“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:10
Very few of us would know our own lineage back more than a few generations, and knowing 10 or 12 generations of ancestors would be a lot. In spite of the relatively low technology of New Testament times, Jesus’ parents had the records of their lineage available all the way back to Adam. In the case of Joseph, His non-biological father, he was 59th from Adam, and His mother Mary was 74th from Adam. This represents about 4,000 years of human history. And the evidence supports the Biblical statements that in the beginning, mankind lived a lot longer. And very tellingly, there is a thread of sorrow and grace throughout.
Creation to the Flood
There were ten generations from Adam through Noah which concluded in the cataclysmic event of the Great Flood. As name meanings were especially important during ancient times, people have examined their meanings more closely. Biblical scholar Chuck Missler, examining the “original roots” of the words, comes up with a very interesting prophecy. An example Missler gives of examining the roots is shown below.
“Methuselah comes from muth, a root that means “death”; and from shalach, which means to bring, or to send forth. The name Methuselah means, “his death shall bring”.”
The roots of the name meanings give us: Adam/Man, Seth/Appointed, Enos/Mortal, Cainan/Sorrow, Mahalalel/The Blessed God, Jared/ Shall come down, Enoch/ Teaching, Methuselah/His death shall bring, Lamech/the despairing, Noah/Rest, or comfort.
“Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.”
The 1996 article by Chuck Missler is available at http://www.khouse.org/articles/1996/44/
Because people lived much longer at that time, from the time of Creation to the Flood is estimated to be about 1656 years – from 4004 BC to 2348 BC – coinciding with the ten generations from Adam to Noah. And apparently humanity had gone very wrong during those ten long generations. Starting with the family of Adam and Eve, in which the firstborn Cain murdered his brother Abel, and culminating to the point where God believed it was best to start over with the family of Noah. The clues to why humanity had become so evil are found in Genesis 6:1-8. But first we must realize that God’s plan of salvation had been to have the ‘Seed of the woman’ whom is Jesus (as he would be Mary’s blood relation, not Joseph’s) to permanently defeat the serpent, or Satan (Genesis 3:15). The Savior had to come through a human line. But in Genesis 6 it appears that among evil works, the ‘sons of God’, interpreted as God’s created angels who had rebelled with Lucifer, had taken human wives and produced offspring with them. This also coincided with there being “giants in the earth in those days”. The offspring appear to be powerful and like demigods. Popular mythology would seem to lend credence to this. Aside from perverting the human line and angels producing offspring that God never intended them to, these powerful demigod-like offspring could have threatened human life. It is interesting, after reporting this phenomenon in Genesis 6:2, that it is in Genesis 6:3 that God pronounces judgment of 120 remaining years before the Great Flood would occur. During these years, Noah would have sons, who would in turn marry, and this family would obey God’s command to construct the ark.
Another important genealogical sequence is from Noah to Abraham, which adds another ten generations. Shem, Arphaxad, Salah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah and Abraham. Abraham’s life is a portrait of faith and grace.
God called Abraham (then Abram) to leave everything he knew and follow God. God promised to make Abraham’s descendants a great nation but Abraham and Sarah were very old before this promise seemed plausible. Abraham became quite prosperous but he had a host of challenges as well. But his amazing faith endured throughout.
The passage involving Hagar is an amazing story showing God’s grace. Facing the pressure of infertility and advanced age, it was Sarah’s idea to have Abraham try to conceive through her Egyptian servant Hagar. Hagar did indeed get pregnant when Abraham was 86 years old but Sarah did not like Hagar’s attitude after that. Sarah in turn began to treat her harshly. Pregnant and overwhelmed by this new treatment, Hagar ran away.
In Genesis 16:7 and 8, “the angel of the Lord” – usually interpreted as God or Jesus – encountered her in the wilderness and spoke with her. He prophesied of her son who would be born, and told her to return to her mistress Sarah and submit to her. He told her to call his name Ishmael, which interestingly means “God has hearkened” or “the Lord listens”.
Fourteen years after Ishmael’s birth, Isaac was born when Abraham was 100. Isaac, his name meaning “laughter”, would be the one whom through God would fulfil his promise to Abraham. When Isaac was weaned, Abraham threw a big celebration, and there was additional tension when Sarah observed Ishmael mocking. At this time, Sarah wanted Hagar and Ishmael to leave the household.
