Joyous Family Blessings in Messiah,
Genealogy of the Messiah
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram” (Matt. 1:1-3).
A few generations later: “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah” (Matt. 1:5-6). Many generations later: “Eliud begot Eleazer, Eleazar begot Matthan, Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus (Yeshua) who is called Christ (Messiah). So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ (Messiah) are fourteen generations” (Matt. 1:15-17).
This genealogy is followed in the Bible by Matt. 1:18: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) was as follows: After His mother Mary (Miriam) was betrothed to Joseph (Yosef), before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh).”
The Importance of Yeshua’s Genealogy
There is a reason why the New Covenant Scriptures open with the genealogy of Yeshua. It testifies to the accuracy of the entire Bible, which speaks prophetically of a Messiah to come, specifically a Messiah of the royal line of the House of David. If Yeshua was not a descendant of King David, of the House of Judah, He could not be the Messiah. He was and is. That is why that relationship is established right from the first page of the New Testament: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1). This genealogical fact, by the way, has made a deep impression on a number of pre-believing Jewish people over the years. Why? Their collective reaction has been. “Oh, He was Jewish! This is a Jewish book! About a Jewish Messiah!” They did not expect that, and this revelation eventually led to their salvation. (Thanks to a genealogy!) It is significant that Yeshua’s genealogy does not say: Joseph begot Yeshua, as was the pattern before him. Why? Because Yeshua’s father was God. Joseph was His adoptive, not physical, father.
Yeshua was a son of Abraham. His genealogical records would have been kept where all others were-in the Temple. The enemies of Yeshua could have checked His genealogy. It has been pointed out that, although He was challenged on many other points, Yeshua was not questioned about His genealogy. I like what J. Vernon McGee had to say about this: “This is most important because it puts Jesus in a very, unique position. You remember that He said the Shepherd of the sheep enters in by the door, but the thief and robber climb up some other way to get into the sheepfold (Jn. 10:1-2). That ‘fold’ is the nation of Israel. He didn’t climb into the fold over a fence in the back, and He didn’t come in “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” Luke 1:50 through the alley way. He came in through the gate. He was born in the line of David and in the line of Abraham. He is the fulfillment of everything that had been mentioned in the Old Testament.”
Why is Son of David mentioned before Son of Abraham in Yeshua’s genealogy? After all, Abraham came before David. Although it is important that Yeshua is the Son of Abraham, since through Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 22:18), it was even more crucial that Matthew’s primary audience, his Jewish brethren, see Yeshua as the long-awaited Messiah/King, (The One who was to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the fulfillment of the promises that God made to David.) “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David; Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations” (Ps. 89:3-4). David’s response to God’s promise of an everlasting throne: “Now You have been pleased to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue before You forever; for You have blessed it, O LORD, and it shall be blessed forever” (1 Chr. 17:27).
The three sections of Matthew’s genealogy of Yeshua all revolve around David. Each section contains fourteen generations. Samuel Tobias Lachs, in A Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament, suggests that the three-group division is somewhat artificial, and that since the real purpose of the genealogy was to emphasize the Davidic ancestry of Jesus, the author worked this into its very form. The numerical value of the name David דוד in gematria is 14: 4 + 6 + 4. Selah.
Women in the Genealogy of Yeshua
We know that genealogical tables were considered extremely important documents by Jews, especially after the Babylonian Exile. They were relied upon heavily to ensure family purity within the priesthood and to prohibit marriage with pagans. That’s why it is so surprising that four names of women (2 gentiles) stand out in the genealogy of the Messiah. First of all, the names of women did not usually appear in Hebrew genealogies. Since God forbid intermarriage with pagans in the Torah to preserve monotheism, the appearance of these women is especially unusual.
