For the past several weeks I have been writing about the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. Matthew’s genealogy includes four women, all of them non-Israelites by birth: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. These four women were the subject of my first post in this series.
According to Matthew there were forty-two generations between Abraham and Jesus. This means that, in addition to the four women mentioned in his genealogy, there were several other women in Jesus’ family tree whose names Matthew omitted in his genealogy. These great-grandmothers of Jesus were the subject of my second post in this series.
In presenting the genealogy of Jesus in three groups of fourteen generations, Matthew did not include a few kings who were associated with the family of Ahab and Jezebel. In my third post, I discussed these kings and their wives and mentioned that Jezebel, the evil queen of the Northern Kingdom, was also one of Jesus’ great-grandmothers.
Genealogies in the Old Testament
The genealogy of Matthew is presented according to the male ancestors of Jesus. This was a very common practice in Israel. There are two forms of genealogies in the Old Testament.
Linear genealogies present the names of persons who belong to the same family, people who are connected to each other in a familial relationship. Linear genealogies list the name of a father and his son and then continue for successive generations. Matthew’s genealogy is linear because it mentions the ancestors of Jesus from Abraham to Joseph.
Segmented genealogies present many names of family members within a specific generation. Thus, a segmented genealogy includes not only the name of the father, but also the names of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. One good example of a segmented genealogy is found in Genesis 10:1–32.
In the Old Testament, most genealogies are patrilineal genealogies, that is, the genealogies trace the descent through the fathers. Matthew’s genealogy is patrilineal because it traces the genealogy of Jesus through the fathers and grandfathers. In a few cases, traces of matrilineal genealogies are also found in the Old Testament.
Since in most cases, the names of the wives and mothers are not included in a genealogy, it is difficult to construct a genealogy that includes mothers and daughters. In the genealogy of Jesus as found in Matthew, this task becomes a little easier for two reasons.
First, since the book of Genesis presents the story of the patriarchs and the matriarchs of Israel, we know the names of several of the wives whose husbands are included in Matthew’s genealogy. Second, all the names of the mothers of the kings of Judah appear in the book of 1-2 Kings with the exception of the names of the mother of Jehoram and the mother of Ahaz.
Matthew cites fourteen generations from the exile in Babylon to Joseph, the husband of Mary. The Old Testament does not give the names of the wives of the men listed in Matthew’s genealogy who lived in the inter-biblical period. The same problem is found for some of the men listed in Matthew’s genealogy who lived between the time of the patriarchs and David.
In order to produce the genealogy of Jesus according to his great-grandmothers, I will use Matthew’s genealogy as the foundation for the present reconstruction. The names mentioned in brackets [ ] are the names Matthew omitted in his genealogy. It will be impossible to recover the names of the unknown women who were the wives of some of the men mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy. Thus, in order to build a genealogy according to the women in Jesus’ family tree, I have chosen to list these unknown women as the wife of whoever the man was. This way, the present genealogy is based entirely on Jesus’ known and unknown great-grandmothers.
Why present a genealogy of Jesus according to his great-grandmothers? Such a reconstruction is one way to honor these women who are unfamiliar and unknown to most people who read the Bible. Although they are unknown, each one of them played an important role in the family tree of Jesus, just as Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba did in Matthew’s estimation.
So, here is the genealogy of Jesus according to his great-grandmothers.
The Genealogy of Jesus According to His Great-Grandmothers
1 An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the grandson of Bathsheba, the grandson of Sarah.
2 Sarah was the mother of Isaac, and Rebekah was the mother of Jacob, and Leah was the mother of Judah and his brothers,
3 and Tamar was the mother of Perez and Zerah, the wife of Perez was the mother of Hezron, and the wife of Hezron was the mother of Aram,
4 and wife of Aram was the mother of Aminadab, and the wife of Aminadab was the mother of Nahshon, and the wife of Nahshon was the mother of Salmon,
5 and Rahab was the mother of Boaz, and Ruth was the mother of Obed, the wife of Obed was the mother of Jesse,
6 and the wife of Jesse was the mother of King David. Bathsheba was the mother of Solomon,
7 and Naamah was the mother of Rehoboam, and Maacah was the mother of Abijah, and Maacah was also the grandmother of Asa,
8 and Azubah was the mother of Jehoshaphat, and the wife Jehoshaphat the mother of Jehoram,
[and Athaliah, the daughter of Jezebel was the mother of Ahaziah, Zibia was the mother of Joash, Jehoaddin was the mother of Amaziah, Jecoliah was the mother of Uzziah (Azariah)]
9 Jerusha was the mother of Jotham, the wife of Jotham was the mother of Ahaz, Abi was the mother of Hezekiah,
10 Hephzibah was the mother of Manasseh, Meshullemeth was the mother of Amon, Jediah was the mother of Josiah, [Zebidiah was the mother of Jehoiakim], Nehushta was the mother of Jechoniah (Jehoiachin) and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: the wife of Jechoniah was the mother of Salathiel, and the wife of Salathiel was the mother of Zerubbabel,
13 and the wife of Zerubbabel was the mother of Abiud, and the wife of Abiud was the mother of Eliakim, and the wife of Eliakim was the mother of Azor,
14 and the wife of Azor was the mother of Zadok, and the wife of Zadok was the mother of Achim, and the wife of Achim was the mother of Eliud,
15 and the wife of Eliud was the mother of Eleazar, and the wife of Eleazar was the mother of Matthan, and the wife of Matthan was the mother of Jacob,
16 and the wife of Jacob was the mother of Joseph, and Mary was the mother of Jesus.
17 So all the generations from Sarah to Bathsheba are fourteen generations; and from Bathsheba to Nehushta, fourteen generations; and from the wife of Jechoniah to Mary, the mother of the Messiah, fourteen generations.
Claude F. Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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Posts on Jesus’ Great-Grandmothers: