Category Archives: MATTHEW 1

The genealogy of Christ, establishing His right to the throne of David



Survey of the New Testament

The Lord Jesus said “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil”, Matthew 5:17. He did this in a three-fold way. First, He brought out the full meaning of the Old Testament, revealing truths that the rabbis had not seen before, and thus fully filled out their meaning. Second, He fully demonstrated in His life the character and conduct that the Law and the prophets required of man. And third, He moved on to ensure that the predictions of the Old Testament would be fulfilled, not only in His death and resurrection, but also in His coming reign on the earth. When the apostle Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost and announced to the Jews that “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ”, he did it by quoting, and commenting upon, the Old Testament scriptures, Acts 2:14-36. When the apostle Paul went into the synagogue in Thessalonica, and sought to prove that “Jesus…is Christ”, he did it by reasoning out of the scriptures of the Old Testament, Acts 17:1-4. And when Apollos mightily convinced the Jews that Jesus was the Christ he did it by “shewing by the scriptures”, Acts 18:28.

So we should not think of the New Testament as a rival to the Old Testament. Rather, we should think of it in one sense as the sequel. But, having said that, we should remember that the New Testament contains truth that was not anticipated in the Old Testament, as a reading of Ephesians 3 will show. Whether we think of it as a sequel or a supplement, we should ever remember that the New Testament has equal authority with the Old Testament. The apostle Peter referred to the writings of the apostle Paul, and then alluded to “the other scriptures”, meaning the Old Testament. Thus he thought of both New Testament and Old Testament as being on the same level of authority.

Survey of the four gospels

Each of the four gospels has its own character, and they present to us that four-fold view of the Lord Jesus that the Spirit desires we have at our disposal.



Key idea Government Giving, Mark 10:45 Grace


Emphasis Sovereign Servant Saviour


Behold your King!

John 19:14

Behold My servant! Isaiah 42:1 Behold the man! John 19:5

Behold your God! Isaiah 40:9

I will raise unto David a righteous branch, Jer. 23:5 I will bring forth My servant the branch, Zechariah 3:8 The man whose name is the Branch, Zechariah 6:12

The Branch of the Lord… be beautiful, Isaiah 4:2

Theme Undisputed monarch Untiring minister Universal and unique Man

Ultimate manifestation

Son of… Son of Abraham, Son of David Son of Thy handmaiden, Psalm 86:16; Luke 1:38,48 Son of Man

Son of God

Desired result Subjects of the king to obey Him, Psalm 18:44 Servants of Christ to serve Him, Colossians 3:24 Samples of new man to duplicate Him, Eph. 4:24

Scholars to know Him, John 17:3

Beginning of gospel Pedigree of King Preaching of two servants Perfect understanding

Person of Christ

Birth of Christ In relation to Israel No mention In relation to mankind

Word became flesh

End of gospel All authority The Lord working with them Leaves behind praising people in the temple

Lovest thou Me?

Ascension of Christ No record. He is to be King on earth in the future Ascends to continue His service in heaven. Ascends as the sort of Man heaven can welcome.

No mention, but see, John 3:13; 6:62; 20:17.

We can easily see from the above that the emphasis with Matthew is on the Lord Jesus as the rightful King of Israel. Luke emphasises the true manhood of Christ, and shows how He relates to all men. Matthew, however, is concerned to show His true kingship, and how He relates to the nation of Israel. The birth-narratives of each gospel serve these two ends. Luke reserves the genealogy of Christ until the beginning of His public ministry, and goes back to Adam to show the genuine way in which the Lord Jesus has become man. He is not man by creation, as Adam, but by birth of a woman.

Matthew is not only writing so that his nation may realise that Jesus of Nazareth has a unique right to the throne of David, he is also showing that the fact that He is of the seed of David is part of the gospel. The apostle Paul indicated this at the very outset of his treatise on the gospel of God, for he said that the gospel was “concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh”, Romans 1:3. The gospel is for Jew and Gentile alike. The fact that a genealogy is included in it shows that the gospel deals with historical facts as well as doctrinal truths.

There are four ways in which persons have come into flesh. Adam, by creation; Eve, by formation; all others apart from Christ, generation; Christ, by incarnation. He is the only incarnate person, having come into manhood from outside, “taking part” extraordinarily, of that which we “partake of” ordinarily, Hebrews 2:14. It was important, as far as Luke was concerned, that the Lord Jesus should actually be born of a woman, and grow up into manhood, in order that He might have the same legitimate feelings and experiences as we do. On the other hand, it was important that His birth should be in a way which ensured His sinlessness, so that He did not have the sinful feelings and experiences we have.

Matthew is concerned about the legality of Christ’s claim to the throne. So it is that he begins with the genealogy of the true kings of Israel, those from the tribe of Judah. It was to the patriarch Judah that Jacob gave the right to rule, whereas to Joseph was given the right of the firstborn, 1 Chronicles 5:1,2. Judah, whilst he was given the right to rule, did not display the character that befits such an office, as we see from Genesis 38, and the incident with Tamar, his daughter in law. Joseph, however, showed the completely opposite character to Judah his brother by resisting the temptations of Potiphar’s wife, Genesis 39. So Christ has the legal right, and the moral right too, for He, Judah-like, is the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”, but is also, Joseph-like, the meek and suffering Lamb of God, Revelation 5:5,6.

The writer to the Hebrews was able to say that “it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah”, Hebrews 7:14, and the apostle Paul referred more than once to the Lord Jesus as being of the seed of David, Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8. It was no doubt possible to consult the Temple records, where the genealogies would be kept, and establish that Jesus Christ was indeed of the seed of David. It may be that those records were destroyed when Titus burnt the Temple, so the Spirit of God ensured Matthew and Luke had availed themselves of the information beforehand. It may be, however, that both Joseph and Mary were able to recite their respective ancestry, (much as some Chinese tribes can today), and this is what is found in the inspired word now.

Special note on the generations
In Matthew 1:17 the word “eos” is used, (eos David…eos the captivity…eos Christ), and this was employed in Greek “before the names of illustrious men by which a period of time is marked”, Grimme. It is also the preposition which means “up to and including”. So there are three special periods, that of “David”, that of the “Captivity”, with Jechonias prominent, and that of “Christ”. “David” saw the setting up of the kingdom, the captivity saw the setting aside of the kingdom, Jechonias resulted in no Davidic King being available to occupy the throne, as we shall see. Christ comes to reinstate the kingdom in due time, and ensure it will never be set aside again, for “of His kingdom there shall be no end”, Luke 1:33.

The three divisions mentioned in verse 17 do not give the number of begettings, for Abraham is included, and we are not told his father here. The word generation in most cases refers to the man’s life from his birth to the birth of the son mentioned. Hence Abraham’s life up to the birth of Isaac is his generation.

The three lists are of names of people who are important to the genealogy, with the division marked by a critical event. The first event is the setting up of the kingdom, the “David event”, the second one is the “Captivity event”, the third one is the “Christ event”. Notice that despite being twice called “David the king” in verse 6, this is not the formula in verse 17, because it is not so much David as a person but as a time and event marker.

So Matthew’s scheme, defining a generation as “a life up to the birth of a son”, or in David’s case, “his life up to the time he became ‘David the King'”, and then, in the second group, “David’s life as father of Solomon”, as follows:

First group of fourteen

1. Abraham to the birth of Isaac.

2. Isaac to the birth of Jacob.

3. Jacob to the birth of Judah.

4. Judah to the birth of Phares.

5. Phares to the birth of Esrom.

6. Esrom to the birth of Aram.

7. Aram to the birth of Aminadab.

8. Aminadab to the birth of Naasson.

9. Naasson to the birth of Salmon.

10. Salmon to the birth of Booz.

11. Booz to the birth of Obed.

12. Obed to the birth of Jesse.

13. Jesse to the birth of David.

14. “David the king”, his generation up to the time he became king.

Second group of fourteen

1. “David the king”, his reign and the birth of Solomon.

2. Solomon to the birth of Roboam.

3. Roboam to the birth of Abia.

4. Abia to the birth of Asa.

5. Asa to the birth of Josaphat.

6. Josaphat to the birth of Joram.

7. Joram to the birth of Ozias.

8. Ozias to the birth of Joatham.

9. Joatham to the birth of Achaz.

10. Achaz to the birth of Ezekias.

11. Ezekias to the birth of Manasses.

12. Manasses to the birth of Amon.

13. Amon to the birth of Josias.

14. Josias to the birth of Jechonias about the time of the Captivity.

Third group of fourteen

1. Jechonias to the birth of Salathiel.

2. Salathiel to the birth of Zorobabel.

3. Zorobabel to the birth of Abiud.

4. Abiud to the birth of Eliakim.

5. Eliakim to the birth of Azor.

6. Azor to the birth of Sadoc.

7. Sadoc to the birth of Achim.

8. Achim to the birth of Eliud.

9. Eliud to the birth of Eleazar.

10. Eleazar to the birth of Matthan.

11. Matthan to the birth of Jacob.

12. Jacob to the birth of Joseph.

13. Joseph to the birth of Christ.

14. Christ as the one whose generation Matthew’s gospel records.

The first section begins with a child, Isaac, born by Divine intervention, to Abraham by Sarah. This was after Abraham had made the grave mistake of taking his slave-woman to wife and having Ishmael by her.

The second section begins with a child born after his brother had died, after David had ensured Uriah’s death, so that he could take his wife.

The third section begins with a man who, although having several sons, is condemned to be “childless”, because of idolatry, which is called adultery in the Old Testament, God being the husband of the nation, Jeremiah 31:32. The sections end with a Child born by the intervention of the Spirit of God, with a mother pure and holy, and with no intervention by a father.


1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

1:3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

1:4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

1:6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

1:7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;

1:8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

1:9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;

1:10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;

1:11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

1:12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;

1:13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;

1:14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;

1:15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;

1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

1:17 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.

(a) Verse 1 17 Christ’s birth in relation to history

1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ- the book referred to here is the book in which Christ’s ancestry is set out, being the written record of His lineage in verses 2-16,. The writer to the Hebrews was able to say, “It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah”, Hebrews 7;14, so he was confident that this was not disputed.
The word generation is “genesis”, meaning birth, so we have here the birth of the Lord Jesus considered as to who was in His ancestry. The birth of Christ is spoken of in three ways in the chapter, and effectively divides it as follows:

(a) Verse 1 17 His birth in relation to history.

(b) Verses 18-21 His birth in relation to humanity.

(c) Verses 22-25 His birth in relation to Deity.

The word generations in the plural refers to the various ancestors of Christ, and has to do with the length of time between their birth and the begetting of a son. There are various words used by Matthew in the chapter which have to do with birth, and it may be as well to set them out together here:

Matthew 1:1 “generation” = genesis, ancestry.

Matthew 1:2-16 “begat” = gennao, to beget children.

Matthew 1:3,5,6 “begat” = gennao followed by ek with the genitive, in relation to a mother, (in these cases Thamar, Rachab and Ruth).

Matthew 1:16 “of whom was born” = gennao, but passive, in relation to Mary.

Matthew 1:17 “generations” = genea. The successive members of a genealogy considered as to the time between their birth and the begetting of their son.

Matthew 1:20 “that which is conceived” = gennao, to be begotten. It is translated in 2:1,4 as “was born”, and “should be born”.

But despite these various uses of words connected with being born, Matthew does not record the actual event. He simply tells us the angel said “she shall bring forth”, verse 21, and then, that Joseph knew not Mary, “till she had brought forth”, verse2 25. It is as if Matthew is the official registrar, whereas Luke is more like a personal physician as he records the circumstances of our Lord’s birth.

The Hebrews used a word or phrase from the start of each Old Testament book as its title, so that they did not add to the Word of God. They called the book of Genesis “In the beginning”, because those were its first words. So we can see that the word generation, being the Greek word “genesis”, has the idea of beginning about it. (But we should remember that it is not so much His beginning in connection with His own life upon the earth, but in relation to who has gone before).

So when Matthew uses the word for the book of the generation of Jesus Christ he is indicating that He will bring in a new beginning. And this is the case, for He alone can bring in a new creation, unmarked by sin. But whereas the first creation came in by His command, the new creation is brought in by His cross. The first creation was spoiled by sin, but the new creation is secured by the resurrection of the One who was made sin, yet put away sin. To reign He must rise from the dead, (for Messiah reigns for ever), to rise He must die; to die He must be born.

