, a sabbath year was enjoined for the land, which required the people to allow the land to lie fallow every seventh year (Ex 23:11) and also in the fiftieth year (Lev 25:8-11). God had intended these sabbaths as a sign of the covenantal relationship with Israel, but the sabbath observances were sorely neglected in the years of evil kings.
According to Ezra, the seventy years of exile represent allowing the land to "enjoy its sabbaths." Ezra's explanation could be a reference to an accumulation of missed sabbatical and jubilee years, but this would suggest that these years had not been observed since the time of Samuel. (Interestingly, there is no mention in the Tanakh of Israel ever observing the land sabbath requirement.) However, the "sabbaths" could refer to all the missed sabbaths and only pertain to the years of spiritual apostasy. While we may lose track of what we owe God, He does not.
Jeconiah fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Jeconiah had seven sons (1Chr 3:17). Shealtiel: Grk. Salathiēl, a transliteration of Heb. Shealtiel, a personal name meaning "I have asked of God." Shealtiel was the firstborn son of Jeconiah. Nothing else is known of him, except his descendants. and: Grk. de, conj. Shealtiel fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Zerubbabel: Grk. Zorobabel, a transliteration of Heb. Zerubbabel, a personal name meaning "begotten in Babylon." In the book of Chronicles Ezra lists Zerubabbel as the son of Pedaiah, the brother of Shealtiel (1Chr 3:19), but in his post-exile narrative he identifies Zerubabbel as the son of Shealtiel (Ezra 3:2, 8; 5:2; Neh 12:1).
The prophet Haggai also refers to Zerubbabel as the son of Shealtiel (Hag 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 23). The difference in parental names was probably due to Levirate marriage. In other words, Pedaiah died leaving no male heir, so Shealtiel took his brother's widow and the son she bore him was given the name of Pedaiah in accordance with the Torah regulation (Deut 25:6). Zerubbabel led the first group of captives from Babylon back to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:2). He assisted in the rebuilding of the Temple on the old site (Ezra 3:20), working closely with the priests and prophets of that time. Eventually he became the governor of Jerusalem and Judah (Hag 1:1).
13 And Zerubbabel fathered Abiud; and Abiud fathered Eliakim; and Eliakim fathered Azor;
And: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Zerubbabel fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Abiud: Grk. Abioud, a transliteration of Heb. Avihud, a personal name meaning "my father is majesty." The only man identified as Abiud in the Tanakh is a son of Benjamin (1Chr 8:3). Nothing more is known of the Abiud mentioned here. Ezra lists the offspring of Zerubbabel as Meshullam and Hananiah and their sister Shelomith (1Chr 3:19), so Abiud could be a more distant relation. Matthew no doubt found the name in the genealogical records of Joseph.
and: Grk. de, conj. Abiud fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Eliakim: Grk. Eliakim, a transliteration of Heb. Eliyaqim, a personal name meaning "God sets up." There are three men listed in the Tanakh named Eliakim, none of which is the person mentioned here. As with Abiud, Matthew no doubt found the name of Eliakim in the genealogical records of Joseph. This ancestor of Yeshua is also given in Luke 3:30. and: Grk. de, conj. Eliakim fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Azor: Grk. Azōr, a transliteration of Heb. Azzur, a personal name meaning "helpful." There are three men listed in the Tanakh named Azzur, none of which is the person mentioned here. As with Abiud and Eliakim, Matthew no doubt found the name of Azor in the genealogical records of Joseph.
14 And Azor fathered Zadok; and Zadok fathered Achim; and Achim fathered Eliud;
And: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Azor fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Zadok: Grk. Sadōk, a transliteration of Heb. Tsadoq, a personal name meaning "just, righteous." There are several men in the Tanakh with the name Zadok, none of which is the person mentioned here. As with Abiud, Eliakim and Azor, Matthew no doubt found the name of Zadok in the genealogical records of Joseph. Nothing more is known of him.
and: Grk. de, conj. Zadok fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Achim: Grk. Achim, a transliteration of Heb. Yakhim, a personal name meaning "troubles" (NIBD 13). This is the only mention of Achim in the Bible. As with Abiud, Eliakim, Azor and Zadok, Matthew no doubt found the name of Achim in the genealogical records of Joseph. Nothing more is known of him.
and: Grk. de, conj. Achim fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Eliud: Grk. Elioud, a transliteration of Heb. Elichud, a personal name meaning "God is majestic." This is the only mention of Eliud in the Bible. As with Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok and Achim, Matthew no doubt found the name of Eliud in the genealogical records of Joseph. Nothing more is known of him.
15 And Eliud fathered Eleazar; and Eleazar fathered Matthan; and Matthan fathered Jacob.
And: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Eliud fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. See verse 2 above. Eleazar: Grk. Eleazar, a transliteration of Heb. Elazar, a personal name meaning "God has helped." There are six men with the name Eleazar in the Tanakh, none of which is the person mentioned here. As with the previous names since Abiud, Matthew no doubt found the name of Eleazar in the genealogical records of Joseph. Nothing more is known of him. and: Grk. de, conj. Eleazar fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Matthan: Grk. Matthan, a transliteration of Heb. Mattan, a personal name meaning "gift of God." As with the previous names since Abiud, Matthew no doubt found the name of Matthan in the genealogical records of Joseph. Nothing more is known of him.
and: Grk. de, conj. Matthan fathered: Grk. gennaō, aor. Jacob: Grk. Iakōb, a transliteration of Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob"). See verse 2 above. As with the previous names since Abiud, Matthew no doubt found the name of Jacob in the genealogical records of Joseph. Nothing more is known of him. In my research I discovered that Barker, HBD and NIBD did not even list this Jacob. There are a total of six men in the Besekh with the name Jacob (besides the patriarch) and the rest were misnamed by Christian versions as "James."
