The genealogy of Jesus
Matthew 1:1-17 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son
of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob
the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose
mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the
father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of
Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of
Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of
King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father
of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of
Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the
father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and
his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father
of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of
Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the
father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom
was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Thus there were fourteen generations in
all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and
fourteen from the exile to the Christ.
IMPORTANCE OF GENEALOGIES FOR THE ISRAELITES
The Jews were meticulous in keeping genealogical records partly because property
rights were linked to family heritage. The twelve tribes had been allocated
portions of the land as an inheritance, which was subdivided between the
families within each tribe. Every Year of Jubilee (fifty years) a family that had been dispossessed
of their land could lay claim to the land which their ancestors had originally
owned. But in order to prove land ownership, it was important to maintain
accurate genealogical records.
In the OT God had also promised several people
that the Messiah would be one of their descendants. In order to prove this
descent, it was necessary to keep genealogical records.
WHAT IS THE MESSIAH?
Moses had promised that a future prophet would come to reveal God to men. This
prophet became known as the Messiah (the Anointed One). "The LORD your God will
raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen
to him... If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my
name, I myself will call him to account." (Deut 18:15,19)
THE SON OF DAVID
The promised Messiah would be the son (descendant) of David. When David wanted
to build a 'house' (temple) for God, the prophet Nathan prophesied that David's
kingdom would be established forever through his offspring.
- "The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you:
When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your
offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish
his kingdom... I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his
father, and he will be my son..." (2 Sam 6:11-14 NIV)
Thus it was believed that the Messiah would be a descendant of David - and so
the title "Son of David" was applied to the coming Messiah.
THE SON OF ABRAHAM
It was also believed that the promised Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham
because in Genesis 22:18 God told Abraham: "In your seed all the nations of the
earth shall be blessed" (NASB). 'Your seed' refers to his offspring or
descendants. And so Matthew, writing to the Jews in his Gospel, starts by
saying, "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of
Abraham" (Matt 1:1)
ISAAC, JACOB & JUDAH
Isaac was promised in Gen 26:4, "in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth
be blessed" (KJV). Jacob was promised in Gen 28:14, "in thee and in thy seed
shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (KJV)
Judah was promised in Gen 49:10:
- "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his
feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is
In addition Micah 5:2 contains the following prophecy which was used by the
chief priests and teachers of the law (Matt 2:4-6) to reply to Herod's question
about the Messiah's birthplace:
- "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are
from of old, from ancient times."
And so Matthew records that, "Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father
of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers" (Matt 1:2).
THE SHOOT OF JESSE
Another Messianic prophecy of Isaiah spoke of the Messiah as being a descendant
of Jesse (David's father):
- Isa 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch
will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of
wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of
knowledge and of the fear of the LORD... 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will
stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place
of rest will be glorious.
And so Matthew records in Matt 1:5-6 that Jesse was one of Jesus' ancestors.
"... Obed the father of Jesse and Jesse the father of King David."
THE ANOINTED ONE
Christ is the English term for the Greek 'Khristos' meaning "the
anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew 'Masiah', usually
transliterated into English as Messiah.  The genealogy of Jesus shows that he
fulfilled the prophecies concerning the lineage of the Messiah. So in effect
Matt 1:1 reads:
- "A record of the genealogy of Jesus - the Messiah - the son of David, the son of
THE KINSMAN REDEEMER
In an earlier study we looked at the role of the kinsman redeemer. In the OT the
book of Ruth contains the best known example of a kinsman redeemer - namely
Boaz. Interestingly Boaz and Ruth are listed in Jesus' lineage as well. Jesus
ultimately became the kinsman redeemer for all mankind.
- Matt 1:5 ... Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of
GAPS IN THE GENEALOGY
Some have objected to the fact that Matthew skipped some generations in Jesus'
genealogy. While some have proposed different reasons why Matthew did this, the
truth is that we do not know. However we do know that at times OT writers also
abridged their genealogical records, so Matthew had scriptural precedent to do
- Ezra 7:3 "the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth"
- 1 Chr 6:7-11 "Meraioth the father of Amariah... the father of Ahitub... the
father of Zadok... the father of Ahimaaz... the father of Azariah... the father
of Johanan... the father of Azariah... the father of Amariah"
Matthew 1:8 refers to "Jehoram the father of Uzziah". Now Jehoram was actually Uzziah's
great-great-grandfather as Jehoiakim was also skipped. And it also seems likely that
Matthew skipped some generations between Zerubbabel and Joseph as he lists only
9 generations, while Luke lists 18 generations in the same time period. In
Luke's list he includes Cainan (Luke 3:36) who is not mentioned in our OT (Gen
However the term "father of" really meant "the ancestor of" and "the son of"
meant "a descendant of". We see the classic example of this in Matthew 1:1 where
Jesus is called "the son of David, the son of Abraham". David and Abraham were
of course Jesus' ancestors and not his actual 'father,' as we understand from
the limited sense of the word in English.
