and the heart of the children to their fathers; or "with" their fathers; that is, both fathers and children: the meaning is, that John the Baptist should be an instrument of converting many of the Jews, both fathers and children, and bringing them to the knowledge and faith of the true Messiah; and reconcile them together who were divided by the schools of Hillell and Shammai, and by the sects of the Sadducees and Pharisees, and bring them to be of one mind, judgment, and faith, and to have a hearty love to one another, and the Lord Christ; see Matthew 3:5; see Gill on Luke 1:17. The Talmudists (t) interpret this of composing differences, and making peace.
Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse; the land of Judea; which, because the greater part of the inhabitants of it were not converted to the Lord, did not believe in the Messiah, but rejected him, notwithstanding the preaching and testimony of John the Baptist, and the ministry and miracles of Christ, it was smitten with a curse, was made desolate, and destroyed by the Roman emperors, Vespasian and Adrian, as instruments doing what God here threatened he would do; for not the whole earth is intended, as the Targum and Abarbinel suggest; but only that land, and the people of it, are intended, to whom the law of Moses was given; and to whom Elias, or John the Baptist, was to be sent; and to whom he was sent, and did come; and by whom he was rejected, and also the Messiah he pointed at; for which that country was smitten with a curse, and remains under it to this day.
(t) Massachet Ediot, c. 8. sect. 7.
INTRODUCTION TO MATTHEW
The subject of this book, and indeed of all the writings of the New Testament, is the Gospel. The Greek word signifies a joyful message, good news, glad tidings of good things; such as Christ was anointed to preach, the Angels brought to the shepherds, and the Evangelists, Apostles, and Ministers of Christ published to the world. Isaiah 61:1. And such is the account given by this inspired writer, of the incarnation, life, actions, ministry, miracles, sufferings, and death of Jesus Christ; whereby peace and reconciliation, pardon and righteousness, atonement and redemption, life and salvation, are obtained for lost, perishing sinners. The Jews, to whom the message of grace was first sent, and among whom the Gospel was first preached, having despised and rejected it; they and their posterity, in allusion to the word "Evangelion", most wickedly and blasphemously call the whole New Testament, or "Aven Gilion" (a), a "revelation", or "volume of iniquity and vanity"; but "blessed are the people that know the joyful sound", see Psalm 89:15. The writer of this Gospel, Matthew, who also was called Levi in Luke 5:27 was by occupation a publican, or tax-gatherer, and was in his employ when Christ called him by his grace. He was one of the twelve Apostles sent forth by Christ to preach the Gospel of the kingdom, Matthew 10:3 and was honoured to be the first of the writers of the New Testament, and to be the first publisher therein of the good news of the incarnate Saviour; and was a wonderful instance of the rich and sovereign grace of God. Though he was employed in collecting the Roman tax, yet he was of Jewish extract; as appears from his being called the son of Alphaeus, Mark 2:14 and from his name Matthew Levi; for as the latter, so the former is an Hebrew name. The Jews say (b) one of the disciples of Jesus was called yatm, Matthai or Matthew: his name signifies a "gift" or "given"; he was one of those the Father had given to Christ, and was kept by him, when the son of perdition was lost, John 17:6. It may not be improper to inquire in what language this Gospel was written. The ancient Christian writers were generally of opinion, that Matthew wrote it in Hebrew; Papias and (c) Pantaenus were of this mind, as also Irenaeus (d), Origen (e) Eusebius (f), Athanasius (g), Epiphanius (h), and Jerom (i); and it is asserted in the titles of the Arabic and Persic versions, and at the end of the Syriac version of this Gospel, that it was written in that language; and this opinion is espoused by Grotius and Hammond, though justly exploded by others; for what has been published by Munster, Mercer, Hutter, and Robertson, are translations, made by themselves or others, and of no antiquity: and since Hebrew and Syriac words are interpreted in this Gospel, see Matthew 1:23 which would not have been done, had it been written in either language; and since Matthew generally follows the Septuagint version in the passages cited by him out of the Old Testament; and since the Hebrew language was not generally known at that time to the common people, only to the learned; for the law and the prophets, when read in the synagogues in that language, required an interpreter; and since the Greek tongue was the language more commonly spoken, and the rest of the Evangelists wrote in Greek, and the Gospel was designed for the Gentiles as well as the Jews; it is most reasonable to conclude that this Gospel also was wrote in Greek; whereby that ancient prophecy was fulfilled, at least in part, "God shall enlarge" or "persuade Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem", Genesis 9:27 the Gospel being published in the language of Japheth, the Greek language, which the Jews, the posterity of Shem, now understood; agreeably to which the Palmudic writers interpret the prophecy; says (k) Bar Kaphra, mentioning the above words,
"They shall speak tpy lv wnwvlb in the language of Japheth, in the tents of Shem;''
"the words of the law shall be spoken in the language of Japheth, in the midst of the tents of Shem (l).''
