This Week's Focus Passage

‘Salmon begat Boaz; Boaz begat Obed; Obed begat Jesse; Jesse begat David.’

Focus Passage: Ruth 4:21

‘Salmon begat Boaz; Boaz begat Obed; Obed begat Jesse; Jesse begat David.’

In very brief compass, at the beginning of the Matthean account of the life and ministry; the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; we have this short statement regarding Jesus’ genealogy, and it is surprising to discover the persons of His lineage. We are given an extended history, in the book of Genesis, of some of Jesus’ human parents, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are informed, in that same book of the bible, even with some detail, of this particular son of Jacob, just one of Jacob’s twelve sons, even Judah. But we well may ask, ‘who was Salmon?’ and ‘who was Perez?’ while we have some account in the book of Ruth about this lovely man, Boaz. And while we are given to know something, at least, about Boaz, we know virtually nothing about his son, Obed, and apart from knowing that Jesse was the father of king David, we are told almost nothing more. It shouldn’t surprise then, that we are able to learn nothing of the ‘mothers in Israel’ that gave birth to these prominent figures, apart from Tamar, the mother of Perez, and Ruth, the mother of Obed. But who was the mother of Boaz. Who was the mother of Jesse? Who was the mother of David, for that matter? So we may ask, why have we been presented with the names of these three ‘mothers in Israel,’ and not others? These women were each peculiar to Israel in their own way.

Of Tamar, we search the Scriptures only to learn that she was likely a stranger to Israel, i.e., a heathen. This should not be surprising since Judah had shown his absolute lack of concern for any prohibition against consorting with those outside of his own people, Genesis 38:2, And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; and he took her, and went in unto her. Among those commentaries upon this portion of God’s Word, we will confine ourselves to that of John Peter Lange, along that of Franz Delitzsch; the former has offered:

‘This Thamar [Tamar], very generally regarded as a Canaanite, though by some of the Jews very improbably called a daughter of Melchizedek, has received a place in the Toledoth of Christ (Matt. i. 3), to show that he is also the hope of the heathen.’—Starke, in Lange’s Commentary.

Delitzsch’s comments upon Tamar are brief and pointed;

‘Tamar (whose name means the palm, a common ancient figure for a woman of slender figure and for imposing female beauty) was undoubtedly a heathen, and indeed of unknown descent.’

We incline to agree with both statements, especially since it is conspicuous that the Holy Spirit has seen fit to give to us no greater information regarding the ancestry of Tamar. And yet, she is named in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ, or as Starke put it, ‘she has received a place in the Toledoth of Christ.’

While this extended genealogy; 14 generations times three, is set before us;

So all the generations from Abraham unto David are fourteen generations; and from David unto the carrying away to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the carrying away to Babylon unto the Christ fourteen generations.

still we have only three ‘mystery women;’ ancestors of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. In the midst of this great number of progenitors—almost exclusively men—we are given the names of only three women, or mothers in Israel, until we arrive at the name of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Sarah, the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac remains unnamed by Matthew, as do Rebekah, the wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob, and Leah, the wife of Jacob and mother of Judah. And even though we are informed of David’s begetting Solomon, the mother of Solomon; the wife of David, is referred to simply as her of Uriah, rather than mentioning her by name; Bath-Sheba. Is this not remarkable? The Israelitish mothers of Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and Solomon remain unnamed by Matthew, while we are given the name of the mother of Perez, the name of the mother of Boaz, and the name of the mother of Obed. Why is this so? And is there a common denominator that brings these three women together?

So, as we have already alluded, Tamar was likely a Canaanitess, and therefore a heathen in Israel; an outsider. Nonetheless, it is, to our mind, incredibly important to note the words of Judah with reference to Tamar, even as compared with himself, when he spoke the following; She is more righteous than I, Gen. 38:26. This ‘outsider’ who disguised herself as a harlot is more righteous, in the estimation of Judah, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, than he himself. And then there is another reckoned in this genealogy; not one that disguised herself as a harlot, but one who is expressly designated a harlot, namely Rahab the harlot. Rahab was a harlot. Her remarkable story is related in the book of Joshua. She is also made mention of—or rather, her great faith is brought before us—by the author of Hebrews as well as by James, in his epistle. It was indeed Rahab the harlot, the term which is constantly employed with reference to her, who hid the spies that were sent by Joshua to spy out Jericho. She feared God, and for her fear and for her behavior toward those spies, she is singled out by James, as well as the author of Hebrews; Rahab, a Gentile.

Is being a Gentile the common denominator between these three? The next ‘mother’s’ name given by Matthew is that of Ruth. And outside of our focus verse for this week, from Matthew, the name of Ruth is mentioned only in the book of that name, but the story of her experiences is both marvelous and wonderful. She was a Moabitess; another Gentile. Her history informs of the beautiful courtship followed by marriage to Boaz, then giving birth to Obed, the grandfather of David the king, and ancestor of the greater Son of David, our Lord Jesus Christ. Surely, this account of Christ’s genealogy, particularly naming these three Gentile ‘mothers in Israel’ is pointing us back to the promise God gave Abraham, I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations.

David Farmer, elder,

Fellowship Bible Church

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