Expositor's Greek Testament
THE GENEALOGY AND BIRTH OF JESUS.
The genealogy may readily appear to us a most ungenial beginning of the Gospel. A dry list of names! It is the tribute which the Gospel pays to the spirit of Judaism. The Jews set much store by genealogies, and to Jewish Christians the Messiahship of Jesus depended on its being proved that He was a descendant of David. But the matter can hardly be so vital as that. We may distinguish between the question of fact and the question of faith. It may be that Jesus was really descended from David—many things point that way; but even if He were not He might still be the Christ, the fulfiller of O. T. ideals, the bringer-in of the highest good, if He possessed the proper spiritual qualifications. What although the Christ were not David’s son in the physical sense? He was a priest after the order of Melchisedec, though ἀγενεαλόγητος; why not Messiah under the same conditions? He might still be a son of David in the sense in which John the Baptist was Elijah—in spirit and power, realising the ideal of the hero king. The kingdom of prophecy came only in a spiritual sense, why not also the king? The two hang together. Paul was not an apostle in the legitimist sense, not one of the men who had been with Jesus; yet he was a very real apostle. So might Jesus be a Christ, though not descended from David. St. Paul writes (Galatians 3:29): “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed”. So might we say: If Jesus was fit to be the Christ in point of spiritual equipment, then was He of the seed of David. There is no clear evidence in the Gospels that Jesus Himself set value on Davidic descent; there are some things that seem to point the other way: e.g., the question, “Who is my mother?” (Matthew 12:48; Mark 3:33), and the other, “What think ye of the Christ, whose son is He?” (Matthew 22:42, et par.). There is reason to believe that, like St. Paul, He would argue from the spiritual to the genealogical, not vice versâ: not Christ because from David, but from David, at least ideally, because Christ on other higher grounds.
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.Matthew 1:1. βίβλος γενέσεως κ.τ.λ. How much does this heading cover: the whole Gospel, the two first chapters, the whole of the first chapter, or only Matthew 1:1-17? All these views have been held. The first by Euthy. Zigab., who argued: the birth of the God-man was the important point, and involved all the rest; therefore the title covers the whole history named from the most important part (ἀπὸ τοῦ κυριωτέρου μέρους). Some moderns (Ebrard, Keil, etc.) have defended the view on the ground that the corresponding title in O. T. (Genesis 6:9; Genesis 11:27, etc.) denotes not merely a genealogical list, but a history of the persons whose genealogy is given. Thus the expression is taken to mean a book on the life of Christ (liber de vita Christi, Maldon.). Against the second view and the third Weiss-Meyer remarks that at Matthew 1:18 a new beginning is made, while Matthew 2:1 runs on as if continuing the same story. The most probable and most generally accepted opinion is that of Calvin, Beza, and Grotius that the expression applies only to Matthew 1:1-17. (Non est haec inscriptio totius libri, sed particulae primae quae velut extra corpus historiae prominet. Grotius.)
Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Christ here is not an appellative but a proper name, in accordance with the usage of the Apostolic age. In the body of the evangelistic history the word is not thus used; only in the introductory parts. (vide Mark 1:1; John 1:17.)
υἱοῦ Δ., υἱοῦ Α. Of David first, because with his name was associated the more specific promise of a Messianic king; of Abraham also, because he was the patriarch of the race and first recipient of the promise. The genealogy goes no further back, because the Gospel is written for the Jews. Euthy. Zig. suggests that David is placed first because he was the better known, as the less remote, as a great prophet and a renowned king. (ἀπὸ τοῦ γνωριμωτέρου μᾶλλον ἀρξάμενος, ἐπὶ τὸν παλαιότερον ἀνῆλθεν.) The word υἱοῦ in both cases applies to Christ. It can refer grammatically to David, as many take it, but the other reference is demanded by the fact that Matthew 1:1 forms the superscription of the following genealogy. So Weiss-Meyer.
Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;Matthew 1:2-16. The genealogy divides into three parts: from Abraham to David (Matthew 1:2-6 a); from David to the captivity (Matthew 1:6 b–11); from the captivity to Christ. On closer inspection it turns out to be not so dry as it at first appeared. There are touches here and there which import into it an ethical significance, suggesting the idea that it is the work not of a dry-as-dust Jewish genealogist, but of the evangelist; or at least worked over by him in a Christian spirit, if the skeleton was given to his hand. To note these is the chief interest of non-Rabbinical exegesis.
Matthew 1:2-6 a. καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ. This is not necessary to the genealogical line, but added to say by the way that He who belonged to the tribe of Judah belonged also to all the tribes of Israel. (Weiss, Matthäusevang.).
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.
And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;Matthew 1:6-10, ἐκ τῆς τοῦ Οὐρίου, vide above. The chief feature in this second division of the genealogical table is the omission of three kings between Joram and Uzziah (Matthew 1:8), viz., Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah. How is the omission to be explained? By inadvertence, or by intention, and if the latter, in what view? Jerome favoured the second alternative, and suggested two reasons for the intentional omission—a wish to bring out the number fourteen (Matthew 1:17) in the second part of the genealogy, and a desire to brand the kings passed over with the stamp of theocratic illegality. In effect, manipulation with a presentable excuse. But the excuse would justify other omissions, e.g., Ahaz and Manasseh, who, were as great offenders as any. One can, indeed, imagine the evangelist desiring to exemplify the severity of the Gospel as well as its grace in the construction of the list—to say in effect: God resisteth the proud, but He giveth grace to the lowly, and even the low. The hypothesis of manipulation in the interest of symbolic numbers can stand on its own basis without any pretext. It is not to be supposed that the evangelist was at all concerned to make sure that no link in the line was omitted. His one concern would be to make sure that no name appeared that did not belong to the line. He can hardly have imagined that his list was complete from beginning to end. Thus Nahshon (Matthew 1:4) was the head of the tribe of Judah at the Exodus (Numbers 1:7), yet between Hezron and him only two names occur—four names for 400 years. Each name or generation represents a century, in accordance with Genesis 15:13-16. The genealogist may have had this passage in view, but he must have known that the actual succession embraced more links than four (vide Schanz on Matthew 1:4). The hypothesis of inadvertence or error in consulting the text of the O. T., favoured by some modern commentators, is not to be summarily negatived on the ground of an a priori theory of inerrancy. It is possible that in reading 1 Chronicles 3:11 in the Sept the eye leapt from Ὀχοζίας to Ὀζίας, and so led to omission of it and the two following names. (Ἀζαρίας, not Ὀζίας, is the reading in Sept, but Weiss assumes that the latter, Azariah’s original name, must have stood in the copy used by the constructor of the genealogy.) The explanation, however, is conjectural. No certainty, indeed, is attainable on the matter. As a curiosity in the history of exegesis may be mentioned Chrysostom’s mode of dealing with this point. Having propounded several problems regarding the genealogy, the omission of the three kings included, he leaves this one unsolved on the plea that he must not explain everything to his hearers lest they become listless (ἵνα μὴ ἀναπέσητε, Hom. iv.). Schanz praises the prudence of the sly Greek orator.
Matthew 1:6 a. τὸν Δαβὶδ τὸν βασιλέα, David the King, the title being added to distinguish him from the rest. It serves the same purpose as if David had been written in large letters. At length we arrive at the great royal name! The materials for the first part of the genealogy are taken from Ruth 4:18-22, and 1 Chronicles 2:5-15.