The significance of the genealogy through these generations is that God preserved the Messianic line in spite of the division of Israel into two kingdoms, the destruction of Jerusalem, the Babylonian exile and the return from exile. There were many times during this period that the Messianic line could have been expunged, but the sovereign God preserved the seed of Yeshua's forefathers.
16 And Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Miriam, from whom was born Yeshua, who is called the Messiah.
And: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Jacob fathered: Grk. gennaō. See verse 2 above. Joseph: Grk. Iōsēph, a transliteration of Heb. Yosef, which is explained in Genesis 30:24 and means "he adds, increases." Almost all that is known about Joseph is given in the nativity narratives. There may be a touch of irony and certainly a divine connection to the history of Israel in that Joseph's father was named Jacob (Matt 1:16). The first Joseph in the Bible was the son of Jacob the patriarch. The first Joseph is regarded by many as a type of the Messiah, because through him deliverance came to the entire family of Jacob. So too, the Joseph of the nativity would be part of God's plan to again bring deliverance to His people, but a much more significant deliverance, freedom from sin. In Matthew we learn that Joseph was a carpenter (13:55) and from Mark 6:3 that Yeshua had adopted this trade.
Bible scholars generally assume that Joseph died sometime before Yeshua's public ministry began. Yeshua passed the care of his mother to John the apostle just before his death (John 19:26-27), so she would certainly have been a widow at that point. We may note Joseph is not mentioned as a participant in any narrative after the trip to Jerusalem for the Passover when Yeshua was 12 (Luke 2:41, 48). When Miriam and Yeshua's siblings go to confront him some time after the beginning of his Galilean ministry, Joseph is not present (Mark 3:32). The differences between the paternity references in the Nazareth visit narrative of Matthew and Mark fog the issue. In Matthew the people say, "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't His mother called Miriam? (Matt 13:55 TLV). Mark presents the question as, "Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Miriam?" (Mark 6:3 TLV)
Matthew's version could imply that Joseph was alive at that point, but surely the people would have used his name. Substituting "carpenter" for Joseph would be a respectful way of preserving his memory. One other passage needs explanation in relation to this subject. In John 6:42 adversaries of Yeshua make this comment, "Is this not Yeshua, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?" The perfect tense of "know" might imply that Joseph was still alive at that point. However, this verse does lend weight to the assumption of Joseph being dead based on identifying the antecedent of "father and mother." The relative pronoun "whose," being of the same genitive case as Joseph, would indicate that the adversaries speak of Joseph's parents. Thus, they mean "we know Yeshua's grandparents."
the husband: Grk. anēr, an adult male as distinct from woman or a young boy, often used to refer to a married man; husband. of Miriam: Grk. Maria, fem. name, an attempt at transliterating the Heb. Miryam (Miriam in English). The meaning of the name is not known for certain, although some scholars say its meaning is "rebellion." The first Miriam in Scripture is the sister of Aaron (Ex 15:20) and with such a negative meaning its unlikely that the parents would have given this name to their daughter at birth. The best interpretation is offered at BehindtheName.com which says that Miriam "was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love."
There are five other women with the name Miriam in the apostolic writings besides the mother of Yeshua: (1) Miriam of Magdala (Matt 27:56), (2) the mother of Mark (Acts 12:12), (3) the sister of Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10:39), (4) the wife of Clopas (John 19:25), and (5) the Miriam greeted by Paul (Rom 16:6). The translation history of Miriam is strange. The name of Miriam, sister of Moses, occurs 16 times in the LXX and every time is spelled in Greek as Mariam, which the lexicons agree is an indeclinable name. Yet, lexicons and Greek texts treat Mariam as a grammatical derivative of Grk. Maria. Of the 54 times the name appears in the Greek New Testament, the spelling is about evenly divided between Maria, Marias and Mariam. The Latin Vulgate (405) preserved the Greek spelling of "Maria," but the Wycliffe Bible (1325) changed the name slightly to "Marie."
The use of "Mary" in English Bibles began with the Tyndale New Testament (1525) and Christians have called this Jewish woman by this name ever since. The choice of English translators to use "Mary" instead of her Hebrew name "Miriam" can only be to minimize her Jewish identity. David Stern offers this apt observation:
"This unfounded and artificial distinction produced by translators subtly drives a wedge between Yeshua's mother and her own Jewishness … the name "Mary" evokes in the reader's thinking an otherworldly image of "Madonna and Child," complete with haloes, beatific smiles and angels in array, instead of the New Testament's portrayal of a down-to-earth Jewish lady in an Israel village managing her wifely, maternal and other social responsibilities with care, love and faith." (3)
Little is known of Miriam of Nazareth and many curious points are left unexplained. From this context we know where she lived and that she was betrothed. Yet, nothing is said of whether her parents were living or whether she had siblings. We do not know her age, even though the popular image is of a very young teenage girl. Miriam is related in some degree to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Immerser, and wife of the priest Zechariah (verse 36 below). Miriam was of the lineage of David, at least through her father (Luke 3:23). Although she lived in Nazareth we don't know her financial situation or whether she lived with someone. Strangely, no one else is around when she receives the angelic visitor and she apparently leaves by herself on a journey of some 90 miles. The image of Miriam presented by Luke is of a mature and capable woman.
from: Grk. ex, prep., lit. "from out," suggesting from the interior outward. whom: Grk. hēs, fem. relative pronoun, who. was born: Grk. gennao, aor. pass. The syntax of gennao being in the active voice throughout the genealogy changes in the second half of this verse to the passive voice to indicate that the manner of conception changed from the normal manner. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. the one called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. The verb is used here in the sense of identifying someone by a name. The present tense emphasizes how thousands of believing Jews regarded Yeshua at the time of the writing. the Messiah: Grk. Christos, gen. case, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. See verse 1 above.
