1The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
NOTES ON CHAP. I.
Verse 1. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ] I
suppose these words to have been the original title to this
Gospel; and that they signify, according to the Hebrew
Phraseology, not only the account of the genealogy of Christ, as
detailed below, but the history of his birth, acts, sufferings,
death, resurrection, and ascension.
The phrase, book of the generation, sepher toledoth,
is frequent in the Jewish writings, and is translated by the
Septuagint, βιβλοςγενεσεως, as here, by the evangelist; and
regularly conveys the meaning given to it above; e. g. This is the
book of the generations of Adam, Ge 5:1. That is, the account of
the life of Adam and certain of his immediate descendants. Again.
These are the generations of Jacob, Ge 37:2. That is, the account
or history of Jacob, his son Joseph, and the other remarkable
branches of the family. And again. These are the generations of
Aaron and Moses, Nu 3:1. That is, the history of the life and
acts of these persons, and some of their immediate descendants.
The same form of expression is also used, Ge 2:4, when giving the
history of the creation of heaven and earth.
Some have translated βιβλοςγενεσεως, The book of the genealogy;
and consider it the title of this chapter only; but the former
opinion seems better founded.
Jesus Christ] See on Mt 1:16, 21.
The son of David, the son of Abraham] No person ever born could
boast, in a direct line, a more illustrious ancestry than Jesus
Christ. Among his progenitors, the regal, sacerdotal, and
prophetic offices, existed in all their glory and splendour.
DAVID, the most renowned of sovereigns, was king and prophet:
ABRAHAM, the most perfect character in all antiquity, whether
sacred or profane, was priest and prophet: but the three offices
were never united except in the person of Christ; he alone was
prophet, priest, and king; and possessed and executed these
offices in such a supereminent degree as no human being ever did,
or ever could do. As the principal business of the prophet was to
make known the will of God to men, according to certain partial
communications received from Heaven; so Jesus, who lay in the
bosom of the Father, and who was intimately and thoroughly
acquainted with all the mysteries of the eternal world, came to
declare the Divine nature and its counsels to mankind; see
As the business of the priest was to offer sacrifices to God, to
make atonement for the sins of the people; so Christ was
constituted a high priest, to make, by the sacrifice of himself,
an atonement for the sins of the whole world; see 1Jo 2:2, and
the whole Epistle to the Hebrews. As the office of king was to
reign over, protect, and defend the people committed to his care
by the Divine Providence; so Christ is set as a king upon Sion,
having the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of
the earth for his possession, Ps 2:6, 8, &c. Of the
righteousness, peace, and increase of whose government, there
shall be no end, Isa 9:7.
This three-fold office, Christ executes not only in a general
sense, in the world at large; but, in a particular sense, in
every Christian soul. He is first a prophet, to teach the heart
of man the will of God; to convict the conscience of sin,
righteousness, and judgment; and fully to illustrate the way of
salvation. He is next a priest, to apply that atonement to the
guilty conscience, the necessity of which, as a prophet, he had
previously made known. And lastly, as a king, he leads captivity
captive, binds and casts out the strong man armed, spoils his
goods, extends the sway of the sceptre of righteousness, subdues
and destroys sin, and reigns Lord over all the powers and
faculties of the human soul; so that AS sin reigned unto death,
EVEN so does grace reign through righteousness, unto eternal life,
by Jesus Christ our Lord. Ro 5:21.
It is remarkable, that the evangelist names David before
Abraham, though the latter was many generations older: the reason
seems to be this, that David was not only the most illustrious of
our Lord's predecessors, as being both king and prophet; but
because that promise, which at first was given to Abraham, and
afterwards, through successive generations, confirmed to the
Jewish people, was at last determined and restricted to the family
of David. Son of David, was an epithet by which the Messiah was
afterwards known among the Jews; and, under this title, they were
led to expect him by prophetic authority. See Ps 89:3, 4;
Ps 132:10, 11, compared with Ac 13:23, and Isa 11:1;
Christ was prophesied of under the very name of David.
See Eze 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
2 Verse 2. Abraham begat Isaac] In this genealogy, those persons
only, among the ancestors of Christ, which formed the direct line,
as specified: hence no mention is made of Ishmael, the son of
Abraham, nor of Esau, the son of Isaac; and of all the twelve
patriarchs, or sons of Jacob, Judah alone is mentioned.