Matthew and Luke keep the same record from Abraham to David. But Matthew traces
through David's son Solomon to Joseph, while Luke traces through David's son
Nathan. Thus Matthew has Joseph's father as Jacob, while Luke has his father as
Luke's nativity record seems to be given from Mary's perspective, while
Matthew's seems to be from Joseph's. Luke
alone records the appearance of Gabriel to Mary (1:26-38), her song (1:46-55),
the details of her relative Elizabeth's story (Luke 1), Simeon's prophecy to Mary
(2:34-35), her anxiety when Jesus was lost (2:48) and then the telling statement
"But his mother treasured all these things in her heart." (2:51) Matthew alone
records Joseph's four dreams (1:20, 2:13,19,22), his initial intention to break the
betrothal to Mary (1:19) and his fear of returning to Judea (2:22).
Hence it is believed that Matthew traced the ancestry of Jesus through Joseph,
while Luke traced it through Mary. Thus Heli was actually Mary's father. Joseph
was the son of Jacob, and the son-in-law of Heli. Again in Biblical times it was
customary to refer to a son-in-law as a son. (Note that Saul called his
son-in-law David, his 'son' in 1 Sam 24:16 & 26:17.) So Luke's statement was culturally correct.
Interestingly an unlikely source has verified that Heli was actually Mary's
father. The Talmud Yerushalmi or the Talmud of Jerusalem was a product of
Palestinian rabbinic Judaism compiled around AD 400. In the Jerusalem Talmud
(Haggigah, Book 77, 4) it refers to Mary in a derogatory sense, but nevertheless
as "the daughter of Heli". The book relates how a certain person had a dream in
which he saw the punishment of the damned. In the dream, "He saw Mary the
daughter of Heli amongst the shades..." 
The Bible makes it clear that by virtue of
the virgin birth only Mary was a true genetic parent of Jesus. Luke refers to
this issue by stating that Jesus "was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph"
(Luke 3:23). Joseph was descended from the kings of Judah through David's son
Solomon. So although not his genetic parent, through Joseph - Jesus had a legal
claim to the throne of David.
THE WOMEN LISTED IN JESUS GENEALOGY
What is of particular interest if the 5 women
mentioned in Matthew's genealogy. Normally women were seldom mentioned in these
lists, so the choice of these somewhat disreputable women is intriguing.
Tamar (Genesis 38:6-30) was the
daughter-in-law of Judah. After the death of her first two husbands, Judah would
not give Tamar to any of his other sons. So Tamar disguised herself as a
prostitute and seduced Judah in order to have a son.
Rahab (Joshua 2:1-24)
was a Canaanite prostitute who lived in Jericho. She is remembered for hiding
Joshua's spies and thus being spared when the Israelites took Jericho. She
subsequently married an Israelite called Salmon,and became the mother of Boaz.
Rahab was commended in Heb 11:30-31 as one of the heroes of faith.
a Gentile from the land of Moab. The Moabites were an accursed people (Deut
23:3-4). After being widowed, her devotion to her mother-in-law Naomi was
extraordinary, leaving her own country to accompany her to Israel. In Bethlehem,
Ruth was later married to Boaz, one of Naomi's relatives. Ruth became the mother
of Obed, the grandfather of David.
Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-27) was
the wife of Uriah the Hittite, who was one of David's soldiers. She and David
had an adulterous affair and David had her husband killed. They came under God's
judgment for this. Bathsheba later married David and became the mother of both
Solomon (Joseph's ancestor) and Nathan (Mary's ancestor).
So in summary:
pretended to be a prostitute to seduce her father-in-law.
- Rahab: a former
- Ruth: an accursed Moabitess
- Bathsheba: an adulteress
a suspected adulteress
At least two of the five women listed - Rahab and Ruth - were Gentiles,
with Bathsheba as a possible third (she was married initially to Uriah the Hittite).
The question might well be, "Why not rather list women who were
known and honoured as virtuous Israelites?"
God often places value in those
people and things that men despise and reject. Bear in mind that Jesus alone -
because of his pre-existence - could choose where to be born and who his
relatives would be. Yet he chose a manger in a stable in a humble town with very
CAN USE ANYONE
D. L. Moody (1837-1899) was raised in poverty and didn't attend school beyond
the fifth grade. He progressed poorly in reading and writing, was a bad speller,
and poor at maths. Moody as a young Christian was for a while a mere babe in the
Kingdom. His zeal was strong, but his mind was not tutored in the Scriptures,
his command of language was very limited, his sentences were broken and
ungrammatical. So his first application for admission into church membership was
not accepted, as he was thought not to know enough. While attending the Plymouth
Congregational Church in Chicago he was repeatedly advised not to attempt to
speak in public. speak in public. 
