Berean Bible Study

The Gospel of Matthew

Chapter 1: Genealogy and Birth of Jesus

Matthew 1:1 -18

Before we begin, I want to play a game with you. This isn't my game, but is from Chuck Missler, who in turn was inspired by a man named Ivan Panin. Got your paper and pencil? OK, here's what I want you to do. I want you to write a genealogy. It can be completely made up, but there are a few parameters:

  1. The number of letters must also be divisible by 7, evenly.

  2. The number of vowels and the number of consonants must also be divisible by 7.

  3. The number of words that begin with a vowel must be divisible by 7.

  4. The number of words that begin with a consonant must be divisible by 7.

  5. The number of words that occur more than once must be divisible by 7.

  6. The number of words that occur in more than one form must be divisible by 7.

  7. The number of words that occur in only one form must be divisible by 7.

  8. The number of nouns shall be divisible by 7.

  9. Only 7 words shall not be nouns.

  10. The number of names shall be divisible by 7.

  11. Only 7 other kinds of nouns are permitted.

  12. The number of male names shall be divisible by 7.

  13. The number of generations shall be divisible by 7.

Just a little difficult? Yet, those and at least 11 more patterns of seven are found in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1.

Math from Matthew (MATH-hew, as suggested by my husband!)

On November 19, 1899, the New York Sun, printed a letter from a man calling himself W.R.L., denouncing Christianity and demanding proof using provable facts. Ivan Panin, a Russian immigrant, took up the challenge and sent in a letter to the paper: The Inspiration of the Scriptures Scientifically Demonstrated. Panin was a mathematical genious and also a Greek and Hebrew scholar. He came to the United States and became a well-known lecturer on literary criticism. His agnosticism was also well known. In 1890, he was reading the New Testament in Greek that had been published by Wescott and Hort in 1881. He came to John and read, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with the God and the Word was God. . ." and wondered why the Greek specifically said “the God” in one place and not the other. That was when he discovered the heptadic (patterns of 7) structure of the Bible. The more he studied, the more he realized that it simply wasn't possible for mere men to have written it. He had no choice but to discard his agnosticism and become a Christian. That caused such a stir that newspapers had headlines about his conversion.

Evidence of Design: Beloved Numerologist by Chuck Missler

The first 17 verses of the Gospel of Matthew are a logical unit, or section, which deals with a single principal subject: the genealogy of Christ. It contains 72 Greek vocabulary words in these initial 17 verses. (The verse divisions are man's allocations for convenience, added in the 13th century.)

The number of words which are nouns is exactly 56, or 7 x 8.

The Greek word "the" occurs most frequently in the passage: exactly 56 times, or 7 x 8. Also, the number of different forms in which the article "the" occurs is exactly 7.

There are two main sections in the passage: verse 1-11, and 12-17. In the first main section, the number of Greek vocabulary words used is 49, or 7 x 7.

Why not 48, or 50?

Of these 49 words, the number of those beginning with a vowel is 28, or 7 x 4. The number of words beginning with a consonant is 21, or 7 x 3.

The total numbers of letters in these 49 words is 266, or 7 x 38 - exactly! The number of vowels among these 266 letters is 140, or 7 x 20. The number of consonants is 126, or 7 x 18 - exactly.

Of the 49 words, the number of words which occur more than once is 35, or 7 x 5. The number of words occurring only once is 14, or 7 x 2. The number of words which occur in only one form is exactly 42, or 7 x 6. The number of words appearing in more than one form is also 7.

The number of the 49 Greek vocabulary words which are nouns is 42, or 7 x 6. The number of words which are not nouns is 7. Of the nouns, 35 are proper names, or exactly 7 x 5. These 35 names are used 63 times, or 7 x 9. The number of male names is exactly 28, or 7 x 4. These male names occur 56 times or 7 x 8. The number which are not male names is 7.

Three women are mentioned - Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. The number of Greek letters in these three names is 14, 7 x 2.

The number of compound nouns is 7. The number of Greek letters in these 7 nouns is 49, or 7 x 7.

Only one city is named in this passage, Babylon, which in Greek contains exactly 7 letters.

And on it goes. To get an indication of just how unique these properties are, try the example in the inset.


There are even more features in the numerical structure of the words themselves. As you may know, both Hebrew and Greek uses the letters of the alphabet for numerical values. Therefore, any specific word - in either Hebrew or Greek - has a numerical value of its own by adding up the values of the letters in that particular word. The study of the numerical values of words is called gemetria.

