The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Verse 1. - The book of the generation. As St. Matthew was writing only for Jews, and they, by reason of their Old Testament prophecies, looked for the Messiah to be born of a certain family, he begins his Gospel with a pedigree of Jesus. In this he mentions, by way of introduction, the two points to which his countrymen would have special regard - the descent of Jesus from David, the founder of the royal line, him in whose descendants the Ruler of Israel must necessarily (2 Samuel 7:13-16) be looked for; and also from Abraham, who was the head of the covenant nation, and to whom the promise had been given that in his seed all the nations of the earth should bless themselves (Genesis 22:18; Genesis 12:3). After this he proceeds to fill up the intervening steps in the genealogy. The spelling of the names in the Authorized Version accords with the Greek, and so varies from the Old Testament orthography; but for the sake of the English reader it is certainly advisable to do what has been done in the Revised Version, viz. to conform the spelling to that of the Old Testament, and, where the Greek varies much, to put that form in the margin. It is better to write Rahab than Raehab, and Shealtiel than Salathiel. Those who read the Greek Gospels when these were first written read also the Old Testament in Greek, and so were in no confusion. The first verse of the Gospel is doubtless intended as a preface to what is contained in vers. 2-17. It is, indeed, true that the phrase, "the book of the generation" (βίβλος γενέσεως, equivalent to sepher toledoth, Genesis 5.1), might in itself point rather to events and works connected with the active life of him whose name it precedes (cf. the use of toledoth in Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 10:1; even Genesis 2:4, et al.) , and thus might refer to the whole of ch. 1. (Kubel), or even the whole of the First Gospel (Keil); yet the addition of the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, by summarizing the genealogy, limits the reference of ver. 1 to this alone. Observe
(1) that the same word (γένεσις) recurs in ver. 18; but being without βίβλος, has a slightly different meaning;
(2) that the word translated" generation" in ver. 17 is γενέα, and means a single stratum of human life. The evangelist uses the name Jesus Christ here as a proper name, customary in later Christian circles (cf. John 1:17, and especially the traces of development from 1 Corinthians 12:3 and Romans 10:9 to Philippians 2:11). "Christ" is not used in its signification of "Messiah," or "Anointed," till ver. 17, where it would be better rendered "the Christ."
Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
Verse 2. - Abraham begat Isaac. From Abraham to David the genealogy in St. Matthew agrees with that in Luke 3. In the other two sections, from Solomon to Zerubbabel, and from Zerubbabel to Christ, there is some difficulty in accounting for the variations, which are considerable. The natural descent of each son from his father is emphasized by the repetition of the word "begat" at every stage (cf., however, ver. 8, note) till we come to Jesus, and then the phrase is varied, "Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus." Judas ( Judah, Revised Version) and his brethren. The addition of these words seems very natural here, because the twelve sons of Jacob were the fathers of the tribes of Israel, and as descended from Abraham were heirs of the promises; and although Judah was the tribe from which the Messiah was to spring, he was to be the glory of the whole of Israel. The same words, "and his brethren," are, however, found in ver. 11, where there is no such reason to account for them.
And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
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.
And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
Verse 4. - And Naasson ( Nahshon, Revised Version) begat Salmon. This line of descent, from Nahshon to David, is also given by St. Luke (Luke 3:31, 32), and is derived from Ruth 4:18-22. But it has occasioned some difficulty, because it makes but five steps from Nahshon, who (Numbers 1:7) was one of the heads of fathers' houses at the time of the Exodus, to the days of David. According to the chronology added in the margin of the Authorized Version, this period extended from B.C. 1490 to B.C. 1056, i.e. more than four hundred and thirty years, thus making a generation to consist in each case of more than eighty years. And even according to the more accurate computation of the date of the Exodus ( B.C. 1304) the period would be two hundred and forty-eight years, thus making each generation nearly fifty years. Even this seems very long, especially in the East; so that it is probable that the genealogy in Ruth, merely adopted by the evangelists, recorded only the more important names.
