Matthew 1:3
And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
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(3) Thamar.—The occurrence of the names of women in genealogies was the exception rather than the rule among the Jews; but there are instances enough in the Old Testament (e.g., Keturah, Genesis 25:1; the wives of Esau, Genesis 36:10; Timna, Genesis 36:22; Mehetabel, Genesis 36:39; Azubah, the wife of Caleb, 1Chronicles 2:18; Achsa, his daughter, 1Chronicles 2:49; and many others) to make the insertion of such names here quite natural, even without assuming any distinct purpose. It was enough that the women were historically notable. In the case of Thamar there were precedents enough for such an honourable mention. In the days of Ruth she was as much the heroine of the tribe of Judah as Rachel and Leah were of all Israel, and her name came into the formula of nuptial benediction (Ruth 4:12). It appears also in the genealogies of 1Chronicles 2:4. It would appear from the language of the Talmud as if the Jews looked on her strange and to us revolting history with quite other feelings. To them she was as one who, at the risk of shame, and, it might be, death, had preserved the line of Judah from destruction, and “therefore was counted worthy to be the mother of kings and prophets.” The mention of Zara, though not in the line of succession, follows the precedent of 1Chronicles 2:47.

Matthew 1:3. And Judas begat Phares and Zara — Some have observed that these sons of Judah are mentioned together because they were twins born at the same time: but if this had been a reason for assigning Zara the honour of being named in this genealogy, Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, ought to have obtained it likewise. He seems rather to be mentioned to prevent any mistake. For if he had not, considering the infamy of Pharez’s birth, we might have been apt to imagine that not the Pharez whom Judah begat in incest, but another son of Judah, called Pharez, was our Lord’s progenitor, it being no uncommon thing among the Jews to have several children of the same name. Wherefore, to put the matter beyond doubt, Thamar, as well as Zara, is mentioned in the genealogy, if her name be not rather added because she was remarkable in the sacred history. This reason certainly must be assigned why three other women are named in this catalogue, viz., Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. They were all remarkable characters, and their story is particularly related in the Old Testament. This seems much more probable than the opinion of those who think they are mentioned, either because they were great sinners, to teach us that Christ came to save such, or with a view to obviate the cavils of the Jews against the mean condition of the mother of our Lord; their renowned ancestors, such as even David and Solomon, being descended of women whose quality rendered them much meaner than she was. It was, however, one degree of our Saviour’s humiliation, that he would be born of such sinners, and it certainly may encourage the vilest to come unto him, and expect salvation from him. Nor shall they be disappointed, if, in true repentance and lively faith, they turn from their sins to God.1:1-17 Concerning this genealogy of our Saviour, observe the chief intention. It is not a needless genealogy. It is not a vain-glorious one, as those of great men often are. It proves that our Lord Jesus is of the nation and family out of which the Messiah was to arise. The promise of the blessing was made to Abraham and his seed; of the dominion, to David and his seed. It was promised to Abraham that Christ should descend from him, Ge 12:3; 22:18; and to David that he should descend from him, 2Sa 7:12; Ps 89:3, &c.; 132:11; and, therefore, unless Jesus is a son of David, and a son of Abraham, he is not the Messiah. Now this is here proved from well-known records. When the Son of God was pleased to take our nature, he came near to us, in our fallen, wretched condition; but he was perfectly free from sin: and while we read the names in his genealogy, we should not forget how low the Lord of glory stooped to save the human race.These verses contain the genealogy of Jesus. Luke also Luke 3 gives a genealogy of the Messiah. No two passages of Scripture have caused more difficulty than these, and various attempts have been made to explain them. There are two sources of difficulty in these catalogues.

1. Many names that are found in the Old Testament are here omitted; and,

2. The tables of Matthew and Luke appear in many points to be different.

From Adam to Abraham Matthew has mentioned no names, and Luke only has given the record. From Abraham to David the two tables are alike. Of course there is no difficulty in reconciling these two parts of the tables. The difficulty lies in that part of the genealogy from David to Christ. There they are entirely different. They are manifestly different lines. Not only are the names different, but Luke has mentioned, in this part of the genealogy, no less than 42 names, while Matthew has recorded only 27 names.

