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Women of Advent: Women in the Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

Matthew 1:1-17 This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,

Perez the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram,

Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse,

and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,

Solomon the father of Rehoboam,

Rehoboam the father of Abijah,

Abijah the father of Asa,

Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,

Jehoram the father of Uzziah,

Uzziah the father of Jotham,

Jotham the father of Ahaz,

Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,

10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,

Manasseh the father of Amon,

Amon the father of Josiah,

11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[c] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon:

Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,

Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,

Abihud the father of Eliakim,

Eliakim the father of Azor,

14 Azor the father of Zadok,

Zadok the father of Akim,

Akim the father of Elihud,

15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,

Eleazar the father of Matthan,

Matthan the father of Jacob,

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

As you read through Matthew 1:1-17, something unusual stands out. Women are mentioned! The typical Hebrew genealogy excluded women.

These women are unusual and we may find it surprising that women of their character are included in the lineage of Jesus. Most important here is that when God chose these women, He showed His mercy and grace to sinners like us.  

Women of Advent: Women in the Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah


Tamar’s story is told in Genesis 38. It is a sordid tale of incest, prostitution, and deception.

Tamar was married to Er, the evil son of Judah. God struck Er dead for the evil he had done. We don’t know what he did (Genesis 38:7). Er’s brother Onan then became Tamar’s husband, as the law at that time required. He spitefully refused to father children by Tamar and God struck him dead too (v. 10).

Tamar was widowed twice and still childless. She was frustrated and unwilling to wait for God to provide a husband. Tamar took matters into her own hands.

She dressed as a prostitute and waited for Judah at the temple gate. Tamar had a veil over her face and Judah did not recognize her. Judah committed a sinful act of fornication with his own son’s widow (v. 18). Twin sons were conceived through that shameful act of harlotry and incest. Their names were Perez and Zerah. Perez, who was born first, carried on the messianic line.


Rahab is the next woman mentioned in Matthew’s account of the lineage of Jesus. You may know of Rahab. She’s referred to in Scripture as “Rahab the harlot” (Joshua 6:17, 25; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25). The name Rahab itself means “pride,” “insolence,” “savagery.”

Joshua 2 records that part of her story. Joshua sent spies into the city of Jericho. Rahab hid the spies in her home and sent the soldiers in a different direction when they came looking for Joshua’s spies.

Rahab knew Jericho would be destroyed by the Israelites and bargained with the spies to save herself and her family. She hung as scarlet cord in her window so the Israelites would know which house was hers. Rahab was spared.

Rahab not only became a convert to the true God, but also a part of the Messianic line. She was the great, great grandmother of David.


Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their sons Mahlon and Chilion emigrated from Bethlehem to the nearby country of Moab durning a faminee. Elimelech died, and the sons married two Moabite women, Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah.

When her sons died, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem. She told her daughters-in-law to return to their families. Orpah did but Ruth remained.

The two women returned to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest, and in order to support her mother-in-law and herself, Ruth went to the fields to glean. As it happened, the field she went to belonged to a man named Boaz, who was kind to her because he had heard of her loyalty to her mother-in-law. Ruth told Naomi of Boaz’s kindness, and she gleaned in his field through the remainder of barley and wheat harvest.

Boaz and Ruth were married and had a son named Obed. The women of the city celebrate Naomi’s joy, for Naomi found a redeemer for her family name, and Naomi takes the child and places it in her bosom. Obed is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Obed is the grandfather of King David.


Bathsheba’s story is told in 2 Samuel 11. It isn’t a very nice story. Bathsheba was married to Uriah, one of David’s soldiers.

David saw Bathsheba bathing on a nearby roof and he lusted after her. David sent his servants to bring Bathsheba to him. He had relations with her and Bathsheba became pregnant.

David tried to cover his sin by bringing Uriah back from the battlefield. He hoped that Uriah would have relations with his wife. Everyone would assume the baby was Uriah’s. Uriah was a man of integrity and would not sleep with his wife while his men were still on the battlefield.

Uriah’s integrity would not be compromised. David sent Uriah back to the battlefield with orders that put him on the front lines. David sent word to his commanders to pull back and leave Uriah to be killed. David murdered Uriah!

David took Bathsheba as his wife. The child died shortly after birth. David repented of his sin and his son, Solomon, was born.

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba! Four women in the genealogy of Jesus. Each was an outcast. Matthew wrote his gospel for the Jews. He was confronting the Jewish Pharisees and self-righteousness. Matthew pointed out that lineage of Jesus was full of Gentiles, adulterers, liars and other sinners. Just like us.

Jesus identified with sinners. It the spotlight on God’s grace. God in His mercy doing for sinners what they cannot do for themselves. That same grace is waiting for us! The same Jesus is saving His people from their sins.



Women of Advent: Women in the Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

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