Tamar is first. We read her story in Genesis 38. She was the daughter-in-law of Judah who played the harlot and bore twins by him. One of the twins, Perez, was part of the Davidic ancestry. Rahab, a prostitute, was the mother of Boaz, ancestor of King David (Jos. 2:1; Ruth 4:21 22). Ruth, a Moabitess, sworn enemies of Israel (Deut. 23:3-4), was an ancestress of David (Ruth 4:21-22). Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, committed adultery with King David (2 Sam 11) and bore him, Solomon. Perhaps the inclusion of these women of questionable backgrounds in the genealogy of the Messiah has to do with the mercy of God. I like to go back to Exodus 34:6-7 where God revealed Himself to Moses saying, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” Here we see God’s love extending to thousands of generations, far greater than His judgment to the third and fourth generations. (See also Ex. 20:5). As James 2:13 says in the New Covenant Scriptures: “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Even Jesus had black sheep in His family tree!
Our Generational God
The God of the Bible is a God of families. A Generational God. The culture of the Bible is more about family (mishpochah) than about the individual. While this generational emphasis was impressed upon me during my childhood because of my family’s DAR background, my study of Scripture—especially recently—has highlighted God’s plan for the generations. I have also noticed that many people today are drawn to sites such as Ancestry.com in order to trace their family lineage and find out about their personal ancestry. Those who have been adopted as infants often want to know their background and birth family history. It is true that we are all products of former generations. In my case, I believe that generational prayers and blessings have followed me throughout my life, especially from my Salvation Army ancestors. Neil’s levitical ancestry has had a distinct influence on our two sons, Jonathan and Jesse, with their teaching and musical giftings.
The word for generation in Hebrew is dor (pronounced dohr). The plural is dorim (dohr-EEM). The word for descendant in Hebrew is zera (ze-RAH). The Lord established a pattern with His friend Abraham: “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Gen. 17:7-8).
The heart of God is to bless generationally—from generation to generation: L’dor v’dor. The genealogies in the Bible are meant to remind us of that, but also to encourage us to leave a good, godly legacy to the generations that follow. There are 180 portions of Scripture that deal with passing the torch from one generation to the next. What will your legacy be?
The Book of Psalms is filled with scriptures about God and the generations. Just a sample: “His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed” (Ps. 112:2). “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4). “A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation” (Ps. 22:30). “This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face” (Ps. 24:6). “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations” (Ps. 33:11). “The LORD shall reign forever—Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 146:10)
Overcoming Our Common Ancestry
It is an unfortunate fact of life that we are all descended from one couple: Adam and Eve. The temptation in the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man (read Gen. 3:1-15) resulted in the passing down of sin throughout the generations. But our Merciful God set a plan in motion as early as Gen. 3:15 to conquer sin and set us free by the blood of the Lamb of God, who would one day come and crush the serpent’s head. (While this is Torah truth, traditional Jews do not believe in “original sin.”)
Because of Yeshua’s sacrifice, sin does not need to define us. We have been born into a new family, the family of God, and walk in a new righteousness, the righteousness of faith through the Messiah Yeshua (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 3:26). I have a dear friend who, at age 59, found out that the father he knew growing up was not his birth father and that he had 3 sisters. He connected with this new family, minus their deceased father, and was glad he did. His wife had a T-shirt made for him that says, “I took a DNA test, and my Father is God.” He longs to be your Father, too (Acts 17:28)!
God’s grace extends to all generations. I am constantly amazed at the fact that although Noah was the one found righteous in his generation (Gen. 7:1), God allowed his wife and his sons and their wives to also enter the ark and be saved (Gen. 6:18). Family salvation. At the first Passover, every man took a lamb for himself, according to the house of his father, “a lamb for a household” (Ex. 12:3). Paul and Silas, in the Brit Hadashah, told the keeper of the prison, “Believe on the Lord Yeshua HaMashiach and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). While it is true that God will not violate man’s free will, it is also true that His best plan is to save families. Pray for your pre-believing family members! Yours can be a legacy of blessing, of salvation, of redemption from the bondage of the enemy.
