In the Bible genealogies are very important. We often use them to cure insomnia, but we know that they are recorded for us for our instruction (2 Tim 3:16-17). Many times, when pressed, these genealogies will render you great nuggets of truth that you may use the rest of your life. I have recently run across such a minefield of wealth and I wanted to share. Before I get to the nuggets I need to give a little backdrop to make these jewels sparkle.
POINT #1 THE MESSIAH MUST COME FROM THE LINE OF DAVID
In 2 Samuel 7 we find the great Davidic covenant. Here God tells David that his kingdom, his throne, and his house will be established forever. This is a great Messianic text which tells us that the future Messiah will be from the line of David.
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David. (2 Samuel 7:12-17 ESV)
We know that this covenant has a future fulfillment beyond David or even his son Solomon because of the word “forever”. David died. Solomon died. Therefore they themselves did not reign forever. Instead this promise will find its fulfillment when the Messiah comes, who will rule and reign forever. Every Jew therefore knew that the Messiah must come through the line of David. If someone comes and claims to be the Messiah but He is not from the line of David, you can be sure He is not the Messiah. Here are a couple other texts that reinforce the point that the Messiah would have a forever reign and be from the line or genealogy of David. The Jews would have had these promises close to their heart, notice the forever aspect in them as well.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder,and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ (Jeremiah 23:5-6 ESV)
“My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” (Ezekiel 37:24-28 ESV)
POINT #2 MATTHEW OPENS HIS GOSPEL POINTING TO JESUS AS THE LONG AWAITED DAVIDIC MESSIAH
There is an ancient Jewish practice called gematria. Gematria (Hebrew: גימטריה, gēmaṭriyā) is a system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase, in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other, or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to a person’s age, the calendar year, or the like. According to this Jewish practice of gematria the name of David would add up like this D + V + D or 4 + 6 + 4 = 14. Now look at Matthews geneology and look at how he uses the number 14 and also notice how David-centric the genealogy is.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1 ESV)
Do you see it? Matthew is opening up his gospel account with a genealogy that is David-centric, everything goes to and from him. Also, he breaks the genealogy into 3 parts all 14 names apiece, which when using the Jewish practice of gematria equals David. Matthew writing as a Jew to the Jews is saying David is here! The long awaited Messiah is here! The forever king is here! Look its David! David David David! The Jews would have seen this loud and clear, and hopefully you will too. It helps us to see the richness and depth of the Word.
God’s word is amazing and cool and interesting, sometimes you just have to jump in and soak a while.