17 Therefore all the generations from Abraham to David, fourteen generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah, fourteen generations.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, extensive in scope; all or every. the generations: pl. of Grk. genea, lit. means family line or descent or all the people alive at a given time in history. By modern definition a generation is the span of time from the birth of the first child of a marriage to the birth of the first grandchild. Thus, the term "generation" has no fixed length (BBMS 418). Matthew proceeds to identify three periods of fourteen generations, but this does not mean that the generations were equal. from: Grk. apo, prep., from, away from. Abraham to David: See verse 1 above. It's not immediately clear whether the starting and ending points are based on the births of the two men, their deaths or the birth of their sons that continued the Messianic line.
fourteen: Grk. dekatessares, the cardinal number fourteen. generations: Based on the information in verses 2 and 6 above the time period may run from the birth of Isaac (c. 2066 BC) to the birth of Solomon (c. 990 BC), about 1,076 years. The genealogy in Luke 3:31-34 concurs with Matthew's statement as far as the number of generations. Matthew's record also conforms to the genealogy of Abraham to Perez in Genesis 11:26; 21:2; 25:26; 35:23; 46:12 and Perez to David in Ruth 4:18-22. Of interest is that David was the seventh son of Jesse (1Chr 2:15) and the numerical value of his name is fourteen (Kaiser 49).
and: Grk. kai, conj. from: Grk. apo, prep. David until: Grk. heōs, prep., a particle marking a limit, here of time; till, until, as far as. the exile to Babylon: See verse 11 above for this phrase. Again, the starting and ending dates cannot be absolutely determined. There were three times when Jews were transported to Babylon: 606 BC, 597 BC and 586 BC. Probably the date in mind for the exile is the last one in which the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem. From the birth of Solomon to 586 BC would only be 404 years. fourteen generations: Again there is no intention that each period of 14 generations would be equal in length. and: Grk. kai, conj. from: Grk. apo, prep. the exile to Babylon: perhaps 586 BC. until: Grk. heōs, prep. the Messiah: For Yeshua's birth this writer is using 3 BC. fourteen generations: The third period would be 583 years long. A symbolic interpretation might be made of the fact of three-fourteen year periods, multiples of seven, suggesting completeness. However, what's significant about Matthew's summary is not that there were 42 names from Abraham to Yeshua, but that God preserved the Messianic line through the turbulent times of the divided monarchy, the Babylonian exile and the oppression of the Greeks and Romans.
Date: March-April 3 B.C.
18 Now the birth of Messiah Yeshua was thus. His mother Miriam having been betrothed to Joseph, but before their coming together, she was found pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Now: Grk. de, conj. the birth: Grk. genesis, the act of delivering a baby from a woman's body, birth. There may be a play on words here since Yeshua, the Word of God (John 1:1), was responsible for creation in the book of Genesis. of Messiah Yeshua: See verse 1 above. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 16 above. The imperfect tense is used to describe continuous action in past time and thus reinforces the history of the genealogical events leading up to the nativity and then the progress of the nativity itself. thus: Grk. houtōs, adv., in this manner, way or fashion, a term appearing in narratives to introduce the manner or way in which something was accomplished.
his mother: Grk. mētēr, mother in its central sense of a woman who gave birth. Miriam: See verse 16 above. having been betrothed: Grk. mnēsteuō, aor. pass. part., means lit. "to woo and win" and refers to a commitment to marriage (BAG), lit. "betrothed." The aorist tense of the verb refers to the betrothal as a past event, occurring perhaps as much as a year previously. The passive voice of the verb indicates the fact that a Jewish woman was betrothed to her husband, not vice versa. The participle is a verbal noun so it refers to a relational condition of Mary. She belonged to Joseph. In the LXX mnēsteuō translates the Heb. aras, to betroth (Ex 22:16; Deut 20:7). The translation of "engaged" in the TLV, the CJB and the HNV (all Messianic Jewish versions), not to mention a number of Christian versions, is inexplicable and misleading. A few Christian versions correctly have "betrothed" (ASV, ESV, NASB, NKJV, RSV). In Western culture "engaged" is only a promise to marry, but the Jewish custom was both religious and legal.
The verb alludes to the fact that in Jewish culture marriage involved two stages or two ceremonies, erusin and nisuin. After a marriage proposal was accepted the groom would perform a ceremony called erusin, "betrothal" (Deut 20:7; 22:23, 25; 28:30; 2Sam 3:14; cf. 2Cor 11:2). According to the Mishnah (Kidd. 1:1), a woman could be acquired [in marriage] in three ways: by money or its equivalent (cf. Gen 29:18; 34:12; Ex 21:11; 22:16), by deed (cf. Gen 24:3-4; Judg 14:2; Ruth 4:9-10), or by intercourse (cf. Deut 22:28-29). A deed was almost always involved because marriage included a transfer of property. While parents might agree on a marriage for their daughter she could only be married by her consent after she was considered an adult. She also had to be capable of giving birth.
The erusin stage was also called kiddushin, "sanctification," and meant that from that point the woman belonged to the man. That is, the woman became forbidden to all men but to whom she has now been designated. Erusin-Kiddushin made the woman a legal wife and her status could only be changed by divorce or death. Erusin was usually accomplished by the groom giving a coin or ring to the prospective bride and her acceptance of the token accomplished kiddushin. By the first century tradition had standardized the betrothal period to not exceed twelve months for a virgin (Ket. 5:2). Following the betrothal period the marriage was completed by nisuin whereby the groom took his bride into a private chamber and consummated the marriage. There was no formal wedding ceremony as such. For more information see my web article Marriage in Ancient Israel.
to Joseph: Grk. Iōsēph, a transliteration of Heb. Yosef, which is explained in Genesis 30:24 and means “he adds, increases” (BDB 415). Almost all that is known about Joseph is given in the nativity narratives. Later in Matthew we learn that Joseph was a carpenter or craftsman of some notoriety (13:55) and from Mark 6:3 that Yeshua had adopted this trade. The time of Joseph's death is a matter of some speculation. The apostolic record is clear that Miriam was a widow at the time of Yeshua's death when she passed into the care of John (John 19:26-27). Joseph lived long enough to father four sons and at least two daughters with Miriam (Matt 13:55-56). And, Joseph was a participant in the trip to Jerusalem for the Passover when Yeshua was 12 (Luke 2:41, 48). However, when Miriam and Yeshua's siblings go to confront him some time after the beginning of his Galilean ministry, Joseph is not present (Mark 3:32).