And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
Verse 5. - Salmon begat Booz ( Boaz, Revised Version) of Rachab ( Rahab, Revised Version). That this was Rahab of Jericho has been generally received, and it is clear from the narrative in Joshua 2:11, where Rahab declares, "The Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath," that, whatever this woman's previous life and character may have been, she was then not unlikely to join herself to the Israelites. Moreover, her great services rendered to the spies, and the conspicuous way in which she and her house were singled out for preservation from all the rest of the city, may have marked her as not unfit to become the wife of a chief man in Israel. The Old Testament says nothing of this marriage, but there has been no endeavour made in the Bible to preserve every detail of the genealogies, the record of the successive fathers being all that for Jewish purposes was required. But that Rahab of Jericho was received among the people of Israel, not merely as one dwelling in their midst (Joshua 6:25), but to a place of honour among them, was an old tradition among the Jews; cf. T. B. Meg., 14 b ( vide Lightfoot, 'Her. Hebr.'), where Neriah, Baruch, Seraiah, Maaseiah, Jeremiah, Hilkiah, Hanameel, and Shallum, and also Huldah, are all said to have sprung from her. Some also say that she was made a proselyte, and was married to Joshua - a tradition followed, as it seems, in the Midrash 'Koh.,' on Ecclesiastes 8:10.
And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
Verse 6. - David the king. The mention of David's royal position seems made here because at this point the line of the Messiah first becomes connected with the royal house. At the time when Saul was made king the people chose to have him in opposition to the Divine will; but giving them next as king a man after his own heart, God uses the offence of his people so that it shall become a channel of blessing, and from this king Christ himself shall be born. Of her that had been the wife of Urias. It is not easy to see why Bathsheba is spoken of thus indirectly, as her own name was certainly better known, and is more frequently mentioned in the Old Testament than Uriah's. The phrase seems to call attention most pointedly to David's sin. and that too in a sentence where his kingly dignity has just been markedly emphasized. The way in which God dealt with David and his sin is very parallel to that in which he dealt with the Israelites after their choice of Saul. David's first child, like the Israelites' first king, finds not God's blessing; but the second child is the pledge of peace with God (Solomon) - is Jedidiah, "the beloved of the Lord," as David the second king was the man after God's own heart. She that had been the wife of Uriah, after David's repentance becomes Solomon's mother. Up to this point the genealogies in St. Matthew and St. Luke have entirely accorded, but with the mention of Solomon we come upon a variation, which continues till the union of the two forms of the pedigree in Salathiel ( Shealtiel, Revised Ver-zion), the father of Zerubbabel. In St. Matthew the line which is followed is the succession of the kings of Judah from Solomon to Jehoiachin ( Jechonias) . St. Luke mentions, after David, his son Nathan (of whom we find a notice in 1 Chronicles 3:5; 2 Samuel 5:14), and then passes on through a series of nineteen names, none of which is found in other parts of Scripture as belonging to the race of David. We have nothing, therefore, with which to compare them; but in number they correspond very nearly with the known descendants in the line of Solo,non, so that, although we cannot verify the names, the list bears upon its face the appearance of being derived from some duly kept record of the pedigree of Nathan, the son of David.
And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
Verse 8. - And Joram begat Ozias ( Uzziah, Revised Version). Between Joram and Uzziah the pedigree omits three names - Ahaziah immediately succeeded Joram (2 Kings 8:24), and was followed by his son Joash (2 Kings 12:1), and he by his son Amaziah (2 Kings 14:1). These were probably left out, that the number of generations might be reduced to fourteen. It is not likely that St. Matthew omitted them, but that they were absent from the form which he used. If we seek for a reason why these precise names are omitted, we may probably find it in the fact of their being descended from Jezebel; while the language of the second commandment would suggest that to the fourth generation the children' of that race would suffer for the sins of their parents. To the Jewish compiler of this genealogy no argument more forcible for the removal of these names could have been suggested. It will be seen that the word "begat" in these verses does not signify always the direct succession of son to father.
