Prologue

This Gospel of Matthew has a prologue with five parts that echo the book of Genesis.  First, there was the genealogy of Jesus via Joseph that began with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Then this genealogy went through the twin sons of Judah and the descendants of Perez.  Then it went from Ruth to King David.  Then there was the kings of Judah from Solomon to the gap and up to and including the Babylonian captivity.  Finally, there were the unknown names in this genealogy that led up to Joseph and his father.  Matthew then explained the genealogy of Jesus, since there were differences of this genealogy with that of the Gospel of Luke.

The second part of this prologue was the virgin birth of Jesus.  First of all, there was the conception of Jesus from Joseph’s point of view, not Mary’s.  Joseph wanted to divorce Mary for being pregnant until an angel in a dream told him that Jesus would be a special child that fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah.  After waking up from his dream, there was the virgin birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

The third part of this prologue was the visit of the Magi.  They brought their questions to Herod the Judean Roman king, who was annoyed and frightened.  He found out that Bethlehem was described by the prophet Micah as the place where the Messiah would be born.  Herod summoned the Magi and sent them to Bethlehem.  The Magi followed the star and found Mary with the child at the so-called Epiphany.  However, they went home another route so that they did not go back to King Herod.

The fourth part was the flight into Egypt, as Joseph had another dream.  They went to Egypt to fulfill another prophecy that the Messiah would come out of Egypt.  Meanwhile, King Herod killed all the under two-year old boys in the Bethlehem area as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah.

Finally, the fifth part of the prologue was the return of Jesus to Nazareth when Joseph had a third dream.  He was told to return to Israel, or more specifically to Galilee in a place called Nazareth.  Thus, this prologue gave the unique perspective of Joseph.

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Explanation of the genealogy of Jesus (Mt 1:17-1:17)

“Thus,

All the generations

From Abraham

To David

Were fourteen generations.

All the generations

From David

To the deportation to Babylon

Were fourteen generations.

All the generations

From the deportation to Babylon

To the Christ

Were fourteen generations.”

 

Πᾶσαι οὖν αἱ γενεαὶ ἀπὸ Ἀβραὰμ ἕως Δαυεὶδ γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες, καὶ ἀπὸ Δαυεὶδ ἕως τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες, καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος ἕως τοῦ Χριστοῦ γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες.

 

Matthew then explained his genealogy. He had a fascination with the number 14 (δεκατέσσαρες). The first group from Abraham to David (ἀπὸ Ἀβραὰμ ἕως Δαυεὶδ) was 14 generations (γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες). The second group from David to the deportation to Babylon (ἀπὸ Δαυεὶδ ἕως τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος) was 14 generations (γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες). Then the final group from the Babylonian captivity to the Christ (ἀπὸ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος ἕως τοῦ Χριστοῦ) was 14 generations (γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες). 14 was the numerical value of the 3 consonant Hebrew letters of David (Dalet Vav Dalet). 14 was also double 7, or a lucky number. To make this work, Matthew had to drop a number of kings from David to the captivity. Finally, he was one short with only 13 between the captivity and Joseph.

The kings of Judah up to the Babylonian captivity (Mt 1:8-1:11)

“Joram was

The father of Uzziah.

Uzziah was

The father of Jotham.

Jotham was

The father of Ahaz.

Ahaz was

The father of Hezekiah.

Hezekiah was

The father of Manasseh.

Manasseh was

The father of Amos.

Amos was

The father of Josiah.

Josiah was

The father of Jechoniah

And his brothers,

At the time of the deportation

To Babylon.”

 

Ἰωρὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ὀζείαν, Ὀζείας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωαθάμ, Ἰωαθὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἄχαζ, Ἄχαζ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἐζεκίαν, Ἐζεκίας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Μανασσῆ, Μανασσῆς δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀμώς, Ἀμὼς δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωσείαν, Ἰωσείας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰεχονίαν καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος.

 

The chronology of the Judean kings, as found in 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles, chapter 3, picks up with Amaziah’s son, Azariah (Ὀζείαν) or Uzziah who ruled from about 781-740 BCE.  However, here it says that Joram (Ἰωρὰμ) was his father when Joram was the father of Ahaziah.  Uzziah had a son named Jotham (Ἰωαθάμ) who ruled from about 740-736 BCE.  His son Ahaz (Ἄχαζ) ruled from about 736-716 BCE.  His son Hezekiah (Ἐζεκίαν) ruled from about 716-687 BCE.  His son Manasseh (Μανασσῆ) ruled from about 687-642 BCE.  His son Amon or Amos (Ἀμώς) ruled from about 642-640 BCE.  His son Josiah (Ἰωσείαν) ruled from about 640-609 BCE.  Many of Josiah’s sons would rule Judah.  His son Johanan, Jehoahaz or Shallum ruled for just one year about 609 BCE.  His brother (τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς), Josiah’s son Jehoiakim or Eliakim ruled from 609-598 BCE.  His son Jehoiachin, Coniah or Jeconiah (Ἰεχονίαν) ruled for less than a year about 598 BCE.  Zedekiah or Mattaniah, brother of Jehoiakim and son of Josiah, ruled from about 598-587 BCE until the beginning of the Babylonian captivity (ἐπὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος).  The Greek text used the term “begat” (ἐγέννησεν) to represent the relationships between these 8 men.  However, it seems perfectly acceptable to simply call them the father instead of saying “fathered them.”

The common language at the time of Jesus

After the Babylonian captivity, Aramaic replaced Biblical Hebrew as the everyday language in Israel.  However, Biblical Hebrew was still used for religious purposes.  After Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies and the Seleucids ruled Israel for almost two hundred years.  Thus, the Jewish culture was heavily influenced by this Hellenistic culture.  Koine Greek was used not only for international communication, but also as the first language of some Jews.  This development was furthered complicated by the fact that the largest Jewish community in the world lived in Ptolemaic Alexandria, Egypt.  Many of these diaspora Jews would have Greek as their first language.  Thus, first the Torah, and then other Hebrew scriptures, were translated into standard Koine Greek, the Septuagint.

Title (Hab 1:1-1:1)

“The oracle

That the prophet Habakkuk

Saw.”

We know very little about Habakkuk, since there is no indication of his father or the place that he was from.  His name appears in the Daniel story about Bell and the Dragon, chapter 14.  Probably he was a prophet during the time of the Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BCE.

The Israelite slave trade (Joel 3:5-3:6)

“You have taken

My silver,

My gold.

You have carried

My rich treasures

Into your temples.

You have sold

The people of Judah,

The people of Jerusalem,

To the Greeks.

You have removed them far

From their own border.”

Next Yahweh, via Joel, accused the Mediterranean coastal cities of stealing the silver and gold from the treasury of the Yahweh Temple in Jerusalem. They had sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem as slaves to the Greeks. Thus, they were removed far from their own border. This also assumes the Babylonian captivity.

Yahweh has destroyed his own Temple (Lam 2:6-2:6)

Vav

“Yahweh

Has broken down

His booth

Like a garden.

He has destroyed

His tabernacle.

Yahweh has abolished

Festivals

Along with the Sabbath

In Zion.

His fierce indignation

Has spurned Kings

As well as priests.”

Yahweh has destroyed his own booth or tabernacle. Yahweh has abolished all Sabbath and festival worship services, mainly because there was no more Temple. In his fierce indignation, Yahweh has turned against his kings and priests. After all, a lot of people have died or gone into Babylonian captivity or, like Jeremiah, gone to Egypt or other places. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Vav. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.