The differences between the paternity references in the Nazareth visit narrative of Matthew and Mark seem to confuse the issue. In Matthew the people say, "Isn't this the carpenter's son?" (Matt 13:55 TLV), whereas Mark has the question, "Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Miriam?" (Mark 6:3 TLV). Matthew's version could imply that Joseph was alive at that point, but surely the people would have used his name. Substituting "carpenter" for Joseph would be a respectful way of preserving his memory. An important statement bearing on the matter was made by synagogue rulers in Capernaum after the feeding of the five thousand: "Is this not Yeshua, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?" (John 6:42 BR).
The question of the rulers seems to lend weight to the possibility of Joseph dying sometime after the beginning of Yeshua's public ministry. Final determination must be based on identifying the antecedent of "father and mother." If the antecedent were Yeshua, then the perfect tense of "know" would imply that Joseph was still alive at that point and that "father and mother" refers to Joseph and Miriam. However, the relative pronoun "whose," being of the same genitive case as Joseph, would indicate that the rulers were speaking of Joseph's parents. Thus, they mean "we know Yeshua's grandparents."
before: Grk. prin, adv., before. their: pl. of Grk. autos, person pronoun. coming together: Grk. sunerchomai, aor. inf., to come together as a collection of persons, but used here idiomatically of sexual relations. The point is that Joseph and Miriam did not have sex prior to the birth of Yeshua, although from a physical point of view there would have been no impediment to intimate relations. This statement does not mean that Joseph never saw Miriam naked before her delivery, but the apostolic writers purposely avoid mention of this aspect of their relationship. she was found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. pass., to come upon by seeking, to find, or to discover by virtue of something happening. pregnant: The Greek text is lit. "holding in the womb." The narrative means that Miriam was far enough along in her pregnancy for it to be noticeable. This point in the chronology no doubt occurs after Miriam's return from visiting Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56). At this time she would have been three months pregnant (Luke 1:56).
By about 12 weeks the top of the uterus has grown up and out of the pelvic cavity. This significant change usually signals the beginnings of the visible "baby bump." However, given the kind of clothing women wore in ancient times the "bump" could be hidden longer so she would not be immediately "found" to be pregnant by neighbor women. But, within a few weeks if her "baby bump" hadn't been noticed women would soon become aware that Miriam had stopped menstruating. While menstruation was a very private matter among women, a menstruating woman separated herself during that week. She would not have any physical contact with her husband (Lev 15:19).
During her menstrual period, a Jewish woman was relieved of many of her normal duties. She was not required to draw and carry water from the well. She did not have to serve food to members of the family. She did not have to go to the marketplace. She did not have sexual intercourse. The days of her menstrual period were regarded as a time out, a time for herself. On these days, relieved of a number of her duties, she had time to think and rest.
After her menstrual cycle, a woman was required to bathe herself from head to toe in a special pool of clean water, called a mikveh. Each small community would have its mikveh, and towns and cities had large numbers of them, some public, some private. The mikveh pool had to be designed and built a special way, so that it had enough headroom under water to allow complete immersion. The mikveh would have a supplementary tank for gathering clean rain water and a small pool at the entrance for washing hair, hands and feet before entering the main pool. In 2 Samuel 11:1-5 Bathsheba is bathing herself after her monthly period when David sees her.
The purpose of the monthly bathing in the mikveh was for physical and spiritual cleanliness. The washing of the body was a tangible way for a woman to renew herself, refreshing mental, emotional and physical energies. It was a ritual that periodically gave a woman the feeling of a fresh start. The rules of ritual cleanliness meant that most people were obliged to wash themselves, wash their clothes, and put on clean clothes at frequent intervals. Since Miriam had no menstruation after she returned from Hebron she was soon found out and somebody reported the matter to Joseph.
through: Grk. ek, prep. the Holy: Grk. hagios, adj., set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of God. The Greek text omits the definite article, but in the Hebraic sense the article is not needed since hagios is part of a name, not a title. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), separate, sacred, holy (DNTT 2:224; BDB 872). Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44. Spirit: Grk. pneuma for Heb. ruach, without the definite article. The specific name "Holy Spirit" (Ruach Qodesh) occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11).
The Holy Spirit is identified by three other forms in the Tanakh (Ruach Elohim, Gen 1:2; Ruach YHVH, Jdg 3:10; Ruach Adonai YHVH, Isa 61:1). For this name of God Messianic Jewish versions (CJB, HNV, MW, TLV, OJB) transliterate the noun Qodesh phonetically as ha-Kodesh, with "ha" serving as a definite article. This form mimics the English translation, but not reflect the Hebrew text of passages that mention the Spirit of God. All of the passages indicate that the Holy Spirit is divine, not less or other than God.
19 And Joseph her husband, being righteous, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, purposed to dismiss her secretly.
And: Grk. de, conj. Joseph: See verse 16 above. her husband: lit. "the husband of her." This is an important distinction, because in the Tanakh and in Jewish culture a man possessed his wife; a woman did not possess her husband. The reference emphasizes again that Miriam belonged to Joseph as his wife, even though betrothed. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. righteous: Grk. dikaios, adj., that is, being in accord with Torah standards for acceptable behavior, upright or just. Long before Paul talked about justification by faith to the Roman congregation, Scripture indicates that certain individuals were righteous in the sight of God. The same attribution is made of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:6), Simeon (Luke 2:25), John the Immerser (Matt 21:32), Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50) and Cornelius (Acts 10:22).
dismiss: Grk. apoluō, set free or release. See my article Divorce in the Bible. her secretly: Grk. lathra, without public exposure. There was no such thing as a "secret" divorce because bills of divorce had to be approved by rabbis and presented in front of witnesses. However, a divorce would be more "secret" than charging her before a court.