The son of David, the son of Abraham notice that Matthew does not put David and Abraham in chronological order, even though that is the order in the genealogy. His main theme is the kingship of the Lord Jesus, so he refers first to David, the first rightful king of Israel, (Saul not being of the tribe of Judah), then Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation. Being descended from David gives Christ the right to the throne of David. Being son of Abraham gives Him the right to God’s promises to Abraham, including the land of Israel. He may claim the blessings of the Abrahamic and the Davidic covenants, and secure them for the nation of Israel.
By calling Him son of Abraham, Matthew is reminding us of His likeness to Isaac, the man who was lifted up on an altar. The apostle tells us in Galatians 3:16 that the covenant with Abraham was actually made with Christ. To die He must be born. To die for sins He must be sinless. To deal with sins He must be God and man. All this is in Matthew 1.
The original son of David, however, was Solomon, the one who was lifted to the throne. The order of mention here, however, David then Abraham, is the order of Matthew’s gospel, with chapters 1-25 showing Him to be the true son of David, with the right to the throne, whereas chapters 26-27 show Him to be the true son of Abraham, with the altar as His destiny. Chapter 28 tells of His resurrection, the sign His altar-work was accepted of God, and thus combines His Isaac-character and His David-character, for He declares that He has all power in heaven and in earth, so is fit to establish the Kingdom of God upon earth with the authority of heaven. Matthew 28:18.

1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

Abraham begat Isaac- we notice from this statement two further things. First, that Matthew is starting from the past and working towards the present as he tells us Christ’s ancestry. He sees in Christ the man for the future, but who has His roots in the past. Luke’s genealogy of Christ, however, begins with the present, and goes right back to Adam at the beginning of time. He reserves his record until just before the temptation account, as if to challenge Satan to fail where he suceeded before when he tempted Adam. He is True Man in Luke’s account, whereas in Matthew He is True King.
The second feature that distinguishes Matthew’s genealogy of Christ from Luke’s, is that in Matthew the emphasis is on the father begetting, whereas in Luke the emphasis is on the son who was begotten. The one says, “Abraham begat Isaac”, and the other says, “Isaac, which was the son of Abraham”. Matthew emphasises the claim the father gives, whereas Luke emphasises the nature the son receives. This is all the more striking, in that Joseph did not beget Jesus. It was, as we shall see, Mary who did that.
And Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren- note that Judah is linked with his brethren, for it is the purpose God to re-unite the nation under Christ, so that all twelve tribes gather together unto Him, Genesis 49:10. See Hosea 1:11, where we read that the children of Judah, (the two-tribed kingdom of Judah and Benjamin), and the children of Israel, (the ten-tribed northern kingdom), shall be gathered together, and appont themselves one head. It was not necessary to mention Judah’s eleven brothers, but Matthew is guided of the Spirit to include them as the ancestors of the twelve tribes of the nation over which the Lord Jesus shall reign. He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, Luke 1:33.

1:3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram- there are three women mentioned in this first section of the genealogy, Thamar, (Tamar), Rachab (Rahab), and Ruth. There is one woman mentioned in section 2, Bathsheba, but not by name. Although the line passes through the male, these women are especially mentioned by Matthew. Matthew did not need to include these women, (for he does not mention Sarah, Rebekah or Rachel, for instance). But he is showing that even though he is concerned with the glories of Christ the King, He has not forgotten His grace and humility. The Lord Jesus made Himself of no reputation even as to His genealogy. The presence of these women as ancestresses did not pollute the line, for even Mary was a sinner, although not of the same sort as these women.
Tamar pretended to be a harlot, Genesis 38:14,15; Rahab was a harlot, Joshua 2:1; Ruth was from a nation of harlots, Moab, Numbers 25:1; Bathsheba was treated like a harlot, 1 Samuel 11:2-4. The fifth woman is in section 3, Mary, pure and chaste, in marked contrast to the other four. Yet for all that, she still needed to know God as her saviour, for she was not sinless, Luke 1:47, as some would erroneously teach.
The Lord Jesus is recorded in Matthew as saying to the Pharisees, “the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you”, Matthew 21:31. It is appropriate for Matthew, the ex-publican, to include harlots in the genealogy of the King. He shall save His people from their sins, even if they were harlots or tax-gatherers before.

1:4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
1:6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

And Jesse begat David the king- Jesse had many sons, but it was David that Samuel anointed to be king over Israel. He becomes the prototype, the one by whom the other kings of Judah were assessed.
David is the only one in the genealogy called a king, and that twice over, emphasising that it is of his line that the Messiah must come and reign as king. The name David is being used here as a time-marker, as we have already noted, for he was not a king when he was begotten, (in contrast to Christ who was “Born king of the Jews”, Matthew 2:2). Matthew tells us there are fourteen generations from Abraham to David. By this he means fourteen life-periods up to a critical event. So the critical events in verse 16 are the life of Jesse up to the time when David could be described as the king. Then the life of David as king up to the time he begat Solomon begins the second grouping.
And David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias- in this way the moral lapse of David is recorded, for he treated Bathsheba in such a way as made her like the harlots mentioned in the list. Matthew could have written “David begat Solomon of Bathsheba”, but the point was that she had been the wife of Uriah until David had engineered his death. Like all sin, even if it is repented of, (as David’s was), it has repercussions, for Ahithophel, David’s counsellor, who abandoned him in favour of Absalom and who became the Old Testament “Judas”, was very probably Bathsheba’s grandfather, see 2 Samuel 11:3, and 23:34. It is solemn to think that the king who was so much associated with glory, (“Solomon in all his glory”, Matthew 6:29), began life surrounded with the shame of his father.
The generation of David up to the birth of Solomon is the fourteenth, and marks the end of the group. So Abraham, the founder of the nation is at the head, and then David the rightful and appointed king is the climax.
There are three sons of David in Matthew 1, namely Solomon, the direct son; Joseph the descendant son, and Christ the designated Son.
Just as Isaac was the first son of section 1, so Solomon is the first of section 2. Isaac was the man of the altar of suffering; Solomon was the man of the throne of glory. If the “Isaac” section of Matthew’s gospel is chapters 26 and 27, then the remainder of the gospel is the “Solomon” section.

Second group: “David until the carrying away into Babylon”

David ends the first group, and begins the second group, no doubt to emphasise his ongoing relevance as the generations come and go. He is also mentioned twice because his name in the first reference is to mark an event, the “David-event”. Christ is not “Son of Joash”, or any other of the kings apart from David. He gives his name to the dynasty.

