The Genealogy of Jesus

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of AbrahamAbraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat Booz… begat… begat… begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat… begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. 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.”

– Matthew 1:1-17

As it turns out, the very first passage of the book of Matthew (or “The book of the generation of Jesus”) is extremely reminiscent to the very first passage of Josephus’ autobiography “The Life of Flavius Josephus” where he gives his own heritage:

THE family from which I am derived is not an ignoble one, but hath descended all along from the priestsby my mother I am of the royal blood; for the children of Asamoneus, from whom that family was derived, had both the office of the high priesthood, and the dignity of a king, for a long time together. I will accordingly set down my progenitors in order. My grandfather’s father was named Simon, with the addition of Psellus: he lived at the same time with that son of Simon the high priest, who first of all the high priests was named Hyrcanus. This Simon Psellus had nine sons, one of whom was Matthias, called Ephlias: he married the daughter of Jonathan the high priest, which Jonathan was the first of the sons of Asamoneus, who was high priest, and was the brother of Simon the high priest also. This Matthias had a son called Matthias Curtus, and that in the first year of the government of Hyrcanus: his son’s name was Joseph, born in the ninth year of the reign of Alexandra: his son Matthias was born in the tenth year of the reign of Archelaus; as was I {Joseph bar Mathea;} born to Matthias in the first year of the reign of Caius Caesar. I have three sons: Hyrcanus, the eldest, was born in the fourth year of the reign of Vespasian, as was Justus born in the seventh, and Agrippa in the ninth.  Thus have I set down the genealog of my family as I have found it described in the public records, and so bid adieu to those who calumniate {insult;} me [as of a lower original].”

– Josephus, The Life Of Flavius Josephus, :1

“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ” and “The Life of Flavius Josephus” both start out in the very same way, by listing out each ones genealogy in order.  This very first passage in Matthew uses the word “generations” five times, almost as if it is emphasizing the word. Then Matthew says three times “14 generations” between the various prophets, as if the number 14 were somehow special, although 12 and 7 are actually the most sacred numbers in Judaism, and then let’s us know that there are 42 generations in total.  By some strange coincidence, the very next parallel to the second passage in Matthew “The Birth of Jesus” is to section 42 of The Life of Josephus.

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