20 But having considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Miriam your wife, for the one having been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
But: Grk. de, conj. having considered: Grk. enthumeomai, aor. pass. part., direct intense attention to, to ponder or to dwell on. these things: For Joseph coming to a decision was complicated. He knew Miriam's character, which was probably why he was attracted to her, and why he hesitated in taking action. The news of her pregnancy was confusing. He knew he wasn't the father. If he exposed her there would be a scandal, probably a formal trial. Since the charge of adultery carried the death penalty by stoning they would have to appear before the local Bet Din of Twenty-three. Since Joseph and Miriam were betrothed the baby would be presumed to be his. If he were to give Miriam the benefit of the doubt he would have to ask her whether she had been raped or seduced. Four to five months pregnant would argue against the defense of rape (cf. Deut 22:13-21). Eliminating that possibility would leave seduction or an affair. Proving the baby was not his would require an admission from Miriam, because his word alone would not be enough. What a mess!
behold: Grk. idou, aor. mid. imp. of eidon, the inflected aorist form of orao ("to see") and functions as a demonstrative particle. In communities accustomed to oral communication, idou would serve to nuance a narrative reduced to writing, especially to focus on exceptional moments in the narrative (Danker). an angel: Grk. angelos means messenger, whether human or heavenly (BAG 7). The corresponding Hebrew word is malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel. The decision to translate malak or angelos as angel or human relies primarily on the context. Given the double meaning of malak/angelos Scripture adds an appropriate description to confirm the messenger as angelic.
Often in the Tanakh and the Besekh angels are identified as of the Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, first translating the divine title Adonai (SH-136, Lord; Gen 15:2), and Heb. words used of men to denote higher rank or authority, primarily adôn (SH-113, master, lord; Gen 18:12). Over 6,000 times kurios replaces YHVH ("LORD" in Christian versions) (DNTT 2:511f). Kurios does not translate YHVH, but interprets all that is implied by use of the divine name.
Angels figure prominently in Scripture as ministering spirits (Mark 1:13; Heb 1:14) and are far different from the Hollywood depiction and popular assumptions about angels. Angels are not glorified humans that earn status in heaven by doing good works on earth. All individual angels mentioned in Scripture have masculine names or descriptions, contrary to popular art and media, which sometimes depicts them as female. In addition, only a special group of heavenly beings are mentioned in Scripture as having wings (Gen 3:24; Ex 37:9; Isa 6:2; Ezek 10:5; Rev 4:8), and those beings may not be angels at all. (The mention of an angel in Revelation 14:6 as flying does not mean the angel had wings.)
appeared: Grk. phainō, aor. pass., being in a state or condition of being visible or observed, to shine or to appear. to him in a dream: Grk. onar, a series of thoughts, images or emotions occurring during sleep, a dream. In biblical times God spoke to the patriarchs and prophets of Israel in visions and dreams, as the Lord declared, "Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream" (Num 12:6 NASB). Indeed, it was considered a tragic loss when God withheld communication in this manner (cf. 1Sam 3:1; Ps 74:9; Ezek 7:26; Amos 8:11f). God used dreams to communicate His will, provide personal guidance and to portend the future.
Divine communication through dreams was experienced by Abimelech (Gen 20:3), Jacob (Gen 28:12; 31:10f), Laban (Gen 31:24), Joseph (Gen 37:5-10), an Egyptian cupbearer and baker (Gen 40:5), Pharaoh (Gen 41:1), a friend of Gideon (Judg 13:7-9), Solomon (1Kgs 3:5), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:1; 4:5), Daniel (Dan 7:1) Joseph (Matt 2:13, 22), the Magi (Matt 2:12), and Pilate's wife (Matt 27:19). For every divinely wrought dream an interpretation is offered and invariably such dreams in Scripture had a bearing on the welfare of Israel or God's sovereign plan for Israel.
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 16 above. The verb at this point serves to introduce quoted material since biblical manuscripts did not employ quotation marks. Joseph: See verse 18 above. son of David: See verse 1 above. The angel acknowledges the testimony of Jewish genealogical records, that Joseph had descended from King David. do not: Grk. mē, adv., particle of negation. be afraid: Grk. phobeō, aor. pass. subj., to fear.
to take: Grk. paralambō, aor. inf., to take to one's side. Miriam your wife: Grk. gunē, an adult female person, without respect to age or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah ("woman"). In Scripture when a woman belongs to one man with the expectation of intimate relations (Gen 2:21-22), the Hebrew or Greek word is translated as "wife." Many versions say "as your wife," but there is no "as" in the Greek text. The narrative acknowledges that Miriam was Joseph's legal wife, but he had yet to "take" her in physical consummation and they weren't living together. However, now Joseph is instructed to complete the marriage according to law.
In ordinary circumstances nisuin completed the kiddushin of marriage by the groom taking the bride into a room or his house for consummation. The Hebrew word nisuin ("elevation") comes from a verb that means to lift up, to carry or to take. The wife has left her father's authority and now belongs fully to her husband, just as Eve belonged to Adam when God presented her to him. The wedding ceremony, if there was one, might have consisted of sharing a cup of wine and presenting the ketubah. Local custom and the wishes of the parents often dictated the elements to the ceremony. Rabbis did not officiate at weddings nor was there an exchange of vows. The father of the bride would simply place his daughter's hand in the hand of the groom and declare she was his to take. A feast was normally held to celebrate the nuptials (Gen 29:22; Jdg 14:10; Matt 22:2; Luke 12:36; 14:8; John 2:1-2). By custom the wedding feast would generally last a week, while the bridal days extended over a full month in order to receive gifts.
for: Grk. gar, conj. the one: Grk. ho, definite article and demonstrative pronoun. having been conceived: Grk. gennaō, aor. pass. part. See verse 2 above. in: Grk. en, prep. her is: Grk. eimi, pres. from: Grk. ek, prep. the Holy Spirit: See verse 18 above. The narrative emphasizes that a living person had been implanted into Miriam's womb.
