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Matthew 1 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Matthew 1 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

(1:1-17) "The generation of Jesus Christ
The gospel of Matthew begins with a boring genealogy like that we are told to avoid in 1 Tim.1:4 ("Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies") and Tit.3:9 ("Avoid foolish questions and genealogies").
How many generations from Jesus to Abraham?

2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

(1:3) Judah "went in unto" his daughter-in-law, Tamar, who was disguised as a prostitute. She conceived and bore Pharez, an ancestor of Jesus. (Gen.38:2-29) It's a good thing it was more than ten generations ago. Otherwise Jesus could not "enter into the congregation of the Lord." (Dt.23:2)

4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

(1:6-16) There are 28 generations listed from David to Jesus in Matthew's genealogy, while Luke's (3:23-31) has 43. Except for David at one end and Jesus at the other, there are only three names in the two lists that are the same.
The Genealogy of Jesus
From which of David's sons was Jesus descended?
On why Luke's and Matthew's genealogies are so different, see Luke 3:23.

7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;

8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

"Ozias begat Joatham"
1 Chr.3:11-12 lists three generations between Osiah and Jotham (Joash, Amaziah, and Azariah), but Matthew omits all three.
Mt vs 1Chr genealogies
Joram begat Ozias, called Uzziah in 2 Chr. 26:1 and Azariah in 2 Kg. 15:1. He was indeed not the immediate son of Joram as there were three kings between them: Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah
As happens more often in the Bible, see Is. 39:7, you do not have to be an immediate descendant to be called someone's son.
John Gill mentions a few reasons why Matthew might have omitted these particular three. See also my comments on verse 17.

9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;

10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;

11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

The author of the SAB makes the assumption that the same name means the same person. I imagine that would make living in a society with more than one person called Paul very confusing!
Understand here with Jechonias not the son, but the father, who also was called Eliakim, see 2 Kg. 23:34, before he was called Jehoiakim. The reason his brethren are mentioned is to distinguish him from Jechonias in the next verse; who does not appear to have had any brethren

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;

"Jechonias begat Salathiel."
Did Jeconiah have any children?
Who was Zerubbabel's father?
(1:17) "Fourteen generations"
This verse says there were 14 generations from David to the Babylonian captivity, but 1 Chr.3:9-15 says there were 18. Matthew dropped four generations to preserve the magical number fourteen. [more]
Matthew vs. 1 Chronicles genealogies
How many generations from Jesus to Abraham?
Note the “After they were brought to Babylon” here. Matthew lets us know he skips over some history and continues with a different Jechonias than mentioned in the previous verse. The Jechonias mentioned here is called Jehoiachin in 2 Kg. 24:6 and Coniah in Jer. 22:24.
Jechonias had indeed a son called Salathiel, see 1 Chr. 3:17. On the meaning of “childless” and if Jechonias had any children, see Jer. 22:30.

13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;

14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;

15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;

16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

(1:16) "Jacob begat Joseph."
Joseph's father (the grandfather of Jesus). Matthew says Joseph's father was Jacob; Luke (3:23) says his name was Heli. [more]
Mt vs Lk genealogies
Who was Jesus' grandfather on his father's side?
Joseph's father was Jacob. Heli was the father of Mary. On Heli and why the genealogies are so different, see Luke 3:23.

17 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.

The author of the SAB says that Matthew dropped four generations. However Matthew leaves out just three kings from the list mentioned in 1 Chr. 3:9-15. Jews counted inclusively...
Anyway John Gill shows that this was not uncommon in antiquity and was used both by Jews as well as other nations. He gives Pausanias and Herodotus as examples.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

"Before they came together"
After listing the genealogy of Jesus, Matthew tells us that Joseph was not Jesus' father after all, which of course makes the entire genealogy meaningless. The Holy Ghost, not Joseph, was the one who impregnated Mary, contradicting many scriptures which clearly state that Joseph was the father of Jesus.
Was Joseph the father of Jesus?
Has there ever been a just person?
Maybe the author of the SAB can quote the scriptures that say that Joseph is called Jesus' father? I can't find them. And the author of the SAB can't find them either as he doesn't list any. Joseph is never called the father of Jesus, except in “the best, oldest and most reliable manuscripts” (snort, and that's why the NIV calls Joseph Jesus' father), but certainly not in the Textus Receptus. As verse 16 says Jesus was born of Mary, also a descendant of David. Just like Joseph was a descendant of David.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

The author of the SAB asks if there has ever been a just man. It is the meaning of “just” that is in dispute. In the meaning of sinless, there is none, see Eccl. 7:20 and Job 15:14. The meaning in this verse is that Joseph was just in the sense of not being an adulterer, obeying the laws God had given.
In the eyes of man he was just. But in the eyes of the all seeing God he was just only in Christ.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

"A virgin shall be with child"
The prophecy given in Is.7:14 referred not to a virgin but to a young woman, living at the time of the prophecy. And Jesus, of course, was called Jesus -- and is not called Emmanuel in any other verse in the New Testament.

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

"Knew her not till"
Many Christians believe that Mary was always a virgin, but these verses say that she and Joseph "came together" after the birth of Jesus, their "firstborn son."
The author of the SAB refers here to a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, which holds that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus Christ, one of their many fantasies for which they cannot find proof in the Bible as the author of the SAB correctly points out.