The 72 vocabulary words add up to a gametrical value of 42,364, or 7 x 6,052. Exactly. If one Greek letter was changed, this would not happen.

The 72 words appear in 90 forms - some appear in more than one form. The numeric value of the 90 forms is 54,075, or 7 x 7,725. Exactly.

We will defer other examples of gametrical properties of the Biblical text for subsequent articles, but it becomes immediately obvious that hidden below the surface are aspects of design that cannot be accidental or just coincidence. Remember, the rabbis say that "coincidence" is not a kosher word!

Other Implications

There are words in the passage just described that occur nowhere else in the New Testament. They occur 42 times (7 x 6) and have 126 letters (7 x 18). How was this organized?

Even if Matthew contrived this characteristic into his Gospel, how could he have known that these specific words - whose sole characteristic is that they are found nowhere else in the New Testament - were not going to be used by the other writers? Unless we assume the absurd hypothesis that he had an agreement with them, he must have had the rest of the New Testament before him when he wrote his book. The Gospel of Matthew, then, must have been written last.

It so happens, however, that the Gospel of Mark exhibits the same phenomenon. It can be demonstrated that it would have had to be written "last." The same phenomenon is found in Luke. And in John, James, Peter, Jude and Paul. Each would have had to write after the other in order to contrive the vocabulary frequencies! You can demonstrate that each of the New Testament books had to have been "written last."

There is no human explanation for this incredible and precise structure. It has all been supernaturally designed. We simply gasp, sit back, and behold the skillful handiwork of the God who keeps His promises.

And we are indebted to the painstaking examinations and lifetime commitment of Dr. Ivan Panin for uncovering these amazing insights.

Isn't God - and His remarkable Word - fun?

All together, Panin discovered at least 24 patterns of seven in Jesus' genealogy in Matthew. So, can this happen just by chance? If you look up Ivan Panin, you will, of course, find his critics. They will say if you look hard enough, you'll find the same heptadic structure in anything – just count the parts that work and leave out the ones that don't. Note that they do not deny what he found. They just try to minimize its importance. Note, also, that they never really talk about HOW MANY patterns of seven there are in the Bible.

So, first, some math basics. What are the chances that any number is divisible by seven exactly? Since every seventh number would divide evenly by seven, the chances of that are 1 in 7. What are the chances that any two numbers divide evenly by seven? That would be 1 in 7 times 1 in 7 or 7x7 = 49, so 1 in 49. Three numbers would be 7x7x7 or 1 in 343. By the time you have 10 patterns of 7, you're up to 1 in 282,475,249. That's almost the same as the odds of winning the lottery that we heard so much about when the jackpot was 1.3 billion dollars. (The odds of winning the largest prize in U.S. lottery history were 1 in 292.2 million). But, someone – actually three someones – DID win that. So, unlikely but not impossible.

But, we're talking about chances getting bigger exponentially. By the time you have 24 patterns of seven, you're up to 1 in 191,581,231,380,566,414,401. I don't even know how to say that in words.

Chances of 24 multiples of seven =

1 in 191,581,231,380,566,414,401

For you just reading online, I made that huge so I could just hold up the paper for my Bible study ladies and not attempt to say it. Looking it up, it is 191 Quintillion. That is one really big number. For comparison, if the world is 6,000 years old, that's only 189,216,000,000 (billion, that is) seconds, using 365 day years. Using the secular idea that the world is maybe 6 billion years old, you're up to only 1.9 (rounding) quadrillion seconds. You'd have to multiply that by 1,000 to get to quintillion. And that's just the first seventeen verses of Matthew. By the time you are up to 34 patterns of seven, to do that by chance, at 400 million tries per second, would take a million supercomputers over 4 million years. That's just crazy.

And, EVERY chapter, every book is like that.

The only way to dismiss that is simply to ignore it – which is what most of the world has done. How many people have heard of Ivan Panin? Yet he spent over 50 years of his life exploring the numerical structure of the Bible, and his work stands to this day. Why don't we hear about it? I think, perhaps, that being math, it's one of those things that most pastors are not comfortable with. They maybe look it up – discover the criticism and drop it for fear of leading people astray. I don't blame them. I'm a little afraid of being so bold with it here, but I've looked at the criticism, and honestly, it doesn't hold up when you really understand what Panin found.