1:7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
1:8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
1:9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
1:10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
1:11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

So the first group ended with physical adultery, the second group ended with spiritual adultery, namely idolatry. The first group began with a man who had been brought out of idolatry in Babylonia, the second group ends with the nation that came from him being carried to Babylon because of their idolatry. This shows the need for a king who can “save His people from their sins”, as the other kings in the line could not.
Several kings are omitted in this section, the first being Ahaziah the son of Athaliah, the daughter of Omri, who attempted to destroy the seed royal, 2 Chronicles 22:10, and reigned over the land for six years. Matthew makes no notice of this, for Joash was the rightful heir.
The second omission is Joash, who, although in many ways a good king, nonetheless only reigned wisely whilst Jehoiada the high priest was his spiritual guide. After his death, the kingdom deteriorated, and Joash even slew Jehoiada’s son, an event referred to by the Lord Jesus as a prime example of the sins of the fathers, in Matthew 23:35.
The third omission is that of Amaziah, who was slain by Jehu so as to finally obliterate the House of Ahab.
Mannesses is included, despite his great apostasy, for he repented and was restored, and is another token, with the women, of the grace of God.
Then Jehoahaz is omitted, perhaps because he was removed from the throne by Pharoah, king of Egypt, and thereby showed his incompetence.
Jehoiakim is omitted, perhaps because he was made king by Pharoah. He it was who burnt pages of the Scriptures which he had cut out of the prophecy of jeremiah, Jeremiah 36:21-25, and God’s displeasure is seen in that he is not mentioned in the line of the Messiah.
The brethren of Jechonias are mentioned, just as the brethren of Judah were mentioned in the first section. But they are carried away into captivity, and thus the kingdom of Judah lapses. The brethren of Judah represent hope for the future, whereas the brethren of Jechonias represent hopes dashed.
The last king to be omitted from the list is Zedekiah, perhaps because he was made king by Nebuchadnezzar, the destroyer of Jerusalem, and the instigator of the captivity.

Third grouping: “The carrying away into Babylon unto Christ”.

1:12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
1:13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
1:14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
1:15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

The group begins with the repetition of the fact they were taken into captivity. Just as David is mention in both the first and second sections to emphasise God’s ongoing commitment to maintain his house, the two-fold mention of captivity stresses that man’s sinfulness was obstructing God’s purpose. Can God remedy the situation and bring in His king? The answer is seen in the preservation of the line of kings until Christ, even though they had not the right or the opportunity to sit on the throne of Israel.
The generations of verses 13, 14 and 15 are not in the Old Testament, the persons concerned having lived between the time of Malachi and Christ. They are a sign that God kept faith with His promise to David, even through the dark years of the inter-testamental period, when He was silent.
Like David, Jechonias is mentioned twice, in 11,12, at the end of the second group and the beginning of the third, for he is not only a person begotten by Josiah, (who was in fact his grandfather, the missing out of Jechonias’ father and uncles being significant, and also serving to highlight the decline from Josiah, the best king of Judah, 2 Kings 23:25), but is also the one who is associated with the captivity.
Special mention must be made of Jehoiachin, otherwise known as Jeconiah and Coniah, in the Old Testament, and Jechonias in this chapter. Like David and Christ he is a marker for a distinct event, in his case, the Captivity. But he is important for another reason. Jeremiah solemnly declared a judgement against him in these words, “Earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord. 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 upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Israel”, Jeremiah 22:29,30. Now Jeconiah had several sons, 1 Chronicles 3:17, but none of them, nor any of their line, were to prosper on the throne of Israel. This is why Zerubbabel was never crowned king after the return from captivity, (even though he was of the line of David), for he was descended from Jechonias. The question is, given that Christ is descended from Jechonias, how can He sit on the throne of David? The answer will be found in the marriage of Joseph to Mary after the Child is conceived and before He is born.
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ- whereas the other sons in this list are begotten of their fathers, we now arrive at the unique exception. For the words “was born” do not simply refer to the actual birth of Christ, but His being begotten. And the word “begat” which has been used over forty times in the passage in the active mood, is now used again, but this time in the passive. He is begotten, but by Mary, so He is the Seed of the Woman, promised in Eden.
David makes Christ’s kingship possible, Jechonias makes Christ’s kingship impossible. The marriage of Joseph to Mary before Christ’s birth removes the difficulty. Hence the importance of including Mary in the generations, for the word begat, (in the passive), is used of her. If the sequence had been Joseph…Christ, then a misunderstanding might arise. Joseph needs to be in the genealogy to make Christ legally the Seed of David, (as Joseph was physically, verse 20), Mary needs to be in the genealogy to avoid the curse of Jechonias. The other women in the list are not said to have begotten sons, simply that the fathers begat through them. Christ is thus uniquely the “seed of the woman”.
Luke emphasises the moral claim to the throne, as one who had not failed as the rest of David’s house had, 2 Samuel 23:3-5. So it appropriate that he should place the genealogy of Christ after He has lived in Nazareth for many years, and just before He defeats the temptations of the Devil in the wilderness. Joseph was a son or descendant of David, but because of the bar placed on anyone descended through Jeconias occupying the throne of David, he himself had no right to the throne, see Jeremiah 22:28-30; Matthew 1:11,12.

1:17 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.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations- Hebrew letters have numerical value, and the letters of the name David amount to fourteen. So perhaps this is why Matthew is dividing the genealogy into three groups of fourteen. The name David means “beloved”, and thus the fact that he was beloved of God, (God calls him “a man after Mine own heart”, Acts 13:22), is stamped upon the lists. But it also true that God’s Beloved Son is the culmination of the lists. So when the word came at His baptism, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”, there was not only a comment on His life, for he had pleased His Father well whilst living in Nazareth, but it was a comment on His person, for He was the Beloved, the one whose coming into the world represented the climax of the genealogy that had “beloved” stamped on it.
The expression “all the generations” means “all the generations the Holy Spirit guided Matthew to include”, rather than all the generations as a matter of fact. By the omission of certain kings, God indicated that He disapproved of them, and this was enshrined in the Scriptures. This being the case, the genealogy is not simply a transcript from the Temple records, as is also seen from the fact that the names of women are included, Phares’ twin brother Zara is mentioned, as are Judah and Jechonias’ brethren, and the carrying away into Babylon, and these things would not be found in a normal genealogy. But Matthew knew that most of the list were in the Book of Chronicles anyway. This is why he is happy to omit cetain kings, for everyone knew they were there, and their omission highlighted their failure. So the missing persons do not give support to the idea that there might be gaps in the generations given in the early chapters of Genesis, (a ploy used by those who wish to make the earth older than it is). The most likely place for ommissions is in Genesis 5, but Jude tells us that Enoch was the seventh from Adam, so confirming there are no missing names, Jude 14.
And from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations- so Matthew includes David in this section, to show that even though they were carried into Babylon at the end of the fourteen, the fact that David was at the head of the list justified God persisting with the nation, even after it had gone into captivity.
Matthew mentions Babylon, but he does not mention Jerusalem, even though it is “the city of the great king”, Matthew 5:35. In fact, Matthew does not record that the Lord Jesus went to Jerusalem, (even though He actually did many times, as the other gospels make clear), until He went there to die. He must be like Isaac, and go to the altar, before He can be like Solomon, and sit on the throne in Jerusalem.