3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
3 Verse 3. Phares and Zara] The remarkable history of these
twins may be seen, Gen. 38: Some of the ancients were of opinion,
that the evangelist refers to the mystery of the youngest being
preferred to the eldest, as prefiguring the exaltation of the
Christian Church over the synagogue. Concerning the women whose
names are recorded in this genealogy, see the note at the end of
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 Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
8 Verse 8. Joram begat Ozias] This is the Uzziah, king of Judah,
who was struck with the leprosy for his presumption in entering
the temple to offer incense before the Lord. See 2Ch 26:16, &c.
Ozias was not the immediate son of Joram: there were three kings
between them, Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah, which swell the
fourteen generations to seventeen: but it is observed that
omissions of this kind are not uncommon in the Jewish genealogies.
In Ezr 7:3,
Azariah is called the son of Meraioth, although it is evident,
from 1Ch 6:7-9,
that there were six descendants between them. This circumstance
the evangelist was probably aware of; but did not see it proper to
attempt to correct what he found in the public accredited
genealogical tables; as he knew it to be of no consequence to his
argument, which was merely to show that Jesus Christ as surely
descended, in an uninterrupted line from David, as David did from
Abraham. And this he has done in the most satisfactory manner;
nor did any person in those days pretend to detect any inaccuracy
in his statement; though the account was published among those
very people whose interest it was to expose the fallacy, in
vindication of their own obstinate rejection of the Messiah, if
any such fallacy could have been proved. But as they were silent,
modern and comparatively modern unbelievers may for ever hold
their peace. The objections raised on this head are worthy of no
regard; yet the following statement deserves notice.
St. Matthew took up the genealogies just as he found them in the
public Jewish records, which, though they were in the main
correct, yet were deficient in many particulars. The Jews
themselves give us sufficient proof of this. The Talmud, title
Kiddushim, mentions ten classes of persons who returned from the
Babylonish captivity: I. COHANEY, priests. II. LEVEY,
Levites. III. YISHRAEL, Israelites. IV.
CHULULEY, common persons, as to the priesthood; such whose fathers
were priests, but their mothers were such as the priests should
not marry. V. GIREY, proselytes. VI. CHARUREY,
freed-men, or servants who had been liberated by their masters.
VII. MAMZIREY, spurious, such as were born in unlawful
wedlock. VIII. NETHINEY, Nethinim. IX.
SHETUKEY, bastards, persons whose mothers, though well known,
could not ascertain the fathers of their children, because of
their connections with different men. X. ASUPHEY, such as
were gathered up out of the streets, whose fathers and mothers
were utterly unknown. Such was the heterogeneous mass brought up
from Babylon to Jerusalem; and although we learn from the Jews,
that great care was taken to separate the spurious from the
true-born Israelites, and canons were made for that purpose, yet
it so happened, that sometimes a spurious family had got into high
authority, and therefore must not be meddled with. See several
cases in Lightfoot. On this account, a faithful genealogist would
insert in his roll such only as were indisputable. "It is
therefore easy to guess," says Dr. Lightfoot, "whence Matthew took
the last fourteen generations of this genealogy, and Luke the
first forty names of his: namely, from the genealogical rolls, at
that time well known, and laid up in the public κειμηλια,
repositories, and in the private also. And it was necessary
indeed, in so noble and sublime a subject, and a thing that would
be so much inquired into by the Jewish people, as the lineage of
the Messiah would be, that the evangelists should deliver a truth,
not only that could not be gainsayed, but also might be proved and
established from certain and undoubted rolls of ancestors." See
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;
11And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
11 Verse 11. Josias begat Jechonias, &c.] There are three
considerable difficulties in this verse.
1. Josias was not the father of Jechonias; he was only the
grandfather of that prince: 1Ch 3:14-16.