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:
Verse 11. - Josias ( Josiah, Revised Version) begat Jechonias ( Jechoniah, Revised Version). Here we come upon another omission. Josiah was the father of Jehoiakim, and he the father of Jechoniah (called also Jehoiachin); see 2 Kings 23:34; 2 Kings 24:6. The omission is supplied in some few manuscripts; but it may be only the case of a marginal note in a previous copy having found its way into the text. There is, however, something to be said in favour of its acceptance. The similarity between the names Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin is very great, especially in some of the Greek forms, so that they might easily be confused, and thus a verse be omitted in some very early text. Then Jehoiachin (Jechonias) apparently had no brethren (but see 1 Chronicles 3:16), whereas Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, had two or three (1 Chronicles 3:15). To make the whole pedigree agree with the Old Testament records some addition in this form would appear necessary; Josiah begat [Jehoiakim and his brethren, and Jehoiakim begat] Jechoniah about the time, etc. But manuscript evidence for this is extremely slight ( vide Westcott and Hort, 'App.,' i,). Yet the supposition that the name of Jehoiakim has been omitted removes what has seemed to many another difficulty. As the list now stands, to make up the fourteen in the third as well as in the second section of the genealogy it is necessary to count Jehoiachin - a king whose reign lasted only three mouths (2 Kings 24:8) - twice over. He closes the second fourteen and begins the third. There is nothing like this found at the other division. To substitute Jehoiakim after Josiah would avoid this repetition of the name of such a very insignificant person, especially as the reign of Jehoiakim lasted eleven years (2 Kings 23:36). And to mention Jehoiakim as the father of Jehoiachin "at the time of the carrying away to Babylon" would be very appropriate, whereas to say Josiah begat his children at that date is not so strictly correct. It seems, then, probable that we have here some clerical error, which may have existed already in the list which St. Matthew used. About the time. The preposition in the Greek means rather, "at the time." The Authorized Version, however, gives the sense, for the birth of Jehoiachin must have been some years before the commencement of the Babylonish conquest, which may be said to have begun with Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of the land in Jehoiakim's days (2 Kings 24:1).
And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
Verse 12. - Jechonias begat Salathiel ( Sheal-tiel, Revised Version). From Jeremiah 22:30 it has sometimes been thought that Jechoniah died childless, though the preceding context, which speaks of him and his seed, seems hardly to warrant the supposition; but clearly the words of the prophet there imply that none of his descendants should attain to a position such as was held by Zerubbabel, and that his family should soon come to an end. If we look at the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3:17 we find Assir mentioned as the son of Jechoniah (cf., however, Revised Version, "Jeconiah the captive"), and Salathiel as his son; and in the next verse Pedaiah, a brother of Salathiel, is named as father of Zerubbabel. By St. Luke (Luke 3:27) Salathiel is called the son of Neri, and in Ezra 3:2; Ezra 5:2; and Haggai 1:1 Zerubbabel is called the son of Shealtiel. These are all the details we have, and to decide on how they are related to each other is very difficult. We may, perhaps, be right in supposing that Pedaiah, the brother of Shealtiel, having died, his son Zerubbabel was adopted by Shealtiel. We must then suppose that, the royal line through Solomon having ended, and Jechoniah's only child, Assir (if he ever existed, vide supra) , having left no issue, the line of David is taken up through the family of the other son, Nathan, and that from him descended Neri, the father of Shealtiel, who takes the place of Jechoniah's issue, which has altogether failed.
And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
Verse 13. - And Zorobabel ( Zerubbabel, Revised Version) begat Abiad. Here the two lines of pedigree in St. Matthew and St. Luke seem tc separate, and not to converge again till we come to Matthan (or Matthat), the grandfather of Joseph, which name is common to both. The Bishop of Bath and Wells has shown some reason for supposing that Rhesa, mentioned in St. Luke as Zerubbabel's son, is merely a title signifying "a chief," and also for identifying Hananiah, who is called a son of Zerubbabel (1 Chronicles 3:19), with Joanna, who follows Rhesa in St. Luke (Luke 3:27), and there being some relation between the Juda of St. Luke and the Abiud (i.e. father of Juda) given as Zerubbabel's son in St. Matthew. Except in these few particulars, the two lines show no connexion of names, and it seems likely that the family of David had fallen into low estate for several generations before the birth of Christ.
And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
Verse 15. - Eleazar begat Matthan. St. Luke makes Matthat (or Hatthan; the names are from the same root, and in some texts are identical), to be the son of Levi. This is probably the actual fact. St. Luke seems to have traced the genealogy from Zerubbabel through a younger, son, St. Matthew through an elder. But the elder line failing, Matthan, the son of Levi, of the younger branch, becomes heir to, and is called son or, Eleazar, of the senior line. As the promise of the Messiah was to the house of David, and this was known to every Jew, we need not be surprised to find the families descended from that king preserving most careful records of every branch of the family.