1:18 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.

1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

1:20 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.

1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.

1:22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

1:23 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.

1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called His name JESUS.

(b) Verses 18-21 Christ’s birth in relation to humanity

1:18 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.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise- having spoken of the begetting of the kings of Israel, which was perfectly normal, Matthew is now going to record the begetting that was supernatural. The other kings were born one way, after being begotten of their fathers, this king is born on another wise, namely, begotten of the Holy Spirit. He is true man, (for His development and birth is after the normal manner), but sinless man, (for His conception is not after the normal manner). The preservation of the sinlessness of Christ does not depend on Mary, (who confessed God as her Saviour); nor is it compromised by the women in His pedigree who were immoral. Rather, it is preserved by the fact that His conception was by the agency of the Holy Spirit.
When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together- the expression “when as” means that the previous phrase is being explained. Matthew is summarising the position at the point where Luke left off, with Mary returning from her three month’s stay in Elizabeth’s house in Judea. She is espoused to Joseph, but they have not “come together” as a result of a formal marriage ceremony.
She was found with child of the Holy Ghost- Matthew is careful to add how it is that Mary is with child, even though at this point in the account Joseph does not know that this is how it came about. As far as Joseph is concerned, she is with child, and discovered to be so, for the fact has become obvious. “Come together” should not be confused with “knew her”.
Luke tells us he had “perfect understanding of all things from the very first”, Luke 1:3, and this includes the beginning of the life of Christ in the womb. The angel had announced to Mary that she would have a child, and Mary had said, “Be it unto me according to thy word”, thus surrendering herself to the will of God. At that point the angel departs, so has nothing to do with the conception, for it is the Holy Spirit who will come upon Mary. She then leaves Nazareth, (and Joseph), and goes into the hill-country of Judea, to see her cousin Elizabeth, who is also expecting a child. Mary is greeted by Elizabeth as a mother, so we now know that Zecharias is not the father of Mary’s child. She leaves Elizabeth before John is born, so we also know that Mary’s child is not John. She returns to Nazareth and only then does Joseph learn of her condition, so she is not expecting Joseph’s child. The identity and pedigree of the Child is safeguarded all the way through, for it is vital that there be no doubt as to who He is.
With this we may compare the way Christ’s body was the subject of close attention after He died, with each stage from the taking down of His body to the laying in the tomb carefully documented, so that we may be sure it was the person who died on the cross that came forth from the tomb.
Joseph was not physically responsible for the unborn child or he would not have thought of divorcing Mary. He becomes legally responsible for born child because he married Mary before the birth.

Special note
The truth that the Lord Jesus was born of a virgin is foundational to the Christian faith. A local church is required by God to be the “pillar and ground of the truth”, 1 Timothy 3:15. The fundamentals of the faith should therefore be regularly and systematically taught, to God’s glory. The fact that Christ came into manhood, is vitally important. As also is the fact that He was born of a virgin. They affect His honour, and that of His Father. On the one hand, the Son of God cannot unite with Himself anything that is evil. On the other hand, He needs to associate Himself with men in the closest way that is possible for Him. The only way for this to happen is for Him to be really born as a man, but be born of a virgin, thus ensuring that the sin-principle that is normally passed on by a father, is not present in Him. For “by one man sin entered into the world”, and the process was begun when Adam begat a son, and did so in his likeness as a sinner, Genesis 5:3; Romans 5:12.

We begin by asking three important questions about this matter.

Why must Christ become man?

1. To be able to die, Hebrews 2:14.

2. To be fully-qualified to sympathise, Hebrews 2:14-18.

3. To be approachable, but still showing His glory, John 1:14.

4. To be of the seed of David according to the flesh, Romans 1:3.

5. To vindicate God’s trust in man in relation to the earth, Hebrews 2:8,9.

6. To enable Him to link believers to Himself, 1 Corinthians 6:15.

7. Because man is lower than angels, and He willed to take the low place, Philippians 2:7,8.

Why must Christ be born of a virgin?

1. So that He does not inherit any taint of Adam’s sin, which is passed on through the male, Romans 5:12.

2. So that He is not prevented from occupying the throne of David in a coming day by the curse pronounced on Jeconiah, Jeremiah 22:22.

3. So that He may unite manhood with His Deity by the Divine Agency of the Spirit of God, and not through any intervention by man.

4. So that His birth may be a sign that God is starting a new mode of dealing with men.

5. So God may indicate that the “seed of the woman” has indeed come, for only Christ fits that description. His birth is unique to highlight the fact that He is God’s remedy for the sin that came into the world through Adam.

What was involved when He came into manhood?

1. He gained the attributes of man without losing the attributes of God. It was on earth, as a man, that the Lord said, “I and My Father are one”, John 10:30.

  1. He united Godhood and manhood for ever in His Person.

  2. He really became flesh, and was not simply clothed with a body.

  3. He now has two natures in one Person.

  4. The attributes of God and the attributes of man are properly ascribed to that one Person.

1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

Then Joseph her husband- in Jewish law, as one espoused to Mary, he is her husband, and she is his wife. The law of Jewish espousal was so strong, that if a woman’s betrothed husband died, she was classed as a widow.
Being a just man- we are told three things by Matthew about the character of Joseph, and this is the first. As a just man, he would be careful to obey the commands of the law of God. This would involve him in questioning Mary as to the circumstances by which she was with child. His subsequent course of action will depend on her answer. If she was waylaid in the city, (that is, where others were nearby to hear her call for help), then she and the man involved are to be stoned to death, Deuteronomy 22:23,24. If she was waylaid in the field, with no-one at hand to hear her cry out, then nothing is to be done to her, for the law mercifully supposes that she was not willing, but the man is to be stoned to death, Deuteronomy 22:25-27. Mary, however, would have assured Joseph that neither of these situations was the case. However, there is a third consideration. How is Joseph to know that the child is of the royal line of David? Even if he accepts Mary’s account of things, she will only be able to tell him that the angel said the child would be given the throne of His father David, Luke 1:32.
And not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily- now as a just man, Joseph was jealous for the honour of the House of David, but he knew that in Jewish law, if he married Mary, her child would become his child legally. Is it safe to do this, and thus, as a son of David himself, incorporate into the royal line a child whose identity is not known? This is the dilemma that faces him. And this is why he contemplates divorcing Mary, even though he does not believe she is with child by fornication.
He has two options, either to bring her before the elders of the city as one who must be cross-examined, or put her away, (that is, divorce her), privily, or privately, as one whose account is believed. If, as a just man, he believed Mary should be questioned, then he would adopt the former policy. If he believed her account, he would take the latter course, but again as a just man. The justness of his action being in this latter case in regard to Mary, for it is only just to deal with her gently, given that he believes her account. So this is the second feature that marks Joseph, even his gentleness and kindness.