R. Jochanan (m) explains them thus:
"tpy lv wyrbr "the words of Japheth" shall be in the tents of Shem; and says R. Chiya ben Aba, the sense of it is, The beauty of Japheth shall be in the tents of Shem.''
Which the gloss interprets thus:
"The beauty of Japheth is the language of Javan, or the Greek language, which language is more beautiful than that of any other of the sons of Japheth.''
The time when this Gospel was written is said (n) by some to be in the eighth or ninth, by others, in the fifteenth year after the ascension of Christ, when the Evangelist had received the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, among which was the gift of tongues; and when the promise of Christ had been made good to him, John 14:26.
(a) T. Bab. Sabbat. fol. 116. 1. Vet. Nizzachou. p. 15, 39, 87, 94, 137, 186. Ed. Wagenseil. (b) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 43. 1.((c) Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 3. c. 39. p. 113. Vid. ib. l. 5. c. 8. p. 172. c 10. p. 175. & l. 6. c. 25. p. 226. (d) Adv. Haeres. l. 3. c 1.((e) In Matt. Tom. l. p. 203. Ed. Huet. (f) Eccl. Hist. l. 3. cap. 24. p. 95. (g) Synops. sacr. Script. p. 134. Vol. 2.((h) Contra Haeres. l. 1. Haer. 29. & 30. (i) Catalog. Script. Eccles fol. 90. Tom. 1. ad Hedib. fol. 46. Tom. 3.((k) T. Hieros. Megilla, fol. 71. 2.((l) Bereshit. Rabba, sect. 36. fol. 32. 1.((m) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 9. 2.((n) Vid. Fabricii Biblioth. Graec. l. 4. c. 5. sect. 2. p. 197. & Vales. not. in Euseb. Eccl. Hist. p. 52.
the son of David; not only to the Scribes and Pharisees, the more learned part of the nation, but to the common people, even to persons of the meanest rank and figure among them. See Matthew 9:27. Nothing is more common in the Jewish writings, than for "the son of David" to stand alone for the Messiah; it would be endless to cite or refer to all the testimonies of this kind; only take the following (p),
"R. Jochanan says, in the generation in which "the son of David" comes, the disciples of the wise men shall be lessened, and the rest, their eyes shall fail with grief and sorrow, and many calamities and severe decrees shall be renewed; when the first visitation is gone, a second will hasten to come. It is a tradition of the Rabbins (about) the week (of years) in which "the son of David" comes, that in the first year this scripture will be fulfilled, Amos 4:7. "I will rain upon one city", &c. in the second, arrows of famine will be sent forth; in the third there will be a great famine, and men, women and children, holy men and men of business will die, and the law will be forgotten by those who learn it; in the fourth there will be plenty and not plenty; in the fifth there will be great plenty, and they shall eat and drink and rejoice, and the law shall return to them that learn it; in the sixth there will be voices (or thunders;) in the seventh there will be wars; and in the going out of the seventh the "son of David" comes. The tradition of R. Judah says, In the generation in which "the son of David" comes, the house of the congregation (the school or synagogue) shall become a brothel house, Galilee shall be destroyed, and Gabalene shall become desolate; and the men of Gabul (or the border) shall go about from city to city, and shall find no mercy; and the wisdom of the scribes shall stink; and they that are afraid to sin shall be despised; and the face of that generation shall be as the face of a dog, and truth shall fail, as it is said, Isaiah 59:15 --The tradition of R. Nehorai says, In the generation in which "the son of David" comes, young men shall make ashamed the faces of old men, and old men shall stand before young men, the daughter shall rise up against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; nor will a son reverence his father. The tradition of R. Nehemiah says, In the generation in which "the son of David" comes, impudence will increase, and the honourable will deal wickedly, and the whole kingdom will return to the opinion of the Sadducees, and there will be no reproof. --It is a tradition of the Rabbins, that "the son of David" will not come, until traitorous practices are increased, or the disciples are lessened or until the smallest piece of money fails from the purse, or until redemption is despaired of.''
In which passage, besides the proof for which it is cited, may be observed, how exactly the description of the age of the Messiah, as given by the Jews themselves, agrees with the generation in which Jesus the true Messiah came; who as he was promised to David, and it was expected he should descend from him, so he did according to the flesh; God raised him up of his seed, Romans 1:3 it follows,
The son of Abraham. Abraham was the first to whom a particular promise was made, that the Messiah should spring from, Genesis 22:18. The first promise in Genesis 3:15 only signified that he should be the seed of the woman; and it would have been sufficient for the fulfilment of it, if he had been born of any woman, in whatsoever nation, tribe, or family; but by the promise made to Abraham he was to descend from him, as Jesus did; who took upon him the seed of Abraham, Hebrews 2:16 or assumed an human nature which sprung from him, and is therefore truly the son of Abraham. The reason why Christ is first called the son of David, and then the son of Abraham, is partly because the former was a more known name of the Messiah; and partly that the transition to the genealogy of Christ might be more easy and natural, beginning with Abraham, whom the Jews call (q) the "head of the genealogy", and the root and foundation of it, as Matthew here makes him to be; wherefore a Jew cannot be displeased with the Evangelist for beginning the genealogy of our Lord at, Abraham.
(o) Apud Wagenseil. Tela Ignea. (p) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 97. 1. Shir Hashirim Rabba, fol. 11. 4. (q) Juchasin, fol. 8. 1. Tzeror Hammor. fol. 29. 3. & 154. 4.
Isaac begat Jacob. The genealogy of Christ proceeds from Isaac, in the line of Jacob. Isaac begat Esau, as well as Jacob, and they two were twins, but one was loved, and the other hated; wherefore no mention is made of Esau, he had no concern in the Messiah, nor was he to spring from him, but from Jacob, or Israel, by whose name he is sometimes called, Isaiah 49:3
Jacob begat Judas and his brethren. The lineage of Christ is carried on from Jacob in the line of Judah; the reason of which is, because it was particularly prophesied that the Messiah, Shiloh, the prince and chief ruler, should be of him, Genesis 49:10 1 Chronicles 5:2. And it is evident beyond all contradiction, that our Lord sprung from his tribe, Hebrews 7:14. The reason why the brethren of Judah, who were eleven in number, are mentioned, when the brethren of Isaac and Jacob are not, is, because though the Messiah did not spring from them, yet the promise of him was made to the twelve tribes, who all expected him, and to whom he was sent, and came. These made but one body of men, and therefore, though the Messiah came from the tribe of Judah, yet he is said to be of them all, Romans 9:4.
"there are two women from whom come David the king, and Solomon, and the king Messiah; and these two are Thamar and Ruth.''
Jonathan Ben Uzziel on Genesis 38:6 says, that Thamar was the daughter of Shem the great.
And Phares begat Esrom; called Hezron, Ruth 4:18 where the same phrase is used as here. He had another son called Hamul, 1 Chronicles 2:5 but the account proceeds from Phares, in the line of Esrom.
And Esrom begat Aram; called Ram in Ruth 4:18 where the same way of speaking is used as here. Esrom also besides him begat Jerahmeel, Chelubai, or Caleb, and Segub, 1 Chronicles 2:9 but these are not in the line. Elihu, who conversed with Job, is said to be of the kindred of Ram, Job 32:2 whether the same with Ram or Aram, may be inquired.
(r) Shemot Rabba, sect. 30. fol. 131. 4. Caphtor, fol. 122. 1.
And Booz begat Obed of Ruth; who was a Moabitess. It is a notion that generally obtains among the Jews (u), that she was the daughter of Eglon, grandson of Balak, king of Moab; and it is often taken notice of by them (w), that the king Messiah should descend from her; and also other persons of note, as David, Hezekiah, Josiah, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and Daniel; wherefore the mentioning of her in this genealogy, cannot be said by them to be impertinent.
And Obed begat Jesse. Jesse is thought to be, not the immediate son of Obed, but to be of the fourth generation from him; though no others are mentioned between them in Ruth, any more than here. A Jewish writer observes (x), that
"the wise men of the Gentiles say, that there were other generations between them; perhaps, says he, they have taken this from the wise men of Israel, and so it is thought.''
Now notwithstanding this, Jesse may be said to be begotten by Obed, as Hezekiah's posterity, who were carried captive into Babylon, are said to be begotten by him, Isaiah 39:7 though they were a remove of several generations from him. However, Jesse is rightly put among the progenitors of Christ, since the Messiah was to be a rod of his stem, and the branch of his roots, and is called the root of Jesse, Isaiah 11:1 which words are interpreted of the Messiah, by many of the Jewish writers (y); and to this day the Jews pray for him in their synagogues under the name of , "the son of Jesse" (z).
(s) Zohar in Gen. fol. 105. 4. Gloss in T. Bab. Maccot. fol. 23. 2. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 49. 2. Zoher in Gen. fol. 63. 3.((t) T. Bab. Megilia, fol. 14. 2. Juchasin, fol. 10. 1. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 7. 2. Abarb. Kimchi & Laniado in Joshua 6. 25. & Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Torah, pr. neg. 112. (u) Targ. in Ruth. i. 4. T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 105. 2. Horayot, fol. 10. 2. Nazir. fol 23. 2. Sota, fol. 47. 1. Zohar in Deut. fol. 109. 2. Shalshelet Hakabala fol. 8. 1.((w) Targ. in Ruth 3.15. T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 93. 7. Midrash Ruth, fol. 34. 4. Zohar in Gen, fol. 72. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 20. 4. & 123. 4. & 132. 4. (x) Juchasin, fol. 10. 2.((y) Targum, Aben Ezra & Kimchi in loc. & Zohar in Exod. fol. 71. 1.((z) Seder Tephillot, fol. 278. 1. & 285. 2. Ed. Basil, T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 29. 1.
And David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; which was Bathsheba, though not named; either because she was well known, or because of the sin she had been guilty of, which would easily be revived by mentioning her name: our translators have rightly supplied, "that had been", and not as the Vulgate Latin, which supplies it, "that was the wife of Urias", for Solomon was begotten of her, not while she was the wife of Uriah, but when she was the wife of David.
And Roboam begat Abia, sometimes called Abijam, as in 1 Kings 14:31, sometimes Abijah, 2 Chronicles 12:16 and sometimes, as here, Abia, 1 Chronicles 3:10. Him Rehoboam begat of Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom, 1 Kings 15:2 called Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel, 2 Chronicles 13:2. Maachah and Michaiah being the same name; or else she went by two names, as her father did.
And Abia begat Asa, who was a good king; his mother's name is the same with the name of his father's mother; and perhaps it is not his proper mother, but his grandmother who is meant in 1 Kings 15:10. He is wrongly called Asaph in the Persic and Ethiopic versions, and in one copy.
And Josaphat begat Joram; called Jehoram, 1 Kings 22:50 to whom his father gave the kingdom, because he was the firstborn, 2 Chronicles 21:3.
And Joram begat Ozias; called Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:1 and Azariah, 2 Kings 15:1. He was not the immediate son of Joram; there were three kings between them, Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah, which are here omitted; either because of the curse denounced on Ahab's family, into which Joram married, whose idolatry was punished to the third or fourth generation; or because these were princes of no good character; or because their names were not in the Jewish registers. Nor does this omission at all affect the design of the Evangelist, which is to show that Jesus, the true Messiah, is of the house of David; nor ought the Jews to complain of it, as they do (a) since such omissions are to be met with in the Old Testament, particularly in Ezra 7:2 where six generations are omitted at once; and which is taken notice of by one of their own genealogical writers, whose words are these (b);
"we see in the genealogy of Ezra that he hath skipped over seven generations (perhaps it should be "six" and not "seven", since six are only omitted) from Ahitub to Ahitub.''
Nor is it any objection that Joram is said to beget Ozias, which he may be said to do in the like sense, as has been before observed of Hezekiah, Isaiah 39:7.
(a) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emunab, par. 2. p. 390. (b) Juchasin, fol. 10. 2.
And Joatham begat Achaz, or Ahaz, 2 Kings 15:38 to him the sign was given, and the famous prophecy of the Messiah, Isaiah 7:14.
And Achaz begat Ezekias, or Hezekiah, 2 Kings 16:20 him Ahaz begat of Abi, the daughter of Zachariah, 2 Kings 18:2. He was a very religious king, and had that singular favour from God to have fifteen years added to his days, Isaiah 38:5.
And Manasses begat Amon, of Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah, 2 Kings 21:19. He was a very wicked prince.
And Amon begat Josias, or Josiah of Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath, 2 Kings 22:1. He was a very pious king, and was prophesied of by name some hundreds of years before he was born, 1 Kings 13:2.
and his brethren. These were Johanan, Zedekiah, and Shallum. Two of them were kings, one reigned before him, viz. Shallum, who is called Jehoahaz, 2 Kings 23:30 compared with Jeremiah 22:11, the other, viz. Zedekiah, called before Mattaniah, reigned after his son Jehoiakim: these being both kings, is the reason why his brethren are mentioned; as well as to distinguish him from Jechonias in the next verse; who does not appear to have had any brethren: these were
about the time they were carried away to Babylon, which is not to be connected with the word "begat": for Josiah did not beget Jeconiah and his brethren at that time, for he had been dead some years before; nor with Jechonias, for he never was carried away into Babylon, but died in Judea, and slept with his fathers, 2 Kings 24:6 but with the phrase "his brethren": and may be rendered thus, supposing understood, "which were at", or "about the carrying away to Babylon", or the Babylonish captivity.
Jechonias begat Salathiel. Not Jechonias mentioned in the former verse, but his son, called Jehoiachin, 2 Kings 24:6 and Coniah, Jeremiah 22:24 both which are rendered Jechonias by the Septuagint in 2 Chronicles 36:8 and he is so called, 1 Chronicles 3:16. Abulpharagius (c) calls him Junachir, and says he is the same who in Matthew is called Juchonia; and he asserts him to be the father of Daniel the Prophet. But here a considerable difficulty arises, how he can be said to beget Salathiel, called Shealtiel, Haggai 1:1 when he was pronounced "childless", Jeremiah 22:30. To remove which, it may be observed, that the sentence pronounced may be considered with this tacit condition or proviso, if he repented not. Now the Jews have a tradition (d) that he did repent in prison, upon which the sentence was revoked; but there is no need to suppose this, though it is not an unreasonable supposition; for the sentence does not imply that he should have no children, but rather that he should, as will appear upon reading the whole; "thus saith the Lord, write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah". Besides, the Hebrew word rendered "childless", comes from which signifies "to make naked" or "bare" and so denotes not only such as have no children, or are bereft of them, but such as are by any providence stripped of the blessings of life, and are left bare, destitute, and unhappy, as Jechonias and his posterity were: however, the Jews have no reason to find fault with our Evangelist, since Salathiel is expressly called Jechonias's son, 1 Chronicles 3:17 either he was his proper natural son, or, to use their way of speaking, "the son of the kingdom" (e), that is, his heir and successor in the kingdom, as some have thought; since it looks as if he was the son of Neri, Luke 3:27 though the chronicle of Jedidaeus of Alexandria (f), or Philo the Jew, says, that Jechonias was called Neri, because Ner, or the lamp of David, shined in him, which had been almost extinguished.
And Salathiel begat Zorobabel. This account perfectly agrees with many passages in the Old Testament, where Zorobabel is called the son of Shealtiel or Salathiel, Ezra 3:2 Haggai 1:1 which is sufficient to justify the Evangelist in this assertion. There is indeed a difficulty which as much presses the Jews as the Christians, and that is, that Zorobabel is reckoned as the son of Pedaiah, 1 Chronicles 3:19 for the solution of which a noted Jewish commentator (g) observes, that
"in Haggai, Zachariah and Ezra, Zorobabel is called the son of Shealtiel, because he was his son's son; for Pedaiah was the son of Shealtiel, and Zorobabel the son of Pedaiah; and do not you observe (adds he) that in many places children's children are mentioned as children?''
No doubt there are many instances of this; but to me it seems that Pedaiah was not the son of Shealtiel, but his brother, 1 Chronicles 3:17. And I greatly suspect that Shealtiel had no children of his own, since none are mentioned; and that he adopted his brother Pedaiah's son Zorobabel, and made him his heir and successor in the government of Judah. However, it is certain, as a genealogical writer (h) among the Jews observes, that he was of the son's sons of Jechonias, king of Judah, from whom our Evangelist makes him to descend.
(c) Hist. Dynast. p. 45. Vid. Hieron. Comment. in Dan. i. fol. 264. B. (d) Kimchi in 1 Chronicles 3.17. & in Jeremiah 22.30. (e) Ib. in 1 Chronicles 3.15. (f) Apud Vorst. Observ. in Ganz. Chronolog. p. 310. (g) Kimchi in 1 Chronicles 3.19. & in Hagg. i. 1.((h) Juchasin, fol. 13. i.
And Abiud begat Eliakim, &c. From hence to the 16th verse the genealogy is carried down to Joseph, the husband of Mary; which account must be taken from the genealogical tables of the Jews, to which recourse might be had, and with which it agrees; or otherwise the Jews would have cavilled at it; but I do not find any objections made by them to it. That there were genealogical books or tables kept by the Jews is certain, from the following instances (i);
"Simeon ben Azzai says, I found in Jerusalem, , "a volume of genealogies", and there was written in it, &c.''
Again (k), says R. Levi,
"they found a "volume of genealogies" in Jerusalem, and there was written in it that Hillell came from David; Ben Jarzaph from Asaph; Ben Tzitzith Hacceseth from Abner; Ben Cobesin from Ahab; Ben Calba Shebuah from Caleb; R. Jannai from Eli; R. Chayah Rabba from the children of Shephatiah, the son of Abital; R. Jose be Rabbi Chelphetha from the children of Jonadab, the son of Rechab; and R. Nehemiah from Nehemiah the Tirshathite.''
Once more (l), says R. Chana bar Chanma, when the holy blessed God causes his
"Shechinah to dwell, he does not cause it to dwell but upon families, "which are genealogized" in Israel.''
Now if Matthew's account had not been true, it might easily have been refuted by these records. The author of the old (m) Nizzachon takes notice of the close of this genealogy, but finds no fault with it; only that it is carried down to Joseph, and not to Mary; which may be accounted for by a rule of their own (n), "the mother's family is not called a family", whereas the father's is. It is very remarkable that the Jewish Targum (o) traces the descent of the Messiah from the family of David in the line of Zorobabel, as Matthew does; and reckons the same number of generations, wanting one, from Zorobabel to the Messiah, as the Evangelist does, from Zorobabel to Jesus; according to Matthew, the genealogy stands thus, Zorobabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Sadoc, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, Joseph, Jesus; and according to the Targum the order is this,
"Zorobabel, Hananiah, Jesaiah, Rephaiah, Arnon, Obadiah, Shecaniah, Shemnigh, Neariah, Elioenai, Anani; this is the king Messiah, who is to be revealed.''
The difference of names may be accounted for by their having two names, as before observed. This is a full proof, that, according to the Jews own account, and expectation, the Messiah must be come many years and ages ago.
(i) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 49. 2.((k) T. Hieros. Taanith, fol. 68. 1. B. Rabba, sect. 98. fol. 85. 3.((l) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 70. 9. (m) P. 186. (n) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 54. 2. Bava Bathra, fol. 109. 2. & 110. 2. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 6. 1. Jucbasin, fol. 55. 2.((o) In 1 Chronicles 3.24. Vid. Beckii Not. in ib. p. 56, 57.
of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ, or Messiah; being that illustrious person, who was spoken of by the Prophets of the Old Testament under that name, and whom the Jews expected. We may learn from hence, what a low condition the family of David was in, when the true Messiah came; according to ancient prophecy, it was like a stump of a tree, or like to a tree cut down to the root, Isaiah 11:1 and Christ who sprung from it was like a root out of a dry ground, Isaiah 53:2. From the whole of this genealogy it appears, that Jesus was of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David; whereby several ancient prophecies have their accomplishment, and therefore he ought to be acknowledged as the true Messiah: and also that he was of the blood royal, and had his descent from the kings of Judah, and was heir apparent to the throne and kingdom of his father David. The Talmudic Jews own that Jesus, or Jesu, as they call him, was put to death because he (s), "was nigh to the kingdom", or nearly related to it. Yea, even in that malicious book (t) they have written of his life, they represent him as akin to queen Helena, who they say, on that account, would have saved his life. And this was so clear a point, and their forefathers were so thoroughly convinced of this matter, that they would have took him by force and made him a king, John 6:15 but his kingdom was to be of another kind, a spiritual, and not a temporal one.
(p) Contra Haeres. l. 3. Haeres. 78. (q) Toldos Jesu, p. 3.((r) T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 40. 4. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 14. 2. & Midrash Kohelet, fol. 81. 1.((s) T. Bab. Sanhed. fol. 43. 1.((t) Toldos Jesu, p. 10.
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.
was on this wise, so, "after this manner", and which was very wonderful and astonishing;
when as, for his mother Mary was found with child, not of man, no, not of Joseph her husband; Christ had no real father as man, Joseph was only, as was supposed, his father; but
of the Holy Ghost, according to Luke 1:35. "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee", &c. and this was done that the human nature of Christ might be clear of original pollution; that so being the immediate produce of the Holy Ghost and without sin, it might be fit for union with the Son of God, and for the office of Mediator he had undertook. When Mary is said to be
found with child, the meaning is, it appeared by evident signs, it was observed by Joseph particularly, who might know not only that she was with child, but with child of the Holy Ghost; by conversation with her, who might relate to him what passed between the Angel and her, Luke 1:28 though it looks as if as yet he did not know this, or at least was not fully satisfied about it; since he had a mind to have put her away, before he was assured of the truth of it, by the appearance of an angel to him. Now Mary's being with child, and its being known, were facts, at the time when she was
espoused to Joseph, and thereby the outward credit both of Mary and Jesus were secured; for had this appeared before the espousals, the Jews would have fixed a brand of infamy on them both; and both the espousals and her being found with child, were
before they came together; that is, before they cohabited together as man and wife, before he brought her home to his own house and bed. The espousals were before they thus came together. It was usual with the Jews first to espouse or betroth, and then to marry, or rather consummate the marriage, by bringing the woman home to her husband's house, between which there was some space of time. The account and manner of betrothing is given by Maimonides (y) in the following words.
"Before the giving of the law, if a man met a woman in the street, if he would, he might take her, and bring her into his house and marry her between him and herself, and she became his wife; but when the law was given, the Israelites were commanded, that if a man would take a woman he should obtain her before witnesses, and after that she should be his wife, according to Deuteronomy 22:13 and these takings are an affirmative command of the law, and are called "espousals" or "betrothings" in every place; and a woman who is obtained in such a way is called "espoused" or "betrothed"; and when a woman is obtained, and becomes "espoused", although she is not yet "married, nor has entered into her husband's house", yet she is a man's wife.''
And such a distinction between a married woman and a betrothed virgin, which was Mary's case, may be observed in Deuteronomy 22:22 moreover, her being found or appearing to be with child, was "before they came together"; which it is likely, as Dr. Lightfoot (z) observes, was about three months from her conception, when she was returned from her cousin Elizabeth. It is probable that as soon as she was espoused to Joseph, or quickly after, she went and paid her visit to Elizabeth, with whom she stayed about three months, and then returned home, Luke 1:56. Upon her return home, she appears to be with child, with which she had gone three months, a proper time for the discovery of such a matter, Genesis 38:24 and which is assigned by the Jewish doctors for this purpose. In the Misna (a) such a case as this is put,
"If two men should espouse two women, and at the time of their entrance into the bride chamber, the one should be taken for the other--they separate them for three months, because they may prove with child;''
that is, as Bartenora observes upon it,
"they separate them that they may not return to their husbands; and that if they should be with child, they may distinguish between a legitimate and an illegitimate offspring; and that the children which they may bring forth may not be ascribed to the wrong persons.''
Now Mary being gone three months from the time of her espousals to Joseph, and he and she not being yet come together, it was a clear case, that the child she was gone three months with, was none of his; hence it follows,
(y) Hilchot. Ishot. c. 1. sect. 1, 2, 3.((z) In loc. (a) Yebamot, c. 3. sect. 10.
being a just man, observant of the law of God, particularly that which respected adultery, being wholly good and chaste, like the Patriarch of the same name; a character just the reverse of that which the Jews give him, in their scandalous (b) book of the life of Jesus; where, in the most malicious manner, they represent him as an unchaste and an unrighteous person:
and not willing to make her a public example, or to deliver her, i.e. to the civil magistrate, according to Munster's Hebrew edition. The Greek word signifies to punish by way of example to others, to deter them from sinning; and with the ancients it (c) denoted the greatest and severest punishment. Here it means either bringing her before the civil magistrate, in order to her being punished according to the law in Deuteronomy 22:23 which requires the person to be brought out to the gate of the city and stoned with stones, which was making a public example indeed; or divorcing her in a very public manner, and thereby expose her to open shame and disgrace. To prevent which, he being tender and compassionate, though strictly just and good,
was minded to put her away privily: he deliberately consulted and determined within himself to dismiss her, or put her away by giving her a bill of divorce, in a very private manner; which was sometimes done by putting it into the woman's hand or bosom, see Deuteronomy 24:1. In Munster's Hebrew Gospel it is rendered, "it was in his heart to forsake her privately."
(b) Teldos Jesu, p. 3.((c) A. Gellii Noct. Attic. l. 6. c. 14.
behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream; probably the same Angel which appeared to Zacharias, and brought him tidings that his wife should have a son, and who also appeared to Mary, and acquainted her that she should conceive, and bring forth the Messiah, Whose name was Gabriel, Luke 1:11. If we will believe the Jews, this Angel must be Gabriel, since he is the Angel who they say (d) "is appointed over dreams"; for he appeared to
Joseph in a dream, which is one of the ways and methods in which the Lord, or an Angel of his, has appeared to the saints formerly, and has answered them, see Genesis 31:11 and is reckoned by the Jews (e) one of the degrees or kinds of prophecy: and so the Angel here not only encourages Joseph to take to him his wife,
saying Joseph, thou son of David; which is said partly to attest his being of the house and lineage of David, and partly to raise his expectations and confirm his faith, that his wife should bring forth the promised son of David; and chiefly to engage his attention to what he was about to say,
fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; do not be afraid either that thou shalt offend the Lord, or bring any reproach or scandal upon thyself as if thou didst connive at an adulteress; but as she is thine espoused wife, solemnly betrothed to thee, take her home to thyself, live with her as thy wife, and openly avow her as such. To which he is encouraged by the following reason or argument,
for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost; she has not been guilty of any criminal conversation with men; this conception of her's is of the Holy Ghost, and entirely owing to his coming upon her, and overshadowing her in a wonderful and miraculous manner. I say, the Angel not only encourages Joseph after this manner, but delivers something to him by way of prophecy, in the following verse.
