Matthew 1:17
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.
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(17) The arrangement into three triads of fourteen generations each was obviously in the nature of a memoria technica. The periods embraced by the three groups were, it may be noted, of very unequal length; and the actual omission of names in one of them, makes it possible that the others may have been treated in the same way.

(1) From the birth of Abraham to the birth of David, taking the dates supplied by the received chronology of the Old Testament. B.C. 1996-1085.

(2) From the birth of David to the Captivity. B.C. 1085-588.

(3) From the Captivity to the birth of Jesus. B.C. 588-4.

There remains the further question, how we are to reconcile the genealogy given by St. Matthew with that given by St. Luke (Luke 3:23-38). This will, it is believed, be best dealt with in a short Excursus in the Notes on that Gospel. Here it may be sufficient to note that the difference between the two is, at least, strong presumptive evidence that neither of the two Evangelists had seen the record of the other. It is otherwise hardly conceivable that the element of difficulty which these differences involve should have been introduced by one or the other without a word of explanation. Each, it may be presumed, copied a document which he found, and the two documents were drawn up on a different plan as to the ideas of succession recognised in each of them.

Matthew 1:17. So all the generations, &c. — “Matthew, designing to show that Jesus was the Messiah, began his genealogy at Abraham, to whom the promise was originally made, that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. But the succession of Christ’s ancestors, from Abraham downward, naturally resolved itself into three classes; viz., first of private persons from Abraham to David; next of kings from David to Jehoiakim; and then of private persons from the Babylonish captivity, when an end was put to the royal dignity of our Lord’s progenitors.” For Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim, was reduced to the condition of a private person, being made a captive; “and as for Salathiel and Zerubbabel, notwithstanding they had the supreme command, after their return from the captivity, they were not vested either with the titles or powers of princes, being only lieutenants of the kings of Persia. Wherefore the evangelist, thus invited by his subject, fitly distributes Christ’s ancestors into three classes, the first and last of which consisting exactly of fourteen successions, he mentions only fourteen in the middle class, though in reality it contained three more, viz. Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah. But omissions of this kind are not uncommon in the Jewish genealogies. For example, Ezra 7:3, Azariah is called the son of Meraioth, although it is evident, from 1 Chronicles 6:7-9, that there were six descendants between them.” — Macknight. We may observe also, that God’s chosen people, in each of these several intervals, were under a different kind of government, and the end of each interval produced a great alteration in their state. In the first, they were under patriarchs, prophets, and judges; in the second, under kings; and in the third, under the Asmonæan priests and generals. The first fourteen generations brought their state to dignity and glory in the kingdom of David; the second, to disgrace and misery in the captivity of Babylon; and the third, to honour and glory again in the kingdom of Christ. The first begins with Abraham, who received the promise, and ends in David, to whom it was renewed and revealed more fully; the second begins with the building of the temple, and ends with its destruction; the third begins with their temporal captivity in Babylon, and ends with their spiritual deliverance by Christ. “When we survey such a series of generations,” says Dr. Doddridge, “it is obvious to reflect, how, like the leaves of a tree, one passeth away, and another cometh; yet the earth still abideth. And with it, the goodness of the Lord, which runs on from generation to generation, the common hope of parents and children. Of those who formerly lived upon earth, and perhaps made the most conspicuous figure among the children of men, how many are there whose names are perished with them! and how many of whom only the names are remaining! Thus are we likewise passing away! And thus shall we shortly be forgotten! Happy, if, while we are forgotten by men, we are remembered by God, and our names are found written in the book of life! There will they make a much brighter appearance than in the records of fame, or than they would do even in such a catalogue as this of those who were related to Christ according to the flesh; whose memory is here preserved, when that of many, who were once the wonder and terror of the mighty in the land of the living, is lost in perpetual oblivion.”

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.So all the generations ... - This division of the names in the genealogical tables was doubtless adopted for the purpose of aiding the memory. It was common among the Jews; and other similar instances are preserved. The Jews were destitute of books besides the Old Testament, and they had but few copies of that among them, and those chiefly in their synagogues. They would therefore naturally devise plans to keep up the remembrance of the principal facts in their history. One method of doing this was to divide the tables of genealogy into portions of equal length, to be committed to memory. This greatly facilitated the remembrance of the names. A man who wished to commit to memory the names of a regiment of soldiers would naturally divide it into companies and platoons, and this would greatly facilitate his work. This was doubtless the reason in the case before us. And, though it is not strictly accurate, yet it was the Jewish way of keeping their records, and answered their purpose. There were three leading persons and events that nearly, or quite, divided their history into equal portions: Abraham, David, and the Babylonian captivity. From one to the other was about 14 generations, and by omitting a few names it was sufficiently accurate to be made a general guide or directory in recalling the principal events in their history.