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Verse 16. - And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary. St. Luke calls Joseph "the son of Heli." There are two ways in which these differing statements may be made to accord. The two sons of Matthan were Jacob the elder, and Heli the younger. It may be that Mary was the only child of Jacob, and Joseph the son of Heli. Then by marriage with his cousin, Joseph would become Jacob's son as well as Heli's. Or it may be that Jacob died without children, and Heli, marrying his widow according to the Jewish usage, became by her the father of Joseph, who hence would be called Jacob's son, that the elder brother's line might not die out. The points noticed above in respect of these varying pedigrees seem to be all those on which anything needs to be said with the view of comparing them. Their variety stands as a constant evidence of the independence of the two evangelists. Had either of them been conscious of the existence of the other's work. it is inconceivable that he would have made no effort to adjust the pedigree, for which he would possess means now lost for ever. They both design to give us the descent of Joseph from David, this being what a Sew would most regard. The descent of Mary from David is nowhere definitely mentioned in the Gospels, but that Jesus was sprung from David on the mother's side too we are warranted in concluding from the words of the angel to Mary (Luke 1:82), "his father David" (cf. also Delitzsch, 'Hess. Proph.,' § 17). But though we ought not to spend vain labour in attempting to reconcile these two genealogies of Joseph, we can see, from what we know of Jewish customs, grounds enough for understanding how these variations came to exist. The same Jew, we find, was often known under two names; of this we have several examples in the lists of the twelve apostles. It is possible, therefore, that in these two pedigrees there may have been more points of union than we are able to detect. Then the rule, before alluded to, by which a man took the childless widow of his deceased brother for his wife and raised seed unto his brother, may also have led to much confusion of names, which we have now no means of unravelling. The evangelists drew each his own list from some authentic source, accessible to others beside themselves, and the record of which could be verified when the Gospels were set forth. This should satisfy us that those we have received were held by the Jews soon after Christ's time to be truthful records, and that each established from a Jewish point of view the descent of the putative father of Jesus from King David. Of whom was born Jesus. This name, which, through Jeshua, is the Greek form of Joshua (for which, indeed, it stands in the Authorized Version of Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8), signifies "Jehovah is help," and was not an uncommon name among the Jews, though given with marked significance at this time (see ver. 21). We find, according to the best texts, that in Luke 3:29 this name occurs in the pedigree of Joseph (where the Authorized Version has Jose), and the Revised Version has adopted that reading. (Of the way in which the name was augmented when given to the famous successor of Moses, see Numbers 13:16.) Who is called Christ. The evangelist here alludes merely to the well-known fact that Jesus was called by this name. The significance of the word, which is a translation of the Hebrew Messiah, is "anointed," and in the Old Testament it is given to priests (as Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16), to a king appointed by Jehovah (1 Samuel 24:6, 10; 2 Samuel 19:21), also to King Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1), and to some unnamed representative of Jehovah (1 Samuel 2:10). It was subsequently applied to Jesus both in the Greek form and in the Hebrew (John 1:41; John 4:25). It must, however, be noticed ( vide Bishop Westcott, Add. Note on 1 John 5:1) that it was not a characteristic title of the promised Saviour in the Old Testament, and was not even specifically applied to him, unless, perhaps, in Daniel 9:25, 26 - a passage of which the interpretation is very doubtful.
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.
Verse 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.
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.
Verses 18-25. - JESUS THE CHRIST BY DIVINE ORIGIN. Recorded by Matthew only. The frequent similarity of language found in Luke 1:26-35 (vide 'Synopticon) is probably due to the fact that Joseph and Mary not unnaturally fell into the way of using the same words to express two messages of similar import. The object of this paragraph is to show that Messiah was in origin not of man but of God. This fact was accepted even by his reputed father Joseph, who was only convinced of it after a special communication by an angel in a dream; giving him the facts of the case, and foretelling that a son would be born, and that this Son would be the expected Saviour; and also showing from prophecy that such union of God with man was no unheard-of supposition, but the fulfilment and completion of ancient thought suggested by God. Joseph at once accepts the communication and takes Mary home, avoiding, however, all cause for the supposition that the child was, after all, of human origin. Verse 18. - Now the birth (ver. 1, note). Γέννησις ("generation") of the received text refers to the causative act, the true reading (γένεσις) to the birth itself (cf. Luke 1:14). Of Jesus Christ was on this wise. The Revised Version margin says, "Some ancient authorities read, 'of the Christ,'" but perhaps the reading, "of Christ Jesus" (B [Origen]), is even preferable, as in no good manuscript of the New Testament is the article elsewhere prefixed to "Jesus Christ," and the easy residing, "of the Christ," would hardly provoke alteration, while it might easily arise from assimilation to the preceding "unto the Christ" of ver. 17 (cf. Dr. Hort, in Westcott and Hort, 'Appendix.' Bishop Westcott, however, seems to prefer the reading. "of the Christ," and so distinctly Irenaeus, 3:16). If the reading, "of Christ Jesus," be accepted, the evangelist purposely repeats his phrase of ver. 17, and then identifies him with the historic Person. When as. The Revised Version omits "as" because obsolete; cf. "what time as." His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph; had been betrothed (Revised Version), the tense clearly showing that the betrothal had already taken place. Betrothal was and is with the Semitic races a much more formal matter than with us, and as binding as marriage; cf. Deuteronomy 22:23, 24; cf. also the words of the angel, "Mary thy wife" (ver. 20). Before they came together; including, probably, both the home-bringing (ver. 24) and the consummation (ver. 25). She was found (εὑρώθη). Although Cureton ('Corp. Ign.,' p. 271) shows that the Aramaic equivalent is used in the sense of "became," and wishes to see this weaker meaning in several passages of the Greek Testament (including, apparently, the present), the references that he gives (Romans 7:10; 2 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 11:12) do not justify us in giving up the stronger and more usual sense. On εὑρέθη always involving more or less prominently the idea of a surprise, cf. Bishop Lightfoot on Galatians 2:17. Observe the reverent silence with which a whole stage of the history is passed over. With child of the Holy Ghost (ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου; cf. ver. 20, without the article in both cases). According to the usual interpretation of these words, "the Holy Ghost" refers to the Third Person of the Trinity, and "of" (ἐκ) is used because the agent can be regarded as the immediate source (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:2). But the questions suggest themselves:
(1) whether Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον is here used in a strictly Christian or in a pre-Christian sense? and
(2) if the latter, what was this pre-Christian sense? As to (1), it may be argued that the evangelist himself, writing long after Pentecost, and recording sayings taught among Christians only alter Pentecost, would naturally wish his words to be understood in a Christian sense; and hence that Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον here has at least that comparatively developed doctrine of the Personality of the Holy Ghost which we find indicated in the New Testament; e.g. Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:13; John 14-16. It may, however, be justly replied that the words are in themselves rather a record of the feelings of Joseph and Mary about the Incarnation, and are merely a translation of the phrase Ruah-hakodesh (or its Aramaic equivalent, Ruah Kudsha) , which they themselves used; and that hence its true meaning here must be rather sought in the meaning of the Semitic phrase in pre-Christian times. In other words, Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον here means neither more nor less than Ruah-hakodesh meant on the lips of a godly and instructed Jew before the teaching of Christ, and especially before Pentecost.
(2) What was this pre-Christian sense? What did Ruah-hakodesh mean? To answer this fully would be to compile a treatise on one of the most difficult and disputed points of Old Testament and early Jewish theology. But a cursory comparison of passages in the Old Testament and the pre-Christian writings seems to show that, though there are many places which quite fall in with the Trinitarian view, and which are often marked by strong personification of the Spirit (e.g. Isaiah 63:10-14; cf. further App. A. in Dr. Sharpe's 'The Tree of Life,' Cambridge, 1889), religious Jews did not understand by Ruah-hakodesh a permanent and distinct hypostasis in the Deity, but rather the Deity itself in relation to the world as the Source and Maintenance of its life (Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30; Job 34:14; Psalm 139:7; Isaiah 63:10; cf. Wisd. 1:7 Wisd. 12:1), in contrast to the Deity absolutely and as the object of worship. Pre-Christian thought, that is to say, used the term "Holy Spirit" as designating the One God in a certain relation to the world, not as designating a permanent and real distinction in the Godhead. If this be so, we must understand the phrase here to mean that Christ was conceived of God (not of any Person in the Godhead) in contrast to man. We may, perhaps, even give to ἐκ its fullest meaning of" origin" (cf John 1:13, οὐκ ἐξαἱμάτων... ἀλλ ἐκ Θεοῦ). The phrase as a whole thus only insists that the Child was by origin Divine. It will be noticed that Luke 1:35 is then closely parallel, "the Holy Ghost" (Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον) there apparently connoting an outpouring of life; "the power of the Most High" (δύναμις ὑψίστου), an outpouring of strength. Dorner ('System.,' 3:343; cf. 162, etc.) says that the expression in our text is "the less precise ancient Christian designation of the Divine Essence generally, out of which ( de quo) Christ has come. To the Holy Spirit in the Trinitarian sense is only to be ascribed, according to the Scriptures, first, the internal preparation of humanity for the Divine Incarnation, and, secondly, after the Unio the animation of the humanity