(d) Zohar in Gen. fol. 103. 3.((e) Zohar in Gen. fol. 103. 3. & Maimon. Yesode Hattorah. c. 7. l. 13.
for he shall save his people from their sins. The salvation here ascribed to him, and for which he is every way fit, being God as well as man, and which he is the sole author of, is to be understood, not of a temporal, but of a spiritual and everlasting salvation; such as was prophesied of, Isaiah 45:17 and which old Jacob had in his view, when he said, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord", Genesis 49:18 which by the Jewish (f) Targumist is paraphrased thus:
"Jacob said when he saw Gideon the son of Joash, and Samson the son of Manoah, that they would rise up to be saviours, not for the salvation of Gideon do I wait, nor for the salvation of Samson do I look, for their salvation is "a temporary salvation"; but for thy salvation, O Lord, do I wait and look, for thy salvation is "an everlasting salvation", or (according to another copy) but for the salvation of Messiah the son of David, who shall save the children of Israel, and bring them out of captivity, for thy salvation my soul waiteth.''
By "his people" whom he is said to save are meant, not all mankind, though they are his by creation and preservation, yet they are not, nor will they be all saved by him spiritually and eternally; nor also the people of the Jews, for though they were his nation, his kinsmen, and so his own people according to the flesh, yet they were not all saved by him; many of them died in their sins, and in the disbelief of him as the Messiah: but by them are meant all the elect of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, who were given to him by his Father, as a peculiar people, and who are made willing in the day of his power upon them, to be saved by him in his own way. And these he saves from "their sins", from all their sins, original and actual; from secret and open sins; from sins of heart, lip and life; from sins of omission and commission; from all that is in sin, and omission upon it; from the guilt, punishment, and damning power of it, by his sufferings and death; and from the tyrannical government of it by his Spirit and grace; and will at last save them from the being of it, though not in this life, yet hereafter, in the other world, when they shall be without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.
(f) Targum Jon. Ben Uzziel in loc.
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet; that is, the Prophet Isaiah, and so some copies read. The passage referred to is in Isaiah 7:14 what is there spoken was by divine inspiration; it was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet; the Spirit of the Lord spake by him. Prophets and holy men formerly, spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; so that what they said is to be looked upon as the word of God. Now between the prophecy of Isaiah referred to, and the fact here recorded by the Evangelist, is an entire agreement: the prophecy shows the will, counsel, and determination of God about this matter; the accomplishment of it, the faithfulness and veracity of God in his word; the prediction declares that the thing would be, and the thing itself was done, that what was spoken might be fulfilled; not merely by way of accommodation, or in a typical and mystical, but in a strict, proper and literal sense.
and they shall call his name Emmanuel. The difference between Isaiah and Matthew is very inconsiderable, it being in the one "thou shalt call", that is, thou virgin shalt call him by this name; and in the other "they shall call", that is, Joseph, Mary, and others; for, besides that some copies read the text in Matthew "thou shalt call", the words both in the one and the other may be rendered impersonally, "and shall be called"; and the meaning is, not that he should be commonly known and called by such a name, any more than by any, or all of those mentioned in Isaiah 9:6, but only that he should be so, which is a frequent use of the word; or he should be that, and so accounted by others, which answers to the signification of this name, which the Evangelist says,
being interpreted is God with us: for it is a compound word of "God" and "with us", and well agrees with Jesus, who is God in our nature, the word that was made flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:14, and is the one and only Mediator between God and us, 1 Timothy 2:5 (k). So the Septuagint interpret the word in Isaiah 8:8.
(g) Jarchi. in Isaiah 7.14. (h) Gaon. in Aben Ezra, in ib. (i) Kimchi & Aben Ezra in ib. R. Isaac Chizuk. Emun. p. 1. c. 21. (k) See more of this in a book of mine, called "The Prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the Messiah, literally fulfilled in Jesus", ch. 5. p. 92, 93, &c.
did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him; firmly believing that it was a messenger of God that was sent to him, and that this matter was of the Lord. Wherefore he
took unto him his wife, that is, he publicly married her, whom he had before espoused, took her to his house, or continued her there, lived with her as his wife, and owned her to be such, and henceforwards had no more thoughts of putting her away.