Brad Reads the Gospels #2: Matthew 1:17-25

So.  Fourteen generations from Father Abraham to King David.  Fourteen generations between David and the Babylonian Captivity (if I forget thee, o Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I prefer not Jerusalem to my chief joy), and fourteen generations from Babylon to Christ.  There’s something delightful to me about the Bible’s numerology, but I lack the qualifications as a Biblical scholar, mathemetician or magician to really comment on it.

So let us move on to the nativity story.  Such as it is.  Like Satan, the Nativity of Christian tradition is a composite made up of multiple scripture passages and centuries of extrabiblical tradition.  It’s a piece of evolved mythology.  But at the core of the myth is this story:

18Now 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.

19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

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

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

24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

In case you forgot, Joseph is a son of David.  We also learn that he is a just man, and more than that, apparently a kind man.  Finding himself evidently cuckolded before the wedding itself is finalised, he wants to avoid publicly shaming his betrothed, as opposed to the more usual instinctive response of a man so fundamentally betrayed and publicly humiliated.

That’s when the angel appears.  Luke, the other Evangelist to touch on Jesus’ birth, has it that Mary was visited by Gabriel (who, as I understand the backstory of The Prophecy, was already well into his talking-monkey-inspired war against Heaven at this point, which is kind of odd.  Or maybe it was the Anunciation of a Messiah that would redeem the talking monkeys that finally sent him over the edge and led him to start the Second War.  Anyone know if this is resolved in the sequels?) and warned ahead of time, with parallels to the miraculous birth of John the Baptist who Luke connects familially to Jesus.  But Matthew seems more interested in Joseph, and it’s to Joseph that Matthew ascribes a divine revelation.  And this dream visitation quotes the Prophets, giving Jesus His name (“God Saves,” after the great war-chieftain who led the Israelites into Palestine after the death of Moses) and tying him to Isaiah’s foretellings of a coming redeemer*.

Matthew is also careful to emphasize that Jesus is not the son of Joseph.  He is at pains here to emphasize His divine origins.

And having made that point, he moves on.

Next up: heathen wizards from foreign lands pay homage, and Herod, King of Vichy Judea, commits acts of cartoonish supervillainy!

*Of course, Isaiah too was writing to a specific and contemporary audience, but it’s a poor prophecy that only means one thing.

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