2. Jechonias had no brethren; at least, none are on record.
3. Josias died 20 years before the Babylonish captivity took
place, and therefore Jechonias and his brethren could not have
been begotten about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
To this way be added a fourth difficulty, viz. there are only
thirteen in this 2nd class of generations; or forty-one, instead
of forty-two, in the whole. But all these difficulties disappear,
by adopting a reading found in many MSS. ιοωσιαςδεεγεννησετος
ιωακειμ� ιωακειμδεεγεννησετονιεχονιαν. And Josias begat
JEHOIAKIM, or Joakim, and JOAKIM begat Jechonias. For this
reading, see the authorities in Griesbach. Josiah was the
immediate father of Jehoiakim (called also Eliakeim and Joakim)
and his brethren, who were Johanan, Zedekiah, and Shallum: see
Joakim was the father of Joachin or Jechonias, about the time of
the first Babylonish captivity: for we may reckon three Babylonish
captivities. The first happened in the fourth year of Joakim, son
of Josiah, about A. M. 3398. In this year, Nebuchadnezzar, having
taken Jerusalem, led a great number of captives to Babylon. The
second captivity happened under Jechoniah, son of Joakim; who,
having reigned three months, was taken prisoner in 3405, and was
carried to Babylon, with a great number of the Jewish nobility.
The third captivity took place under Zedekiah, A. M. 3416. And
thus, says Calmet, Mt 1:11 should be read:
Josias begat Joakim and his brethren: and Joakim begat Jechonias
about the time of the first Babylonish captivity; and Jechonias
begat Salathiel, after they were brought to Babylon. Thus, with
the necessary addition of Joakim, the three classes, each
containing fourteen generations, are complete. And to make this
the more evident, I shall set down each of these three generations
in a separate column, with the additional Joakim, that the reader
may have them all at one view.
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
12 Verse 12. Jechonias begat Salathiel] After Jechonias was
brought to Babylon, he was put in prison by Nebuchadnezzar, where
he continued till the death of this prince, and the accession of
Evilmerodach, who brought him out of prison, in which he had been
detained thirty-seven years, and restored him to such favour that
his throne (seat) was exalted above all the kings which were with
him in Babylon: Jer 52:31, 32. But though he thus became a royal
favourite, he was never restored to his kingdom. And, according
to the prophecy of Jeremiah, Jer 22:30, no man of his seed
sat upon the throne of David; yet the regal line was continued
through his son Salathiel, who died in Babylon: but Zorobabel, his
son, returned from captivity, and by him the race of David was
continued, according to Matthew, by Abiud; and, according to Luke,
by Rhesa. See on Lu 3:23, &c.
The term carrying away to Babylon, μετοικεσια, from μετοικεω,
to change a habitation, or place of residence, would be more
properly translated by the word transportation, which is here
peculiarly appropriate: the change was not voluntary; they were
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.
16 Verse 16. Jesus, who is called Christ.] As the word χριστος
Christ, signifies the anointed or anointer, from χριω, to anoint,
it answers exactly to the Hebrew mashiach, which we pronounce
Messiah or Messias; this word comes from the root mashac,
signifying the same thing. As the same person is intended by both
the Hebrew and Greek appellation, it should be regularly
translated The Messiah, or The Christ; whichever is preferred, the
demonstrative article should never be omitted.
Priests, prophets, and kings, among the Jews, were anointed in
order to the legitimate exercise of their respective offices.
Hence the word χριστος Christ, or Mashiach, became a
name of dignity, and often signified the same as king.
See Isa 45:1; Ps 105:15; Le 4:3; 6:20; 1Sa 2:10.
The words Mashiach and melec, χριστος and
βασιλευς, Christ and king, are frequently interchanged.
1Sa 2:10; Ps 2:2, 6; Lu 23:2;
and see the Scholia of Rosenmuller on this place. The reason of
this may be seen in the following note, which I extract from the
comment on Ex 29:7.
"It appears from Isa 61:1,
that anointing with oil, in consecrating a person to any important
office, whether civil or religious, was considered as an emblem of
the communication of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit.
This ceremony was used on three occasions, viz. the installation
of prophets, priests, and kings, into their respective offices.
