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16. And Jacob begat 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 and from David until the carrying away into Babylon, are fourteen generations and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ, are fourteen generations.
to Babylon, fechonias begat Salathiel. Josiah is said to have begotten Jechoniah and his brethren about the time of the captivity (ETI TNS μETOIMETINS), although it was more than forty years before it, as is plain from Jehojakim's age. He was thirty-six years old when he died (2 Kings xxii. 36.) eight years before the captivity; for so long his son Jehojakin reigned after his death, 2 Kings xxiv. 12. It is plain, therefore, that the preposition
does not signify here precisely at that time, but, as usual, it comprehends a period of some considerable length.
• Ver. 16. Begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus aubo is called Christ.] à λeyouevos Xgisos, auho is Christ, or Messiah. This idiom, which is very familiar to the Hebrews, we have often in the New Testament. For example Luke i. 76. 1 John iii. 1. Nor is the idiom peculiar to the Hebrews, we find it Hom. Iliad. F. ver. 138. ta de viznourt' Qina xExAnon axaitis, To him who overcometh there shall be a dear wife. For the meaning of the name Christ, see on John xii. 2. at the end of the note, § 109.
† Ver. 17. So all the generations, &c.] Matthew, designing to shew that Jesus was the Messiah, began his genealogy at Abraham, to whom the promise was originally made, that in his seed all the families of the earth shouldbe blessed. But the succession of Christ's ancestors, from Abraham downward, naturally resolved itself into three classes: viz. first of private persons, from Abraham to David; next of kings, from David to Jehojakim ; and then of private persons again, from the Babylonish captivity, when an end was put to the regal dignity of our Lord's progenitors, in the person of Jehojakim; who, though he was born six and twenty years before the captivity, 2 Kings xxiv. 8, 12. and was a king, is properly enough reckoned the first of the private persons from the captivity to Christ, because the Babylonians stript him of his dignity at that period, and reduced him to the condition of a private person. And as for Salathiel and Zerobabel, notwithstanding they had the supreme command after they returned from the captivity, they were not vested either with the titles or powers of princes, being only lieutenants of the kings of Persia. Wherefore, the evangelist thus invited by his subject, fitly distributes Christ's ancestors into three classes, the first and last of which consisting exactly of fourteen successions, he mentions only fourteen in the middle class, though in reality it contained three more, viz. Abaziah, Joash, and Amaziah. But omissions of this kind are not uncommon in the Jewish genealogies. For example, Ezra vii. 3. Azariah is called the son of Merajoth, although it is evident from Chron. vi. 7,-9. that there were six descendents between them. Besides, Matthew, according to his plan, ought to have omitted the three kings in the account which he has given of our Lord's ancestors, if, as is probable, they had no right to the crown. To begin with Ahaziah, we are told, 2 Chron. xxii. 1. that he was made king by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, upon his father's death, because his elder brothers had been all killed by the Philistines. But the sacred historians commonly use the expression of the peoples making a king, when they conferred the dignity on one that had no right to it by birth, as is evident in the case of Jehoa. haz the son of Josiah, who is said, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 1. to have been made king by the people of the land, in his father's stead. For by comparing his age at his accession, and the length of his reign, ver. 2. with the age
of his successor Fliakim at his accession, ver. 4. it appears that the latter was the elder brother, and, consequently, that the kingdom had been bestowed on Jehoahaz, in prejudice of his right. It is not improbable, therefore, that Ahaziah was chosen in the place of some infant children, left by his deceased elder brothers, to whom the kingdom of right belonged. As for his son Joash, and grandson Amaziah, the kingdom may have conti nued in their possession likewise, to the prejudice of the true heirs, who having failed about the time that Uzziah, the son of Amaziah, ascended the throne, his title became good, for which reason the evangelist acknowledges him in the line of our Lord's ancestors, and calls him the son of Jehoram, who was the immediate father of Ahaziah, the first of the three kings that enjoyed the crown without a title. Matthew calls Uzziah the son of Jehoram, agreeably to the Scripture phraseology, which gives the name of son to the remotest descendant of any person, (Matt. i. 1.) and speaks of that distant progenitor as immediately begetting him. Thus the prophet Isaiah xxxix. 7. tells Hezekiah, that the sons which he should beget, should be made eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon; although the Babylonish captivity did not happen till the reign of Jehojakin, who was the fifth from Hezekiah. Now, as Matthew proposed to prove that our Lord had a legal title to the crown and kingdom of David, in consequence of his being the adopted son of Joseph, who was the lineal male heir of that prince, or the eldest descendent of his son Solomon, in whom the right of succession was vested by divine appointment, (1 Chron. xxii. 9, 10. xxviii. 5.) it was not to his purpose to mention any but those who by their primogeniture had a right to the crown. Such kings as had no right, though they had possession, are deservedly omitted, and none of their descendents acknowledged, till their title became good by the death of the elder branches. Thus the succession of kings in Christ's genealogy, were fitly reduced to fourteen. At the same time we must observe, that it would have been a sufficient vindication of the evangelist to have said, that he gave Christ's pedigree as he found it in the authentic tables which, according to the customs of the nation, were preserved in his family; as is evident from Josephus, De vita sua, p. 998. tnv pev 8V TE JEDES NUOV diaδοχήν, ως εν ταις δημοσιας δέλτοις αναγεγραμένην έυρον, όντως παρατίθεμαι, ie. I give you this succession of our family, as I found it written in the public tables.
