The Gospel of Mathew: Five Sinners Related to the Savior.

and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,[a] 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. 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” (Matthew 1:3-6, 16 ESV)

In Matthew’s selective genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17), he lists in today’s text five women. In the cultural context of first century Israel, it was uncommon for women to be named in a genealogy. Therefore, this is a striking occurrence.

Before we answer the question of why Matthew did this, a study of who these five women were is appropriate. While all the names listed represent sinful people, these females particularly stand out.

Tamar. Tamar was the Canaanite daughter-in-law of Judah. She married Er, Judah’s first born son (Genesis 38:1-6). Following Er’s death, she posed as a prostitute to seduce Judah due to his unjust treatment of her (Genesis 38:13-30).

Rahab. Rahab was a Gentile and an actual prostitute in Jericho (Joshua 2). She is listed in Hebrews 11 as a person of sincere faith in the LORD. “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies” (Hebrews 11:31).

Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite (Ruth 1:1-3). This means the she was a descendant of an incestuous relationship between Lot, Abraham’s nephew, and his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38).

The wife of Uriah. Bathsheba was Uriah the Hittites wife (2 Samuel 11). She had an adulterous affair with King David and became pregnant with his child. Following the murder of Uriah by David, she married David and bore their child who died in infancy. She would later bear David a second child; Solomon (2 Samuel 12:24-25).

Mary. Mary displayed all the makings of a young woman who became pregnant by another man while betrothed to Joseph (Matthew 1:18-19). Therefore, Joseph chose to divorce her quietly.

Why did Matthew include these five women in this genealogy?

“Genealogies in the ancient world did not normally include women, but Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba) are found in Matthew’s ancestry of Jesus (vv. 3, 5–6). All of these women were Gentiles or married to a Gentile: Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites (Gen. 38Josh. 2), Ruth was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:4), and Bathsheba’s first husband was a Hittite (2 Sam. 11). These names could have been omitted, but Matthew includes them to show us that God’s family in Christ is comprised of faithful Jews and Gentiles,” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

“Moreover, Rahab’s inclusion in Jesus’ lineage despite her past in harlotry reminds us of God’s grace. Indeed, the Savior has relatives with a more wicked past than Rahab (Manasseh, for instance; 2 Chron. 33:1–20Matt. 1:10), but these sinners, because they turned from their evil, were not cut off from God’s covenant blessings.”

“Jesus, takes even great sinners, at their repentance, into the nearest relation to himself,” Puritan Matthew Henry comments,

Each of these women are object lessons of God’s divine grace; and grace alone (Romans 3:21-26; Ephesians 2:1-10). Are not we all.

Soli deo Gloria,

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