1:20 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.

But while he thought on these things- the third characteristic of Joseph is his careful consideration of matters. The scripture says, “He that believeth shall not make haste”, Isaiah 28:16.
Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream- Joseph had no doubt gone to sleep with these things on his mind, and now the answer comes to him in such a way that he is not in a position to dispute it. The angel Gabriel came to Mary, and they had a conversation, for her fears and sincere questions needed to be answered. Joseph, however, only needs to know the answer to a simple question, should he or should he not marry Mary? If not, he must divorce her, for they are betrothed to marry. He cannot simply break off the friendship, for they are legally obligated already.
He does not simply hear a voice, but an angel of the Lord appears to him as well. There would be something about this appearance that would leave him in no doubt that it was a messenger from God.
Joseph, thou son of David- the angel knows his name and his ancestry. By being addressed like this, Joseph assured that the message has to do with the fact that he is of the royal line of David. The fact that he is a son of David is the matter that is on his mind, and now he is to be given the answer to his dilemma. Both Joseph, verse 20, and Christ, verse 1, are called “son of David”, as if to by-pass all other kings in between, and to show the connection with the one who alone is called a king in the passage. As we shall see, however, Joseph, despite being a son of David, did not have any right to the throne.
Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife- this shows he had been inclined to marry Mary, for he believed her story, but had a lingering doubt about the identity of the child. It is not “fear to put away”, as if that was his inclination, but rather, “fear not to take”, for that was what, as a just man, he thought it right to do. Note that the angel recognises that Mary is his wife, and also reinforces that truth upon Joseph’s mind by stating it.
For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost- thus the angel delicately confirms what Mary would have told him. Note that it is not simply that she conceived with the aid of the Holy Spirit, for no doubt that could have been said about Sarah. The child is directly “of” the Holy Spirit, with the preposition meaning “out of”, or “sourced in”. That is, the conception or begetting of the child is only by the action of the Holy Spirit. The other women in the list given by Matthew are not said to have begotten sons, simply that the fathers begat through them. Christ is thus uniquely the promised “seed of the woman”, Genesis 3:15.
Notice that Joseph has not been told the child is “son of David”, and heir to David’s throne, for the simple reason that He is not that yet. Because the line of kings runs through the male side, even Mary being descended from David does not make Him heir to the throne. He will only be son of David in the legal sense when Joseph marries Mary.

1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS- “she” means “Mary as the one you will have married”; it is as a married woman that Mary will bring forth a son. In this way Joseph learns that he is to marry Mary before the child is born. This will ensure that he will be considered the legal father of the child, with all that that entailed, since he was a son of David. Yet, as we have seen, there was the insurmountable obstacle of the curse on those of Jechonias’ line. However, by being the legal son of Joseph, but not the biological son, the Lord Jesus avoids that obstacle.
So Joseph is assured that the child will be safely brought to the birth, (for the Holy Spirit had not only come upon Mary to effect the conception, but had overshadowed her to preserve her and her child), and will be a son, not a daughter. He is to reinforce that he is the legal father by naming the child himself. When the angel spoke to Mary, he told her she would name the child. So the child is named by Mary as the physical mother, and by Joseph as the legal father. They would be agreed as to the name, in contrast to Zecharias and Elizabeth, Luke 1:59-64.
Jesus is the equivalent to the Old Testament name Joshua, and means either “Jehovah is Saviour”, or “Jehovah the Saviour”. Of course, having an illustrious name did not guarantee in ordinary circumstances that the person named would live up to it. For instance, there were wicked kings of David’s line who had names like Jehoram, “Jah is high”; Ahaziah, “Jah possesses”; Jehoahaz, “Jah upholds”; Jehoiakin”, Jah sets up”, and Jeconiah, “Jah is establishing”. The last name being specially interesting, because God (Jah) dis-established him by sending him into captivity; so his name was the reverse of his character and history.
Joshua was originally named Oshea, (“salvation”), but when he was sent by Moses to spy out the promised land, his name was changed to Jehoshua, “salvation of Jehovah” or “Jehovah saves”, Numbers 13:16. So went he eventually took the people into the land as their leader, it was very clear that it was God who brought them in to a place of salvation and blessing, not Joshua.
For He shall save His people from their sins- the “He” is emphatic, meaning “He, and no other”. As Peter said to the rulers who crucified Him, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby ye must be saved”, Acts 4:12. It is true there would have been many called Jesus in His day, named after Joshua, the renowned soldier-statesman that succeeded Moses as leader of the nation, but only He has the power to save from sins. Joshua could save from the Amalekites, but not from sin.
So the name Jesus is no mere pious hope, but the expression of the character the person will display. The reason why one of those kings in the genealogy of the previous verses could save the people, (whom they would call “their people”, because they were king over them), from their sins, for they were failures themselves in greater or lesser degree, and often caused the fall of the nation. This one is different, for His name implies that He has no sin of His own, and is therefore in a position to deal with the sins of His people.
Note that it is sins that He deals with. He is not presented here as one who will overturn the Roman oppression, and deliver the people and set up His kingdom. His conquest will be seen to be successful when men and women are delivered from the greatest oppression of all, namely their sins. God said to the people in Hosea’s day, “But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen”, Hosea 1:7. One of the things that stumbled many in Israel, and even John the Baptist, (Luke 7:19, and see the words of his father in Luke 1:71,74), was the fact that when He came amongst them, He did not call for a rising up against the Roman Emperor. He even chose as one of His apostles Simon the Canaanite. The word Canaanite indicates Simon belonged to the Zealots, the party that were dedicated to the overthrow the Roman rule. Christ called him away from working against the Roman authorities, just as He called Matthew away from working for the Roman Authorities.
If they had remembered Hosea’s words, they would have realised that it was as the Lord their God that He would save, and His Deity would give utmost value to the death He would die at Calvary. It is by this they must be saved. The Lord Jesus cannot rule over an unbelieving, uncleansed nation.

(c) Verses 22-25 Christ’s birth in relation to Deity.

