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-Excerpt from Walking with the Women of the Old Testament-
While this book tells only the stories of the women who are unique to the New Testament, it is important to note that there are many Old Testament women mentioned in the New Testament as well.1 Among the Old Testament women mentioned in the New Testament are the women of Christ’s genealogy. Both Luke and Matthew list Christ’s genealogy through his mortal father Joseph. Yet James E. Talmage wrote, “A personal genealogy of Joseph was essentially that of Mary also, for they were cousins. Joseph is named as son of Jacob by Matthew, and as son of Heli by Luke; but Jacob and Heli were brothers, and it appears that one of the two was the father of Joseph and the other the father of Mary.”2 It seems that both Matthew and Luke’s intent with listing Jesus’s family history was to establish the fact that he was born through the royal line of Judah and truly was the “Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).
Matthew’s genealogy is especially interesting because in it he mentions four Old Testament women: “Thamar,” the Greek version of Tamar (Genesis 38); “Rachab,” the Greek version“And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was of Rahab (Joshua 2); Ruth (Ruth 1–4); and “her that hath been the wife of Uriah,” who would have been Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). It is strange that Matthew chose to include the names of these four women when he didn’t mention any other mothers, including the wives of the patriarchs: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah. I wonder why he included the women he did and not the others.
That is a question I don’t have the answer to, but it is interesting that all four of the women’s stories―Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba―are examples of times when women had to make hard choices in order to choose the right. Tamar, when faced with a group of men who would not perform their duty toward her, took matters into her own hands and arranged circumstances so that the line of Judah―the lineage which had been promised the Messiah― would not die out. Rahab showed bravery and kindness in welcoming the Israelite spies and, in doing so, saved herself and her whole household from death during the destruction of Jericho. Ruth, despite the desperation of her situation, relied on the Lord to guide her and had the courage to go against the norm in arranging her own marriage instead of having it arranged for her. And Bathsheba, even though entangled in a hard situation, made the most of it and raised one of Israel’s most incredible kings: Solomon.
All of these women lived remarkable lives and showed spiritual maturity, intelligence, and courage. I think that Matthew may have included these women’s names as a reminder that there had been many miraculous events preserving the line of Judah, a reminder to his readers that with God, nothing
was impossible. If God could work miracles through Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, He could certainly work one for Mary, the mother of Jesus. Regardless of Matthew’s motives, the genealogy shows us that Christ came from a line of remarkable women, who understood the importance of their work in God’s plan and sometimes took drastic measures to ensure that His work would move forward.
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