Scandals and Roots

By David A. Liapis

Note: This is the first of many posts related to my reading of the book of Matthew. I am no scholar, so please take what’s here as one man’s attempt to unwrap the Scriptures. I welcome feedback and debate. 

Thoughts on Matthew 1:1-17

Scandalous. That’s one word to describe a number of relationships and circumstances that surround the ancestors of Jesus Christ. Abraham: scandalous relationship with Hagar and dealings with his “sister” wife. Judah and Tamar, his widowed daughter-in-law: scandalous circumstances ultimately leading to the birth of Perez. Solomon, the son of “the wife of Uriah”: scandalous adultery and murder by David the king. Most of the kings of Judah were wicked, scandalous men. Even the circumstances surrounding the virgin birth of Christ appear scandalous.

Nonetheless, God shows His ability to work even our sin into the fulfillment of His overall plan. That’s not to say we should seek to give Him opportunity to do so, thereby putting Him to the test and bringing upon ourselves the chastisement that accompanies scandalous decisions. However, the genealogy of Jesus should give us hope for ourselves and our children knowing that God will take our messes and work them for His glory. If He could take all the immoral and horrifying choices of Abraham, David, and so many others, and weave everything into a tapestry that ended up with Joseph, the human “father” of Jesus, in order to preserve the kingly Davidic line and fulfill prophecy, He can certainly take our shortcomings and missteps and bring about our good and His glory.

Another thing to point out in this passage is the fact that the timeline, in spite of the teaching of some pastors and books, does not allow for Rahab, the mother of Boaz, to be Rahab the harlot from Jericho. Many people have made interesting points in books and sermons about Rahab the harlot being David’s great, great grandmother. However, there’s simply too much time in between the fall of Jericho and David’s birth – upwards of 200 years – that prevents it from being so. Some commentators who agree with my position also point out that all the references to Rahab the harlot include that disgraceful distinguisher – “the harlot” – whereas in the genealogy of Jesus, that descriptor is missing.

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