But why should such an anointing be deemed necessary? Because the
common sense of men taught them that all good, whether spiritual
or secular, must come from God, its origin and cause. Hence it
was taken for granted, 1. That no man could foretell events,
unless inspired by the Spirit of God. And therefore the prophet
was anointed, to signify the communication of the Spirit of wisdom
and knowledge. 2. That no person could offer an acceptable
sacrifice to God for the sins of men, or profitably minister in
holy things, unless enlightened, influenced, and directed, by the
Spirit of grace and holiness. Hence the priest was anointed, to
signify his being divinely qualified for the due performance of
his sacred functions. 3. That no man could enact just and
equitable laws, which should have the prosperity of the community
and the welfare of the individual continually in view, or could
use the power confided to him only for the suppression of vice and
the encouragement of virtue, but that man who was ever under the
inspiration of the Almighty. Hence kings were inaugurated by
anointing with oil. Two of these offices only exist in all
civilized nations, the sacerdotal and regal; and, in some
countries, the priest and king are still consecrated by anointing.
In the Hebrew language mashach signifies to anoint; and
mashiach, the anointed person. But as no man was ever
dignified by holding the three offices, so no person ever had the
title Mashiach, the anointed one, but Jesus, The CHRIST. He alone
is King of kings, and Lord of lords: the king who governs the
universe, and rules in the hearts of his followers; the prophet,
to instruct men in the way wherein they should go; and the great
high priest, to make atonement for their sins. Hence he is called
the Messias, a corruption of the word ha-mashiach, THE
anointed ONE, in Hebrew; which gave birth to οχριστος ho
Christos, which has precisely the same signification in Greek: of
him, Melchisedeck, Abraham, Aaron, David, and others, were
illustrious types. But none of these had the title of THE
MESSIAH, or THE ANOINTED OF GOD. This does, and ever will, belong
exclusively to JESUS, The CHRIST."
17So 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 Verse 17. Fourteen generations] See Clarke on Mt 1:11.
The Jews had a sort of technical method of summing up generations in
this way. In Synopsis Sohar, p. 132, n. 18, we have the following
words; "From Abraham to Solomon were fifteen generations; and then
the moon was at the full. From Solomon to Zedekiah were other
fifteen generations; the moon was then in the wane, and Zedekiah's
eyes were put out." That is, the regal state came to its zenith
of light and glory in the time of Solomon; but decreased
gradually, till it became nearly extinct in the days of Zedekiah.
18 ¶ 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.
18 Verse 18. Espoused to Joseph] The word μνηστευθεισης, from
μνηστευω, to contract, or betroth, refers to the previous
marriage agreement, in which the parties mutually bound themselves
to each other; without which, no woman was ever married among the
Jews. Among the Hindoos, a woman is espoused often a whole year,
and even longer before the marriage takes place.
Before they came together] The woman was espoused at her own,
or her father's house; and, generally, some time elapsed before
she was taken home to the house of her husband: De 20:7;
Jud 14:7, 8. This custom has been immemorially observed among
the inhabitants of Ireland, who have not only this, but many
Asiatic customs, which, added to various authentic historic
proofs, are collateral evidences that they received the Christian
religion, not from the popes of Rome, but through the means of
Among the Jews, the espousal, though the marriage had not been
consummated, was considered as perfectly legal and binding on both
sides; and hence a breach of this contract was considered as a
case of adultery, and punished exactly in the same way. See
De 22:25, 28. Nor could a contract of this kind, though there
was no cohabitation, be broken but by a regular divorce, as Mr.
Selden, in his Uxor Hebraica, has proved at large from the Jewish
She was found with child] Her situation was the most
distressing and humiliating that can be conceived. Nothing but
the fullest consciousness of her own integrity, and the strongest
confidence in God, could have supported her in such trying
circumstances, where her reputation, her honour, and her life were
at stake. What conversation passed between her and Joseph, on
this discovery, we are not informed; but the issue proves that it
was not satisfactory to him: nor could he resolve to consider her
as his wife, till God had sent his angel to bear the most
unequivocal testimony to the virgin's innocence. His whole
conduct, on this occasion, was exceedingly benevolent and humane.
He might at once have taken the advantage of the law,
De 22:23, 24, and had her stoned to death.
