Why did God bother to include all those boring begats in the Bible?
I had a fellow write me one time who asked, “Why did God bother to include all those boring begats in the Bible?” He was referring, of course, to the lengthy genealogies of Jesus that are recorded in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. In Matthew’s version, the litany begins with the words, “Abraham begat Isaac…” (Matthew 1:2).
The begats are very important, and they are anything but boring, if they are studied carefully. Their importance lies in the fact that they substantiate that Jesus’ lineage fulfilled the prophecies that the Messiah would be descended from Abraham (Genesis 12:3) through Isaac (Genesis 17:21) and Jacob (Genesis 28:14), and that He would be from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8), the family of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), and the house of David (Jeremiah 23:5).
Two Lists Full of Gems
Matthew presents the royal genealogy through Joseph who was Jesus’ legal father. Luke traces Jesus’ blood line through Mary’s father, Eli.
The begats in these verses reveal that whereas Joseph was a descendant of David through Solomon, Mary was a descendant through David’s son Nathan. This is an important distinction because God had disinherited Solomon’s line through King Coniah, stating that none of Coniah’s descendants “will sit on the throne of David or rule again in Judah” (Jeremiah 22:24,28-30). This curse did not affect Jesus since He was not Joseph’s natural son and therefore did not literally descend from the cursed bloodline of Coniah (also know as Jeconiah — Matthew 1:11).
The begats are full of gems like this. Consider, for example, that Matthew mentions four women in the heritage of Jesus — Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. All were Gentiles, and three of the four were either prostitutes or adulterers. In prompting Matthew to mention these three, it’s as if the Holy Spirit wanted to emphasize that the Messiah came to save sinners among both Jews and Gentiles.
A Profound Insight
In the 17th Century an English pastor by the name of Thomas Fuller wrote an insightful devotional based on observations that he made in the begats:
- Rehoboam begat Abijah; that is, a bad father begat a bad son.
- Abijah begat Asa; that is, a bad father, a good son.
- Asa begat Jehoshaphat; that is, a good father, a good son.
- Jehoshaphat begat Joram; that is, a good father, a bad son.
“I see, Lord, from this, that my father’s piety cannot be handed on; that is bad news for me. But I also see that actual impiety is not always hereditary; that is good news for my son.”
Remember, all of God’s Word is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” — and that includes the “boring begats”! (2 Timothy 3:16).