Gospel: Mt 1:1-17
This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon.
Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah’s wife.
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings: Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah.
Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel.
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus who is called the Christ—the Messiah.
There were then fourteen generations from Abraham to David, and fourteen generations from David to the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the birth of Christ.
Today’s gospel reading presents the genealogy of Jesus covering the span of time between Abraham and Jesus, namely, 1850 years or so. There are 42 names in the list, arranged in series of 14 names. But this list should contain 74 names, if we count 4 generations per century. Why is it so incomplete? Because Matthew wanted to have a symbolic list, a list which would express a theological message “between the lines,” as it were. This is how it works.
Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value: the first, aleph, is equal to 1; the second, beth, is equal to 2; etc. Which means that each proper name is equivalent to a number, based on the consonants of the name (the vowels do not count). So the name David is equivalent to 4+6+4 or 14. This figure 14 symbolically represents King David. Now Matthew tells us through these symbols that Jesus comes after 3 times 14 generations, that he is a triple David, a Super-David! (The triple repetition in Hebrew is equivalent to a superlative, as the Holy, Holy, Holy of Isaiah’s vision in Is 6).
In brief, Matthew is telling us, Jesus is the promised super-king, the Messiah.