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these two persons, the most eminent for piety, and the most renowned for their excellencies, of all the men of antiquity, sacred or profane, the Lord Jesus was descended; and though his birth and life were humble, yet they who regard an illustrious descent as of value, may find here all that is to be admired in piety, purity, patriotism, splendour, dignity, and renown.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and
Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; 3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram ; 4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And 'Jesse begat David the king; and * David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; 7 And 'Soloman begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; 8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; 9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; 10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; 11 And ||"Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon; 12 And after they were brought to Babylon, "Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat "Zorobabel; 13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; 14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; 15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; 16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
d Gen. xxi. 2, 3. e Gen. xxv. 26. f Gen. xxix. 35. g Gen. xxxviii. 27. Ruth iv. 18, &c.; 1 Chron. ii. 5, 9. &c. il Sam. xvi. 1, and xvii. 12. k 2 Sam. xii. 24. 1 Chron. iii. 10, &c. m 2 Kings xx. 21; 1 Chron. iii. 13. Some read Josias begat Jakim, and Jakim begat Jechonias. n See 1 Chron. iii. 15, 16. o 2 Kings xxiv. 14-16, and xxv. 11; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 10, 20; Jer. xxvii. 20, and xxxix. 9, and lii. 11, 15, 28-30; Dan. i. 2. p 1 Chron. iii. 17, 19. q Ezra iii. 2, and v. 2; Neh. xii. 1; Hag. i. 1.
2-16. These verses contain the genealogy of Jesus. Luke also (chap. iii.) gives a genealogy of the Messiah. No two passages of Scripture have caused more difficulty than these, and various attempts have been made to explain them. There are two sources of difficulty in these catalogues. 1st, Many names that are found in the Old Testament are here omitted; and, 2d, The tables of Matthew and Luke appear in many points to be different. From Adam to Abraham Luke only has given the record. From Abraham to David the two tables are alike. Of course there is no difficulty in reconciling these two parts of the tables. The difficulty lies in that part of the genealogy from David to Christ. There they are entirely different. They are manifestly different lives. Not only are the names different, but Luke has mentioned, in this part of the genealogy, no less than 42 names, while Matthew has recorded but 27.
Various ways have been proposed to explain this difficulty; and it must be admitted that none of them is perfectly satisfactory. It does not comport with the design of these Notes to enter minutely into an explanation of the perplexities of these passages. All that can be done is to suggest the various ways in which attempts have been made to explain them. 1. It is remarked, that in nothing are mistakes more likely to occur than in such tables. From the similarity of names, and the various names by which the same person is often called, and from many other causes, errors would be more likely to creep into the text in genealogical tables than in other writings. Some of the difficulties may have possibly occurred from this cause. 2. Most interpreters have supposed that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke that of Mary. They were both descended from David, but in different lines. This solution derives some plausibility from the fact that the promise was made to David, and as Jesus was not the son of Joseph, it was important to show that Mary was also descended from him. Though this solution is plausible, and may be true, yet it wants evidence. It cannot, however, be proved that this was not the design of Luke. 3. It has been said, also, that Joseph was the legal son and heir of Heli, though the real son of Jacob; and thus the two lines terminated in him. This was the ancient explanation of most of the fathers, and on the whole is most satisfactory. It was a law of the Jews, that if a man died without children, his brother should marry his widow. Thus the two lines might have been intermingled. According
to this solution, which was first proposed by Africanus, Matthan, descended from Solomon, married Estha, of whom was born Jacob. After Matthan's death, Matthat being of the same tribe, but of another family, married his widow, and of this marriage Heli was born. Jacob and Heli were therefore children of the same mother. Heli dying without children, his brother Jacob married his widow, and begat Joseph, who was thus the legal son of Heli. This is agreeable to the account in the two evangelists. Matthew says that Jacob begat Joseph; Luke says that Joseph was the son of Heli,-i. e., was his legal heir, or reckoned in law to be his son.