In counting these divisions, however, it will be seen that there is some difficulty in making out the number 14 in each division. This may be explained in the following manner: In the first division, Abraham is the first and David the last, making 14 altogether. In the second series, David would naturally be placed first, and the 14 was completed in Josiah, about the time of the captivity, as sufficiently near for the purpose of convenient computation, 2 Chronicles 35. In the third division Josiah would naturally be placed first, and the number was completed in Joseph; so that David and Josiah would be reckoned twice. This may be shown by the following table of the names:

FirstDivision SecondDivision ThirdDivision Abraham David Josias Isaac Solomon Jechonias Jacob Roboam Salathiel Judas Abia Zorobabel Phares Asa Abiud Esrom Josaphat Eliakim Aram Joram Azor Aminadab Ozias Sadoc Naasson Joatham Achim Salmon Achaz Eliud Boaz Ezekias Eleazar Obed Manasses Matthan Jesse Amon Jacob David Josias Joseph 14 14 14

Carrying away into Babylon - This refers to the captivity of Jerusalem, and the removal of the Jews to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, 588 years before Christ. See 2 Chronicles 36. Josiah was king when these calamities began to come upon the Jews, but the exact time of the 70 years of captivity did not commence until the 11th year of Zedekiah's reign, or 32 years after the death of Josiah. Babylon was situated on the Euphrates, and was encompassed with walls which were about 60 miles in circuit, 87 feet broad, and 350 feet high, and the city was entered by 100 brass gates - 25 on each side. It was the capital of a vast empire, and the Jews remained there for 70 years. See Barnes' notes at Isaiah 13.

17. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away—or migration.

into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon—the migration of Babylon.

unto Christ are fourteen generations—that is, the whole may be conveniently divided into three fourteens, each embracing one marked era, and each ending with a notable event, in the Israelitish annals. Such artificial aids to memory were familiar to the Jews, and much larger gaps than those here are found in some of the Old Testament genealogies. In Ezr 7:1-5 no fewer than six generations of the priesthood are omitted, as will appear by comparing it with 1Ch 6:3-15. It will be observed that the last of the three divisions of fourteen appears to contain only thirteen distinct names, including Jesus as the last. Lange thinks that this was meant as a tacit hint that Mary was to be supplied, as the thirteenth link of the last chain, as it is impossible to conceive that the Evangelist could have made any mistake in the matter. But there is a simpler way of accounting for it. As the Evangelist himself (Mt 1:17) reckons David twice—as the last of the first fourteen and the first of the second—so, if we reckon the second fourteen to end with Josiah, who was coeval with the "carrying away into captivity" (Mt 1:11), and third to begin with Jeconiah, it will be found that the last division, as well as the other two, embraces fourteen names, including that of our Lord.

The evangelist, for reasons which we cannot fathom, reduces our Saviour’s progenitors to fourteen in each period of the Jewish state; and in the first period, determining with David, there were no more. In the second, he leaveth out three kings descended from the daughter of Ahab. In the third, which was from the captivity to Christ, there were doubtless more; Luke reckoneth up twenty-four, (taking in Christ for one), and agreeth in very few with Matthew, who was forced to leave out some to keep to this number of fourteen. Nor doth Matthew speak any thing false, or contradictious to Luke, in saying there were fourteen though there were more. Besides, there might be many more progenitors of Mary than of Joseph, whose pedigree Matthew deriveth.

So all the generations from Abraham,.... The Evangelist having traced the genealogy of Christ from Abraham, which he divides into "three" parts, because of the threefold state of the Jews, "first" under Patriarchs, Prophets, and Judges, "next" under Kings, and "then" under Princes and Priests, gives the sum of each part under its distinct head; "so all the generations", that is, the degrees of generation, or the persons generated from Abraham to David, both being included, "are fourteen generations"; as there were, and no more, and are as follow, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Phares, Esrom, Aram, Amminadab, Naasson, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David.