God is a Mathematician

The Astonishing Pattern of SEVENS in Genesis 1:1

Ivan Panin discovered literally thousands of such mathematical patterns underlying all of the books of the Old Testament before his death in 1942. I refer the interested reader to Panin's book, The Inspiration of the Scriptures Scientifically Demonstrated, which discusses these phenomena extensively. Panin and others have examined other Hebrew literature and have attempted to find such mathematical patterns, but they are not found anywhere outside the Bible.

The Pattern of SEVENS in Matthew 1:18-25—The History of Christ's Birth


The number of words in the seven word passage is 161 (7x23 = 161)


The number of Vocabulary words is 77 (7x11 = 77)


Six Greek words occur only in this passage and never again in Matthew. These six Greek words contain precisely 56 letters (7x8 = 56)


The number of distinct proper names in the passage is 7


The number of Greek letters in these seven proper names is 42 (7x6 = 42)


The number of words spoken by the angel to Joseph is 28 (7x4 = 28)


The number of Greek forms of words used in this passage is 161 (7x23 = 161)


The number of Greek forms of words in the angel's speech is 35 (7x5 = 35)


The number of letters in the angel's 35 forms of words is 168 (7x24 = 168)

This phenomenal discovery by Panin has been examined by numerous authorities and the figures have been verified. In total, Panin accumulated over forty thousand pages of detailed calculations covering most of the text of the Bible before his death. These incredible, mathematical patterns are not limited to the number seven. There are numerous other patterns. These amazing patterns appear in the vocabulary, grammatical forms, parts of speech, and particular forms of words. They occur throughout the whole text of the Bible containing 31,173 verses. When you consider the amazing details of this mathematical phenomenon you realize that the change of a single letter or word in the original languages of Hebrew or Greek would destroy the pattern. Now we can understand why Jesus Christ declared that the smallest letter and grammatical mark of the Scriptures was persevered by God's Hand: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:18).

OK, so let's finally get into the text itself:

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Matthew 1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife[a] of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa.[b] 8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon,[c] and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

OK, let's make this easier to read:

1.Abraham – Matthew was written to the Jews, so the genealogy starts, of course, with Abraham. Lots of mention of Abraham in the Bible.

Galatians 3:5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[c] 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”[d] 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

2. Isaac – The son of the promise – Doesn't matter that Ishmael was also Abraham's son of the flesh. Only the promise counted.

Genesis 22:2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

3. Jacob – Father of the 12 Tribes. Renamed Israel, but never lost the name Jacob. Fooled Esau and was in turn fooled by Laban. Esau gave up his birthright (the right for the Messiah to come from his line, among other things) for a bowl of soup.

4. Judah (and his brothers) – Why Judah? Why not Joseph? Or for that matter, why not Reuben, Simeon or Levi? They were born first. Here is their birth order:

1. REUBEN - Leah
2. SIMEON – Leah
3. LEVI - Leah
4. JUDAH - Leah
5. DAN - Rachel/Bilhah
6. NAPHTALI - Rachel/Bilhah
7. GAD - Leah/Zilpah
8. ASHER - Leah/Zilpah
9. ISSACHAR - Leah
10. ZEBULUN - Leah
11. JOSEPH - Rachel
12. BENJAMIN - Rachel

Reuben disqualifies himself when he sleeps with Bilhah, his father's wife. Simeon and Levi disqualify themselves for cruelty:

Genesis 49:3 Reuben, you are my firstborn,
My might and the beginning of my strength,
The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.
Unstable as water, you shall not excel,
Because you went up to your father’s bed;
Then you defiled it—

He went up to my couch.

Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.
6 Let not my soul enter their council;
Let not my honor be united to their assembly;
For in their anger they slew a man,
And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob
And scatter them in Israel.

8 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.

That makes Judah the one with the birthright. The Messiah would come through his line.

  1. Perez and Zerah by Tamar (first mention of a woman. Remember the story? By her name, she was apparently a Canaanite, so a Gentile). These twins were illegitimate by several counts.

Deuteronomy 23:2  “One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

    It's very interesting that David is the tenth generation from the illegitimate birth of Perez, isn't it?

6. Hezron

7. Ram

8. Amminadab

9. Nahshon

10. Salmon

11. Boaz by Rahab (second woman – do you remember her story? She was also a Gentile.)

12. Obed by Ruth (Third woman – a Moabite. Again, a Gentile. You remember her story, right? There's a whole book for Ruth)

13. Jesse


14, 1? David the king - the man after God's own heart. Not perfect, but loved God. Was Jesse's 8th son, but chosen because of his heart for God. Counted twice? There is a great deal of the Bible devoted to David, also. Do you remember the covenant that God made with him from the last study?