21 And she will bear a son; and you will call the name of him Yeshua, for he will save the people of him from their sins."
And: Grk. de, conj. she will bear: Grk. tiktō, fut. mid., to cause to come into being, to give birth to, bear. The verb reflects two important facts. First, the incarnation of God into flesh (John 1:14) required the cooperation of a woman. Miriam's womb was not just a vessel that housed a divine organism, but her DNA was fused with divine DNA to produce a genuine God-man. The verb also indicates that not only would Miriam carry the baby the normal nine months, but would deliver a healthy child. a son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry.
In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5). (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32), as Yeshua is referred to as the son of David and Abraham (verse 1 above); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. 2Th 2:3), and this too applies here. Miriam's firstborn child would be a boy, the hope of every Jewish mother. A son was insurance for future security.
and: Grk. kai, conj. you will call: Grk. kaleō, fut., to identify by name or give a term to; call. the name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone. In Hebrew literature it also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. of him: Grk. autos, pers. pron. Yeshua: See verse 1. for: Grk. gar, conj. he will save: Grk. sōzō, fut. (from saos, 'free from harm'), to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition, often in the sense of bodily infirmity (Matt 9:21, 22), bodily harm (Matt 14:30), as well from spiritual peril (Acts 11:14). In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important yasha, used in the Hiphil meaning to deliver and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, used in the Piel meaning to escape, deliver, save (e.g., 1Kgs 1:12).
Two important principles may be noted in the Tanakh. First, deliverance may come about through men, even though possessing significant limitations (e.g., Gideon, Jdg 7:2). Second, the pious Israelite was aware of the fact that deliverance comes ultimately from God himself (Ps 18:2; 44:3). It is by His power and name that foes are vanquished and evil defeated. In the Besekh sōzō frequently refers to rescue from spiritual peril, including deliverance from Messianic judgment on the Day of the Lord (Matt 24:13; Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5, 10).
the people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically and in Scripture often viewed in contrast with the ruling class. The term corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'aretz, "people of the land," i.e., the people of Israel. of him: i.e., Yeshua. This promise was made concerning Jews, not to mankind in general or to the Christian Church in particular. Gentiles only receive the benefit of the saving action by virtue of being grafted into the Jewish root (Rom 11). from: Grk. apo, prep. their: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron., lit. "of them." The benefit is for others, not for himself. sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia may mean (1) misdeed that creates liability for the agent; (2) the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. In most passages hamartia refers to an action or behavior, a departure from the way of righteousness as defined by Scripture.
Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the apostolic writings. In Greek culture hamartia meant to miss, to miss the mark, to lose, not share in something, be mistaken. A mistake is the result of ignorance. Hamartia essentially meant to fail and could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that offends against the right, that does not conform to the dominant ethic, to the respect due to social order and to the polis (DNTT 3:577). In contrast to the Greeks the Jews invested hamartia with a strong moral component. In the LXX hamartia translates a whole range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (lapse, sin). In the Tanakh a sin is an offense against the religious and moral law of God.
In ancient Israel sin was tantamount to rejecting God's covenant. Hamartia is not displaying the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, but violating the clear instructions of God. The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated. Religious people may erect their own codes for determining sinful behavior, but God's judgment is based strictly on the commandments He gave and recorded in Scripture. Being saved means full and complete deliverance from the wages of sin. For more discussion on this subject see my web article What is Sin?
22 Now all this took place in order to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying,
Now: Grk. de, conj. all: Grk. holos, adj., understood as a signifier of a complete unit, though not necessarily indicative of every individual part, thus 'all,' 'whole' or 'entire.' this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pron. took place: Grk. ginomai, perf., come to be, become, take place, happen or occur. in order to: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed. fulfill: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass. subj., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The second meaning applies here. The point is the in the immediate situation the impregnating of Miriam is the result of a chain of events that could go back to the first verse of the chapter, i.e., the covenant with Abraham and the promise of a Seed.
what was spoken: Grk. legō, aor. pass. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or written, here the former. by the Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, principally to translate Heb. words for God. In the overwhelming majority of instances (over 6,000 times), kurios replaces the Heb. tetragrammaton YHVH. In addition, kurios stands in for the divine titles Adonai, Elohim, El and Eloah (DNTT 2:511).
Using kurios for YHVH is not translation as it is for Adonai ('lord'), but an interpretative substitution that encompassed all that the Hebrew text implied by use of the divine name. YHVH is the Creator and Lord of the whole universe, of men, Lord of life and death. Above all He is the God of Israel and His covenant people. By choosing kurios for YHVH the LXX also emphasized the idea of legal authority. Because YHVH delivered His people from Egypt and chose them as His possession, He is the legitimate Lord of Israel.
through: Grk. dia, prep. that conveys instrumentality; by means of, through. the prophet: Grk. prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In ancient Greek culture the word-group always had a religious meaning and referred to one who predicts or tells beforehand (DNTT 3:76). In Scripture the term "prophet" refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling. The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets.
