One of the many parts of Scripture that always blesses me is when you come to portions that are not expected. Matthew chapter 1 is like that. When Matthew wrote the genealogy of Jesus, starting with Abraham through to Joseph, Mary’s husband (Matthew 1:16), he included four women as part of the genealogy. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife, see 2 Samuel 12:24).
The culture of the first century did not value women as equal to men, but Jesus did. I believe that may have been why Matthew included these women in the genealogy, or at least in part. Each woman impacted their branch on this family tree in an eternal way.
Tamar: she was the daughter-in-law of Judah, married to Judah’s first son, Er, who was found wicked in the Lord’s sight and was killed, as was his second brother Onan, who was also found to be wicked in the Lord’s sight, and was also put to death. So Judah told Tamar to wait until his third son was old enough to marry, then she could be his wife. But Judah broke his promise. Tamar knew it, so she tricked Judah into sleeping with her, becoming pregnant from the encounter.
When Judah learned the truth, he didn’t have her stoned to death. He said she was more righteous than he was, since he didn’t honor his promise (Genesis 38, Genesis 38:27-30).
Rahab: she was a prostitute in Jericho, in the land the Israelites were promised. When Joshua sent out the spies to inspect the land they were given, the spies went to Rahab. She would have been a woman in the know for the comings and goings of the city. When the king of Jericho came to Rahab to ask her to bring out the spies to him, she lied to the king. An act with a swift punishment, I am sure. But Rahab explained to the spies that her fear of their Lord was greater than the fear of her king. See Joshua 2 and Joshua 6:25 for the story.
For protecting the spies, Rahab asked they return he favor when they took the city. The spies honored her request to keep her and her extended family safe. By honoring her request, they helped to ensure the family tree even further. For Rahab married and gave birth to Boaz.
Which leads to the next woman in the genealogy, Ruth. She was an outsider, a Moabitess. She was a widow to an Israelite who had gone with brother and wife, mother and father to Moab during a famine. When the men died Ruth returned to Israel with her mother-in-law, Naomi (Ruth 1:16). Ruth’s faithfulness and loyalty to Naomi would speak to her character, which would influence her future. Ruth, through a series of events found in the book of Ruth, would eventually marry Boaz (Ruth 2:20-23). Ultimately becoming the great-grandfather of David. See Ruth 4:12, 4:21-22.
David’s story is also impacted by a woman. A story often told in church and secular circles alike. David, as king, stayed home one spring when his entire army was out in battle against their enemies. David saw the beautiful Bathsheba, bathing on her rooftop one evening. Instead of turning away, he turned toward her, coveted her, and claimed her. When she announced she was pregnant, David didn’t uphold his best character traits. Instead he tried to hide her pregnancy, which eventually led to the death of her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11, 2 Samuel 12:24).
But the story doesn’t end there. David repented, Bathsheba came to be his rightful wife, and they later had their son, Solomon. A king who would be heralded worldwide as the wisest king of all time (1 Kings 3).
Each of these women were part of Jesus’ family tree. As a believer, they are part of my family tree, too. Each woman brought character traits that allow me to learn how I can grow as a woman of God. From Tamar I have learned strength, tenacity, and the ability to ensure that fallibility in others should not keep me from the inheritance that belongs to me, through Christ.
From Rahab, I know that my past does not dictate my future. Who I was before encountering Christ is not who I am now because of my relationship with Him. This relationship with Christ has the power to impact future generations for His glory and purposes.
Ruth does not allow herself to be put into situations that would cause her character to be called into question, but at the same time also will not allow difficulties to prevent her from the blessings that will come to her because of her faithfulness.
And finally, Bathsheba. Her story always gets my heart. Something that began badly was made whole, restored, and made beautiful. A perfect example of Grace.
So, Best Beloved, who do you recognize in your personal family tree? Do you see the legacy of the characteristics of Tamar? Ruth? Rahab? Bathsheba? What kind of legacy will you leave for those who grow on your tree?