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Five Women In The Divine Lineage

Genealogies are usually very boring. When reading our Bibles, many of us will often skip the genealogical records of Jesus as listed in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38.

In naming the forefathers of the King of Kings, Matthew took great care to also include the names of five women:


Matthew 1:3
"Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar..."

Her name means "a palm tree."

She was a Canaanite woman, and the wife of Judah's eldest son, Er (Genesis 38:1-30).

Her husband, Er, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD slew him.

According to the law of Levirate Marriage (Deut 25:5-10), Onan, the second son of Judah, had to marry Tamar, Er's widow.

But Onan knew that the heir would not be his.

When he went in to his brother's wife, he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother.

What he did displeased the LORD, therefore He killed him also.

Judah promised Tamar that his third son, Shelah, would be her husband when he grew up.

But when Shelah was fully grown, Judah delayed the marriage.

Undaunted, the widow Tamar disguised herself as a harlot.

She offered herself to her father-in-law, Judah.

Twin sons, Perez and Zerah, were born out of this union.


Matthew 1:5
"Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab..."

Her name means "spacious."

She was a pagan woman living in Jericho (Joshua 2:1-24).

She hid the two spies of Israel whom Joshua had sent to explore Jericho.

Her house was on the city wall of Jericho.

Besides being a harlot, she also manufactured and dyed linen.

She secretly housed the two spies, and helped them by hiding them with the stalks of flax on her roof.

She misled those men sent by the king of Jericho on a false trail.

She let the two spies down the outside wall by a scarlet rope through the window of her house.

When the Israelites captured Jericho, they spared the house with the scarlet cord in the window. This scarlet cord was a sign that a friend of God's people dwelt within.

Rahab and her father's household were spared from being killed by the Israelites. In due course, she and her family were brought into the nation of Israel (Joshua 6:25).

Rahab was the wife of Salmon. Their son Boaz married Ruth, and became the father of Obed, the grandfather of Jesse, and the great-grandfather of David.


Matthew 1:5
"Boaz begot Obed by Ruth..."

Her name means "friend."

She was a Moabitess and a Gentile (Ruth 1 - 4).

She married one of the two sons of Elimelech and Naomi.

Her father-in-law, Elimelech, had migrated with his whole family to Moab to escape a famine in the land of Israel.

When Elimelech and both of his sons died, they left behind three widows: Naomi, Ruth and Orpah.

When her mother-in-law, Naomi, decided to return home to Bethlehem, Ruth chose to accompany her all the way, saying (Ruth 1:16-17):

"Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.

Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The LORD do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me."

In Bethlehem, Ruth was permitted to glean in the field of Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of Elimelech.

At Naomi's persuasion, Ruth asked for the protection of Boaz as her next of kin. This was in accordance to the Hebraic law of Levirate Marriage.

After a nearer kinsman waived his rights to buy the family property and provide Elimelech an heir, Boaz married Ruth.

Their son, Obed, was considered as one of Naomi's family, according to the Jewish customs.

Ruth, though a Moabite, was richly rewarded by her firm decision: "Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God."

She became an ancestor of king David and King Jesus.


Matthew 1:6
"David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah."

Her name means "daughter of an oath."

She was the wife of Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11).

One night in Jerusalem while walking on the roof of his palace, David saw Bathsheba bathing.

With his lusts aroused, David committed adultery with her.

Out of this illicit affair, Bathsheba conceived a child.

Upon discovering her pregnancy, David immediately sent for Uriah, who was out in battle with the Ammonites.

But Uriah refused to go home and engage in sexual relations with his wife while his companions were involved in battle.

When David's attempt to deceive Uriah failed, he sent him back into battle.

This time, David gave orders that Uriah was to be placed at the frontlines of the hottest battle, and also his fellow soldiers were to retreat from him, so that he might be killed. As a result of this murder plotted by David, Uriah died.

After a period of mourning, Bathsheba became David's wife.

When Nathan the prophet confronted David about his great sins, David repented. But the child conceived in adultery died.

Nevertheless God blessed David and Bathsheba with four more children, namely Shimea, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon (1 Chronicles 3:5).

Note: Solomon was the ancestor of Joseph (Matthew 1:7), the earthly father of Jesus. Nathan, another son of David and Bathsheba, was the ancestor of Virgin Mary (Luke 3:31), the mother of Jesus.

In the Luke account, the phrase used in the genealogy of Christ was "the son of." Jesus was known as the son of Joseph, the son of Heli. In Jewish customs, the son-in-law is also called the son. Thus, Luke traced Jesus' lineage from His mother, Mary.

