Christmas is the most solemn feast of the Holy Church. We celebrate Christmas most piously chanting liturgical songs, reading the Word of God and sermons; aside the festive mood, carol singing, house visits, exchange of wishes, gifts, diners etc. Venerable fathers set for us to read the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Reading genealogy is perhaps the most boring text in the whole of bible. The names are unfamiliar and difficult to read. I often wondered in my childhood why such silly reading on an important day! It was not meaningful until I seriously studied it.
We have two lists of genealogies; in Gospel of Mathew and Luke. Mathew begins his Gospel saying, “book of genealogy of Jesus.” Jesus is son of David, son of Abraham, v1. Verse 2 onward he presents the ancestry of Jesus descending from Abraham in 3 slabs, each 14 generations. Scholars say, this list is artificial; not actual, he having left out at least 5 names to make it 14. Significance of 14 or 42 is not clear. Jerome says, Mathew is trying to numerically prove that Jesus is Son of David. Hebrew letters for David being “DWD” its numerical value (d=4+w=6+d=4) is 14. Only 41 names are listed including Jesus. As soon as writing creation account, the fall, Cain and Abel, author introduces genealogy of Cain in chapter 4:17 and Seth’s genealogy in chapter 5. Most Old Testament books (Numbers, Kings and Chronicles, Ezra) contain genealogy. Josephus the Jewish historian began his biography with his genealogy. King Abdullah of Jordan traced his ancestry to Mohammed. Thus evidently, Jews attached high value to ancestry. This is a cultural tradition for all Middle Easterners. Malayalees are not behind. We have kudumbayogam and family-history books recently due to surge in foreign money. If they do not have a great ancestry they will easily make one. Hebrew nation finds its origin in Abraham. King David brought Israel a new identity and royal status. Abraham’s mention shows that Jesus is genuinely Jew. David’s mention shows that Jesus is king of the Jews whose kingdom shall have no end. Both Abraham and David were formidable persons in the life of Jews. Mathew unlike other evangelists begins the Gospel introducing Jesus as Christ. Mathew himself being devout Jew tries to convince his fellow Jews that all prophesies are fulfilled in Jesus. Mathew as former tax accountant employs various numerical data throughout the gospel.
Luke’s genealogy starts with Jesus’ Baptism in ascending order from Jesus to Adam. Luke was a gentile and he tries to prove that Jesus is the second Adam. Both had supernatural origin; Adam was formed with God’s own hands and breathe while Jesus was formed in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit, both without human involvement. Jesus is Savior for the whole humanity, not to Jews alone. Ancestry from Abraham to David is same in both. From David it diverts; Mathew following Solomon and Luke following Nathan, both sons of David. Nathan’s ancestry is longer. Solomon was intellectually the wisest but in religious sense he was a dishonor. By marrying infidels he sinned against God and desecrated the religion. “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things?” Nehemiah 13:26. A curse was attributed to the kingly line of Solomon. May be this one reason why Luke preferred to Nathan’s line; also Luke’s list does not mention women, which suggests that different schools of thought regarding ancestry of Jesus existed. According to Mathew Joseph’s father was Jacob. Luke says Joseph’s father was Heli. It confuses if either one error or another name of same person or levirate law? One possible explanation is; at some point adoption from Nathan’s line and levirate law might have intervened. The puzzle how two ancestries got connected to Joseph still baffles. Both Mathew and Luke declare that Joseph was father by adoption, not biological, Mat 1:16, Luke3:23. “Of whom” is feminine in Greek, referring only to Mary, not Joseph,” Orthodox study Bible. Hebrew tradition allowed equal rights and privileges to the adopted persons as the biological, Gen 15:2. Comparing and contrasting of two genealogies certainly evokes tremendous interests but my purpose here is not to deep delve into it but to throw light on minor aspect; women in the genealogy. Inclusion of sinful men and women attests the truthfulness of the gospel accounts.
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