19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
19 Verse 19. To make her a public example] παραδειγματισαι, to
expose her to public infamy; from παρα, near, and δεικνυμαι, I
show, or expose; what is oddly, though emphatically, called in
England, showing up-exposing a character to public view. Though
Joseph was a righteous man, δικαιος, and knew that the law
required that such persons as he supposed his wife to be should be
put to death, yet, as righteousness is ever directed by mercy, he
determined to put her away or divorce her privately, i.e. without
assigning any cause, that her life might be saved; and, as the
offence was against himself, he had a right to pass it by if he
chose. Some have supposed that the term δικαιος should be
translated merciful, and it certainly often has this
signification; but here it is not necessary.
20But 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.
20 Verse 20. That which is conceived (or formed) in her] So I
think γεννηθεν should be translated in this place: as it appears
that the human nature of Jesus Christ was a real creation in the
womb of the virgin, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The angel of
the Lord mentioned here was probably the angel Gabriel, who, six
months before, bad been sent to Zacharias and Elisabeth, to
announce the birth of Christ's forerunner, John the Baptist.
See Lu 1:36.
21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
21 Verse 21. JESUS] The same as Joshua, Yehoshua, from
yasha, he saved, delivered, put in a state of safety. See on
Ex 13:9; Nu 13:16,
and in the preface to Joshua.
He shall save his people from their sins.] This shall be his
great business in the world: the great errand on which he is come,
viz. to make an atonement for, and to destroy, sin: deliverance
from all the power, guilt, and pollution of sin, is the privilege
of every believer in Christ Jesus. Less than this is not spoken
of in the Gospel; and less than this would be unbecoming the
Gospel. The perfection of the Gospel system is not that it makes
allowances for sin, but that it makes an atonement for it: not
that it tolerates sin, but that it destroys it. In Mt 1:1, he
is called Jesus Christ, on which Dr. Lightfoot properly remarks,
"That the name of Jesus, so often added to the name of Christ in
the New Testament, is not only that Christ might be thereby
pointed out as the Saviour, but also that Jesus might be pointed
out as the true Christ or Messiah, against the unbelief of the
Jews." This observation will be of great use in numberless places
of the New Testament. See Ac 2:36; 8:35; 1Co 16:22; 1Jo 2:22;
1Jo 4:15, &c.
22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23Behold, 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.
23 Verse 23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child] We have
already seen, from the preceding verse, that this prophecy is
taken from Isa 7:14; but it may be necessary to consider the
circumstances of the original promise more particularly. At the
time referred to, the kingdom of Judah, under the government of
Ahaz, was reduced very low. Pekah, king of Israel, had slain in
Judea 120,000 persons in one day, and carried away captives
200,000, including women and children, together with much spoil.
To add to their distress, Rezin, king of Syria, being confederate
with Pekah, had taken Elath, a fortified city of Judah, and
carried the inhabitants away captive to Damascus. In this
critical conjuncture, need we wonder that Ahaz was afraid that the
enemies who were now united against him must prevail, destroy
Jerusalem, and the kingdom of Judah, and annihilate the family of
David! To meet and remove this fear, apparently well grounded,
Isaiah is sent from the Lord to Ahaz, swallowed up now both by
sorrow and by unbelief, in order to assure him that the counsels
of his enemies should not stand; and that they should be utterly
discomfited. To encourage Ahaz, he commands him to ask a sign or
miracle, which should be a pledge in hand, that God should, in due
time, fulfil the predictions of his servant, as related in the
context. On Ahaz humbly refusing to ask any sign, it is
immediately added, Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a
sign: Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son; and shall
call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, &c. Both
the Divine and human nature of our Lord, as well as the miraculous
conception, appear to be pointed out in the prophecy quoted here
by the evangelist:-He shall be called IM-MENU-EL;
literally, The STRONG GOD WITH US: similar to those words in the
New Testament:-The Word which was God-was made flesh, and dwelt
among us, full of grace and truth: Joh 1:1, 14.