of Christ by the Divine power issuing from the Logos." The passage in Martensen's 'Dogmatics,' § 139, so well known for its latter part, apparently agrees with this: "He is born not of the will of a man, nor of the will of the flesh; but the holy will of the Creator took the place of the will of man and of the will of the flesh, - that is, the creating Spirit, who was in the beginning, fulfilled the function of the plastic principle. He was born of the Virgin Mary, the chosen woman in the chosen people. It was the task of Israel to provide, not, as has been often said, Christ himself, but the mother of the Lord; to develop the susceptibility for Christ to a point when it might be able to manifest itself as the pro-foundest unity of nature and spirit - a unity which found expression in the pure virgin. In her the pious aspirations of Israel and of mankind, their faith in the promises, are centred; she is the purest point in history and in nature, and she, therefore, becomes the appointed medium for the new creation." Observe that the Greek Creeds (σαρκωθέντα [γεννηθέντα, Marcellus] ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς Παρθένου) , by not inserting the article (contrast afterwards καὶ εἰς τὸ Πςεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον) , probably intended only to reproduce St. Matthew's language. The Latin could not fail to be ambiguous (de Spiritu Sancto) . If, however, we divest ourselves of considerations directly derived from exegesis, and, turning to the theological side, ask which Person of the Blessed Trinity, in fact, prepared Mary for the Incarnation of the Second Person, we must undoubtedly answer that it was the Third Person. For this is his peculiar function, uniting alike the Persons in the Godhead and also the Godhead to creation (cf. Dorner, 'System.,' 1:425,437; 4:159, etc.).
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
Verse 19. - Then Joseph her husband; and (Revised Version). The thought is slightly adversative (δέ); though this was "of the Holy Ghost," yet Joseph was about to put her away. Being a just man; righteous (Revised Version); i.e. who strove to conform to the Divine precepts manifested for him in the Law (cf. Luke 1:6; Luke 2:25). And not willing; i.e. "and yet not wishing," though the Law, which he was striving to follow, seemed to inculcate harshness. This clause has been taken in the opposite sense equivalent to "and therefore not wishing," because the spirit of the Law, which he had learned to understand, was in reality against all unnecessary harshness. The negative used (if it can be at all insisted upon; cf. Simcox, 'Language of the New Testament,' p. 188) is in favour of the former interpretation. To make her a public example; rather, to proclaim her ("Wold not pupplische her, Wickliffe); avery αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι (cf. Colossians 2:15). The thought is of public proclamation of the fact of the divorce, not that of bringing Mary herself forward for public punishment, and so making her a public example ( παραδειγματίσαι). Was minded (ἐβουλήθη). The tense indicates the resolution come to as the result of the conflict between duty and wish implied in the preceding clause. To put her away secretly. Adopting the most private form of legal divorce, and handing the letter to her privately in presence of only two witnesses, to whom he need not communicate his reasons (cf. Edersheim, 'Life,' 1:154). Observe in this verse Joseph's insistance on his personal and family purity, and yet his delicate thoughtfulness for her whom he loved.
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.
Verse 20. - But while he thought on these things; when (Revised Version); ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος. The tense lays stress, not on the continuance of his meditation (contrast Acts 10:19), but on the fact that the determination to which he had already come (vide supra) was already in his mind at the time when the following event happened. "These things;" his determination and its causes. Behold; unexpectedly. Though common in St. Matthew, it never lacks the connotation of surprise. The angel of the Lord; an angel of the Lord (Revised Version). In Mary's case it was the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26); but here not defined (so in Matthew 2:13, 19; Luke 1:11; Luke 2:9). (On angels, of especially Dorner, 'System.,' 2:96.) Appeared unto him in a dream. Joseph received his communications by dream (Matthew 2:13, 19, 22); to Mary, doubtless the more holy person, the vision was vouchsafed to her bodily eyes. If Joseph, as seems probable, was old, we here have a beginning of the fulfilment of the promise concerning Messianic times, "Your old men shall dream dreams" (Joel 2:28). Saying, Joseph, thou son of David. In reminding Joseph of the greatness of his ancestry, the angel probably desired
(1) to accept Joseph's resolution as right in so far as Joseph knew the circumstances, because with the promise of 2 Samuel 7:12-16 there was special need to keep the line pure;
(2) but, under the true circumstances, to urge him to take Mary, that so the promise might be fully carried out in his family and no other. Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife (ver. 15, note). For that which if conceived in her ("borun," Wickliffe; quod natum est, Vulgate); "Gr. begotten" (Revised Version margin), for γεννηθέν generally refers to the father rather than the mother (yet see Matthew 11:11), and here lays special stress on the Divine origin. Is of the Holy Ghost. "Of Spirit (not flesh), and that the Holy Spirit (ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου)" (ver. 18, note).
