Here is our last post involving Scripture and theology for this Advent season.
In the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, we find:
An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. (NRSV)
Notice the portions in red. Tamar tricked her father-in-law Judah into getting her pregnant (by pretending to be a prostitute), because he would not do right by her according to Israel’s laws (Genesis 38). Rahab was an innkeeper identified by some as a harlot who hid Israelite spies from their enemies (Joshua 2). Ruth was a young non-Hebrew widow who stayed with and cared for her Hebrew mother-in-law and offered herself as wife to her mother-in-law’s relative (Book of Ruth). “The wife of Uriah” was Bathsheba, whom King David brought into his harem. He had her husband killed in battle rather than face the man about Bathsheba’s unborn child being David’s. That child died, but Bathsheba remained David’s wife and gave birth to Solomon (2 Samuel 11). And Mary was, in the eyes of her community, a young girl who got pregnant before her marriage to Joseph. Although Joseph and a chosen few others believed that Mary had conceived, not through human sexual intercourse but by the power of the Holy Spirit, this pregnancy likely left a permanent smudge on her reputation and Joseph’s (Luke 1 and 2).
These days we hear so much about “family values” and we are quick to judge any family that doesn’t look like the perfect set of husband, wife, and children. Yet the women named in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus came out of quite difficult situations. In fact, their reputations were questionable.
Yet they are named in a Jewish genealogy, and usually women were not even mentioned. Whoever constructed this list recognized God’s hand in the lives of these women. They played challenging roles in the ongoing drama of salvation.
May we all be brave enough to play our parts as well, not caring how it might look or what people might think. Amen.