2 Samuel 7:12 “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.


1 or 2 Solomon by her (who had been the wife) of Uriah. (Fourth woman but not by name- Bathsheba, a Jew, but named for her husband, a Gentile. Solomon has a lot of Bible space devoted to him because he was a type of Christ. He had a 1000 wives, who led him astray, but if you read Ecclesiastes, especially the very end, it would appear that he learned his lesson. Still, that is one reason the Northern Kingdom was stripped from his son.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

2 or 3 Rehoboam – King over much smaller area. Mostly a bad king, but not terrible.

3 or 4 Abijah – Mostly bad

4 or 5 Asa – A good king

5 or 6 Jehoshaphat – A good king

6 or 7 Joram (Jehoram) Did evil, but God did not punish him severely because of David.

2 Chronicles 21:5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 6 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for he had the daughter of Ahab as a wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. 7 Yet the Lord would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.

12 Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot like the harlotry of the house of Ahab, and also have killed your brothers, those of your father’s household, who were better than yourself, 14 behold, the Lord will strike your people with a serious affliction—your children, your wives, and all your possessions; 15 and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day.

20 He was thirty-two years old when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem eight years and, to no one’s sorrow, departed. However they buried him in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.

Now come three kings not mentioned in Matthew's genealogy. Wish I could give you a great answer why, but I can't, really. Joram married the evil Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, and things went really downhill from there. This “harlotry” as God called it – the seeking after other Gods was in full swing under Joram. Anyway, I don't know, but I suspect the reason the next three are omitted this has something to do with this:

Exodus 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

and this

Deuteronomy 29:19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The Lord will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven.

Ahaziah – not on the list. A bad king, mostly.

Joash – not on the list. A good king, mostly who went bad at the end.

Amaziah – not on the list. A good king

7 or 8 Uzziah (Azariah) – Good king

8 or 9 Jotham – Good king

9 or 10 Ahaz – Very bad king

10 or 11 Hezekiah – Good king (some modern Jews think many of the Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in Hezekiah)

11 or 12 Manasseh – Terrible king but better at the end

12 or 13 Amon – Very bad

13 or 14 Josiah – Very, very good king

Perhaps 14 Jehoiakim - Counted but not named – unless David is counted twice. Bad king.


1.Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

Jeremiah 22:28 Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot,
    an object no one wants?
Why will he and his children be hurled out,
    cast into a land they do not know?
29 O land, land, land,
    hear the word of the Lord!
30 This is what the Lord
Record this man as if childless,
    a man who will not prosper in his lifetime,
for none of his offspring will prosper,
    none will sit on the throne of David
    or rule anymore in Judah.”

What does this mean? This means there was a curse on the royal line from that point forward. Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) was so terrible that God was forced to curse both him and his offspring. That means the Messiah COULD NOT be a descendant of Jeconiah. How was that going to work? What about the covenant with David?

2. Shealtiel after they were brought to Babylon – note that Shealtiel and afterward were not kings.


    4. Abiud

    5. Eliakim

    6. Azor

    7. Zadok

    8. Achim

    9. Eliud

    10. Eleazar

    11. Matthan

    12. Jacob

    13. Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

    14. Jesus

OK, let's pause just a minute and think/talk about why the Holy Spirit had Matthew include some of the things he did. There were five women mentioned. Tamar, a Canaanite, who pretended to be a prostitute in order to have incestuous sexual relations with her father-in-law; Rahab, also a Canaanite, who really was a prostitute; Ruth, a Moabite, who appears to be a wonderful girl, but who came from a people descended from Lot and his oldest daughter (do you remember that story? Yikes). The Moabites were to be excluded from the congregation:

Nehemiah 13:1 On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God

You have Bathsheba (not mentioned by name but as the “wife of Uriah”), who married a Canaanite and had an adulterous relationship with David. And, you have Mary, who found favor with God, but like all of us, was sinful from birth. In these five women (five being the number of grace), you see sin forgiven and mercy extended. You see the hint that Jesus came for all nations and all people. This is a Jewish genealogy, showing the legal descent from Abraham, and yet it includes mention of women. It includes Uriah the Hittite, one of the people that Israel was supposed to drive out, and yet, here he is, fighting for King David and acting more honorably than David himself. This mention of him is a memorial to him and another example of mercy and grace – in a genealogy, of all places. Jesus was in no way descended from him, and yet the Holy Spirit wanted him to be remembered.

But, what was God's point? Why include prostitutes and adulterers? Why, in the very first thing after 400 years of silence, does God intentionally remind us of sexual sin – and why does He do it through mentioning women?