And from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations. Here David who closed the first division must be excluded this, and it must be observed, that the Evangelist does not say as before, that "all" the generations from David to the captivity were fourteen, for there were seventeen, three kings being omitted by him at once; but, the generations he thought fit to mention, in order to reduce them to a like number as before, and which were sufficient for his purpose, were fourteen; and may be reckoned in this order, Solomon, Roboam, Abia, Asa, Josaphat, Joram, Ozias, Joatham, Achaz, Ezekias, Manasses, Amon, Josias, Jechonias, or Jehoiachin.

And from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. This must be understood as before; for there might be more generations in this interval, but these were enough to answer the design of the Evangelist; and which he thought proper to mention, and may be numbered in this manner; Jechonias, or Jehoiachin, Salathiel, Zorobabel, Abiud, Ehakim, Azor, Sadoc, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, Joseph, Christ. This way of reckoning by generations was used by other nations as well as the Jews (u), particularly the Grecians; so (w) Pausanias says,

"From Tharypus to Pyrrhus the son of Achilles, , were fifteen generations of men.''

And Herodotus (x) speaking of those who had reigned in Babylon, says, among them were two women, one whose name was Semiramis, who reigned before the other , five generations; many other instances of the like kind might be given.

(u) Vid. Pirke Abot. c. 5. sect. 2.((w) Attica sive l. 1. c. 10. p. 19. (x) Clio. l. 1. c. 184. p. 74.

All {e} the generations, therefore, from Abraham to David were fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away of Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the carrying away of Babylon unto the Christ, fourteen generations.

(e) All those who were considered to be in the lineage of David's family, as they begat one another orderly in turn.

Matthew 1:17. This contains the remark of the evangelist in accordance with (οὖν) this genealogical tree, contained in Matthew 1:2-16. The key to the calculation, according to which the thrice-recurring fourteen links are to be enumerated, lies in Matthew 1:11-12. According to Matthew 1:11, Josiah begat Jechoniah at the time of the migration to Babylon; consequently Jechoniah must be included in the terminus ad quem, which is designated by ἕως τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος in Matthew 1:17. The same Jechoniah, however, must just as necessarily again begin the third division, as the same begins with ἀπὸ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος. Jechoniah, however, who was himself begotten at the time of the migration, did not become a father until after the migration (Matthew 1:12), so that he therefore belonged as begotten to the period ἕως τῆς μετοικ. Βαβυλ., but as a father to the period ἀπὸ τῆς μετοικ. Βαβυλ., standing in his relation to the epoch of the μετοικεσία as a twofold person. It is not so with David, as the latter, like every other except Jechoniah, is only named, but not brought into connection with an epoch-making event in the history, in relation to which he might appear as son and father in a twofold personality. He has therefore no right to be counted twice. According to this view, the three tesseradecades are to be thus divided,[355]—

[355] Comp. Strauss, 2d ed.; Hug, Gutachten; Wieseler in the Stud. u. Kritik. 1845, p. 377; Köstlin, Urspr. d. synopt. Evang. p. 30; Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 46; also Riggenbach in the Stud. u. Kritik. 1856, p. 580 f., Leb. Jes. p. 261. So early as Augustine, and at a later date, Jansen and several others, count Jechoniah twice; so also Schegg; substantially also Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, who only express themselves awkwardly in saying that the time of the Exile is placed ἐν τάξει γενεᾶς.

I. 1. Abraham; 2. Isaac; 3. Jacob; 4. Judah; 5. Perez; 6. Hezron; 7. Ram; 8. Aminadab; 9. Naasson; 10. Salma; 11. Boaz; 12. Obed; 13. Jesse; 14. David.

II. 1. Solomon; 2. Rehoboam; 3. Abijah; 4. Asa; 5. Jehoshaphat; 6. Joram; 7. Uzziah; 8. Jotham; 9. Ahaz; 10. Hezekiah; 11. Manasseh; 12. Ammon; 13. Josiah; 14. Jechoniah (ἐπὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας, Matthew 1:11).

III. 1. Jechoniah (μετὰ τὴν μετοικεσίαν, Matthew 1:12); 2. Salathiel; 3. Zerubbabel; 4. Abiud; 5. Eliakim; 6. Azor; 7. Zadok; 8. Achim; 9. Eliud; 10. Eleazar; 11. Matthan; 12. Jacob; 13. Joseph; 14. Jesus.