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Verse 21. - The first half is almost verbally identical with the promise to Mary in Luke 1:31. It is, perhaps, hypercritical to see anything more than a coincidence when such common terms are used, but it was not unnatural that the communications of the angels to both Mary and Joseph should be purposely clothed in language similar to that used of Sarah (Genesis 17:19), and in measure to that used of Hannah (1 Samuel 1:20; cf. Gretillat, 'Theologie Systematique,' p. 225; 1890). And she shall bring forth. Is the slight adversative force (δέ) to be seen in the contrast of the physical birth to the spiritual origin? A Son. In this, at least, thou shalt be able to test the accuracy of my statement. And thou shalt call. Taking the position of his father; the child being thus recognized by all as of David's line (cf. Kubel). In Luke Mary is told to give the name, but presumably the formal naming would be by Joseph. His name JESUS (cf. Ecclus. 46:1, "Jesus the son of Nave... who, according to his name, was made great for the saving of the elect of God"). For he shall save; for it is he that shall save (Revised Version), equivalent to "He, and no other, is the expected Saviour." (For αὐτός in this sense of excluding others, cf. especially Colossians 1:16-20.) It may, however, here not be exclusive, but only intensive - he being what he is. The connexion will then be - the name Jesus will answer to the fact, for he himself, in his own Person (1 John 2:2), by virtue of what he is (John 2:24, 25), shall save, etc. Jesus, equivalent to Jeshua (ver. 16, note); he shall save, equivalent to Joshi a. His people. Israel after the flesh (cf. John 1:11; Luke 2:10; contrast John 1:29; John 4:42), for whom deliverance from sins must be the first step to restoration to rightful position, and yet the last stage of result from acceptance of Christ. Comparative salvation from sin, due to acceptance of Christ, must precede that restoration which Joseph then desired, and all true Jews still ardently pray for; full salvation from sin will be the final issue of that restoration. From their sins. With a greater salvation, therefore, than that which Manoah's wife was told that her son should begin to accomplish (Judges 13:5). Observe that this promise of Christ as Saviour is given to Joseph, who had deeper experience of sin (ver. 20, note), while to Mary, who is marked by promptness of personal devotion, is given the promise of Christ as King (Luke 1:32, 33). Sate... from( σώσει... ἀπό) , not merely "out of" (ἐκ, John 12:27), but from all attacks of sin considered as coming born without (but see Matthew 6:13, note).
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Verses 22, 23. - The evidence of prophecy. ("Now all this was done .... God with us.") The Revised Version omits the marks of parenthesis. From a comparison of Matthew 26:56 (and perhaps also Matthew 21:4), this is not the utterance of the evangelist, but of the previous speaker, yet formulated by the evangelist (cf. Weiss). The thought, that is to say, is still part of the angel's encouragement to Joseph; the exact mode of expressing the record of that thought is the evangelist's; so also Tatian's 'Diattess.' (or perhaps only Ephraem's comment upon it; cf. Zahn), Quod si dubitas, Isaiam audi. Verse 22. - All this; τοῦτο ὅλον (not ταῦτα πάντα). The birth of a Saviour, with the means by which it came about, by a virgin, and "of the Holy Ghost." Was done; is come to pass (Revised Version); i.e. in abiding effect (γέγονεν). It is considered as having already taken place (cf. "the prophetic perfect" of the Old Testament). That it might be fulfilled. God's past utterance is looked at as necessitating a present action. Which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying; by the Lord through (Revised Version); i.e. the Lord is the Agent (ὑπό), the prophet the means or instrument (διά). The Lord; i.e. Jehovah, not "God," because the thought is of covenant promise.
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.
Verse 23. - Behold, a virgin ( the virgin, Revised Version) shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son. The difficulty of this quotation from Isaiah 7:14 is well known.