Though these solutions may not seem to be entirely satisfactory, yet there are two additional considerations which should set the matter at rest, and lead to the conclusion that the narratives are not really inconsistent. 1. No difficulty was ever found, or alleged, in regard to them, by any of the early enemies of Christianity. There is no evidence that they ever adduced them as containing a contradiction. Many of those enemies were acute, learned, and able; and they show by their writings that they were not indisposed to detect all the errors that could possibly be found in the sacred narrative. Now it is to be remembered, that the Jews were fully competent to show that these tables were incorrect, if they were really so; and it is clear that they were fully disposed, if possible, to do it. The fact, therefore, that it is not done, is clear evidence that they thought it to be correct. The same may be said of the acute Pagans who wrote against Christianity. None of them have called in question the correctness of these tables. This is full proof that, in a time when it was easy to understand these tables, they were believed to be correct. 2. The evangelists are not responsible for the correctness of these tables. They are responsible only for what was their real and professed object to do. What was that object? It was, to prove to the satisfaction of the Jews that Jesus was descended from David; and therefore, that there was no argument from his ancestry that he was not the promised Messiah. Now, to make this out, it was not necessary, nor would it have conduced to their argument, to have formed a new table of genealogy. All that could be done was, to go to the family records, to the public tables, and copy them as they were actually kept, and show that, according to the records of the nation, Jesus was descended from David. This, among the Jews, was full and decided testimony in the case. And this was doubtless done. In the same way, the records of a family among us, as they are kept by the family, are proof in courts of justice now, of the birth, names, &c., of individuals. Nor is it necessary nor proper for a court to call them in question, or to attempt to correct them. So the tables here are good evidence to the only point that the writers wished to establish; that is, to show to the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was descended from David. All that can be asked now, is, whether they copied the tables of those families correctly. It is clear that no man can prove that they did not so copy them; and therefore, that no one can adduce them as an argument against the correctness of the New Testament.
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.
17. All the generations, &c. This division of the names in their genealogy was doubtless adopted for the purpose of aiding the memory. It was common among the Jews, and other similar instances are preserved. They were destitute of other books beside the Old Testament, and had but few copies of that among them, and those chiefly in their synagogues; they would, therefore, naturally devise plans to keep up the remembrance of the principal facts in their history. One method of doing this was, to divide the tables of genealogy into portions of equal length, to be committed to memory. This greatly facilitated the remembrance of the names. A man who wished to commit to memory the names of a regiment of soldiers, would naturally divide it into companies and platoons, and this would greatly facilitate his work. This was doubtless the reason in the case before us; and though it is not strictly accurate, yet it was the Jewish way of keeping their records, and answered their purpose. There were three leading persons and events that nearly, or quite, divided their history into equal portions,-Abraham, David, and the Babylonish Captivity. From one to the other was about fourteen generations, and, by omitting a few names, it was sufficiently accurate to be made a general guide or directory in remembering their history.
In counting these divisions, however, it will be seen that there is some difficulty in making out the number fourteen in each division. This may be explained in the following manner :--In the first division, Abraham is the first, and David the last, making together fourteen. In the second series, David would be naturally placed first, and the fourteen was completed in Josiah, about the time of the captivity, as sufficiently near for the purpose of convenient computation. 2 Chron. xxxv.
In the third division Josiah would naturally be placed first, and the number was completed in Joseph So that David and Josiah would be reckoned twice. This may be shown by the following table of the names :
Carrying away into Babylon. This refers to the captivity of Jerusalem, and the removal of the Jews to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, 588 years before Christ. See 2 Chron. xxxvi. Josiah was king when these calamities began to come upon the Jews, but the exact time of the seventy years of captivity did not commence until the 11th year of Zedekiah's reign, or 32 years after the death of Josiah. Babylon was situated on the Euphrates, and was encompassed with walls which were about 60 miles in circuit, 87 feet broad, and 350 feet high, and the city was entered by 100 brazen gates, 25 on each side. It was the capital of a vast empire, and the Jews remained there for 70 years. Now the 'birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph,|| before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
r Luke i. 27.
The Fifth Year before the Common Account called Anno Domini.
Luke i. 35.
18. On this wise. Thus; in this manner.-Espoused. Betrothed, or engaged to be married. There was commonly an interval of 10 or 12 months among the Jews between the contract of marriage and the celebration of the nuptials (see Gen. xxiv. 55; Judges xiv. 8); yet such was the nature of this engagement, that unfaithfulness to each other was deemed adultery. See Deut. xxii. 25, 28.- With child by the Holy Ghost. See Note, Luke i. 35.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not 'willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
t Deut. xxiv. 1.