Pray with me: “Abba, thank You for my family. I believe that it is Your will for each one to come to a saving knowledge of the Messiah Yeshua, Your Son, who paid the price for their sin. Please work in the hearts of my loved ones to convict them of sin and show them that You are real and that You care. Give them a hunger for truth. May a revelation of Your love and Your goodness lead my family members to repentance. Thank You for granting the gift of eternal life to the generations that will follow me. May we all be known as lovers of God! In Yeshua’s name. Amen.”
As I meditated on the fact that we are affected by the generations before us, and affect the generations to come, I noticed an unusual verse in Jeremiah 31:29-30, “In those days they shall say no more: The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity…” This is immediately followed by the introduction of the New Covenant with the promise of sins forgiven (Jer. 31:31-34). Is this saying that we can be set free from the sins of our ancestors—any generational curses—and partake of God’s good grapes, not sour ones? Yes. I believe so! Yeshua leads us into the Promised Land of salvation. Our challenge? To focus on the good grapes, to repent of the sour ones, and to enter into the New Covenant by faith in the risen Messiah.
I personally repented for the sins of my forefathers, so that I might not pass them down to the next generation. Is this scriptural? Consider Lev. 26:40, “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me…” The Lord never despises a contrite heart (Ps. 51:17).
Could that be what happened to the family of Korah (Num. 16)? He was a Levite who led a rebellion of 250 leaders against Moses, questioning not only Moses but God’s appointment of leaders. As a consequence of this, the earth split apart and swallowed up Korah and his company. And yet… as I taught on Psalm 84 at a recent meeting of the “Know the Bible Club,” I noticed that this beautiful psalm about longing for the Presence of God was written by a son (descendant) of Korah! God can redeem anyone or anything. Three of Korah’s descendants penned psalms that are in our Bibles. They lived on to give glory back to the Lord.
You can rewrite your family legacy! It is never too late.
There is another Hebrew word for generation: toledot (tole-DOTE). While dor refers to a normal, physical generation of approximately 40 years, toledot refers to how a certain age was generated—an “era.” For example, “the generation of Adam” (Gen. 5:1) means the civilization of people that began with him. The word toledot is related to yalad (yah-LAHD), meaning “to give birth to” or “to begat.” Toledot are marked by significant events and people that changed or began something in their family line. Such is the case with Ruth 4:18, “Now this is the genealogy of Perez. Perez begot Hezron…” There is a mystery surrounding this verse that I recently became aware of. It involves a hidden truth within the Hebrew words. Hebrew, Ivrit (Eev-REET) is a fascinating language. It is the Lashon HaKodesh, the Holy Tongue. As such, the words and even the letters of the Holy Scriptures in the Hebrew text often have layers of meaning.
The Hebrew letter vav ו signifies “connection.” It is found twice in the Hebrew word toledot (תולדות (in Genesis 2:4, “These are the generations (toledot) of the heavens and of the earth when they were created.” The second time the word toledot appears is in Genesis 5:1-2, “This is the book of the generations (תולדת (of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him.” Note: A vav is missing in the word toledot. There is only one vav now. A connection has been broken. Sin. The fall of man. A disconnect with the Almighty. However, there is a surprise in the genealogy found in Ruth 4:18-22—from Perez, to Hezron, to Solomon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, and finally David. The word toledot in “Now this is the genealogy of Perez…” has two vavs again. The connection is back. The toledot of Perez (Ruth’s line) will bring forth the Messiah, the One who will reconnect man with God and restore what was lost in the Garden.
Yeshua is the missing vav, the Messiah for all generations, the Great Connector.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5).
Much Love in Yeshua,
(Remembering Neil Abraham Lash, father of Jonathan Isaac Lash, father of Liam Jacob Lash)
P.S. I recommend a profound and inciteful message on YouTube about praying for generations to come: “Will Ford & Matt Lockett at Upper Room Dallas.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZlui8slRNE