And, God was manifested in the flesh: 1Ti 3:16. So that we are
to understand, God with us, to imply God incarnated-God in human
nature. This seems farther evident from the words of the prophet,
Butter and honey shall he eat-he shall be truly man, grow up and
be nourished in a human, natural way; which refers to his being
WITH US, i.e. incarnated. To which the prophet adds, That he may
know to refuse the evil and choose the good:-or rather, According
to his knowledge, le-daato, reprobating the evil, and
choosing the good. This refers to him as GOD; and is the same
idea given by this prophet, Isa 53:11:
By (or in) his knowledge (the knowledge of Christ crucified,
be-dadto) shall my righteous servant sanctify many; for he shall
bear their offences. Now this union of the Divine and human
nature is termed a sign or miracle, oth, i.e. something
which exceeds the power of nature to produce. And this miraculous
union was to be brought about in a miraculous way: Behold a VIRGIN
shall conceive: the word is very emphatic, ha-almah, THE
virgin; the only one that ever was, or ever shall be, a mother in
this way. But the Jews, and some called Christians, who have
espoused their desperate cause, assert, that "the word almah
does not signify a VIRGIN only; for it is applied, Pr 30:19, to
signify a young married woman." I answer, that this latter text
is no proof of the contrary doctrine: the words derec
geber be-almah, the way of a man with a maid, cannot be proved to
mean that for which it is produced: beside, one of De Rossi's MSS.
reads be-almaiu, the way of a strong, or stout, man
( geber) IN HIS YOUTH; and in this reading the Syriac,
Septuagint, Vulgate, and Arabic agree, which are followed by the
first version in the English language, as it stands in a MS. in my
own possession-the weie of a man in his waring youthe; so that
this place, the only one that can with any probability of success
be produced, were the interpretation contended for correct, which
I am by no means disposed to admit, proves nothing. Beside, the
consent of so many versions in the opposite meaning deprives it of
much of its influence in this question.
The word almah, comes from alam, to lie hid,
be concealed; and we are told that "virgins were so called,
because they were concealed or closely kept up in their fathers'
houses, till the time of their marriage." This is not correct:
see the case of Rebecca, Ge 24:43, and my note there: that of
Rachel, Ge 29:6, 9, and the note there also: and see the case of
Miriam, the sister of Moses, Ex 2:8, and also the Chaldee
paraphrase on La 1:4,
where the virgins are represented as going out in the dance. And
see also the whole history of Ruth. This being concealed, or kept
at home, on which so much stress is laid, is purely fanciful; for
we find that young unmarried women drew water, kept sheep, gleaned
publicly in the fields, &c., &c., and the same works they perform
among the Turcomans to the present day. This reason, therefore,
does not account for the radical meaning of the word; and we must
seek it elsewhere. Another well known and often used root in the
Hebrew tongue will cast light on this subject. This is galah,
which signifies to reveal, make manifest, or uncover, and is often
applied to matrimonial connections, in different parts of the
Mosaic law: alam, therefore, may be considered as implying the
concealment of the virgin, as such, till lawful marriage had
taken place. A virgin was not called almah, because she was
concealed by being kept at home in her father's house, which is
not true, but literally and physically, because, as a woman, she
had not been uncovered-she had not known man. This fully applies
to the blessed virgin: see Lu 1:34.
"How can this be, seeing I know no man?" and this text throws much
light on the subject before us. This also is in perfect agreement
with the ancient prophecy, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the
head of the serpent," Ge 3:15; for the person who was to
destroy the work of the devil was to be the progeny of the woman,
without any concurrence of the man. And, hence, the text in
Genesis speaks as fully of the virgin state of the person, from
whom Christ, according to the flesh, should come, as that in the
prophet, or this in the evangelist. According to the original
promise, there was to be a seed, a human being, who should destroy
sin; but this seed or human being must come from the woman ALONE;
and no woman ALONE, could produce such a human being, without
being a virgin. Hence, A virgin shall bear a son, is the very
spirit and meaning of the original text, independently of the
illustration given by the prophet; and the fact recorded by the
evangelist is the proof of the whole. But how could that be a
sign to Ahaz, which was to take place so many hundreds of years
after? I answer, the meaning of the prophet is plain: not only
Rezin and Pekah should be unsuccessful against Jerusalem at that
time, which was the fact; but Jerusalem, Judea, and the house of
David, should be both preserved, notwithstanding their depressed
state, and the multitude of their adversaries, till the time
should come when a VIRGIN should bear a son. This is a most
remarkable circumstance-the house of David could never fail, till
a virgin should conceive and bear a son-nor did it: but when that
incredible and miraculous fact did take place, the kingdom and
house of David became extinct! This is an irrefragable
confutation of every argument a Jew can offer in vindication of
his opposition to the Gospel of Christ. Either the prophecy in
Isaiah has been fulfilled, or the kingdom and house of David are
yet standing. But the kingdom of David, we know, is destroyed:
and where is the man, Jew or Gentile, that can show us a single
descendant of David on the face of the earth? The prophecy could
not fail-the kingdom and house of David have failed; the virgin,
therefore, must have brought forth her son-and this son is Jesus,
the Christ. Thus Moses, Isaiah, and Matthew concur; and facts,
the most unequivocal, have confirmed the whole! Behold the wisdom
and providence of God!