And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:Matthew 1:11. Ἰωσίας ἐγεν. τὸν Ἰεχονίαν. There is an omission here also: Eliakim, son of Josiah and father of Jeconiah. It was noted and made a ground of reproach to Christians by Porphyry. Maldonatus, pressed by the difficulty, proposed to substitute for Jeconiah, Jehoiakim, the second of four sons ascribed to Josiah in the genealogist’s source (1 Chronicles 3:14), whereby the expression τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ would retain its natural sense. But, while the two names are perhaps similar enough to be mistaken for each other, it is against the hypothesis as a solution of the difficulty that Jehoiakim did not share in the captivity (2 Kings 24:6), while the words of Matthew 1:11 seem to imply that the descendant of Josiah referred to was associated with his brethren in exile. The words ἐπὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος probably supply the key to the solution. Josiah brings us to the brink of the period of exile. With his name that doleful time comes into the mind of the genealogist. Who is to represent it in the line of succession? Not Jehoiakim, for though the deportation began in his reign he was not himself a captive. It must be Jeconiah (Jehoiakin), his son at the second remove, who was among the captives (2 Kings 24:15). His “brethren” are his uncles, sons of Josiah, his grandfather; brethren in blood, and brethren also as representatives of a calamitous time—(vide Weiss-Meyer). There is a pathos in this second allusion to brotherhood. “Judah and his brethren,” partakers in the promise (also in the sojourn in Egypt); “Jeconiah and his brethren,” the generation of the promise eclipsed. Royalty in the dust, but not without hope. The omission of Eliakim (or Jehoiakim) serves the subordinate purpose of keeping the second division of the genealogy within the number fourteen.—Μετοικεσίας: literally change of abode, deportation, “carrying away,” late Greek for μετοικία or μετοίκησις.—Βαβυλῶνος: genitive, expressing the terminus ad quem (vide Winer, § 30, 2 a, and cf. Matthew 4:15, ὁδὸν θαλάσσης, Matthew 10:5, ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν).—ἐπὶ τ. μ., “at the time of, during,” the time being of some length; the process of deportation went on for years. Cf. Mark 2:26, ἐπὶ Ἀβιάθαρ, under the high priesthood of Abiathar, and Mark 12:26 for a similar use of ἐπὶ in reference to place: ἐπὶ τοῦ βάτου—at the place where the story of the bush occurs. Μετὰ τ. μ. in Matthew 1:12 means after not during, as some have supposed, misled by taking μετοικεσία as denoting the state of exile. Vide on this Fritzsche.
And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;Matthew 1:12-15. In the last division the genealogical table escapes our control. After Zerubbabel no name occurs in the O. T. We might have expected to find Abiud in 1 Chronicles 3:19, where the children of Zerubbabel are given, but Abiud is not among them. The royal family sank into obscurity. It does not follow that no pains were taken to preserve their genealogy. The priests may have been diligent in the matter, and records may have been preserved in the temple (Schanz). The Messianic hope would be a motive to carefulness. In any case we must suppose the author of the genealogy before us to give here what he found. He did not construct an imaginary list. And the list, if not guaranteed as infallibly accurate by its insertion, was such as might reasonably be expected to satisfy Hebrew readers. Amid the gloom of the night of legalism which broods over all things belonging to the period, this genealogy included, it is a comfort to think that the Messiahship of Jesus does not depend on the absolute accuracy of the genealogical tree.
And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.Matthew 1:16. Ἰακὼβ … τὸν Ἰωσὴφ: the genealogy ends with Joseph. It is then presumably his, not Mary’s. But for apologetic or dogmatic considerations, no one would ever have thought of doubting this. What creates perplexity is that Joseph, while called the husband (τὸν ἄνδρα) of Mary, is not represented as the father of Jesus. There is no ἐγέννησε in this case, though some suppose that there was originally, as the genealogy came from the hand of some Jewish Christian, who regarded Jesus as the Son of Joseph (Holtzmann in H. C.). The Sinaitic Syriac Codex has “Joseph, to whom was betrothed Mary the Virgin, begat Jesus,” but it does not alter the story otherwise to correspond with Joseph’s paternity. Therefore Joseph can only have been the legal father of Jesus. But, it is argued, that is not enough to satisfy the presupposition of the whole N. T., viz., that Jesus was the actual son of David (κατὰ σάρκα, Romans 1:3); therefore the genealogy must be that of Mary (Nösgen). This conclusion can be reconciled with the other alternative by the assumption that Mary was of the same tribe and family as Joseph, so that the genealogy was common to both. This was the patristic view. The fact may have been so, but it is not indicated by the evangelist. His aim, undoubtedly, is to set forth Jesus as the legitimate son of Joseph, Mary’s husband, at His birth, and therefore the proper heir of David’s throne.—ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη Ἰ. The peculiar manner of expression is a hint that something out of the usual course had happened, and prepares for the following explanation: ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός; not implying doubt, but suggesting that the claim of Jesus to the title Christ was valid if He were a legitimate descendant of David, as the genealogy showed Him to be.
