Matthew 1:1 and 1:17 Considered Together

We have seen that Matt. 1:1 and 1:17 form an inclusio around Matthew’s “genealogical” table in verses 2-16. In this post, I wish, very quickly to look at the structure of v.17, and to suggest, very tentatively a link between a) the total word count of vs. 1 and 17 and b) Matthew’s two “break-points” in vs. 2-16. We are currently working with the hypothesis that Matthew’s “generations” are “births” – as described in previous posts.

Here is verse 1:

1 Βίβλος    γενέσεως        Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,       υἱοῦ Δαβὶδ,       υἱοῦ   Ἀβραάμ.

Book       of birth         of Jesus   Christ,     son   of David,   son   of Abraham

(8 words)

This verse has 8 words—eight being, appropriately, the number of new beginnings.

Here is Verse 17:

17 Πᾶσαι οὖν αἱ γενεαὶ ἀπὸ   Ἀβραὰμ   ἕως Δαβὶδ γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες·

So all      the   births   from  Abraham to   David  births    fourteen

(10 words)

καὶ ἀπὸ Δαβὶδ, ἕως τῆς    μετοικεσίας     Βαβυλῶνος γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες·

and from David   to  the carrying away   of Babylon  births     fourteen

(9 words)

καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς μετοικεσίας       Βαβυλῶνος   ἕως τοῦ Χριστοῦ γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες.

and from the carrying away   of Babylon   to   the   Christ   births      fourteen

(10 words)

This verse has 29 words—which is on the face of it an “awkward” number—not having, so far as I know, a clear spiritual significance. The structure of the verse is (as noted in previous posts) chiastic—divided, as shown above, 10 words – 9 words – 10 words.

Alternative structure:

A) So all the births

B)     i) from Abraham

ii)  to       David

A) births fourteen

B)     i)  and from David

ii)  to the carrying away of Babylon

A) births fourteen

B)   i) and from the carrying away of Babylon

ii)  to the Christ

A) births fourteen

As regards the number 29, the best possibility I can suggest at the moment is that, bearing in mind that this verse, v.17, and v.1, together form the “bookends” for the “genealogical table” in vs. 2-16, it is perhaps significant that the total number of words in vs. 1 and 17 is 8 + 29 = 37 words—which, as suggested in an earlier post is a significant number (of years) at both of Matthew’s “break points” in the table itself.- i.e. David’s kingship (37 years six months before becoming king in Jerusalem) and the Exile (Jehoiachin’s 37 years in prison before being raised up by the new king in Babylon) etc.

I wish to return to Matthew 1: 1-17 soon, but I would like first to post some thoughts on Matthew 1:18-25 – Matthew’s account of the  birth of Jesus Christ – and in particular on the structures that Matthew has used in these verses. (That number, 37, occurs there too!)



Categories: Matthew's Genealogy of Christ

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