With great sadness, Abraham did send them away. Ishmael would have been about 17 about this time, nearly an adult. It is apparent that God had wanted Ishmael to be raised with his father during these years. The passage of Genesis 21:14-21 show God provided comfort and direction again to Hagar and to Ishmael that would prepare them for life on their own.
Abraham continued to walk with God and lead his family. Abraham and Sarah are both recounted in the Hebrews 11 chapter of faith, for their lifelong obedience and faith in God’s promises.
Tamar, Rahab and Ruth
David is a pivotal figure in God’s revealed plans, and in the genealogy of Jesus. From Adam to David, Mary and Joseph shared the same lineage, and their ancestors diverged after that. There are 13 generations from Abraham to David: Isaac, Jacob, Judas, Pharas, Esrom, Aram, Aminadab, Naason, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David. But before we get to David, we should discuss the unusual women mentioned specifically in Jesus’ lineage. These women – Tamar, Rahab and Ruth are all named in the genealogy in Matthew 1. There are going to be some spelling variations between the Old and New Testament.
Abraham’s great-grandson Judah produced twins “Phares and Zara of Thamar”. Who was Thamar (Tamar)? Genesis 38 recounts the story. Judah had three sons with a Canaanite woman, and none of them appeared to be godly standouts but rather quite the opposite. Tamar became married to the first of the sons. The Biblically established custom or ordinance was for a brother to marry and conceive children with his former sister in law in the event that his brother died without offspring in order to preserve his brother’s line. In the course of events Tamar’s husband and his brother were killed by God for evil works and disobedience. Judah was to give Tamar to the 3rd son in marriage and she observed that he did not do that. When this did not see that happen, she disguised herself and somehow induced Judah, “played the harlot” and this one time event produced twins. Tamar was thought to be a Canaanite, not an Israelite woman, but in a strange way displayed a respect for God’s law. This odd sequence of events became part of the line of Jesus.
Matthew 1:5 states “And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab: and Booz begat Obed of Ruth: and Obed begat Jesse.” Therefore Ruth was David’s great-grandmother, and Rachab (Rahab) his great-great-grandmother. Both of these women are lauded for their actions.
Rahab was a Canaanite woman who saved the spies Joshua dispatched Jericho to overthrow it. Jericho was a strategic location at the entrance to Canaan, the promised land. Rahab, described as a harlot, had put them up originally in the city. She would then hide the spies after the king had somehow learned of their mission had sent an inquest for them. She told those looking for them that they had already left. This is described in Joshua 2. After saving the two spies from discovery, she pleaded for her life and that of her family, saying that she believed in their God (Joshua 2:9-11). They instructed her to display a “line of scarlet thread” in her window and keep her whole family in her house. When the walls of Jericho were miraculously brought down in Joshua 6, literally they “fell down flat”, Rahab’s dwelling alone was standing and those within were saved. Joshua 7:25 states, ”And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had, and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”
The story of Ruth began when the family of Elimelech, a man from Bethlehem-judah, lived for a period of ten years in the land of Moab, traditionally an enemy of the Israelite people. Elimelech and Naomi’s sons married Moabite women Orpah and Ruth. But then Elimelech and his two sons all died, leaving only Naomi and her daughters in law, all left widowed. In this time, for an old widow like Naomi to be left without any male offspring was a haunting prospect from an economic perspective. Naomi started to return to Judah with her two daughters in law. However she then stopped and told them twice to return to their mothers’ houses with the prospect of remarrying. Naomi truly believed that “the hand of the Lord is gone out against me” and she was trying to look out for her daughter in laws’ best interests. Ruth 1:14 beautifully states: “And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.” The story of Ruth is a beautiful one. Ruth stayed with Naomi during their shared time of grief and fully took on Naomi’s God and religion. Not only providing her a necessary line of emotional support to Naomi, Ruth labored to provide their living, and gave Naomi the blessings of family. Ruth would marry Boaz, a relative of Elimelech’s family, producing a son Obed, grandfather to David.
This will be continued in a future post.