In the third division we have to notice that in any case Jesus also must be counted, because Matthew 1:17 says ἕως τοῦ Χριστοῦ, in keeping with Matthew 1:1, where Ἰησοῦς Χριστός is announced as the subject of the genealogy, and consequently as the last of the entire list. If Jesus were not included in the enumeration, we should then have a genealogy of Joseph, and the final terminus must have been said to be ἕως Ἰωσήφ. Certainly, according to our Gospel, no proper γενεά existed between Joseph and Jesus, a circumstance which in reality takes away from the entire genealogical tree its character as a genealogy of Jesus in the proper sense. The genealogist himself, however, guards so definitely against every misinterpretation by the words τὸν ἄνδρα Μαρίας, ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη Ἰησοῦς, that we distinctly see that he means to carry the descent of Jesus beyond Joseph back to David and Abraham, only in so far as Joseph, being husband of the mother of Jesus, was His father, merely putatively so indeed, but by the marriage his father in the eye of the law, although not his real parent. After all this, we are neither, with Olearius, Bengel, Fritzsche, de Wette (who is followed by Strauss, 4th ed., I. p. 139), Delitzsch, Bleek, and others, to divide thus: (1) Abraham to David, (2) David to Josiah, (3) Jechoniah to Christ; nor, with Storr (Diss. in libror. hist. N. T. loca, p. 1 ff.), Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, Olshausen: (1) Abraham to David, (2) David to Josiah, (3) Josiah to Joseph; nor are we to say, with Paulus, that among the unknown links, Matthew 1:13-16, one has fallen out owing to the copyists; nor, with Jerome, Gusset, Wolf, Gratz, to make Jechoniah in Matthew 1:11 into Joiakim, by the insertion of which Ewald completes (see on Matthew 1:11) the second tesseradecade, without counting David twice; nor, with Ebrard, Lange, Krafft, to insert Mary as an intermediate link between Joseph and Jesus, by whose marriage with Joseph, Jesus became heir to the theocratic throne. The latter is erroneous on this account, that it contradicts the text, which does not speak of succession to the theocratic throne, but of γενεαί, the condition of which is ἐγέννησε and ἐγεννήθη.

We must assume that the reason for the division into three tesseradecades was not merely to aid the memory (Michaelis, Eichhorn, Kuinoel, Fritzsche), which is not sufficient to explain the emphatic and solemn prominence given to the equal number of links in the three periods, Matthew 1:17; nor even the Cabbalistic number of the name David (דוד, i.e. 14; so Surenhusius, Ammon, Leben Jesu, I. p. 173), as it is not David, but Jesus, that is in question; nor a reminiscence of the forty-two encampments in the wilderness (Origen, Luther, Gfrörer, Philo, II. p. 429, after Numbers 33), which would be quite arbitrary and foreign to the subject; nor a requirement to the reader to seek out the theocratic references concealed in the genealogy (Ebrard), in doing which Matthew would, without any reason, have proposed the proper design of his genealogical tree as a mere riddle, and by his use of ἐγέννησε would have made the solution itself impossible: but that precisely from Abraham to David fourteen links appeared, which led the author to find fourteen links for the two other periods also, in which, according to Jewish idiosyncrasy, he saw something special, which contained a mystic allusion to the sytematic course of divine leading in the Messiah’s genealogy, where perhaps also the attraction of holiness in the number seven (the double of which was yielded by the first period) came into play. Comp. Synops. Soh. p. 132. 18 : “Ab Abrahamo usque ad Salom. quindecim sunt generationes, atque tunc luna fuit in plenilunio, a Salomone usque ad Zedekiam iterum sunt quindecim generationes, et tunc luna defecit, et Zedekiae effossi sunt oculi.” See also Genesis 5:3 ff; Genesis 11:10 ff., where, from Adam to Noah, and from Noah to Abraham, ten links in each case are counted. It is altogether arbitrary, however, because there is no allusion to it in Matthew, when Delitzsch (in Rudelbach and Guericke’s Zeitschrift, 1850, p. 587 ff.) explains the symmetry of the three tesseradecades from this, that Matthew always makes a generation from Abraham to David amount to eighty years, but each of the following to forty, and consequently has calculated 1120 + 560 + 560 years. To do so is incorrect, because γενεαί receives its designation from ἐγέννησε, it being presupposed that γενεά denotes a generation.


It is clear from πᾶσαι that the evangelist supposed that he had the genealogical tree complete, and consequently was not aware of the important omissions.