19. Her husband. The word in the original does not imply that they were married. It means here, the man to whom she was espoused. A just man. Justice consists in rendering to every man his own; yet this is evidently not the character intended to be given here of Joseph. It means that he was kind, tender, merciful; so attached to Mary, that he was not willing that she should be exposed to public shame. He sought, therefore, secretly to dissolve the connection, and to restore her to her friends without the punishment commonly inflicted on adultery. The word just has not unfrequently this meaning of mildness, or mercy. See 1 John i. 9; Ps. cxlv. 17, 18, 19. A public example. To expose her to public shame or infamy. Adultery has always been considered a crime of a very heinous nature. In Egypt, it was punished by cutting off the nose of the adulteress; in Persia, the nose and ears were cut off; in Judea, the punishment was death by stoning. Lev. xx. 10; Ezek. xvi. 38, 40; John viii. 5. This punishment was also inflicted where the person was not married, but betrothed. Deut. xxii. 23, 24. In this case, therefore, the regular punishment would have been death in this painful and ignominious manner; yet Joseph was a religious man, mild and tender, and he was not willing to complain of her to the magistrate, and expose her to death, but sought to avoid the shame, and to put her away privately. Put her away privately. The law of Moses gave the husband the power of divorce. Deut. xxiv. 1. It was customary in a bill of divorce to specify the causes for which the divorce was made, and witnesses were also present to testify to the divorce; but in this case, it seems, Joseph resolved to put her away without
specifying the cause; for he was not willing to make her a public example. This is the meaning here of privately. Both to Joseph and Mary this must have been a great trial. Joseph was ardently attached to her, but her character was likely to be ruined, and he deemed it proper to separate her from him. Mary was innocent; but Joseph was not yet satisfied of her innocence. Yet we may learn how to put our trust in God,--he will defend the innocent. Mary was in danger of being exposed to shame. Had she been connected with a cruel, passionate, and violent man, she would have died in disgrace. But God had so ordered it, that she was connected with a man mild, amiable, and tender; and, in due time, Joseph was apprized of the truth in the case, and took his faithful and beloved wife to his bosom. Thus our only aim should be, to preserve a conscience void of offence, and God will guard our reputation. We may be assailed, or circumstances may be against us; but in due time God will take care to vindicate our character, and save us from ruin.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: "for that which is || conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
Luke i. 35.
I Gr. begotten.
20. He thought on these things. He did not act hastily; he did not take the course which the jaw would have permitted him to do, if he had been hasty, violent, or unjust. It was a case deeply affecting his happiness, his character, and the reputation and character of his chosen companion. God will guide the thoughtful and the anxious: and when we have looked patiently at a perplexed subject, and know not what to do, then God, as in the case of Joseph, will interpose to lead us, and direct our way. Ps. xxv. 9. The angel of the Lord. The word angel literally means a messenger. It is applied chiefly in the Scriptures to those invisible holy beings who have not fallen into sin, who live in heaven (1 Tim. v. 21-compare Jude 6), and who are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. Heb. i. 13, 14; Dan. ix. 21. The word is sometimes applied to men, as messengers (Luke vii. 24, ix. 52; James ii. 25); to the winds (Ps. civ. 4); to the pestilence (Ps. lxxviii. 49); or to whatever is appointed to make known, or to execute the will of God. It is commonly applied, however, to the unfallen, happy spirits that are in heaven, whose only dignity and pleasure it is to do the will of God. Various ways were employed by them in making known the will of God,-by dreams, visions, assuming a human appearance, &c. In a dream. This was a common way of making known the will of God to the ancient prophets and people of God. Gen. xx. 3, xxx. 1, 11, 24, xxxvii. 5, xli. 1; 1 Kings iii. 5; Dan. vii. 1; Job iv. 13-15. In what way it was ascertained that these dreams were from God, cannot now be told. It is sufficient for us to know that in this way many of the prophecies were communicated; and to remark, that now there is no evidence that we are to put reliance on our dreams. Dreams are wild, in egular movements of the mind, when it is unshackled by reason; and it is mere superstition to suppose that God now makes known his will in this way. Son of David. Descendant of David. See ver. 1. The angel put him in mind of his relation to David, perhaps to prepare him for the intelligence that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah-the promised heir of David. Fear not. Do not hesitate, or have fears about her virtue and purity; do not fear that she will be unworthy of you, or will disgrace you.
21 *And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name ||JESUS: for 'he shall save his people from their sins.
