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Critical Examination Of The First Chapter Of Matthew.

Extract From A Work By Isidore Kalisch.

1. The book of the generation, &c. 5. And Salman begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse.

UNLIKELY as is the supposition of the learned Ena Saba, or of Petaya Uchma, that Joshua should have married Rachab (Tra. Megillah, fol. 14, b.), equally so is the assertion of our genealogist untrue, in asserting that Rachab was the wife of Salman; because a man like Joshua or Salman would assuredly not have acted against the law of Moses, which says, “Thou shalt not intermarry with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give to his son, and his daughter thou shalt not take for thy son.”—(Deut. <<372>>

8. And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias.

Here are three links in the chain, to wit, Ahaziah, Toash, and Amaziah, omitted. (See 2 Kings viii. 25; xiv. 13; and 1 Chron. iii. 11.) It is true that we frequently find in the genealogies of the Scriptures, for the sake of brevity, or on account of their unimportance, one or more links left out, in which case the word  must not be translated filius, son, but proles, descendant. For example, in Ezra vii. 3, there are omitted between Azariah and Merajoth Chron. v. 32-37, Eng. ver. vi. 7-11) six links, whence we read, “the son of Azariah, the son of Merajoth;” and again, (Ezra v. 1,) “Zechariah son of Iddo,” instead of “the son of Berachiah the son of Iddo.” (Zech. i. 1.)

Even when the expression הוליד occurs, it must not be always taken in the sense of “he begat,” but frequently also, because several members in the descent are omitted, of “he had for descendant,” (e.g., 1 Chron. v. 38.) ואחיטוב הוליד את צדוק does not mean that “Achitub begat Zadok,” cause the latter was the son of Merajoth, and grandson of the former, as will appear from 1 Chron. ix. 11, but the middle link is left out for the sake of brevity.

In the same manner הוליד (ib. ii. 11-13) means nothing else than “he had for descendant,” namely, “Nahshon had for descendant Salma, Salma Boaz, Boaz Obed, but Obed begat Jesse.” For since already at the time of Abraham, he considered it an impossibility for a centenarian to have a child (Gen. vii. 17), how can it be at all probable that at a much later period, when the duration of human life scarcely ever exceeded one hundred years, there should nevertheless have been four* generations, who begat each children at the age of a hundred years? Evidently some links are here omitted on account of their unimportance. It would therefore be wrong in us to accuse the ancient Bible historians of a mistake; the error lies solely in an incorrect rendering of the word הוליד everywhere with genuit, “he begat.”

* The remark of Ebn Ezra in his commentary on Ruth, that there are here five links, if we count Nahshon, will still occasion historical difficulties.

Still all this cannot be urged in justification of our genealogist; because, as David Strauss correctly observes, he professes, in v. 17, to control himself, and he lets us know unequivocally that he <<373>>means to omit not a single link in the genealogy. “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations,” &c.; we have therefore the right to censure him for any omission.

11. Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

One member is here passed by; for Josiah begat Jehoiakim, whose son was Jechoniah. (See 2 Kings xxiii. 34 ; also ib. xxiv. 6.) It appears also clearly, from 1 Chron. 16, that Jechoniah had no brothers. Our author, however, was misled to the commission of this error, as likewise, long after him, Dr. Martin Luther, in his translation of the Bible, and in our own time, De Wette, in his commentary on Matt. i. 11, by mistaking אחיו in 2 Chron. xxxvi. 10, for frater, brother, instead of cognatus, relative. And that אחיו in this passage is to be understood as uncle, is to be proved from 2 Kings xxiv. 17, where it is said, “And the king of Babel put in his place Mathaniah his uncle, as king, and changed his name to Zedekiah.”

12. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel, and Salathiel begat Zorobabel.

Again is a link wanting; for Shealthiel begat Pedayah, whose son Zerubabel was. (1 Chron. iii. 17-19.) Though, therefore, we read in Haggai i. 1 and Ezra v. 2, זרובבל בן שאלתיאל “Zerubabel son of Shealthiel,” it is no support for our historian, because, as we have already remarked above, בן frequently stands for proles, descendant, as is shown by the oldest commentators, and clearly proven to be correct in this instance from the pas­sage cited from 1 Chron. iii. 17-19.

13. Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor.

Nothing is said in the books of Chronicles of an Abiud, consequently he is not an historical character. On the contrary, it is recorded that Zerubabel begat Meshullam and Hananiah.

17. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen <<374>>generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Although, to judge from the historical records at our command, we can find but fourteen generations from Abraham to David, there must nevertheless have been more than fourteen, as I have proved in my remarks on v. 8. How much the pen of our historiographer was guided by an arbitrary rule, is proved chiefly by his enumeration as exhibited in the later series, where he passes by several historical characters as nonentities.