Various ways have been proposed to explain this difficulty, but it must be admitted that none of them is perfectly satisfactory. It does not comport with the design of these notes to enter minutely into an explanation of the perplexities of these passages. All that can be done is to suggest the various ways in which attempts have been made to explain them.

1. It is remarked that in nothing are mistakes more likely to occur than in such tables. From the similarity of names, and the different names by which the same person is often called, and from many other causes, errors would be more likely to creep into genealogical tables than in other writings. Some of the difficulties may have possibly occurred from this cause.

2. Most interpreters have supposed that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke that of Mary. They were both descended from David, but in different lines. This solution derives some plausibility from the fact that the promise was made to David, and as Jesus was not the son of Joseph, it was important to show that Mary was also descended from him. But though this solution is plausible, and may be true, yet it wants evidence. It cannot, however, be proved that this was not the design of Luke.

3. It has been said also that Joseph was the legal son and heir of Heli, though the real son of Jacob, and that thus the two lines terminated in him. This was the explanation suggested by most of the Christian fathers, and on the whole is the most satisfactory. It was a law of the Jews that if a man died without children, his brother should marry his widow. Thus the two lines might have been intermingled, According to this solution, which was first proposed by Africanus, Matthan, descended from Solomon, married Estha, of whom was born Jacob. After Matthan's death, Matthat being of the same tribe, but of another family, married his widow, and of this marriage Heli was born. Jacob and Heli were therefore children of the same mother. Heli dying without children, his brother Jacob married his widow, and begat Joseph, who was thus the legal son of Heli. This is agreeable to the account in the two evangelists. Matthew says that Jacob begat Joseph; Luke says that Joseph was the son of Heli, i. e., was his legal heir, or was reckoned in law to be his son. This can be seen by the plan on the next page, showing the nature of the connection.

Though these solutions may not seem to be entirely satisfactory, yet there are two additional considerations which should set the matter at rest, and lead to the conclusion that the narratives are not really inconsistent.

1. No difficulty was ever found, or alleged, in regard to them, by any of the early enemies of Christianity. There is no evidence that they ever adduced them as containing a contradiction. Many of those enemies were acute, learned, and able; and they show by their writings that they were not indisposed to detect all the errors that could possibly be found in the sacred narrative. Now it is to be remembered that the Jews were fully competent to show that these tables were incorrect, if they were really so; and it is clear that they were fully disposed, if possible, to do it. The fact, therefore, that it is not done, is clear evidence that they thought it to be correct. The same may be said of the acute pagans who wrote against Christianity. None of them have called in question the correctness of these tables. This is full proof that, in a time when it was easy to understand these tables, they were believed to be correct.

2. The evangelists are not responsible for the correctness of these tables. They are responsible only for what was their real and professed object to do. What was that object? It was to prove to the satisfaction of the Jews that Jesus was descended from David, and therefore that there was no argument from his ancestry that he was not the promised Messiah. Now to make this out, it was not necessary, nor would it have conduced to their argument, to have formed a new table of genealogy. All that could be done was to go to the family records - to the public tables, and copy them as they were actually kept, and show that, according to the records of the nation, Jesus was descended from David. This, among the Jews, would be full and decided testimony in the case. And this was doubtless done. In the same way, the records of a family among us, as they are kept by the family, are proof in courts of justice now of the birth, names, etc., of individuals. Nor is it necessary or proper for a court to call them in question or to attempt to correct them. So, the tables here are good evidence to the only point that the writers wished to establish: that is, to show to the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was descended from David. The only inquiry which can now be fairly made is whether they copied those tables correctly. It is clear that no man can prove that they did not so copy them, and therefore that no one can adduce them as an argument against the correctness of the New Testament.

