Matthew 1: 17 – Genealogy of Jesus Christ

If Matthew 1: 1 is the title of the genealogy, Matthew 1: 17 it is conclusion. In this verse the evangelist offers a summary of Jesus’ ancestry by expressly stating that is consists of 3 sets of 14 generations each. Here Matthew recapitulates the whole history of Israel in its three major phases, namely, its climax in David, it catastrophe with the exile and the fulfilment of history in Christ. Why does Matthew periodise Israel’s history into 3 sets of 14 generations each? Possibly the evangelist was influenced by the current Jewish apocalyptic view which divides the history of the world into 14 epochs culminating in the Messianic age. It may be also that Matthew’s sources contained 14 generations for the first period, from Abraham to David, and therefore he kept this number for the other two periods as well. Moreover, Matthew’s careful but artificial construction of the genealogy into 3 groups of 14 generations each may have another purpose. Matthew may be playing on the numerical value of the Hebrew letters (a technique known as ‘gemetria’) that form the name ‘David.’ The total value of the three consonants that form David’s name in Hebrew adds up to 14 (D = 4, W = 6, D = 4). For Matthew the whole history of Israel reaches its goal and fulfilment in Jesus the Messiah, the Son of David.

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