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.Matthew 1:17. The evangelist pauses to point out the structure of his genealogy: three parts with fourteen members each; symmetrical, memorable; πᾶσαι does not imply, as Meyer and Weiss think, that in the opinion of the evangelist no links are omitted. He speaks simply of what lies under the eye. There they are, fourteen in each, count and satisfy yourself. But the counting turns out not to be so easy, and has given rise to great divergence of opinion. The division naturally suggested by the words of the text is: from Abraham to David, terminating first series, 14; from David, heading second series, to the captivity as limit, i.e., to Josiah, 14; from the captivity represented by Jeconiah to Christ, included as final term, 14. So Bengel and De Wette. If objection be taken to counting David twice, the brethren of Jeconiah, that is, his uncles, may be taken as representing the concluding term of series 2, and Jeconiah himself as the first member of series 3 (Weiss-Meyer). The identical number in the three parts is of no importance in itself. It is a numerical symbol uniting three periods, and suggesting comparison in other respects, e.g., as to different forms of government—judges, kings, priests (Euthy. Zig.), theocracy, monarchy, hierarchy (Schanz), all summed up in Christ; or as to Israel’s fortunes: growth, decline, ruin—redemption urgently needed.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.Matthew 1:18-25. THE BIRTH OF JESUS. This section gives the explanation which ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη (Matthew 1:16) leads us to expect. It may be called the justification of the genealogy (Schanz), showing that while the birth was exceptional in nature it yet took place in such circumstances, that Jesus might justly be regarded as the legitimate son of Joseph, and therefore heir of David’s throne. The position of the name Τοῦ δὲ Ι. Χ. at the head of the sentence, and the recurrence of the word γένεσις, point back to Matthew 1:1; γένεσις, not γέννησις, is the true reading, the purpose being to express the general idea of origin, ortus, not the specific idea of generation (ὁ εὐαγγελιστὴς ἐκαινοτόμησε τὸ κατὰ φύσιν ὄνομα τῆς γεννήσεως, γένεσιν αὐτὴν καλέσας. Euthy. Zig. on Matthew 1:1).
Matthew 1:18. μνηστευθείσης … αὐτούς indicates the position of Mary in relation to Joseph when her pregnancy was discovered. Briefly it was—betrothed, not married. Πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν means before they came together in one home as man and wife, it being implied that that would not take place before marriage. συνελθεῖν might refer to sexual intercourse, so far as the meaning of the word is concerned (Joseph. Antiq. vii. 9, 5), but the evangelist would not think it necessary to state that no such intercourse had taken place between the betrothed. That he would regard as a matter of course. Yet most of the fathers so understood the word; and some, Chrysostom, e.g., conceived Joseph and Mary to be living together before marriage, but sine concubitu, believing this to have been the usual practice. Of this, however, there is no satisfactory evidence. The sense above assigned to συνελ. corresponds to the verb παραλαβεῖν, Matthew 1:20, παρέλαβε, Matthew 1:24, which means to take home, domum ducere. The supposed reason for the practice alleged to have existed by Chrysostom and others was the protection of the betrothed (διʼ ἀσφάλειαν, Euthy.). Grammarians (vide Fritzsche) say that πρὶν ἢ is not found in ancient Attic, though often in middle Attic. For other instances of it, with infinitive, vide Mark 14:30, Acts 7:2; without ἢ, Matthew 26:34; Matthew 26:75. On the construction of πρὶν with the various moods, vide Hermann ed. Viger, Klotz ed. Devarius, and Goodwin’s Syntax.