In the Matthew account, the word used was "begot." And Jacob begot Joseph. This was obviously the lineage of Jesus from His earthly father, Joseph.


Matthew 1:16
"And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus Who is called Christ."

This Greek name of hers was derived from the Hebraic name "Miryam," which means "bitterness or rebellion."

Unlike Miriam who rebelled against the godly leadership of her own brother Moses, Mary was a rebel with a good cause. The Baby she bore is the Messiah Who came to fulfill the New Covenant. His teachings were against many religious leaders of those days.

She became the first believer in Him as the Christ Who came to save His people! She was the first "Protestant." She was not bitter, but she lived a life of many sufferings. Against many difficulties and hardships, her life was an enduring example for faith, love, hope, devotion and trust in God.

She was a peasant girl living in Nazareth, a city of Galilee (Luke 1:26-27).

She was the highly favored one, blessed among women (Luke 1:28).

She was from the tribe of Judah, in the same lineage of David (Luke 1:32).

She was pledged to be married to Joseph.

But before they came together, she was found to be with a Child through the Holy Spirit.

Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. He thought that she had committed adultery with another man.

But an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:18-21)

She was carrying and conceiving God in her human womb.

In giving birth to Jesus Christ, she gave birth not only to the Son of Man, but also the Son of God!

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, she said, "Henceforth all generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:48).

God still uses ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary plans and purposes. Four of these five women would not have the required qualifications if they were selected based on righteousness, holiness and purity. Worst still, they were pagan. Two of them were Canaanites, one was a Moabite and another was a Hittite. Four of them were Gentiles. They would have been disqualified from the high calling of God!

But the grace and mercy of God broke all barriers, extending forgiveness to all peoples and nationalities, even if they had committed great sins in their past. In fact, one of them made it to the list of the heroes and heroines of our Christian faith in Hebrews 11:31:

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

Rahab was justified by her faith. Though she was from a pagan culture where harlotry and idolatry were acceptable, she recognized Jehovah as the one true God. Her insights of God were recorded in Joshua 2:9-11:

"I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below."

Without a shadow of a doubt, she believed in the true God Who created the heaven and the earth! James commended her as an example of one who had been justified by works (James 2:25):

"In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?"

Though her past was filled with sins, she was declared righteous in the sight of God based on her faith and works. James did not give approval to Rahab's former life but he commended on her living faith!

The scarlet cord, dangling outside Rahab's window, was the sign of salvation and safety. The two spies of Israel had used the cord to escape to safety. It was also through the same scarlet cord that Rahab and her family escaped their death! Though her sins were scarlet and crimson red, God had washed all of them white as snow! This is the wonder of God's great love!

This scarlet cord was a type of the blood of Christ! Jesus came to die for sinners. Our LORD had shown great mercy and grace to harlots and women caught in adultery.

In Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus told this parable, "A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to Him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him."

The tax collectors and harlots are entering the kingdom of God before the self-righteous and religious groups of scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. God is still seeking the lost and saving the sinners! True revivals begin with the genuine change of hearts. The obedience of a sinner is better than the disobedience of a saint. The works of a sinner done in faith to God are better than the lip services of a saint. The spiritual repentance of a sinner is better than the spiritual pride of a saint! God looks beyond the outside. He looks deep into the hearts. He cannot be fooled by human flattery and facade.

Beyond the layers of sins and paganism, God saw the hope and the light. He allowed His Only Begotten Son to be birthed forth through these earthly vessels. That's why Jesus was never ashamed to be in the midst of harlots and sinners. He sat down and ate at the same table with them. He was comfortable with them as He comforted them with the Good News. He knew His own genealogy. He also knew God's plans!

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (Matthew 9:10-13)

God desires mercy and not sacrifice! Below is the gospel account about a woman caught in the very act of adultery:

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"

This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."

And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." (John 8:3-11)

Have you ever wondered what Jesus wrote on the ground that convicted these persistent accusers? It is possible that Jesus simply wrote the name of David, and then the name of Bathsheba. Putting these two names together would pierce their hearts! If God could forgive David and Bathsheba, who were they not to forgive this woman caught in adultery? That day, the court was dismissed quietly without any trial. O sinners, go and sin no more!

Below is a favourite gospel chorus about broken lives:

Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion, He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But He made something beautiful out of my life

Please read a related article:
Loose Shoes

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Written On:
12 January 2005