This book starts out with a genealogy of Jesus Christ (verses 1-16), starting with Abraham all the way up to the Messiah himself. Matthew 1: 17 summarizes how much history this involved:
“Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.”
42 generations from Abraham to Jesus! Abraham lived roughly around ~2050 BC… so a “generation” here is roughly 50 years on average compared to a modern “generation” which is around 20-30 years. I’m curious about the discrepancy. Wikipedia seems to say that Matthew may have left out a few names.
Anyway, the remaining verses let us know a little bit about Joseph and Mary: Mary is engaged to Joseph, but ends up pregnant before they’re married (still a virgin). Joseph starts panicking and wants to break things off secretly, but an angel drops by in a dream of Joseph’s and tells him to hold up, since Mary is actually pregnant with the Holy Spirit!
So Joseph wakes up, makes Mary his wife, and doesn’t consummate the marriage until after Jesus is born.
- We’re reminded in Matthew 1 : 22-23 that this was all prophesied by Isaiah roughly 700 years before! Absolutely incredible.
- In Matthew 1:19, Joseph’s initial reaction was that he “...was minded to put her away secretly.” Matthew makes sure to mention Joseph is a good guy who wants to save her from public example. At first glance it seems messed up that he wants to dump her as soon as he finds out she’s pregnant, but he’s probably doing her a huge favor, maybe even saving her life (public examples often ended up covered in rocks).