—εὑρέθη … ἔχουσα: εὑρέθη, not ἦν. (So Olearius, Observ. ad Ev. Mat., and other older interpreters.) There was a discovery and a surprise. It was apparent (de Wette); διὰ τὸ ἀπροσδόκητον (Euthy.). To whom apparent not indicated. Jerome says: “Non ab alio inventa est nisi a Joseph, qui pene licentia maritali futurae uxoris omnia noverat”.—ἐκ πν. ἁγ. This was not apparent; it belonged to the region of faith. The evangelist hastens to add this explanation of a painful fact to remove, as quickly as possible, all occasion for sinister conjecture. The expression points at once to immediate divine causality, and to the holy character of the effect: a solemn protest against profane thoughts.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.Matthew 1:19. Ι. ὁ ἀνὴρ: proleptic, implying possession of a husband’s rights and responsibilities. The betrothed man had a duty in the matter—δίκαιος … δειγμανίσαι. He was in a strait betwixt two. Being δίκαιος, just, righteous, a respecter of the law, he could not overlook the apparent fault; on the other hand, loving the woman, he desired to deal with her as tenderly as possible: not wishing to expose her (αὐτὴν in an emphatic position before δειγματίσαι—the loved one. Weiss-Meyer). Some (Grotius, Fritzsche, etc.) take δίκαιος in the sense of bonitas or benignitas, as if it had been ἀγαθός, so eliminating the element of conflict.—ἐβουλήθη … αὐτήν. He finally resolved on the expedient of putting her away privately. The alternatives were exposure by public repudiation, or quiet cancelling of the bond of betrothal. Affection chose the latter. δειγματίσαι does not point, as some have thought, to judicial procedure with its penalty, death by stoning. λάθρα before ἀπολῦσαι is emphatic, and suggests a contrast between two ways of performing the act pointed at by ἀπολῦσαι. Note the synonyms θέλων and ἐβουλήθη. The former denotes inclination in general, the latter a deliberate decision between different courses—maluit (vide on chapter Matthew 11:27).
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.Matthew 1:20-21. Joseph delivered from his perplexity by angelic interposition. How much painful, distressing, distracting thought he had about the matter day and night can be imagined. Relief came at last in a dream, of which Mary was the subject.—ταῦτα … ἐνθυμηθέντος: the genitive absolute indicates the time of the vision, and the verb the state of mind: revolving the matter in thought without clear perception of outlet. ταῦτα, the accusative, not the genitive with περί: ἐνθ. περί τινος = Cogitare de re, ἐνθ. τι = aliauid secum reputare. Kühner, § 417, 9.—ἰδού: often in Mt after genitive absolute; vivid introduction of the angelic appearance (Weiss Meyer).—κατʼ ὄναρ (late Greek condemned by Phrynichus. vide Lobeck Phryn., p. 423. ὄναρ, without preposition, the classic equivalent), during a dream reflecting present distractions.—υἱὸς Δαβίδ: the angel addresses Joseph as son of David to awaken the heroic mood. The title confirms the view that the genealogy is that of Joseph.—μὴ φοβηθῇς: he is summoned to a supreme act of faith similar to those performed by the moral heroes of the Bible, who by faith made their lives sublime.—τὴν γυναῖκά σου: to take Mary, as thy wife, so in Matthew 1:24.—τὸ … ἁγίου: negativing the other alternative by which he was tormented. The choice lies between two extremes: most unholy, or the holiest possible. What a crisis!