18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

If we read in the present time this verse attentively, we are placed in the position of Faustus, the Manichaean, and cannot help asking the question: If it be true that the Holy Ghost and not Joseph was the father of the master, how can the apostle prove his descent from David by the regular descent from David to Joseph, the husband of Mary? Was not Joseph merely his foster-father, and had no blood-relationship whatever to him? But to judge from the gross* contradiction in which the author happens to be with himself, it appears to me more than probable, that Matthew, if we mean to assume that his first two chapters are genuine, never represented the history of the birth of the <<375>>master, as the text from v. 18-25 now reads, but quite in a natural way. This hypothesis becomes a certainty, when one reflects that Cerinthus, the celebrated teacher in the age of the apostles, who, as Epiphanius asserts, accepted only the gospel of Matthew, considered the master as nothing else than the son of Joseph and Mary born in the natural way, and that Carpocrates and a portion of the Ebionites maintained the same views in accepting only the gospel of Matthew.

* This contradiction can be by no means solved, if we maintain, as many theologians have done, that Mary descended from the house of David; for if this had been the case, then would Matthew and Luke have given the genealogy, not of Joseph, who is alleged not to have been the master’s father, but that of Mary; especially Luke, who communicates such circumstances explicitly, as he for instance (Luke i. 15) remarks, that Elizabeth was of the daughters of Aaron; conse­quently he would not have passed over in silence the Davidean descent of Mary.
The passage in Luke i. 36, Καί ιδού ‘Ελισάβετ ή συγγεύής σου, “And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth,” proves nothing; for συγγεύής leaves it undetermined whether the re­lationship was on the father’s or mother’s side; and should we even assume the latter, still it would be merely a groundless assumption to assert that Elizabeth’s mother was of the family of David.

NOTE by the Ed. Oc.—And to assert, as many do, that Luke gives the genealogy of Mary, whilst Matthew gives that of Joseph, is equally void of all reason; because both trace Joseph’s descent, and none speaks of Mary; and per contra, who knows but Matthew traces Mary and Luke Joseph?

22. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which: was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

23. Behold, a virgin shall be (more correctly, is) with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they (she) shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

From the words introducing the verse quoted: “Therefore will the Lord himself give you a sign: behold, the young woman is with child,” &c., it clearly appears that the prophet by no means prophesied of the master, but that he speaks of and to his contemporaries, and gave a sign to the unbelieving Ahaz, together with the house of David, as a confirmation of the promised deliverance. What I have just said receives a strong support in verification from what the prophet says farther down, (Isaiah vii. 16,) “For before the boy (to wit, Immanuel) learneth to reject the bad and to choose the good, shall the land of which thou hast fear; (Syria and the land of the ten tribes of Israel,) be forsaken of its two kings, which prophecy cannot apply to the generation in which the master lived.

The Genealogy of Joseph, After Matthew.

As Mr. Miller has endeavoured to justify the genealogical table of Joseph, as given by Matthew, I offer for his consideration the following remarks:

The call of Abraham took place, according to the best computations, 1921 B. C.; David died 1021 B. C.; consequently the first fourteen generations of Matthew must have occupied nine hundred years; consequently each generation must have been 64 1/14 years; since 900:14=64 4/14. Isaac, however, who lived <<376>>the longest, as he was the first of the series, begat children at the age of sixty, which must have been considered very late, as he so earnestly prayed for offspring, and had none subsequently to the birth of Jacob and Esau. But David, at the close of the period in question, died at an age of seventy years, and yet it is said of him, (1 Chron. xxix. 28,) “And he died in a good age, full of years;” consequently sixty-four years is entirely too long a period for each generation; wherefore we must assume that there were more than fourteen generations from Abraham to David; the omission of their names, as also the word הוליד, is correctly explained in Mr. Kalisch’s article.

The exile to Babylon took place at 606 B. C.; consequently, from the death of David till then was a period of about four hundred and twenty years; in Chronicles, there are reckoned 421½ years, under nineteen kings, and one queen. If we now take Ahaziah and Athaliah as one generation, and so Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, also Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, we have still seventeen generations during the existence of the Davidean dynasty; this gives us for each 24 13/17, years, (421 : 17 = 24 13/17,) which is in so great a contrast with the above fourteen generations, that we are compelled to reckon their number as higher.

From the commencement of the Babylonian captivity to Christ were six hundred and six years, which would give for each generation of Matthew 43 4/14, (606 : 14 = 43 4/14,) which is evidently contradicted as probable by the above 24 13/17 for each generation; because the lifetime of men did not increase in the third period, and the greater part of the kings of Judah died at the usual age. I could add much more, but I have not the time at present. Whenever Mr. Miller has refuted this, I will then add some other considerations.