(1) If the word translated "virgin" ('almah) properly means this, and
(2) if it be also implied in the promise that the virginity was to be maintained until the birth of the son, then
(a) the fulfilment can have been only in the case of our Lord, and
(b) the promise was no real sign to Ahaz, and
(c) the context of the promise (according to which Rezin and Pekah were to perish in the lad's early childhood, vers. 15, 16) has no apparent reference to the promise itself.
(4) If, on 'the other hand, 'almah means only "young woman," the promise might easily be a sign to Ahaz; but, then, how is it that St. Matthew, or rather the angel, apparently lays so much stress on "virgin "? The answer is, as it seems, that
(1) 'almah, by derivation, means "young woman" (vide Cheyne). but in ordinary usage, "virgin."
(2) When the promise was uttered by Isaiah, the word suggested" virgin," but not (for who would have supposed such a thing?) maintenance of the virginity.
(3) The child, thus naturally born, should be called "Immanuel," in sign of God's presence with his people to deliver them from Rezin and Pekah, and, while he was still in childhood, this deliverance should come. The definite article prefixed to "virgin" (ha-'almah) either designated a person who was known to the prophet and perhaps also to Ahaz, or, as "the article of species" (Cheyne), pictured the person more definitely to the mind, though in herself unknown. Thus the promise meant to Ahaz and Isaiah that a woman, at that time a virgin, should bear a son, synchronous with whose childhood should be the Lord's deliverance of his people. It is possible that Isaiah further saw in this child' the hoped-for Messiah, identifying it with that of Matthew 9:6, the long time that was yet to intervene being hidden from him.
(4) The angel sees a further meaning in the promise than either Ahaz or Isaiah saw, and perceives that, in the providence of God, the words were so chosen as to form a promise of a virgin-birth, the son being of suck origin that, in the highest sense, he could be truly called "Immanuel." "It seems not unwise to suppose that God, who designed to send his Son to be the Deliverer of mankind, so ordered the course of the world in his Divine providence that many things should tell of the coming Saviour, so that when he appeared those who had studied God's revelation should tirol that the scheme of salvation had been one and the same throughout all time. Thus by past events, which had specific meaning in their own time, are found to have further con-rained a prefiguration of greater things in time to come; and to have been promises, ready to receive their highest accomplish-merit as soon as the fitness of time should appear" (Dr. Lumby). And they shall call. Men generally, in virtue of his true nature. His name Emmanuel (Revised Version. Immanuel, as Isaiah 7:14), which being interpreted is, God with us. St. Matthew emphasizes the interpretation in order to, bring out the fact that this Son, now to be born to Joseph, shall not only be Jesus, Saviour, but also God with us; he is the manifestation of God in our midst. The thought is parallel to that of John 1:14.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
Verses 24, 25 . - Josephs threefold obedience - taking Mary, not consummating the marriage, naming the child in faith. Verse 24. - Then Joseph being raised; and Joseph arose (Revised Version); for the stress of the Greek is not on "Joseph," but ἐγερθείς. Immediately on arising, Joseph obeyed. From sleep; from his sleep (Revised Version); i.e. which he was then enjoying. No stress is laid on sleep as such. Did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. "Bidden," in modern English, too much suggests "asking;" hence the Revised Version "commanded" (προσέταξεν). Joseph's faith was seen in immediate obedience to commands received.
And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Verse 25. - And knew her not. The tense (ἐγίνωσκεν) brings out the continuance of Joseph's obedient self-restraint. "He was dwelling in holiness with her" (Tatian's 'Diatess.'). Till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. Thus the angel's promise is so far fulfilled. A son (Revised Version); "her firstborn," though found as early as Tatian's.' Diatess.,' having been added from Luke 2:7. Though no great stress can be laid on the word "till" (ἕως [οϋ], Basil refers to Genesis 8:7; comp. also Psalm exit. 8), nor even on "firstborn," which suggested to a Jew rather consecration (Luke 2:23) than the birth of other children (comp. Bishop Lightfoot on Galatians, p. 270, edit. 1890); yet it is a reasonable inference from the passage as a whole that the οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν was not continued after the birth of the Son. Whether, however, other children were born to Mary or not, the true text of this passage gives no hint. And he called his name JESUS (ver. 21, note). Observe that this name had already occurred in Joseph's family (Luke 3:29). It is, however, now given in sign of Joseph's faith in him and his work.