3-6. And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 4. And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5. And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6. And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her of Urias—Four women are here introduced; two of them Gentiles by birth—Rachab and Ruth; and three of them with a blot at their names in the Old Testament—Thamar, Rachab, and Bath-sheba. This feature in the present genealogy—herein differing from that given by Luke—comes well from him who styles himself in his list of the Twelve, what none of the other lists do, "Matthew the publican"; as if thereby to hold forth, at the very outset, the unsearchable riches of that grace which could not only fetch in "them that are afar off," but teach down even to "publicans and harlots," and raise them to "sit with the princes of his people." David is here twice emphatically styled "David the king," as not only the first of that royal line from which Messiah was to descend, but the one king of all that line from which the throne that Messiah was to occupy took its name—"the throne of David." The angel Gabriel, in announcing Him to His virgin-mother, calls it "the throne of David His father," sinking all the intermediate kings of that line, as having no importance save as links to connect the first and the last king of Israel as father and son. It will be observed that Rachab is here represented as the great-grandmother of David (see Ru 4:20-22; 1Ch 2:11-15)—a thing not beyond possibility indeed, but extremely improbable, there being about four centuries between them. There can hardly be a doubt that one or two intermediate links are omitted. That Judas begat Phares and Zara (they were twins begot of Thamar his daughter-in-law), the relict of his son Er whom God slew, Genesis 38:7, appeareth from Genesis 38:27-30. That

Phares begat Ezrom appeareth from Ruth 4:18 1 Chronicles 2:5; and from the same texts appears also that

Ezrom begat Aram, Ruth 4:19 1 Chronicles 2:9, where he is called Ram. Some may possibly be offended that amongst all the ancestors of Christ there are but three women named, and all of them such as had a great stain and blot upon their reputation. This

Thamar, the mother of Phares and Zara, was blotted with incest, and Phares was one of the children begot in that incest. Rahab also is mentioned, Matthew 1:5, whom the Scripture calleth an harlot, Joshua 2:1; and Bathsheba was stained with adultery. But we ought to consider:

1. That (abating original corruption, which we indeed all derive from our parents) no man derives any intrinsic badness from the vice of his parents, though he may derive a blot upon his honour and reputation from it.

2. That this was one degree of our Saviour’s humiliation.

3. That it was no way incongruous, that He who came into the world to die for great sinners, should be born of some that were such. And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar,.... The genealogical account of Christ goes on from Judah in the line of Phares, with whom Zara is mentioned; not because they were twins, for so were Jacob and Esau, and yet the latter is taken no notice of; but it may be because of what happened at their birth, see Genesis 38:28. But the line of the Messiah was in Phares, and very rightly is he put in the genealogy of Christ, the Jews themselves being witnesses; who expressly say, that "the Messiah comes from him." These two are said to be begotten of Thamar, daughter-in-law to Judah; who, though she was a Canaanitish woman, has the honour to be named in the genealogy of Christ, who came to save Gentiles as well as Jews: nor can the Jews reproach our Evangelist for putting her into the account; since they themselves frequently acknowledge that the Messiah was to spring from her: they say, (r).

"there are two women from whom come David the king, and Solomon, and the king Messiah; and these two are Thamar and Ruth.''

Jonathan Ben Uzziel on Genesis 38:6 says, that Thamar was the daughter of Shem the great.

And Phares begat Esrom; called Hezron, Ruth 4:18 where the same phrase is used as here. He had another son called Hamul, 1 Chronicles 2:5 but the account proceeds from Phares, in the line of Esrom.

And Esrom begat Aram; called Ram in Ruth 4:18 where the same way of speaking is used as here. Esrom also besides him begat Jerahmeel, Chelubai, or Caleb, and Segub, 1 Chronicles 2:9 but these are not in the line. Elihu, who conversed with Job, is said to be of the kindred of Ram, Job 32:2 whether the same with Ram or Aram, may be inquired.

