“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” Matthew 1:17 ESV
Through the Bible: Matthew 1, Luke 2
Tara-Leigh pointed out that the number of the generations in Matthew’s genealogy may not have been exact, but may be selectively symbolic. She suggested that fourteen is a doubling of 7, the number of completion in Hebrew.
I came across another possibility that fascinates me. First, as TLC pointed out, Matthew’s purpose is to present Jesus as the Messianic king—the son of David, and the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to establish the house of David forever (see 2 Samuel 7). So here’s how the number 14 may have served this purpose:
Hebrew names had numerical value based on the order of their consonants in the alphabet (Hebrew doesn’t have vowels). So David would be DVD—
Daleth, the fourth letter;
Vav, the sixth letter;
Daleth, the fourth letter.
4 + 6 + 4.
So the three repetitions of “fourteen” in verse 17 might as well have been a siren, blaring out “DA-VID! DA-VID! DA-VID!”
It’s details like this that remind us of the perfection of God’s word. If you slogged through the Old Testament, you might have groaned a little when you got to Matthew 1, thinking “Ugh! I thought we were done with genealogies!” But Matthew’s genealogy gives us four beautiful truths about God’s priorities:
- Women matter to God (Tamar, Ruth, Rahab, Bathsheba, Mary)
- Gentiles matter to God (Ruth, Rahab)
- Scandal doesn’t matter to God (Judah, David, Solomon)
- In the Bible, every word matters. Even the genealogies.