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.Matthew 1:21. τέξεται—Ἰησοῦν: Mary is about to bear a son, and He is to bear the significant name of Jesus. The style is an echo of O. T. story, Genesis 17:19, Sept, the birth of Isaac and that of Jesus being thereby placed side by side as similar in their preternatural character.—καλέσεις: a command in form of a prediction. But there is encouragement as well as command in this future. It is meant to help Joseph out of his doubts into a mood of heroic, resolute action. Cease from brooding anxious thought, think of the child about to be born as destined to a great career. to be signalised by His name Jesus—Jehovah the helper.—αὐτὸς γὰρ … ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν: interpretation of the name, still part of the angelic speech. αὐτὸς emphatic, he and no other. ἁμαρτ., sins, implying a spiritual conception of Israel’s need.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,Matthew 1:22-23. The prophetic reference. As it is the evangelist’s habit to cite O. T. prophecies in connection with leading incidents in the life of Jesus, it is natural, with most recent interpreters, to regard these words, not as uttered by the angel, but as a comment of the narrator. The ancients, Chry., Theophy., Euthy., etc., adopt the former view, and Weiss-Meyer concurs, while admitting that in expression they reveal the evangelist’s style. In support of this, it might be urged that the suggestion of the prophetic oracle to the mind of Joseph would be an aid to faith. It speaks of a son to be born of a virgin. Why should not Mary be that virgin, and her child that son? In favour of it also is the consideration that on the opposite view the prophetic reference comes in too soon. Why should not the evangelist go on to the end of his story, and then quote the prophetic oracle? Finally, if we assume that in the case of all objective preternatural manifestations, there is an answering subjective psychological state, we must conclude that among the thoughts that were passing through Joseph’s mind at this crisis, one was that in his family experience as a “son of David,” something of great importance for the royal race and for Israel was about to happen. The oracle in question might readily suggest itself as explaining the nature of the coming event. On all these grounds, it seems reasonable to conclude that the evangelist, in this case, means the prophecy to form part of the angelic utterance.
Matthew 1:22. τοῦτο δὲ … ἵνα πληρωθῇ. ἵνα is to be taken here, and indeed always in such connections, in its strict telic sense. The interest of the evangelist, as of all N. T. writers, in prophecy, was purely religious. For him O. T. oracles had exclusive reference to the events in the life of Jesus by which they were fulfilled. The virgin, ἡ παρθένος, supposed to be present to the eye of the prophet, is the young woman of Nazareth betrothed to Joseph the carpenter, now found to be with child.—Ἰδού … Ἐμμανουήλ: in the oracle as here quoted, ἕξει (cf. ἔχουσα, Matthew 1:18), is substituted for λήψεται, and καλέσεις changed into the impersonal καλέσουσι. Emmanuel = “with us God,” implying that God’s help will come through the child Jesus. It does not necessarily imply the idea of incarnation.
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:Matthew 1:24-25. Joseph hesitates no more: immediate energetic action takes the place of painful doubt. Euthymius asks: Why did he so easily trust the dream in so great a matter? and answers: because the angel revealed to him the thought of his own heart, for he understood that the messenger must have come from God, for God alone knows the thoughts of the heart.—ἐγερθεὶς … Κυρίου: rising up from the sleep (τοῦ ὕπνου), in which he had that remarkable dream, on that memorable night, he proceeded forthwith to execute the Divine command, the first, chief, perhaps sole business of that day.—καὶ παρέλαβεν … αὐτοῦ. He took Mary home as his wife, that her off-spring might be his legitimate son and heir of David’s throne.
And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.Matthew 1:25. καὶ οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν … υἱόν: absolute habitual (note the imperfect) abstinence from marital intercourse, the sole purpose of the hastened marriage being to legitimise the child.—ἕως: not till then, and afterwards? Here comes in a quæstio vexata of theology. Patristic and catholic authors say: not till then and never at all, guarding the sacredness of the virgin’s womb. ἕως does not settle the question. It is easy to cite instances of its use as fixing a limit up to which a specified event did not occur, when as a matter of fact it did not occur at all. E.g., Genesis 8:7; the raven returned not till the waters were dried up; in fact, never returned (Schanz). But the presumption is all the other way in the case before us. Subsequent intercourse was the natural, if not the necessary, course of things. If the evangelist had felt as the Catholics do, he would have taken pains to prevent misunderstanding.—υἱόν: the extended reading (T. R.) is imported from Luke 2:7, where there are no variants. πρωτότοκον is not a stumbling-block to the champions of the perpetual virginity, because the first may be the only. Euthymius quotes in proof Isaiah 44:6 : “I am the first, and I am the last, and beside Me there is no God.”—καὶ ἐκάλεσεν, he (not she) called the child Jesus, the statement referring back to the command of the angel to Joseph. Wünsche says that before the Exile the mother, after the Exile the father, gave the name to the child at circumcision (Neue Beiträge zur Erläuterung der Evangelien, p. 11).