My oldest daughter has recently developed an interest in her family history. We started filling in our family tree on ancestry.com and with the help of parents and grandparents, we have made some progress! Genealogy can be really fun to investigate!
Yet, when I turned to 1 Chronicles today and saw the first NINE chapters are devoted to genealogy. I’ll admit, I wanted to go find a more interesting book to read. God put this on my heart though, so I decided to start reading. In doing so, I actually read it rather than quickly skimming through pages of names. Somehow, names started to jump out at me and led me to do some investigating, which then led me to Matthew 1, which is the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death on the cross allowed for us, Gentiles, to be adopted into God’s family! So, in essence, all these names are important because they tell our story. The story, intricately and beautifully woven, that leads to our own redemption.
Five women are listed in Christ’s lineage. This is important because it was not the norm to list women in genealogy back then. The family line went through the men, and the women weren’t deemed necessary to list in the lineage. But these five, they must have had some purpose! Skimming through some various commentaries, scholars seem to be divided on exactly why these women are listed. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but here are the women and their short stories.
Tamar is listed first, who bore two sons to Judah. We know Jesus comes from the tribe of Judah, but I didn’t recognize this Tamar. Her story can be found in Genesis 38, I encourage you to read it! Tamar was Judah’s daughter in law. She married Er, who was so evil in the Lord’s eye that he was put to death. Er’s brother Onan was told to step up to the plate and basically instructed to get Tamar pregnant. Onan refused (Scripture gets pretty graphic!) and he then was put to death by the Lord. So Judah told Tamar to wait for his third son, Shelah, to grow up so she could have children by him. Remember, in these times women were supposed to have babies. It was their job. If they had no children, they were outcasts. Time goes by, and Judah forgets to give Tamar to Shelah. After Judah’s wife dies, he ends up seeking comfort with a prostitute…or so he thinks. Turns out, Tamar tricked him into beileving she was a prostitute and after that one night, she gets pregnant. When Judah later learns of this, he thinks she has been immoral and calls for her to be burned. She lets him know he is the father, so he doesn’t kill her and the family line of Judah is saved. She risked her life to have babies, and God used her to preserve His plan for Jesus to be from the lineage of Judah.
You all, this is so much more interesting than the average fiction book. God’s perfect plan carried out by flawed individuals!
Rahab is likely more familiar to you. She’s the prostitute from Jericho who houses the two spies Joshua sends to scout the land before God allows them to take it over after their years in the desert. She and her family are saved from the total destruction of the inhabitants, and it is believed she then marries Salmon and by him, she has Boaz. God used a Gentile woman, a sinner at that!, to be in the lineage of Christ.
Boaz may sound familiar. He is the man who takes care of Ruth, the Moabite (Moabs and Israelites were NOT friends!), after she returns to Bethlehem with Naomi, her mother in law, following the deaths of all the men (Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion). Ruth takes it upon herself to take care of Naomi by gleaning in the fields during the barley harvest. Her loyalty becomes known and Boaz goes out of his way to protect Ruth. She falls in love with him, and eventually they get married and have Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David. Another Gentile woman, known for her loyal heart, playing a big role in Christ’s lineage!
The next woman is listed as “the wife of Uriah,” which seems kind of strange to me. Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, is the woman who David had an affair with which he attempted to cover up by having Uriah killed in battle. She’s known not as David’s wife, though she became just that, but as Uriah’s wife. God punished David for his affair by killing the first child Bathsheba had by him. God, though, He is forgiving! David and Bathsheba then had Solomon, who is again in direct lineage of Christ.
The final woman listed is Mary, the mother of Jesus. I think we all know her story pretty well.
What I love about the stories of these women is this message: God will use us all for His glory. Our past doesn’t define us. He knows our hearts, and when we are loyal and obedient to Him, He will bless us! We can all play an important role in His kingdom. We have been adopted into this family of Christ, and the genealogy matters!
This post was originally published in July 2017.