Some prophets left literary works that later became Scripture. Others left no writings. Some gave advice to kings. Some prophesied in worship settings. Some saw visions. Some proclaimed a message in startling symbolic actions. Some were gentle, some were fiery, some were confrontational, some worshipful, some full of joy, others full of sadness. But, they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). The apostolic writings assert the continuation and place of biblical prophecy, which would eventually be replaced in Rabbinic Judaism by the authority of the Sages (Baba Bathra 12a; cf. John 8:53).
saying: Grk. lego, aor. pass. part. The verb at this point serves to introduce quoted material of Isaiah since biblical manuscripts did not employ quotation marks.
23 "Behold, the virgin will conceive and will bear a son, and they will call His name Emmanuel, which is translated "God with us."
The angel proceeds to quote Isaiah 7:14, an interesting detail in itself. Rarely does an angel quote Scripture, but it indicates that the angels know the content of the Bible. Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. See verse 20 above. the virgin: Grk. parthenos, a person who has had no sexual relationship, here a chaste female. Virginity then and now does not refer to the presence of a hymen, but rather not having "known a man" through sexual intercourse, as stated in verse 34 below. In the LXX parthenos occurs is used to translate three different Heb. words (1) almah, a young girl or a woman at the age of puberty until she gives birth to her first child; (2) betulah, an untouched maiden, a virgin, and (3) na'erah, young girl (DNTT 3:1071). The identification of chastity is meant to imply fulfillment of the prophecy given to Isaiah,
"Therefore ADONAI Himself shall give to you a sign: 'Behold, a virgin [Heb. almah; LXX parthenos] shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanu-El'" (Isa 7:14 Mine).
Considerable controversy resulted when some modern versions translated almah in the Isaiah passage with "young woman" instead of "virgin" (CEB, ERV, GNB, NET, NRSV, RSV). Other versions with "virgin" also have a marginal note "or young woman." Almah occurs seven times in the Hebrew Bible (also Gen 24:43; Ex 2:8; Ps 68:25; Prov 30:19; SS 1:3; 6:8) and always refers to an unmarried woman of good reputation (Stern 6). The context of the Isaiah passage clearly applies the meaning of betulah, an untouched maiden, to almah. In the LXX parthenos only translates almah two times, the other passage being is Genesis 24:43, which pertains to Rebecca who is clearly identified as a virgin in verse 16.
While some who object to the virgin birth insist that Isaiah only prophesied a birth for King Ahaz, the fuller context of the passage indicates that the promised sign was for the entire house of David (Isa 7:13). Matthew's use of parthenos gives "virgin" as the meaning of almah in Isaiah 7:14. While "young woman" might be technically correct, there are no ancient documents that use almah to refer to a woman who is definitely not a virgin. In the Tanakh accounts of long-barren women becoming pregnant through divine intervention (such as Sarah, Rebekah, and Hannah), there is never any thought of excluding a human father. Thus, Jews in the first century expected the Messiah to be begotten of a human father like all men. However, the translation of "virgin" is theologically important to establish both the supernatural conception and the deity of Yeshua, as set forth in Luke 1:35.
The reader should note that being a virgin says nothing of her age. A girl became accountable to the Torah (Heb. bat mitzvah, "daughter of the commandment") and thus treated as an adult when she became twelve years and a day old (B.K. 15a; Ket. 39a; Kidd. 63b; Nidd. 5:6; Yom. 8:3). Adulthood for a girl was not only determined by age but also by her having passed through puberty, that is possessing breasts and pubic hair (Kidd. 81b; Ezek 16:7-8; cf. SS 8:8). Since marriages were often arranged by parents a girl could be selected for her future husband before bat mitzvah. Talmudic literature does speak of the typical age of marriage for males as 18 (Avot 5:21), but marriage might also take place anywhere from 16-24 years of age (Kidd. 29b-30a). Scholars generally assume Miriam's age to be between 12 and 15, but elements of the narrative (such as her lengthy trip to visit Elizabeth and her knowledge of Scripture) suggest an older age.
will conceive: lit. "will have in womb" (Marshall). and: Grk. kai, conj. will bear: Grk. tiktō, fut. mid. See verse 21 above. a son: Grk. huios. See verse 21 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. they will call: Grk. kaleō, fut. See verse 21 above. the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 21 above. of him: Grk. autos, pers. pron.; i.e., Yeshua. Emmanuel: Grk. Emmanouēl transliterates the Heb. Immanu'el. which: Grk. ho, relative pron. is: Grk. eimi, pres. translated: Grk. methermēneuō, pres. pass. part., to translate, or render a term from one language into another. The verb emphasizes that the Book was written for a primarily Jewish audience, so Matthew translates a familiar Jewish word for Gentiles who may not have understood it. The verb occurs not at all in the LXX, but does occur in the prologue (30) to Sirach and in Josephus (Ant. VIII, 5:3) (DNTT 1:580).
God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In ancient polytheistic culture theos was not one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and certainly not spirit as described in Scripture (John 4:24). In the LXX theos renders the generic designations of God, El (over 200 times) and Elohim (over 2300 times), as well as the tetragrammaton YHVH, over 300 times (DNTT 2:67-70). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos. The only God in existence is the God who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21; 46:9), making Him the "God of Israel" an expression that occurs 199 times in the Tanakh and two times in the Besekh (Matt 15:31; Luke 1:68). All the other deities worshipped by religions in the world are the product of Satan-inspired imagination.
with: Grk. meta, prep., in company with. us: pl. of Grk. egō, first pers. pron. The pronoun "us" refers to Israel. Matthew explains the meaning of Immanu'el, not found in Isaiah 7:14, to any Gentile readers. The name is formed from immanu "with us" and El "God" and both words may be found in Isaiah 8:10. Yeshua was not addressed by this name during his earthly life, but the name is prophetic of his mission. Calling Yeshua "Immanuel" is consistent with the Tanakh, which uses several names to refer to the Messiah: "Shiloh" (Gen 49:10), "Branch" (Isa 11:1), "Sprout" (Jer 23:5, 33:15), and the longest, "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6).