1:22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

Now all this was done- that is, the sum total of all events surrounding the birth of Christ, whether it be the action of the Spirit of God, the willing submission of Mary, or the courage of Joseph in taking her to be his wife. All combined together, under God’s overruling, to bring about the birth of Christ in the appointed and foretold way.
That it might be fulfilled- there are three ways in which the fulfilment of prophecy is introduced in the New Testament, as follows:

1. Where the Greek word “ina” is used, as here, then it is “in order that it might be fulfilled”, and the event in question completely fulfils the prophecy.

2. Where the word “tole” is found, as in Matthew 2:17, then it is “was fulfilled”, and indicates that the event was merely a case in point, and what happened was an illustration of what was said in the prophecy, (in that instance, that there was tribulation for the mothers of the district. But there will be tribulation for all Israel in a day to come, so the fulfilment is only partial in Matthew 2:7).

3. Where the word “opus” is used, as is the case in Matthew 8:17, it is “so that it might be”, and the fulfilment is not complete, but an event which was within the scope and intention of the prophecy. (The healing of the sicknesses of the body becomes an indicator that the Lord Jesus will deal with the spiritual problem, sin itself, at Calvary).

Which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying- note that the words were recorded by Isaiah, and yet they were the words of the Lord. He chose to speak through the prophet. This reminds us of the unique character of the Holy Scriptures, for, although written by men, yet they are the very word of God to us. Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Spirit of God, 2 Peter 1:21. Like a sailing ship is borne along on the water by the wind in the sails, but yet all the time the captain is in control. The prophecy in question was uttered over 700 years before the event, but the long period of time did not mean the promise had lapsed, for God is faithful.

1:23 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.

Behold- something of the wonder of the event, and the surprise of it, is expressed in Isaiah’s words. And the wonder was still there centuries later when the thing promised came to pass. Of course, the greatest surprise was that a virgin should conceive.
A virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son- this is impossible naturally, but as the angel said to Mary, “For with God nothing shall be impossible”, Luke 1:37. It is not that a maiden who was a virgin at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy would later on have a child. In that case she would no longer be a virgin. And in any case, the birth of a child to this virgin is spoken of as a sign, but a young woman having a baby is no sign. She must be a virgin and be with child at the same time to fit the requirements of this prediction.
When it comes to deciding what is involved here, our safest course is to be governed by what the Old Testament usage of words is. So when we turn to Genesis 24, we find reference to Rebekah, and we are told in verse 16 that, (a) she was a damsel, (naarah), (b) that she was a virgin, (bethulah), and (c) that she had not been known by man. Clearly, to be described as a “bethulah” was not enough, (especially as it is used in Joel 1:8 of a married woman), so the words “that had not known man” needed to be added to make the situation clear. Now when Rebekah was described in verse 43, the servant calls her “the virgin”, (alma). He is clearly summing up what verse 16 has said, as is shown by the use of the definite article. The servant is giving a summary of what had happened when he first met Rebekah, and therefore she is the definite person he has in mind. So an “alma”, as Mary was, is a maiden; of marriageable age; is not married; has not had relations with a man.
And they shall call His name Emmanuel- notice that whilst it was Mary who was to name the child Jesus, as His true mother, and Joseph who was to name Him likewise, as the legal father, it is “they” who call Him Emmanuel. The “they” are clearly the people whom He will have saved from their sins. They gladly acknowledge that the One who died upon the cross for them, so that their sins might be forgiven, is none other than Emmanuel, God manifest in flesh. The person He is gives value to the work that He did. In the original prophecy, it is the virgin who will call His name Emmanuel, showing that she will recognise the Deity of her child.
Which being interpreted is, God with us- Matthew knows that Israelites will understand the meaning of the name Emmanuel, but he also knows that Gentiles are going to have the gospel preached to them, so for their benefit, since the identity of this person is so important, he translates the name for us. Whereas others have names that simply reflect the pious hopes of the parents, this Child really is who His name declares Him to be. So it is that God’s promise comes literally true, for He saves “by the Lord their God”, Hosea 1:7.

It would be as well to notice the context of this quotation, as found in Isaiah 7.

Isaiah 7:1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

Here Isaiah describes how the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, (formed when ten tribes broke away from Judah and Benjamin), had made a coalition with Assyria against Ahaz, the wicked king of Judah.

7:2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

Although very wicked, Ahaz was the rightful king of the line of David, which is why, very significantly, he is addressed as the house of David, for he is the current figurehead of the Davidic line. Is this not also why He is included by Matthew in the genealogy, despite his wickedness? The heart of Ahaz and his people are understandably troubled. How will the king react in this situation?

7:3 Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field;

Isaiah the prophet of the Lord meets the king at the end of the conduit of the upper pool. This is a symbolic place, for Jerusalem was vulnerable because the water supply was outside the city. The king needs to trust God and not the devices of men, and He will protect him, and through him, the house of David. Isaiah takes a symbolic person with him, his son, whose name Shear-jashub, had been specially given to him to signify God’s pledge that even though the nation would go into captivity, a remnant would return.

7:4 And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.

7:5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,

The prophet tells Ahaz to take heed to the word of the Lord, and to not be disturbed by the threats of the enemy, for the plan of Ephraim and Syria will not be successful, as verses 7-9 explain. He is to act in faith and not fear.

7:6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, [even] the son of Tabeal:

We learn now that the plan of the coalition is to displace Ahaz, so that there is not a prince of Judah on the throne in Jerusalem. This represents an attack on the Royal Line of the Messiah, and explains why Ahaz is addressed as “house of David”, for its future rests in him, in one sense.

7:7 Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.
7:8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.
7:9 And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Isaiah discerns Ahaz does not believe that God will save him from his enemies, and he therefore warns him against unbelief, or else he will be deposed, for unbelief will mean God’s protection will be withdrawn.

7:10 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
7:11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.

The word “again” confirms that when the house of David was addressed it was in the person of Ahaz. If Ahaz believed what the prophet had said, and if the Lord was indeed the Lord his God, then he would be give a sign to confirm His word, to confirm His promise of safety, and to ensure the continuance of the royal line.. He could ask the sign to be an occurrence in the heavens, or below. Such was the generosity of God’s offer.

7:12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.

Ahaz pretends to be too spiritual to need a sign, protesting that it would mean putting the Lord to the test. But if the Lord volunteered to be put to the test, then Ahaz, if he was a believer, should have asked for a sign.

7:13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?

By behaving as he did, the king was causing the nation to be anxious for their safety, and constant anxiety is wearying. Worse than this, however, Ahaz was testing the patience of God.