A Mr. Reynolds who knew Moody related:
- "The first meeting I ever saw him at was in a little old shanty that had been
abandoned by a saloon-keeper. Mr. Moody had got the place to hold the meetings
in at night. I went there a little late; and the first thing I saw was a man
standing up with a few tallow candles around him, holding a negro boy, and
trying to read to him the story of the Prodigal Son and a great many words he
could not read out, and had to skip.I thought, 'If the Lord can ever use such an
instrument as that for His honour and glory, it will astonish me.' After that
meeting was over, Mr. Moody said to me, 'Reynolds, I have got only one talent; I
have no education, but I love the Lord Jesus Christ, and I want to do something
for him: I want you to pray for me.'
I have never ceased, from that day to this, to pray for that devoted Christian
soldier. I have watched him since then, have had counsel with him, and know him
thoroughly; and, for consistent walk and conversation, I have never met a man to
equal him. It astounds me to look back and see what Mr. Moody was 13 years ago,
and then what he is under God today... The last time I heard from him, his
injunction was, 'Pray for me every day; pray now that the Lord will keep me
humble.' " 
man who had very humble beginnings became one of the greatest evangelists of all
time. Some estimate that he led as many as a million people to confess faith in
Christ. You might feel inadequate and incapable of being effective for
God but former shoe salesman, D.L. Moody said:
- "If this world is going to be
reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent.
After all, there are comparatively few people in the world who have great
When the educated Jewish rulers "saw the courage of Peter and John and
realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they
took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)
God's not looking for
ability, He's looking for availability. Hudson Taylor said:
- "God uses men who are
weak and feeble enough to lean on him."
God can use anyone (including you) to
accomplish his purposes.
- 1 Cor 1:26-29 Brothers, think of what you were when you
were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were
influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of
the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the
strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and
the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may
boast before him.
THE VIRGIN BIRTH
Matthew 1:18-25 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about:
His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came
together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph
her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public
disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered
this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of
David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is
conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you
are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their
sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the
prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they
will call him Immanuel" - which means, "God with us." When Joseph woke up, he did
what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But
he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name
Jesus was born of a virgin:
- Matt 1:22-23 All this took
place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be
with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" -
which means, "God with us."
Luke is believed to have used Mary as one of the
sources for his Gospel. He confirms the virgin birth of Jesus:
- Luke 1:26-35 In
the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a
virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The
virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are
highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words
and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do
not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and
give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the
throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever;
his kingdom will never end." "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I
am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the
power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be
called the Son of God."
THE SEED OF THE WOMAN
Q: Why did Jesus have to be born
of a virgin?
A: To fulfill the prophecy God pronounced to Satan that the
promised deliverer of Adam's offspring would be the "seed of the woman".
3:15 "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and
her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the
Both aspects of this prophecy were fulfilled at the cross:
shall bruise him on the heel (i.e. a minor wound)
A bruise on the heel is a relatively minor wound compared to a head injury. The
'bruise' that Jesus received was the crucifixion. The Bible makes it clear that
although Judas was the instrument used, he was prompted to betray Jesus to death
by Satan himself:
- Luke 22:3-4 Then Satan entered
Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests
and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray
We are also told the dark rulers of our age, including Satan and his fallen
angels, did not understand the significance of the cross as God's means of
salvation - or that they were unwittingly assisting in bringing about man's
- 1 Cor 2:8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
He shall bruise you on the head
A bruise on the head is a fatal wound. Scripture makes it clear that by his
bruised heel (i.e. his death on the cross) Jesus defeated the powers of darkness
and brought about man's awaited redemption by God.
- Col 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he
made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
THE SON OF
Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit
- Matt 1:18 ... Mary ... was found to
be with child through the Holy Spirit
- Matt 1:20 ... because what is conceived in
her is from the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus was called the "Son of God"
1:35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of
the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the
Son of God."
The virgin birth and conception by the Holy Spirit was necessary
for Jesus to be the Son of God - and thus be sinless (untainted by Adam's sin).
MATTHEW, LUKE, JOHN
Matthew traces Jesus back to David and Abraham to show that
he is the Son of David (Messiah).
Luke traces Jesus back to Adam to show that he
is the Son of Man.
John shows that Jesus is the Son of God:
- In the beginning was
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
Jesus was God in flesh:
- Matt 1:23 "... and they will call him Immanuel" - which
means, "God with us."
- Col 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives
in bodily form...
- John 1:1,14 ... the Word was God ...
The Word became flesh and
made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and
Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.