Matthew: The Greek name rendered “Matthew” is probably a shortened form of the Hebrew name rendered “Mattithiah” (1Ch 15:18), meaning “Gift of Jehovah.”
According to Matthew: None of the Gospel writers identify themselves as such in their accounts, and titles were evidently not part of the original text. In some manuscripts of Matthew’s Gospel, the title appears as Eu·ag·geʹli·on Ka·taʹ Math·thaiʹon (“Good News [or, “Gospel”] According to Matthew”), whereas in others a shorter title, Ka·taʹ Math·thaiʹon (“According to Matthew”), is used. It is not clear exactly when such titles were added or began to be used. Some suggest that it was in the second century C.E., since examples of the longer title have been found in Gospel manuscripts that have been dated to the end of the second century or early third century. According to some scholars, the opening words of Mark’s book (“The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God”) may have been the reason why the term “gospel” (lit., “good news”) came to be used to describe these accounts. The use of such titles along with the name of the writer may have come about for practical reasons, providing a clear means of identification of the books.
book of the history: Matthew’s opening words in Greek, Biʹblos ge·neʹse·os (form of geʹne·sis), could also be rendered “historical record” or “record of the genealogy.” The Greek word geʹne·sis literally means “origin; birth; line of descent.” It is used in the Septuagint to render the Hebrew term toh·le·dhohthʹ, which has a similar meaning and is usually rendered “history” in the book of Genesis.—Ge 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2.
history of Jesus Christ: Matthew traces the line through David’s son Solomon. By contrast, Luke traces the line through David’s son Nathan. (Mt 1:6, 7; Lu 3:31) Matthew traces Jesus’ legal right to the throne of David from Solomon through Joseph, who was legally Jesus’ father. Luke evidently follows the ancestry of Mary, tracing Jesus’ natural descent from David.
Christ: This title is derived from the Greek word Khri·stosʹ and is equivalent to the title “Messiah” (from Hebrew ma·shiʹach), both meaning “Anointed One.” In Bible times, rulers were ceremonially anointed with oil.
son: In this genealogy, “son” may refer to an immediate son, a grandson, or a descendant.
son of Abraham: With the Jewish audience in mind, Matthew begins tracing Jesus’ legal descent by highlighting that Jesus is the lawful offspring, or heir of God’s promise to Abraham, through whom all nations of the earth can obtain a blessing.
Tamar: The first of five women listed in Matthew’s genealogy of the Messiah. The other four are Rahab and Ruth, both non-Israelite women (vs. 5); Bath-sheba, “the wife of Uriah” (vs. 6); and Mary (vs. 16). These women are likely included in an otherwise all-male genealogy because there is something outstanding in the way each one came to be an ancestress of Jesus.
David the king: Although several kings are mentioned in this genealogy, David is the only one identified by the title “king.” Israel’s royal dynasty was referred to as “the house of David.” (1Ki 12:19, 20) By calling Jesus “son of David” in verse 1, Matthew emphasizes the Kingdom theme and identifies Jesus as the heir of the kingship promised in the Davidic covenant.—2Sa 7:11-16.
Jehoram became father to Uzziah: “Father” is here used in the sense of “forefather,” as is often done in genealogical lists. As shown at 1Ch 3:11, 12, three wicked kings (Ahaziah, Jehoash, and Amaziah) in the Davidic line are omitted between Jehoram and Uzziah (also called Azariah).
father: Used here in the sense of “grandfather,” since Josiah was actually the father of Jehoiakim, who in turn was the father of Jeconiah, also called Jehoiachin and Coniah.—2Ki 24:6; 1Ch 3:15-17; Es 2:6; Jer 22:24.
Shealtiel became father to Zerubbabel: Although Shealtiel in many instances is called the father of Zerubbabel (Ezr 3:2, 8; 5:2; Ne 12:1; Hag 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 23; Lu 3:27), Pedaiah, Shealtiel’s brother, is once so identified. (1Ch 3:19) Zerubbabel was likely the natural son of Pedaiah, but he was evidently legally reckoned as the son of Shealtiel.—See study notes on Lu 3:27.
Joseph: Matthew’s account does not use the expression “became father to” (see study note on Mt 1:2) in describing Joseph’s relationship to Jesus. It simply says that Joseph was the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born. The Greek pronoun rendered “whom” is feminine and can refer only to Mary. So Matthew’s genealogy highlights that while Jesus is not the physical son of Joseph, he is his adoptive son and therefore a legal heir of David. Luke’s genealogy highlights that Jesus through his mother, Mary, is the natural heir of David.
promised in marriage: Among the Hebrews, to be “promised in marriage,” or engaged, was a binding arrangement. An engaged couple was viewed as already married, although the man and the woman did not begin living together as husband and wife until the wedding formalities were completed.
spirit: The first occurrence of the Greek word pneuʹma in the Christian Greek Scriptures. It refers here to God’s active force.—See Glossary.
husband . . . divorce: Since engaged people were viewed as married, Joseph could rightly be referred to as Mary’s husband and Mary as Joseph’s wife. (Mt 1:20) A divorce was required to dissolve the engagement.
look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Jehovah’s: This is the first of 237 places in the Christian Greek Scriptures where the divine name, Jehovah, occurs in the main text of this version.—See App. C.
Jehovah’s angel: This expression occurs many times in the Hebrew Scriptures, starting at Ge 16:7. When it occurs in early copies of the Septuagint, the Greek word agʹge·los (angel; messenger) is followed by the divine name written in Hebrew characters. That is how the expression is handled at Zec 3:5, 6 in a copy of the Septuagint found in Nahal Hever, Israel, dated between 50 B.C.E. and 50 C.E. (See App. C.) A number of Bible translations retain the divine name when rendering the expression “Jehovah’s angel” in this verse.—See App. A5 and App. C3 introduction; Mt 1:20.
to take your wife Mary home: According to Jewish custom, marriage began when a couple became engaged. The wedding formalities were completed when the husband took his bride to live in his own home. This event usually took place on a set day and was accompanied by a celebration. The man thereby publicly declared that he was taking the woman as his marriage partner. The marriage was thus made known, acknowledged, and recorded and was binding.—Ge 24:67; see study notes on Mt 1:18, 19.
conceived: Or “begotten.” Lit., “generated; brought forth.” The same Greek word is rendered “was born” in verse 16; the active form is rendered “became father to” in verses 2-16.—See study note on Mt 1:2.
Jesus: Corresponds to the Hebrew name Jeshua or Joshua, a shortened form of Jehoshua, meaning “Jehovah Is Salvation.”
to fulfill what was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet: This and similar expressions occur many times in Matthew’s Gospel, apparently to emphasize to the Jewish audience Jesus’ role as the promised Messiah.—Mt 2:15, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 26:56; 27:9.
Jehovah: The quotation that immediately follows in verse 23 is taken from Isa 7:14, where Jehovah is said to be the one giving the sign. (See App. C3 introduction; Mt 1:22.) This is Matthew’s first quote from the Hebrew Scriptures.
virgin: Matthew here quotes from the Septuagint version of Isa 7:14, which uses par·theʹnos, “one who has never engaged in sexual intercourse,” to render the Hebrew word ʽal·mahʹ, a broader term that may mean “virgin” or simply “a young woman.” Under inspiration, Matthew applies the Greek term for “virgin” to the mother of Jesus.
did not have sexual relations with: Lit., “did not know.” In Biblical Greek, the verb “to know” can be used as a euphemism for sexual relations; the same is true of the Hebrew verb for “to know,” rendered “had sexual relations with,” at Ge 4:1, 1Sa 1:19, and in other occurrences.