Why were both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms judged? They did a lot of things wrong, but what was their greatest sin? They were chasing after other gods. And what does God call that? Harlotry. Adultery. Because God considered Himself the husband of Israel and Judah, when they sinned that way, it was as though they were chasing after other lovers. That's exactly the way He describes it. And what is His plan for His adulterous wife? To forgive her and buy her back. That's exactly what the book of Hosea is about. And how will He do that? Through Jesus. So, through this genealogy, Matthew is reminding the Jews of their sin and why their Messiah was coming.

Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the
Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Back to the text. So, Joseph was the legal father of Jesus, according to Law. Joseph was a direct descendant of King David, through the line of the kings, so Jesus was legally a Son of David and in the line of kings. But, if you compare this genealogy to Luke, you find a difference:

Luke 3: 23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,

the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat,

the son of Levi, the son of Melki,

the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,

25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos,

the son of Nahum, the son of Esli,

the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath,

the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein,

the son of Josek, the son of Joda,

27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa,

the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,

the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melki,

the son of Addi, the son of Cosam,

the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,

29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer,

the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat,

the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon,

the son of Judah, the son of Joseph,

the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,

31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna,

the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan,

the son of David,

So, first, it says in Luke that Joseph was the son of Heli, not Jacob. What's that all about? Well, it all goes back to a little story back in the Torah – the daughters of Zelophehad. They had no brothers, and their father had died, which meant they wouldn't have any land in the promised land, and their father's inheritance would be lost. So, for their sake, a law was made that if there were no sons, and the daughter married within the tribe, that the inheritance would pass through the son-in-law. The son-in-law was adopted and made a legal part of the daughter's family. So, Heli was actually Mary's father. She apparently had no brothers, so Joseph was adopted.

What does this do? Jesus was legally in the line of kings through Joseph, but because his father was the Holy Spirit, not Joseph, the blood curse did not apply. He was physically the Son of David through Mary, and the inheritance could pass to Him thanks to that law made for the daughters of Zelophehad. If you look carefully, you'll see that Mary's line goes back to King David, but through Solomon's brother, Nathan.

A Christmas Issue: Why a Virgin Birth? by Chuck Missler

The Problem

God announced very early that His plan for redemption involved the Messiah being brought forth from the tribe of Judah1, and specifically from the line of David2. The succession of subsequent kings proved to be, with only a few exceptions, a dismal chain. As the succeeding kings of Judah went from bad to worse, we eventually encounter Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin), upon whom God pronounces a" blood curse" :"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 Judah."(Jeremiah 22:30)

This curse created a rather grim and perplexing paradox: the Messiah had to come from the royal line, yet now there was a"blood curse" on that very line of descent! (I always visualize a celebration in the councils of Satan on that day. But then I imagine God turning to His angels, saying,"Watch this one!")

The Solution

The answer emerges in the differing genealogies of Jesus Christ recorded in the gospels. Matthew, as a Levi, focuses his gospel on the Messiahship of Jesus and presents Him as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Thus, Matthew traces the legal line from Abraham (as any Jew would) through David, then through Solomon (the . royal. line) to Joseph, the legal father of Jesus3.

On the other hand, Luke, as a physician, focuses on the humanity of Jesus and presents Him as the Son of Man. Luke traces the blood line from Adam (the first Man) through to David-- and his genealogy from Abraham through David is identical to Matthew's. But then after David, Luke departs from the path taken by Matthew and traces the family tree through another son of David (the second surviving son of Bathsheba), Nathan, down through Heli, the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus4.


One should also note the exception to the law which permitted inheritance through the daughter if no sons were available and she married within her tribe5.

The daughters of Zelophehad had petitioned Moses for a special exception, which was granted when they entered the land under Joshua.

I believe it was C.I. Scofield who first noted that the claims of Christ rely upon this peculiar exception granted to the family of Zelo-phehad in the Torah. Heli, Mary's father, apparently had no sons, and Mary married within the tribe of Judah. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, of the house and lineage of David and carrying legal title to the line, but without the blood curse of Jeconiah. [I believe that every detail in the Torah -- and the entire Bible -- has a direct link to Jesus Christ. "The volume of the book is written of me." (Psalm 40:7)

OK, moving on! Matthew has just said through his genealogy that Jesus was the son of Joseph. Now, he needs to explain what that really means. Here is something to set the mood:

Video: A strange way to save the world

Christ Born of Mary

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.[d] And he called His name Jesus.