VII. An angel appears to Joseph in Nazareth, and commands him to take home his wife. Matthew i. 18,-25.
As it was the fourth month of Mary's pregnancy when she returned from visiting Elisabeth, the signs of it began to appear. Her husband observed them, was incensed, and meditated the dissolution of the marriage. But before he came to a determination, it is natural to think he would converse with her upon the subject; and that she, in her own vindication, might relate to him the vision of the angel, the message he had brought her, and what happened to Zacharias and Elizabeth; perhaps also she might produce letters from Zacharias, foreseeing what was to happen. But Joseph, apprehensive that the whole might be a stratagem of Mary and her relations to save her reputation, thought himself obliged to divorce her, although he was not fully certain of her unchastity; for he was a religious observer of the law. Nevertheless, he resolved to do it privately, by putting the bill into her bosom before two witnesses only, and with
out mentioning in the bill the reason of the divorce, which might have exposed her to the punishment of death, Deut. xxii. 20, 21. Besides, he did not chuse to make a public example of her, as there was a possibility that what she alledged might be true, in which case he believed her innocence would some how or other be made to appear. He therefore thought he was bound in jus tice to preserve her character as entire as possible, the circumstances alledged entitling her to this lenity, although they were not such as in his opinion could justify him, if he should retain her. While he was revolving these things in his own mind, he fell asleep, and by an internal light saw an angel, who explained to him the nature of Mary's pregnancy, banished his fears, and commanded him to take her horne. 18. Now the birth (or rather the conception) of Jesus Christ was on this wise. The generation and conception of Jesus Christ was entirely different from that of his ancestors, and of all the men that ever lived.When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. After the espousals, Mary's pregnancy appeared before her husband, and she came together, that is, lived together. But upon enquiry, her pregnancy was found by her husband to be the effect, not of any criminal correspondence with other men, but of the operation of the Holy Ghost, whereby the human nature of Jesus was formed in her womb more perfectly than could have happened in the way of ordinary generation.-19. Then Joseph her husband being † a just man, a strict observer of the law of his nation, by which it was infamous to retain an adulteress, resolved not to complete the marriage-and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily: The tenderness of his former love to her, and the sweetness of her own dispositions, as well as the circumstance mentioned above, might lead him to this mild measure. 20. But while he thought on
Ver 18. Before they came together.] It was the custom of the Jews, for the husband and wife after marriage to abstain some time from cohabiting together. We have very ancient traces of this custom in scripture, particularly Gen. xix. 8, 11, 15. from which it appears that Lot's sons-in-law who had married his daughters, had not cohabited with them. The custom seems to have arisen from the desire which men have of being ascertained of the chastity of the women they marry. Among the Jews, the espoused virgin commonly remained at her father's, or with her relations, till the time of the proof of her chastity expired. Accordingly, in the present instance, we find the virgin tarrying three months with her cousin Elizabeth, after she was espoused. Likewise we find the angel ordering Joseph to take her home to his house, ver. 20.