21. His name JESUS. The name Jesus is the same as Saviour. It is derived from the verb signifying to save. In Hebrew it is the same as Joshua. In two places in the New Testament it is used where it means Joshua, the leader of the Jews into Canaan; and in our translation the name Joshua should have been retained. Acts vii. 45; Heb. iv. 8. It was a very common name among the Jews. He shall save. This expresses the same as the name, and on this account the name was given to him. He saves men by having died to redeem them; by giving the Spirit to renew them (John xvi. 7, 8); by his power in enabling them to overcome their spiritual enemies, in defending them from danger, in guiding them in the path of duty, in sustaining them in trials and in death; and he will raise them up at the last day, and exalt them to a world of purity and love. His people. Those whom the Father has given to him. The Jews were called the people of God, because he had chosen them to himself, and regarded them as his peculiar and beloved people, separate from all the nations of the earth. Christians are called the people of Christ, because it was the purpose
of the Father to give them to him, (Isa. liii. 11; John vi. 37); and because in due time he came to redeem them to himself. Tit. ii. 14; 1 Pet. i. 2. ¶ From their sins. This is the great business of Jesus in coming and dying. It is not to save men IN their sins, but FROM their sins. could not be happy in heaven; it would be a place of wretchedness to the guilty. The design of Jesus was, therefore, to save from sin;-1st, By dying to make an atonement (Tit. ii. 14); and, 2d, By renewing the heart, and purifying the soul, and preparing his people for a pure and holy heaven. And from this we may learn, 1st, That Jesus had a design in coming into the world; he came to save his people—and that design will surely be accomplished. It is impossible that in any part of it he should fail. 2d, We have no evidence that we are his people, unless we are saved from the power and dominion of sin. A mere profession of being his people will not answer. Unless we give up our sins, unless we renounce the pride, pomp, and pleasure of the world, and all our lusts and crimes, we have no evidence that we are the children of God. It is impossible that we should be Christians, if we indulge in sin, and live in the practice of any known iniquity. 3d, That all professing Christians should feel that there is no salvation unless it is from sin, and that they can never be admitted to a holy heaven hereafter, unless they are made pure by the blood of Jesus here.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, 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.
22, 23. The prophecy here quoted is recorded in Isa. vii. 14. It was delivered about 740 years before Christ, in the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah. The land of Judea was threatened with an invasion by the united armies of Syria and Israel, under the command of Rezin and Pekah. Ahaz was alarmed, and seems to have contemplated calling in aid from Assyria to defend him. Isaiah was directed, in his consternation, to go to Ahaz, and tell him to ask a sign from God (ver. 10, 11); that is, to look to God rather than to Assyria for aid. This he refused to do. He had not confi dence in God; but feared that the land would be overrun by the armies of Syria (ver. 12), and relied only on the aid which he hoped to receive from Assyria. Isaiah answered, that, in these circumstances, the Lord would himself give a sign, or a pledge, that the land should be delivered. The sign was, that a virgin should have a son, and before that son would arrive to years of discretion, the land would be forsaken by these hostile kings. The prophecy was therefore designed, originally, to denote to Ahaz, that the land would certainly be delivered from its calamities and dangers, and that the deliverance would not be long delayed. The united land of Syria and Israel, united now in confederation, would be deprived of both their kings, and thus the land of Judah be freed from the threatening dangers. This appears to be the literal fulfilment of the passage in Isaiah. ¶ Might be fulfilled. It is more difficult to know in what sense this could be said to be fulfilled in the birth of Christ. To understand this, it may be remarked, that the word fulfilled is used in the Scriptures, and in other writings, in many senses, of which the following are some:-1st, When a thing is clearly predicted, and comes to pass; as the destruction of Babylon, foretold in Isa. xiii. 19–22; and of Jerusalem, in Matt. xxiv. 2d, When one thing is testified, or shadowed forth by another, the type is said to be fulfilled. This was the case in regard to the types and sacrifices in the Old Testament, which were fulfilled by the coming of Christ. See Heb. ix. 3d, When prophecies of future events are expressed in language more elevated and full than the particular thing at first denoted demands; or when the language, though it may express one event, is also so full and rich as appropriately to express other events in similar circumstances, and of similar import. Thus, e. g., the last chapters of Isaiah, from the 40th chapter, foretell the return of the Jews from Babylon; and every circumstance mentioned occurred in their return. But the language is more expanded and sublime than was necessary to express their return. It will also express appropriately a much more important and magnificent deliverance that of the redeemed under the Messiah, and the return of the people of God to him, and the universal spread of the Gospel; and therefore it may be said to be fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, and the spread of the Gospel. So, if there were any other magnificent and glorious events still, in similar circumstances, and of like character, it might be said also that these prophecies were fulfilled in all of them. The language is so full and rich, and the promises so grand, that they appropriately express all these deliverances. This may be the sense in which the prophecy now under consideration may be said to have been fulfilled. 4th, Language is said to be fulfilled when, though it was used to express one event, yet it may be used also