Advent 7: What about Jesus’ grandmothers?

One of the striking thing about Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus is the fact that he mentions five women. One is Mary, Jesus’ mother, and the others are selected from different time periods in the Old Testament story – one from the time of the Patriarchs, one from the time of Joshua’s Conquest, one from the time of the Judges and one from the time of the Kings.

Since it was not normal for women to be get a mention in Jewish genealogies, what was Matthew doing? And if he intended this as an illustration of what Paul would write about male and female in Galatians, or if he meant it as his way of demonstrating that women have as much right to play a part in God’s plan as men, why choose the women he did?

(That is not to say that he would have disagreed with Paul in Galatians; just to question whether that was his point).

Why not mention someone like Sara or one of the other wives of the Patriarchs?

Each of the four OT women he mentions represents a fairly remarkable story.

  • Tamar’s story is a sordid tale which reflects very badly on Judah.
  • Rahab – a pagan prostitute – stands out through her decision to align herself with the God of the Hebrews.
  • Ruth was an outsider of outsiders: a Moabite. Yet redemption saw her become part of the eventual royal line.
  • Bathsheba (not named, just described as the wife of Uriah) got caught up in the scandalous behaviour of David.

God’s plan to send Messiah to the world takes a step forward with the story of each of these women.

So when the news breaks that Mary is pregnant – and out of wedlock – perhaps the reader needs to reflect that this would not be the first time that God has advanced his plan by unusual means.

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