Whether Mary also was descended from David, as Justin, Dial. c. Tryph. xxiii. 45. 100, Irenaeus, iii. 21. 5, Julius Africanus, ap. Eusebium, i. 7, Tertullian, and other Fathers, as well as the Apocrypha of the N. T., e.g. Protev. Jacobi 10, de nativ. Mariae, already teach,[356] is a point upon which any evidence from the N. T. is entirely wanting, as the genealogical tree in Luke is not that of Mary. Nor can a conclusion be drawn to that effect, as is done by the Greek Fathers, from the Davidic descent of Joseph; for even if Mary had been an heiress, which, however, cannot at all be established (comp. on Luke 2:5), this would be quite a matter of indifference so far as her descent is concerned, since the law in Numbers 36:6 only forbade such daughters to marry into another tribe, Ewald, Alterth. p. 239 f. [E. T. p. 208], Saalschütz, M. R. p. 829 f., and in later times was no longer observed; see Delitzsch, l.c. p. 582. The Davidic descent of Mary would follow from passages such as those in Acts 2:30, Romans 1:3-4, 2 Timothy 2:8, comp. Hebrews 7:14, if we were certain that the view of the supernatural generation of Jesus lay at the basis of these; Luke 1:27; Luke 1:32; Luke 1:69 prove nothing, and Luke 2:4 just as little (in answer to Wieseler, Beitr. z. Würdig. der Evang. p. 144); we might rather infer from Luke 1:36 that Mary belonged to the tribe of Levi. The Davidic descent of Jesus, however, is established as certain by the predictions of the prophets, which, in reference to so essential a mark of the Messiah, could not remain without fulfilment, as well as by the unanimous testimony of the N. T. (Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 7:14; John 7:41; Revelation 5:5; Revelation 22:16), and is also confirmed by Hegesippus (in Eusebius iii. 20), according to whom, grandsons of Jude, the Lord’s brother, were brought, as descendants of David (ὡς ἐκ γένους ὄντας Δαυίδ), before Domitian. To doubt this descent of Jesus, and to regard it rather as a hypothesis which, as an abstraction deduced from the conception of Messiah, had attached itself to the Messianic predicate Song of Solomon of David (comp. Schleiermacher, Strauss, B. Bauer, Weiss, Schenkel, Holtzmann, Eichthal), is the more unhistorical, that Jesus Himself lays down that descent as a necessary condition of Messiahship; see on Matthew 22:42 ff.; besides Keim, Gesch. Jesu, I. p. 326 ff., also Weiss, bibl. Theolog. § 18, and Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 242 ff. ed. 3.

[356] In the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, on the other hand, the tribe of Levi is definitely alluded to as that to which Mary belonged. See pp. 542, 546, 654, 689. In another passage, p. 724, she is represented as a descendant of Judah. Comp. on Luke 1:36, and see Thilo, ad Cod. apocr. p. 375. Ewald’s remark, that the Protevang. Jacobi leaves the tribe of Mary undetermined, is incorrect, ch. 10. b. In Thilo, p. 212, it is said: ὅτι Μαριὰμ ἐκ φυλῆς Δαβίδ ἐστι.


As the evangelist relates the divine generation of Jesus, he was therefore far removed from the need of constructing a genealogy of Joseph, and accordingly we must suppose that the genealogy was found and adopted by him (Harduin, Paulus, Olshausen, and most moderns), but was not his own composition (older view, de Wette, Delitzsch). Add to this that, as clearly appears from Luke, various genealogical trees must have been in existence, at the foundation of which, however, had originally[357] lain the view of a natural γένεσις of Jesus, although the expression of such a view had already disappeared from them, so that Matthew 1:16 no longer ran Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ἐγέννησεν Ἰησοῦν, and in Luke 3:23, ὡς ἐνομίζετο was already interpolated. Such anti-Ebionitic alterations in the last link of the current genealogical registers of Jesus are not to be ascribed, first, to the evangelists themselves (Strauss, Schenkel); nor is the alteration in question which occurs in Matthew to be derived from a supposed redactor who dealt freely with a fundamental gospel document of a Judaistic kind (Hilgenfeld). The expression ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστύς in Matthew 1:16 rather betrays that the genealogical written source passed over into the Gospel in the shape in which it already existed; neither the author nor an editor would have written ὁ λεγόμενος (comp. Matthew 1:1; Matthew 1:18), or, had they made an alteration in 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.