7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Because Ahaz is not fit to receive a sign, it will be in the future, but will have present relevance. The sign is given to “you”, plural, so, Ahaz having rejected the offer of a sign personally, is given one that will apply to the nation in some way, for he will be long gone when it comes to pass. When Matthew quoted these words, he wrote “they shall call His name Emmanuel”, which may be an allusion to the fact that the sign is not given to Ahaz personally, but to the nation. Whilst the nation of Israel as a whole did not recognise Him as their God when He came the first time, when He comes again to them they will say, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: This is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation”, Isaiah 25:9.

7:15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

The eating of butter and honey in this context is a sign of hardship, as verses 21 and 22 indicate, with the words, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep; And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land”.
It might be thought that butter and honey are luxuries, (with echoes of “land of milk and honey”), but the point is that the population of the land is going to be decimated, and there will be a surplus for that reason, not because of productivity. The same goes for the thorns and briers, for there will be no-one to keep the weeds under control.
The eating of milk and honey is said to be “that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good”. The eating of butter and honey in itself does not teach a child to refuse evil and choose good. But if we see eating butter and honey as a sign that God has intervened in judgement, then the Child will grow up with the evidence even in His home of the privation that being judged of God as a nation brings. He will realise that national unfaithfulness is an evil and will realise that national faithfulness is good. Brought up in harsh conditions in Nazareth, the effects of Roman occupation would be clearly seen by the child Jesus. This was the sure sign that the nation had chosen the evil of idolatry, and rejected the good of obedience.
Notice that the prophet does not say He will learn how to refuse what is evil, and learn how to choose the good, but that He will know to refuse the evil and choose the good; in other words, know the experience, rather that have to learn by trial and error what is evil or good. As one who has no sin-principle within Him, the Lord Jesus did not have within Him any tendency to sin. This is a similar idea to that in Hebrews 5:8 where we read, “though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things that He suffered”. He learned what it was to obey, (for He as God had always commanded), but He did not have to learn to obey, as if He had a rebellious spirit. We read of Christ in Nazareth that He “grew in wisdom”, so He was able to increasingly appreciate the implications of the situation in the nation. Nazareth was a Roman garrison town, and every day there would be reminders that the land was occupied by a foreign power.

7:16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

If it be asked why there is a certain obscurity about this sign, then the answer is surely that Ahaz had refused a clear sign, so God, in judgement upon him, gives a sign which is clear to those who live when it comes to pass, but not clear to Ahaz. In this way it is comparable to the use of parables by the Lord Jesus, for to the disciples the explanation was given, to the unbelieving nation the words were obscure. See Matthew 13:10-17.
Because he was unbelieving, God kept Ahaz guessing as to when the sign would be fulfilled. He did not know that the child would not be born for seven hundred years. He would anxiously await news that a child had been born and been given the name Immanuel. Then he would count the number of years between the birth of the child and him attaining the age of discretion, for it was during that time that the Northern Kingdom of Israel would be forsaken of both her kings. But that was assuming the child would be born in his lifetime. In the event, He was not, and Ahaz died without having seen the fulfilment of the prophecy.
Ahaz reigned from 739-723 BC. Pekah the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel was deposed in 736 BC. Hoshea, placed as governor by Tiglath-Pileser the Assyrian, slew Pekah in 735 BC, and was himself carried away to Assyria in 719BC. So both Pekah and Hoshea, successive rulers in Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom, forsook the land. Pekah by being deposed, Hoshea by being carried away captive. So when Ahaz died in 723 BC Hoshea was still in power, which meant the sign and prophecy were not fulfilled in his lifetime. After all, he had refused to ask for a sign, and so God gave the sign but made sure he did not see it realised.
The mention of both Syria, and House of David in this passage is significant. Could it be relevant to the fact that Joseph was called “son of David” by the angel, Matthew 1:20? He was representative of the House, and would provide continuity with Ahaz, but would not be the one through whom the Messiah would come. And is this why Luke mentions Quirinius being Governor of Syria, Luke 2:2? The fact he was governor for the Roman Caesar reinforces the idea that Syria has been forsaken of her king, as Isaiah 7 said would happen. So Joseph is testimony that the nation of Israel has no king, and Quirinius that Syria has none either.

We return now to Matthew’s narrative.

1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him- here is another feature that marked Joseph, even his ready obedience to the revealed will of God. He has patiently waited for light, and now, having received it, acts upon it. He will have to share with Mary the reactions of the men and women of Nazareth as word is passed round as to the situation. Yet he is prepared to bear this reproach, just as Moses was prepared to bear the reproach of Christ in Egypt, “for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward”, Hebrews 11:26. The features we have noticed about both Mary and Joseph give us insight into the sort of home in which the Lord Jesus was brought up.
And took unto him his wife- she who was his wife by betrothal, is now his wife by marriage. By marrying her before Christ is born, Joseph ensures that He is truly son of David, and can inherit the throne. In one sense, then, this is the most important marriage in the Bible.

1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son- to “know” in this setting, is to have physical relations. At every stage the integrity of the person of the unborn Christ is maintained. The tomb of the Lord Jesus was safeguarded, being sealed and watched over, so that it is certain that only Christ went in, and only Christ came out in resurrection. So when He was in the womb, every safeguard is in place so that we know without a doubt that Mary’s firstborn child is the one conceived of the Holy Spirit. That He is firstborn removes all doubt, for Mary had no child before who could be confused with Him. She presented Him in the temple as required for firstborn sons, Luke 2:23. The title firstborn would have no meaning if Mary did not have other children afterwards. That she did do so is shown by Matthew 13:55,56.
And he called his name JESUS- by that action Joseph formally took the Child Jesus as his own son legally, with all its implications since Joseph was of the royal line of David

Special note
This sequence of events regarding Joseph and Mary establishes the principle that when a man and a woman formally and publicly take one another as husband and wife, they are, at that moment, as much married as they will ever be. We should distinguish between being “one flesh”, as in proper marriage, and “one body”, as in a sinful relationship involving fornication. The teaching of 1 Corinthians 6:15,16 is clear. The passage reads as follows:
“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith He, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”.
When we were saved, we were in-dwelt by the Spirit of God, and one of the things He does is join us to the Lord in a union that is on the highest level, that of the Spirit. But it is our bodies that are in-dwelt by the Spirit of God, and therefore we are not only linked to Christ on the level of the spirit, but also as to the body. To use those members so as to be joined temporarily to a harlot is a disgrace. This relationship is only on the level of the body, whereas the Scripture describes true marriage as being a man and a woman becoming one flesh. This is an ongoing relationship, as two lives are bonded together, and is completely different to being bonded in body. Our bodies were bought by Christ’s precious blood, and hence we are no longer our own, for our bodies are the property of God, to be used for His glory.