Nevertheless, the reality of Immanuel's meaning is expressed in three ways in the Besekh. When Yeshua gives the Great Commission he promises to be with his disciples until the end of the age (Matt 28:20). Then the apostle Paul typically closes a letter with an assurance or a wish that the Messiah would be with the recipients (Rom 16:24; 1Cor 16:23; 2Cor 13:14; Gal 6:18; Php 4:23; 1Th 5:28; 2Th 3:16; 2Tim 4:22; Phm 1:25). Then in Revelation 21:3 God promises to dwell with His people on earth in the age to come.
Matthew's explanation may also represent a play on words, since the Syrian king Antiochus IV, the proto-type anti-messiah, bore the surname Epiphanes, which meant "Illustrious" or "Manifest," as a reference to the god Zeus. In other words, the functional meaning of Epiphanes is "God with us." That Antiochus was deified is revealed in Josephus who records a letter written from certain Samaritans to Antiochus, which begins "To king Antiochus the god, Epiphanes" (Ant. XII, 5:5).
24 And Joseph, having been awakened from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Miriam his wife;
And: Grk. de, conj. Joseph: See verse 16 above. having been awakened: Grk. egeirō, aor. pass. part., to rise from a recumbent or lower position, to awaken or rouse. from: Grk. apo, prep. his sleep: Grk. hupnos, sleep in the normal sense of slumber. he did: Grk. poieō, a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. as: Grk. hōs, adv., the angel of the Lord: See verse 20 above. commanded: Grk. prostassō, aor., to give an authoritative directive, to enjoin, order or prescribe. Joseph knew that the dream he had experienced was out of the ordinary. A heavenly personage spoke to him and he treated the instruction of the angel as a direct command of God.
him and took: Grk. paralambanō, aor., to receive to one's side; take, receive; or to cause to go along; take. Miriam: See verse 16 above. as his wife: Grk. gunē. See verse 20 above. As Stern points out, the act of Joseph taking Miriam into his home meant that he was declaring the child in her womb to be his. According to the Mishnah "If one says, 'This is my son,' he is to be believed" (B.B. 8:6). The Gemara explains that he is believed "as regards the right of heirship" (B.B. 134a). Thus Yeshua, as a legally acknowledged son, is entitled to inherit the throne of King David from Joseph, a descendant of David (verses 1 and 20 above).
25 And he knew her not until she had brought forth to a son. And he called the name of him, Yeshua.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he knew: Grk. ginōskō, impf., to know and in this context with the meaning of to know sexually or be sexually intimate. The imperfect tense describes continuous or repeated action in past time and is appropriate for the situation described here. her: Grk. autē, fem. pers. pron. not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. until: Grk. heōs, adv. See verse 17 above. she had brought forth: Grk. tiktō, aor. See verse 21 above. a son: Grk. huios. See verse 21 above. Matthew reports that the marriage remained unconsummated until after Miriam gave birth to Yeshua. Actually, there would have been no physical impediment to intimate relations during pregnancy, but the special circumstances persuaded Joseph that he should wait to claim his marital rights. Even then, Torah regulation determined a woman to be unclean for 40 days from the birth of a boy and 80 days from the birth of a girl, so a man could not touch his wife during that period (Lev 12:1-8).
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Miriam remained a virgin all her life and that the "brothers" and "sisters" of Yeshua (Matt 13:55-56; Mark 6:3) were cousins. This unbiblical doctrine ignores the nature of Jewish culture. Only in later Christianity was celibacy prized as a part of asceticism until finally at the Council of Trent the Catholic Church compounded its error by making celibacy of greater value than marriage. However, marriage has been God's normative pattern for men and women since Creation and both Yeshua and Paul expressed a high view of marriage (Matt 19:4-6; Eph 5:22-33; 1Tim 5:14; Heb 13:4). Paul pointedly labels any forbidding of marriage as a demonic doctrine (1Tim 4:1-3).
According to the Torah sexual relations between spouses is first a right and an obligation (Ex 21:10). Applying the Torah principle Paul declared that a husband and wife may not deny each other sex without mutual agreement, even for spiritual reasons (1Cor 7:3-5). Spouses also recognize that marriage is the exclusive relationship designed for sexual intimacy between people. A husband must find his sexual satisfaction only in his wife's body to the exclusion of others (Prov 5:15-19; SS 2:16; Eph 5:29; Heb 13:4). Indeed, a loving husband nourishes and cherishes his wife's body (Eph 5:29). For Joseph and Miriam sexual consummation of the marriage would have been a normal expectation and eagerly anticipated. Sexual congress within marriage was such a normal expectation in Jewish culture that Talmudic scholars even defined the manner and frequency of marital relations (Ket. 48a; 61b; 63a; Ned. 20b).
And: Grk. kai, conj. he called the name of him: For this clause see verse 21 above. Yeshua: For the blessed name, see verse 1 above. The simple sentence reflects an obedient heart. The angel had given direction and Joseph carried it out. Of course, he would no doubt learn from Miriam that she had received the same instruction (Luke 1:31). It's not likely that the couple comprehended at the moment of naming that the meaning of their son's name portended death in order to accomplish salvation for the nation of Israel, but they would have grasped the name as a fulfillment of covenantal promises.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
Barker: William P. Barker, Everyone In the Bible. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Colin Brown, ed. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Gale: Aaron M. Gale, Annotations on "Matthew," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online. [Baptist Bible scholar]
Ginzberg: Louis Ginzberg (1873-1953), The Legends of the Jews, 1909. [Ginzberg was professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.]
HBD: Holman Bible Dictionary. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
Kaiser: Walter C. Kaiser, The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Zondervan, 2008.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (1040-1105), Commentary on the Tanakh. Online. (French rabbi, rabbinical judge and commentator)
Stern: David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. 5th ed. Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., 1996.
Varner: William C. Varner, Jacob's Dozen. The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1987.
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