+ Ver. 19. A just man.] That dinases here signifies a religious observer of the law of Moses is evident from Luke xx. .o. where we are told that the Pharisees and Herodians who came to ask Jess concerning the lawfulness of paying tribute to Cesar, feigned themselves just men, dizains, wherefore dixelos was now a vox signata for a strict observer of the law.
these things: Being a matter of great moment especially to Mary, he made it the subject of much serious deliberation-Behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. Anciently God oft-times manifested his will to his people in particular cases by dreams and visions. Nay, favours of this sort were now and then conferred on heathen princes and great men; for instance, Abimelech, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, the Magi, and others-saying, Joseph thou Son of David: The angel addressed him by this name, that putting him in mind of whom he was descended, he might the more easily be convinced of the truth of what he was about to tell him concerning his wife's pregnancy. Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife. Do not scruple to take thy wife home. In doing so, thou wilt neither commit sin thyself, nor cloak it in her-For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. She is innocent: her pregnancy is not the effect of any criminal correspondence: it is miraculous, being produced by the operation of the Holy Ghost. 21. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. By the direction which I now give thee, thou shalt call the son which thy wife hath miracuJously conceived, and will bring forth in due time, Jesus or Saviour; to intimate that he is the seed promised to Abraham and David, who by publishing the new dispensation, and by giving himself a ransom for the sins of many, shall deliver his people both from the dominion and punishment of sin, and bring them to everlasting life. This remarkable interposition of Providence is an illustrious proof of the care which God takes of good men, both in affording them direction, and in keeping them from sin. 22. Now all this was done. The clause all this, comprehends not only what is mentioned in the preceding verses, but the whole particulars of this transaction, and among the rest, the circumstance taken notice of in the last verse of the chapter, viz. that Joseph did not know Mary till she was delivered, because that circumstance, as well as her miraculous conception, was necessary to the accomplishment of the prophecy now cited by the Evangelist, that a virgin was to bring forth a son in her virgin state-that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet (Isa. vii. 14.) saying, 23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is, God with us. Mary's miraculous conception of Jesus in her virgin state, was an evident accomplishment of Isaiah's prophecy concerning a virgin's being with child. But the Evangelist farther affirms, that our Lord's being named Jesus was an accomplishment of the same prophecy, which likewise foretold that the virgin's son should be called Emmanuel. This application merits the reader's attention, being a clear proof that the writers of the New Testament, in cit
ing and applying the passages of the old, considered the sense of those passages rather than the words. Otherwise, how could Matthew have said, that Joseph's naming Mary's son Jesus, was an accomplishment of Isaiah's prophecy which foretold that the son of the virgin mentioned by him should be called Emmanuel? Indeed, if the sense of the prophecy is attended to, the application will appear abundantly proper: for the name Jesus, is upon the matter of the same import with Emmanuel, because none but the Son of God, who is God, could be Jesus or the Saviour of mankind. And therefore the Saviour appearing on earth in the human nature, is really God with us. That this is the true design of the application, is evident from the Evangelist himself, for he has interpreted both the names, Jesus as well as Emmanuel, to shew that the prophecy was fulfilled, not in the names, but in the signification of them.-24. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. Joseph when he awoke must have been sensible that what had happened to him was in a dream. Yet he was at no loss to believe the reality of the vision. The strength of the impression, with other proofs usually given in such cases, left him no room to doubt that the vision was from God. therefore he no sooner awoke than he felt his mind perfectly at ease. Upon which he obeyed the heavenly message with joy. He took his wife home, after giving her an account of the revelation that had been made to him of her innocence, and assuring her that he was now fully persuaded of it, and of all the extraordinary things he had related. At the same time in his conversation with her he observed such chastity as was suitable to so high a mystery. 25. And knew her not till she had brought forth her first born son, and he called his name Jesus. This circumstance the evangelist takes particular notice of, lest any reader should have suspected that there was not an exact accomplishment here of the prophecy which foretold, not only that a virgin should conceive, but that a virgin should bring forth a son. For the whole of this affair had been particularly described by Isaiah long before it happened.
* Ver. 25. Knew her not till she had, &c.] Some affirm that the term first born denotes the eldest of two or more children. But those who contend for the perpetual virginity of Mary, observe that the appellation is used where there is only one child. Thus Exod. xiii. 2. Sanctify me all the first born. They observe farther, that the scriptures furnish examples in which the phrase of doing or not doing a thing till some other thing comes to pass, by no means implies that that thing was done when the other came to pass. It implies simply that it was not done before the thing mentioned happened, but whether it was done after, it leaves quite uncertain. For example, 1 Sam. xv. 35. And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death. 1 Tim. iv. 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. From these examples they infer that Matthew's expression does not necessarily imply that Joseph knew his wife after she was delivered.