The Five Women Named in Matthew's Lineage of Christ, Part 1

By Jerelyn Wright Pearson

| Introduction | Tamar | Rahab | Ruth | Bathsheba | Mary |



When reading through the Bible, it is often tempting to fast forward through the genealogies. These long lists of who-begat-whom contain many unfamiliar hard-to-pronounce names. However, when we take the time to explore these scriptures, we find valuable gems. Chapter 1 of Matthew traces the lineage of Christ from Abraham through Joseph and Mary. Unlike many genealogies listed in the Bible, this one names five women.

Our heavenly Father is often referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is through the lineage of Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob that the children of Israel descended.  Jacob had twelve sons. From these twelve sons came the twelve tribes of Israel, God’s chosen people.

Usually, genealogies include the names of men. (Fathers begat sons.)  Of course, women were just as much a part of the lineage of Christ as the men. (There had to be mothers.) But since family lines were traced from father to son, it was unusual for them to be mentioned. However here in Matthew’s genealogy, we find five unexpected gems: five women are acknowledged in the lineage of Christ. Their names are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and of course Mary. With a little exploration we can learn more about their struggles, their faith, and their redemption. Also embedded in their stories are foreshadows of future events.

We find the identity of these five women in the following verses from Matthew. Before we begin reading, I should point out that the spelling of some of the names are different in different places in the Bible.

Matthew 1:1-3
1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom;

Here Judah, one of Jacob’s twelve sons is referred to as Judas, and Tamar is spelled Thamar. Judah and Tamar are the father and mother of twin boys, Phares and Zara. We will learn how Pharez became the one to carry on the lineage in the story of Tamar.
Skipping forward a few generations…

Matthew 1:5
5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

Salmon and Rahab are the parents of Boaz. Boaz and Ruth are the parents of Obed.

Matthew 1:6
6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

King David and Bathsheba, the wife of Urias, are the parents of Solomon.

Matthew 1:7
7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;

Solomon continued the lineage of Christ... Finally, many generations later,

Matthew 1:16
16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

The lineage of Christ, the anointed one, was designed by God according to his will, plan, and purpose from the beginning.

Scholars often wonder why God chooses the people he does to be leaders or partakers in something especially important. Noah was not a respected leader among his people. Yet God chose him to build the Ark and rescue mankind from the flood. Abraham was from a pagan land, yet God chose him to become the father of his chosen people. Moses was not a great speaker. Yet God chose him to lead his people to the Promised Land. David was a keeper of his father’s sheep. Yet God chose him above all his older brothers to slay Goliath, the Philistine, and later to become King of Israel. Paul persecuted God’s people, consenting to the stoning of Stephen, yet God chose him to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.

As we explore God’s choices, we will see that God chooses by grace, not by merit. There is only one who is worthy according to his own merit. Christ would come to save sinners who can never merit salvation. As we explore the genealogy of Jesus it becomes evident that his worthiness to be the Christ is not because of his ancestry, full of individuals who were imperfect and made many mistakes. His worthiness to be the Christ is his own great love and his will and ability to achieve perfect obedience to his Father. God through his infinite wisdom and power choses flawed individuals to be a part of his eternal plan of salvation as he works in and through them.

Many scholars wonder why of all the twelve tribes of Israel, Judah was chosen as the one to bring forth the lineage of Christ.

In Psalm 78:65-72 we find that after a long history of judgements and mercies, and of wonders bestowed on Israel, the Lord awaked:

Psalm 78:65-72
65 Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.
66 And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.
67 Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim:

(This passage refers to the location of the ark of the covenant at the time.)

68 But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.
69 And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.
70 He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:
71 From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.
72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.

I remember how surprised I was during one of the Bible Studies I attended, to learn that Christ came from the line of Judah rather than from the Levites, who were the priesthood. Hebrews chapter 7 addresses this issue. Let us begin in Hebrews 6:17.

Hebrews 6:17-20
17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Immutable means unalterable, or incapable of change. We have here two immutable things: By the counsel and the oath of God we have the hope set before us of the anchor of our soul Jesus made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Hebrews 7:1-17
1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

So, the genealogy of Jesus came through the tribe of Judah because of God’s infinite will and purpose. How amazing it is to see the intricate complexity of God’s infinite planning from the beginning! Laying such a firm foundation and revealing glimpses of it throughout scripture!

Like so many people who God chose to serve him and achieve great promises, these five women (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary) faced difficult struggles in their lives. They were not chosen for what they had achieved, but for what he would achieve through them.



Presented 24 January 2021 in French Settlement, Louisiana