1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,[a] 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,[b] 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,[c] and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,[d] and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
It’s easy for modern Western readers to skip over Matthew’s introduction. “Isn’t it just a long list of unpronounceable names?” But for 1st Century Middle “Easterners”, genealogies like this were a big deal. They told a story. Family history was and is a big deal.
Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus is remarkable in that, among the list of notable men from Israel’s history, it also includes the names of 5 women. Why was this remarkable? Because Jewish genealogies were not meant to include women. Family history was traced through male descendants. So what’s Matthew doing? Let’s look at the women he includes.
Tamar (v3) pretended to be a prostitute in order to sleep with the father of her dead husband and gain the justice denied her as a widow (Genesis 38).
Rahab (v5) was a non-Jewish prostitute who protected Jewish spies in order to save her family (Joshua 2)
Ruth (v5) was a Gentile (non-Jewish) widow who chose to worship the God of Israel (see the book of Ruth).
“The wife of Uriah” (v6) was Bathsheba, who committed adultery with King David (2 Samuel 11)
Mary (v16) was the mother of Jesus, who was married to Joseph.
Matthew chooses to include these 5 women because they reveal what type of people Jesus came to save. God chose the Savior of the world to be born into a family line which included Jews and Gentiles, “saints” and “sinners”, rich and poor. Matthew includes women in his list to make it clear that Jesus would call both men and women to follow Him.
Jesus’ family tree was messy. Jesus came into a messy world. Christmas is good news because God sent His Son into a messy world to rescue messy people.