On Sundays this month, I am going through the Matthew 1 genealogy of Jesus. Because I’ve been fascinated with all of the connections in the Between the Lines study in March and the Women of Infertility study in February.
So, last week, we left off with Nahshon.
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
So, if Nahshon was the leader of the tribe of Judah during the settlement time, then Salmon was his son. Can you imagine how much people would be waiting to see what he would do with his life? The pressure of being the tribe leader’s kid must have been rough. I don’t know if he was handed that job, but I do know something even more interesting about him.
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
This was Rahab, the prostitute in Jericho who hid the Israelite spies from the king in exchange for her family’s protection. I could imagine because of her occupation, and the fact that her house was along the wall of Jericho, that she heard a lot of the stories about the Israelites. So when two spies come to her door, she takes them in and protects them, telling them what she has heard of their Lord (Joshua 2:8-13).
And then, after the Israelites conquer the city of Jericho, it says that “Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.” (Joshua 6:25). And that’s really the last we hear of her until we start looking at the genealogies. While she was living among those Israelites, she met Salmon, the son of the leader of the tribe of Judah, and they fell in love and had Boaz.
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Ruth was a Moabite, the wife one of the sons of Naomi. When Naomi lost her husband and both of her sons, she gives her two daughter-in-law’s freedom to go back to Moab to find other husbands to marry. But Ruth stays with Naomi. She makes a semi-famous speech to Naomi, committing her life to her mother-in-law, saying, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1: 16-17).
Boaz enters the picture as a “man of standing” who owned fields near Bethlehem. When I first read this story, I thought Boaz showed Ruth kindness because she was a hot tamale, but knowing now the bigger picture of who his mother was, I wonder if when he found out she was a Moabite, that she had left her family and homeland to stay with Naomi, that she was a foreigner just like his mother was a foreigner that it prompted his kindness.
Another precious moment was in Ruth 4, at the end of the chapter. Naomi had a pretty hard life. She lost her husband and her children. She and Ruth had a tough time after moving back to Bethlehem, with the exception of the kindness of Boaz. But after Boaz and Ruth have their first son, Obed, Naomi “took the child in her arms and cared for him.” I can just imagine her holding this boy on her lap, looking for any signs of resemblance to her sons or her husband (Boaz was related to her husband after all). This boy gave her renewed hope and promise.
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.
Jesse lived in Bethlehem like Boaz did. David took care of sheep (1 Samuel 16:11), so we know he had livestock. He interacted with both Samuel and Saul who were interested in David. Samuel came to anoint him as the next king (after looking at Jesse’s seven other sons). Saul asked for David to come play the lyre to calm his nerves. Perhaps Jesse thought this was how David would become king. He was very old when David went off to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:12), and that’s the last we hear of him directly.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
I won’t really go much into David’s story or Solomon’s in this series. Both of them are pretty well know. I do talk a little bit about David’s relationship with Bathsheba when I wrote about Uriah the Hittite in this post.
After this point, the genealogy goes from father to son, father to son. The only “extra” names that are mentioned are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah’s wife. I thought, “man, Bathsheba lost her spot in the genealogy line, being boiled down to Uriah’s wife.” But it was then that I realized something connected these four names.
They were all outsiders. Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites (not sure which “ite” they were actually a part of, but they were definitely not Israelites). Ruth was a Moabite. Uriah was a Hittite. Matthew wrote this gospel to the Jews, and this genealogy was the proof of fulfilled prophecy. But these four names being included…means more than just Jewish ancestry.
Next week, we will celebrate the resurrection of Christ. To me, this genealogy represents the fact that Jesus didn’t die for just the Jews, but for all peoples. For men and women. Shepards and kings. Rich and poor. Foreigners. Insiders. Everyone. And for that to be represented in just half of this genealogy?
Well, that’s pretty cool.
Can’t wait to find out the rest of the story.