Notwithstanding what has been said above, it may be asked, In
what sense could this name Immanuel be applied to Jesus Christ, if
he be not truly and properly GOD? Could the Spirit of truth ever
design that Christians should receive him as an angel or a mere
man, and yet, in the very beginning of the Gospel history, apply a
character to him which belongs only to the most high God? Surely
no. In what sense, then, is Christ GOD WITH US? Jesus is called
Immanuel, or God with us, in his incarnation.-God united to our
nature-God with man-God in man.-God with us, by his continual
protection.-God with us, by the influences of his Holy Spirit-in
the holy sacrament-in the preaching of his word-in private
prayer. And God with us, through every action of our life, that
we begin, continue, and end in his name. He is God with us, to
comfort, enlighten, protect, and defend us in every time of
temptation and trial, in the hour of death, in the day of
judgment; and God with us, and in us, and we with and in
him, to all eternity.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
25 Verse 25. Her first-born son] τονυιοναυτηςτονπρωοτοκον.
Literally, That son of hers, the first-born one. That Mary might
have had other children, any person may reasonably and piously
believe; that she had others, many think exceedingly probable, and
that this text is at least an indirect proof of it. However this
may be, the perpetual virginity of Mary should not be made an
article of faith. God has not made it one: indeed it can hardly
bear the light of several texts in the Gospels.
He knew her not] Had no matrimonial intercourse with her-TILL
she had brought forth that son of hers, of whom the evangelist had
been just speaking, the first-born, the eldest of the family, to
whom the birthright belonged, and who was miraculously born before
she knew any man, being yet in a state of virginity. See on
Mt 13:55. The virginity of Mary, previously to the birth of
Christ, is an article of the utmost consequence to the Christian
system; and therefore it is an article of faith: her perpetual
virginity is of no consequence; and the learned labour spent to
prove it has produced a mere castle in the air. The thing is
possible; but it never has been, and never can be proved.
He called his name JESUS.] This name was given by the command
of God, see Mt 1:16, and was imposed on Christ when eight days
old; for then, according to the Jewish law, he was circumcised:
thus he had the name of Saviour given when he first began to shed
that blood without which there could be no remission of sins.
The goodness of God is manifested, not only in his giving his
Son to save a lost world, but also in the choice of the persons
who were his progenitors: among whom we find, First, SAINTS, to
excite our courage: Abraham, remarkable for his faith; Isaac, for
his obedience; and Jacob, for his fervour and constancy.
Secondly, Penitent SINNERS, to excite our confidence: such as
David, Manasses, &c.
Thirdly, Sinners, of whose repentance and salvation we hear
nothing; to put us on our guard. Who can read the account of
idolatrous Solomon, who, from the whole evidence of the sacred
history, died In his sins, without trembling?
Four WOMEN are mentioned in this genealogy: two of these were
adulteresses, Tamar and Bathsheba; and two were Gentiles, Rahab
and Ruth, and strangers to the covenant of promise; to teach us
that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that, though strangers
to his people, we are not on that account excluded from a
salvation which God has designed for all men. He is not the God
of the Jews only; he is also the God of the Gentiles.
The state of the royal family of David, the circumstances of the
holy virgin and her spouse Joseph, the very remarkable prophecy of
Isaiah, the literal and circumstantial fulfilment of it, the names
given to our blessed Lord, the genealogical scroll of the family,
&c., &c., are all so many proofs of the wisdom, goodness, and
providence of God. Every occurrence seems, at first view, to be
abandoned to fortuitous influence, and yet the result of each
shows that God managed the whole. These circumstances are of the
greatest importance; nor can the Christian reader reflect on them
without an increase of his faith and his piety.