Not to assume anything, let's start with the Ancient Jewish wedding customs. Mary was betrothed to Joseph. What does that mean?

The Ancient Jewish Wedding

The wedding symbolism is used often in the New Testament, so it pays to know how they work. In that culture, it was common for weddings to be arranged by the fathers. The groom may ask his father to seek a particular bride, as Samson did, or the groom may trust his father to find him the right wife, as Abraham did for Isaac, through his servant Eliezer. (That whole story in Genesis 24 is an interesting picture, and I encourage you to read it. Abraham is a type of the Father. Eliezer, a type of the Holy Spirit, who is unnamed in that account and whose name means "Comforter," is sent to find a wife for Isaac, a type of the Son. Rebekah, who becomes a type of the church, agrees to marry Isaac without having seen him and receives gifts from Eliezer. Isaac was last seen at his "almost" sacrifice and disappears from the account and doesn't appear again until he meets Rebekah on the way to his father's house).

The bride price is established, and once the fathers agree, the woman is often asked whether she is willing. The potential groom, along with his father, would visit the potential bride's home. He would pour her a glass of wine, and if she agreed to the marriage, she would drink it. This began the formal engagement or betrothal period, which was legally binding (according to Jewish writings, there may also have been papers drawn up). It could only be broken by an official divorce. The engagement period usually lasted at least a year, long enough for the bride's purity to be evident to all. During that time, the bride and groom were never together alone. During this period, the groom was adding a room onto his father's house, or building a house nearby, or at the very least, fixing up an existing room in his father's home. Remember, the phrase, In my Father's house are many rooms...I am going there to prepare a place for you? This is something right out of ancient Jewish weddings.

The bride's job during the engagement was to learn how to please her future husband. Now, here's the interesting part. She didn't know exactly when this wedding was going to take place! The groom didn't even know. It was up to the groom's father to decide whether the bride's chamber was ready or not. Since most engagements were about a year long, she'd know the general time frame, and you can bet she was very interested in anything anyone could tell her about the progress of the preparations! I'm willing to bet she had some hints as to whether the day was approaching or not.

So, as the day approached, her attendants were supposed to be ready also. Finally, the day would come when the groom's father would say, "It's time. Go get your bride." Now, for whatever reason (maybe for fun?), the bridegroom usually came at midnight with a whole procession. This group was joyful and cheering, sometimes even playing musical instruments, as they approached the bride's home, so the whole village knew that the day had come. When they were a little distance away, they would give a great shout, "The bridegroom comes!" and the bride and her attendants would come out and join the groom.

From what I understand, many times, the wedding actually took place right then, in the street, under the stars. Then, the whole procession went back to the groom's home, where the bridal chamber awaited. The bride and groom went into seclusion in the cheder, the bridal chamber, containing the chuppah or huppah, the bridal canopy, usually for seven days, (remember Jacob and the "bridal week?") while the rest of the group ate and drank. (At some point, the chuppah or wedding canopy became part of the wedding ceremony itself). Although the groom might come and go from the cheder, the bride was tucked away the whole time. Someday, for fun, you should look up "cheder" in the Bible and see where it appears. You might be very surprised!

Just for fun – here is one place:

Isaiah 26:20 Come, my people, enter your chambers,
And shut your doors behind you;
Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,
Until the indignation is past.
21 For behold, the
Lord comes out of His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
The earth will also disclose her blood,
And will no more cover her slain.

Finally, when the seven days were up (or however long, but seven days was apparently typical), the bride and groom appeared in public and the marriage feast would take place. It seems the eating and drinking during the seven days was not actually the marriage feast, as the bride and groom were not present together yet.

So, Jesus and his disciples were at the wedding celebration, probably during the time when the bride was in seclusion. His being there put His stamp of approval on the entire concept of marriage. Note that we don't even have to wonder whether this marriage was between a man and a woman. God made them male and female, and a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Any other kind of "marriage" is just a perversion of what God intended.

Here is an interesting article that shows more about the deep symbolism of the Jewish wedding.

The Ultimate Wedding

There are many, many more articles that you can read, but choose with discernment:

Ancient Jewish Wedding - Google search

So, back to Matthew. Mary and Joseph are legally bound together already, but during her waiting period, when her purity was supposed to be evident to all, Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant!

More on that in the next study!

The Berean Bible Study of the Gospel of Matthew


Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. - Acts 17:11

© 2016 This study was written by Jacqui Komschlies and last updated 2/4/16. If you have questions, comments, corrections or concerns, please write me.

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