(r) Shemot Rabba, sect. 30. fol. 131. 4. Caphtor, fol. 122. 1.

And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
Matthew 1:3. τὸν φαρὲς καὶ τὸν Ζαρὰ: Zerah added to Perez the continuator of the line, to suggest that it was by a special providence that the latter was first born (Genesis 38:27-30). The evangelist is on the outlook for the unusual or preternatural in history as prelude to the crowning marvel of the virgin birth (Gradus futurus ad credendum partum e virgine. Grot.).—ἐκ τῆς Θάμαρ. Mention of the mother wholly unnecessary and unusual from a genealogical point of view, and in this case one would say, primâ facie, impolitic, reminding of a hardly readable story (Genesis 38:13-26). It is the first of four references to mothers in the ancestry of Jesus, concerning whom one might have expected the genealogy to observe discreet silence: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba; three of them sinful women, and one, Ruth, a foreigner. Why are they mentioned? By way of defence against sinister misconstruction of the birth of Jesus? So Wetstein: Ut tacitæ Judaeorum objectioni occurreretur. Doubtless there is a mental reference to that birth under some aspect, but it is not likely that the evangelist would condescend to apologise before the bar of unbelief, even though he might find means of doing so in the Jewish habit of glorying over the misdeeds of ancestors (Wetstein). Much more probable is the opinion of the Fathers, who found in these names a foreshadowing of the gracious character of the Gospel of Jesus, as it were the Gospel in the genealogy. Schanz follows the Fathers, except that he thinks they have over-emphasised the sinful element. He finds in the mention of the four women a hint of God’s grace in Christ to the sinful and miserable: Rahab and Bathsheba representing the one, Tamar and Ruth the other. This view commends itself to many interpreters both Catholic and Protestant. Others prefer to bring the four cases under the category of the extraordinary exemplified by the case of Perez and Zerah. These women all became mothers in the line of Christ’s ancestry by special providence (Weiss-Meyer). Doubtless this is at least part of the moral. Nicholson (New Comm.) thinks that the introduction of Tamar and Ruth is sufficiently explained by Ruth 4:11-12, viewed as Messianic; of Rahab by her connection with the earlier Jesus (Joshua), and of Bathsheba because she was the mother of a second line culminating in Christ, as Ruth of a first culminating in David.3. Thamar] St Matthew also differs from St Luke in naming women in the genealogy. Of the four mentioned two—Rahab and Ruth—are foreigners, and three—Thamar, Rahab and Bathsheba—were stained with sin. The purpose of the Evangelist in recording their names may be to shew that He who came to save “that which was lost,” the Friend of sinners, does not scorn such descent.Matthew 1:3. καὶ τὸν Ζαρὰ, and Zara) the twin-brother of Pharez.—ἐκ τῆς Θάμαρ, of Thamar) St Matthew, in the course of his genealogy, makes mention of women who were joined to the race of Abraham by any peculiar circumstance. Thamar ought to have become the wife of Shelah (see Genesis 38:11; Genesis 38:26), and Judah became by her the father of Pharez and Zara: Rahab, though a Canaanitess, became the wife of Salmon: Ruth was a Moabitess, yet Boaz married her. The wife of Uriah became the wife of David.Verse 3. - Of Thamar ( Tamer, Revised Version). In this genealogy the only women mentioned beside the Virgin Mary herself, who must of necessity be introduced, are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, and many explanations have been suggested why these should be specially singled out for notice. The most plausible reasons put forward have been that they are introduced because of the sins with which all but one of them were stained, and because two were not of the race of Israel. Thus, it has been thought, St. Matthew would, in the outset of his Gospel, proclaim Christ as the Friend, even the Kinsman, of sinners, and the Saviour offered to Gentiles as well as to Jews. It is probably wiser not to put so deep a meaning on the appearance of these names, but to consider that they are here because in each case the circumstances were different from the ordinary steps of the genealogy. Had they been in the same position as all the other wives and mothers who are unnamed, they also would have been left unnamed.
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