17. This division into three sets, each containing fourteen steps of descent, is an instance of a practice familiar to readers of Jewish antiquities. Lightfoot says, “They do so very much delight in such kind of concents, that they oftentimes screw up the strings beyond the due measure and stretch them till they crack.” Such a system necessitates the omission of steps in the descent: see notes Matthew 1:8; Matthew 1:13.

Matthew 1:17. Πᾶσαι οὖν αἱ γενεαὶ, κ.τ.λ., So all the generations, etc.) An important summing up (ingens symperasma),[26] the force of which we exhibit, by the following positions.

[26] See Appendix on the figure Symperasma.—ED.

I. St Matthew introduced this clause with the most deliberate design.

The Messiah was really descended from David through Nathan: the genealogy, however, in Matthew, descends from David through Solomon to Joseph. Therefore, those who already knew that Jesus was not the Son of Joseph, paid little heed to Joseph’s pedigree; St Matthew, therefore, traces this genealogy in such a manner as to be serviceable to all who either believed that Jesus was the Son of Mary, but not of Joseph, or thought that He was the Son of Joseph also, and so to lead both classes to Christ, the Son of David.

II. St Matthew makes three fourteens. We exhibit them in the following table:
























































JESUS, who is called CHRIST.

III. St Matthew, therefore, lays down three periods.

St Luke enumerates every step, ascending even to GOD. Yet, so far from counting the steps in each period, he does not divide his genealogy into periods at all: St Matthew, however, distinguishes three periods,—the first from Abraham to David, the second from David to the captivity, the third from the captivity to Christ; and in each of these periods, as we shall presently see, he mentions fourteen steps.

IV. St Matthew reduces each period to fourteen generations.

Matthew does not mention all the ancestors of Joseph who occur in the direct line, and yet he reduces those whom he does mention to a set number. Some seek here a division into sevens; the Evangelist, however, does not mention sevens, but fourteens. Again, he does not bring these fourteens together into a sum total, for he does not say, that they amount in all to 40, 41, or 42: nor is it our business to do so. As in the reigns of the kings of Israel, the last year of the preceding is frequently reckoned as the first of the succeeding sovereign, so must we admit that St Matthew has acted on the same principle, since the fact itself leaves no doubt of the case. Thus David undoubtedly is both the last of the first fourteen, and the first of the second fourteen. He is reckoned in the first; for it would otherwise comprise only thirteen generations. He is reckoned in the second, because as the first begins inclusively from Abraham, and the third inclusively from Jechoniah, so must the second begin inclusively from David. Jechoniah, however, is not reckoned in the same manner as the last of the second fourteen, because the fourteen generations, which commence with David, are counted not to Jechoniah, but to the Babylonian captivity. Vallesius[27] (p. 454) thinks Jechoniah, as it were, a double person; you might assert that with greater correctness of David.

[27] Vallesius, or Vallès, Francis, a native of Spain, physician to Philip II. He wrote a treatise, “De iis quæ scripta sunt physice in libris sacris, sive de sacrâ philosophiâ.”—(I. B.)

V. In each case, his object was to prove that Jesus was truly called, and was, the Christ.

He proceeds in a marked manner from the name Jesus to the surname Christ, in verses 16, 17, 18; and he marks the dissimilarity in the character of the periods, and the equality in the number of the generations. That dissimilarity, and that equality, whether taken apart or together, tend to the one object of proving Jesus to be the Christ, as we shall immediately perceive.

VI. The three periods are dissimilar to each other.

If St Matthew had merely intended to compose a genealogy, he might have omitted all this Congeries[28] of names, or at any rate, have confined himself to the mention of proper names, and said, “From Abraham to David,” “from David to Jechoniah,” “from Jechoniah to Jesus.” Instead of so doing, however, after the other matters preceding, he says, “to the Captivity;” and again, “From the Captivity to Christ.” The land-mark, limit, standing-point, therefore, of the first period is David, of the second the Captivity, of the third Christ. The first period, then, is that of the Patriarchs; the second, that of the Kings; the third, for the most part, of private individuals.

[28] See Appendix on this figure. The enumeration of the parts of a Whole.—ED.

VII. This dissimilarity strikingly proves that Jesus is the Christ.

The different heads under which St Matthew reduces the three periods, show, that the time at which Jesus was born, was the time appointed for the birth of the Christ, and that Jesus Himself was the Christ. The first and the second fourteen have an illustrious commencement; the third has one, as it were, blind and nameless. Hence is clearly deduced, and brilliantly shines forth, the end and goal of the third, and all the periods, namely, the CHRIST. The first period is that of promise, for in it Abraham stands first, and David last, to each of whom the promise was given; the second is that of adumbration, by means of the Davidical sovereignty, and the fact that it is considerably shorter than either of the others, furnishes a reasonable ground for expecting that the kingdom of David, as fulfilled in Christ (see Luke 1:32), will be far more glorious hereafter, and more lasting. The third period is that of expectation. The most distinguished personages in the first period are Abraham and David, who stand respectively first and last in it. The most distinguished personage in the second period is the same David, who is now found standing first. The first name which occurs in the third period is that of Jechoniah, so called also in 1 Chronicles 3:17, who was bound with chains, to whom no heir was promised of his throne; nay, further, against whom, as well as against his uncle and father, all other woes were denounced (Jeremiah 22:11; Jeremiah 22:18; Jeremiah 22:25), so that, though he was not actually without offspring, yet, as a warning to posterity, he should be written ערירי, childless (Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 22:30), without, that is to say, an heir to his throne; and it was with reference to these three kings that the earth was invoked thrice, “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord” (Ibid. Jeremiah 22:29). Hence it arises that, when stating the boundary between the second and third fourteens, St Matthew does not name Jechoniah; but, instead of so doing, mentions the Babylonian Captivity. Much additional weight accrues to this argument from the words of Jeremiah; for in the time of Moses, midway between Abraham and David, a covenant was made with the people of Israel, which was abrogated about the time of the captivity of Jechoniah.—See Jeremiah 29:1; Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:8; Hebrews 8:13. In the times of Abraham and David, Christ was promised; after the time of David, the Davidical sovereignty, which was overthrown at the Babylonian Captivity, did not last so long as the preceding period, that, namely, between Abraham and David. Then, indeed, it was that a new covenant was promised, the author and surety whereof should be Christ. The state, therefore, of the Jewish nation after the Captivity, could not but tend to, and end in the Christ. In the Psalms, and other predictions delivered during the time of the Kings, the sacred writers, as the march of prophecy moved onward, generally compared the present with the future; whereas, after the Babylonian Captivity, they contrasted the one with the other, whilst contemplating the future as coming nearer and nearer their own times.[29]

[29] The original runs thus: “In psalmis et in aliis prophetiis regum tempore latis sermo fere per comparationcm status præsentis et futuri incedebat: sed post migrationem Babylonis potius per oppositionem incedit, futura prospiciens subinde propius.”—(I. B.)

VIII. St Matthew makes the three periods equal with each other.

This is evident from his repeating the number FOURTEEN three times with the utmost deliberation.—See Section IV.

IX. He makes up both the third and the second Fourteens by omitting several links in the pedigree: in the first, however, he makes no such omission.

In the second period, he, after Jehoram, passes over Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah, and, after Josiah, he leaves out Jehoiakim: in the third period, after Salathiel, he omits Pedaiah. Nor, indeed, was Zorobabel the immediate father of Abihud; for, whereas his sons are Mesullam and Hananias, each of these two names differs from Abihud. Hiller enumerates nine links omitted after Zorobabel, and shows that Hodaiah and Abihud are the same individual. The descendants of David from Solomon to Hodaiah are enumerated in 1 Chronicles 3:5; 1 Chronicles 3:10-24. Now, since neither the second nor the third Fourteen consist in themselves of exactly fourteen generations, the first must of necessity have that number: for otherwise the number Fourteen, by which the three periods are arranged and represented as equal, would be without any foundation in fact, and the number fifteen, or some greater still, would have to be substituted for it. Fourteen generations are clearly enumerated in the Old Testament from Abraham to David.—See 1 Chronicles 1:34; 1 Chronicles 2:1Verse 17. - Fourteen generations. To make the list more easy to remember, the names were so ordered that there should be the same number in each of the three divisions. Thus a means was afforded of checking the correctness of the enumeration, and the list became a sort of memoria technica. Unto Christ; better here, unto the Christ. For now begins the history which tells of this Jesus as the specially Anointed One of God, the true Messiah, of which all the previously anointed messengers had been but types and figures. The history which St. Matthew is about to give demonstrates that in Jesus were fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament which the Jews had constantly referred to the Messiah, for whose appearance the pious in Israel were ever looking. Matthew 1:17
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