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Something about Mary? Remarks about the Five Women in the Matthean Genealogy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 March 2010

Peter-Ben Smit
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Theology, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam email:


The occurrence and significance of the five women in Jesus' genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew has been a source of continuous scholarly debate. Taking a gender-sensitive approach, this contribution argues for looking at the five women as one group, viewing them as simultaneously accentuating the messianic line that Jesus is part of and vindicating his somewhat irregular birth, as well as substantiating the openness of Israel for Gentiles by adducing precedents from Israel's history.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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1 They are not the only striking aspects in the otherwise very monotonous genealogy. Further ‘irregularities’ are: in Matt 1.2: καὶ τοὺς ἀδελϕοὺς αὐτοῦ; 1.3: καὶ τὸν Ζάρα ἐκ τῆς Θαμάρ; in 1:6: τὸν βασιλέα; in 1.11: καὶ τοὺς ἀδελϕοὺς αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος; in 1.12: μετὰ δὲ τὴν μετοικεσίαν Βαβυλῶνος; in 1.16: τὸν ἄνδρα Μαρίας, ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη Ἰησοῦς ὁ λεγόμενος χριστός. Cf. e.g. Mayordomo–Marin, Moises, Den Anfang hören. Leserorientierte Evangelienexegese am Beispiel von Matthäus 1–2 (FRLANT 180; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998) 221–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. 221 n. 102. These irregularities attract the attention of the audience and push the interpretation of the genealogy in a particular direction; only the irregularities associated with the women will be considered here. Some of the relevant literature includes: de Chazal, Nancy, ‘The Women in Jesus’ Family Tree’, Theology 97 (1994) 413–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Freed, Edwin. D., ‘The Women in Matthew's Geneology’, JSNT 29 (1987) 319Google Scholar; Heil, John Paul, ‘The Narrative Roles of the Women in Matthew's Genealogy’, Biblica 72 (1991) 538–45Google Scholar; Nolland, John, ‘The Four (Five) Women and other Annotations in Matthew's Genealogy’, NTS 43 (1997) 527–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Schnider, Franz and Stenger, Werner, ‘Die Frauen im Stammbaum Jesu nach Mt: Strukturale Beobachtungen zu Mt 1,1–17’, BZ nf 23 (1979) 187–96Google Scholar; Stegemann, Hartmut, ‘ “Die des Uria”: Zur Bedeutung der Frauennamen in der Genealogie von Mt 1,1–17’, Tradition und Glaube (FS K. G. Kuhn; ed. Jeremias, Gert, Kuhn, Heinz-Wolfgang, and Stegemann, Hartmut; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1971) 246–76Google Scholar; Vögtle, Anton, ‘Die Genealogie Mt 1,2–16 und die matthäische Kindheitsgeschichte’, Evangelium und die Evangelien (KBANT; Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1971) 57102Google Scholar, esp. 92–5; Weren, W. J. C., ‘The Five Women in Matthew's Genealogy’, CBQ 59 (1997) 288305Google Scholar.

2 Further striking aspects of the women in the Matthean genealogy include: their unusual character (they are not the ‘matriarchs’ of Israel, but rather women who have known doubtful relationships in their lives), as well as their formulaic introduction with ἐγέννησεν…ἐκ τῆς…; for Mary a different formula is used, on which, see below, section 4. Cf. e.g. Luz, Ulrich, Das Evangelium nach Matthäus I (EKK 1/1; Zürich: Benzinger, 5th ed. 2002) 135Google Scholar; Konradt, Matthias, Israel, Kirche und die Völker im Matthäusevangelium (WUNT I/215; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007) 289 n. 17Google Scholar.

3 The following ways of grouping the women together (more often than not excluding Mary from the list) have been proposed: as sinners (first four only); as an expression of Matthew's Pharisaic agenda (first four only); as Gentiles, that is, proselytes (first four only); and as women involved in (slightly) irregular relationships (which would include Mary): a variant on this last interpretative strategy is to see in all five women examples of God's unusual/miraculous modus operandi in salvation history. Cf. e.g. Davies, William D. and Allison, Dale C., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew I (ICC; London: T. & T. Clark, 1988) 170–2Google Scholar; Johnson, Marshall D., The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies with Special Reference to the Setting of the Genealogies of Jesus (MSSNTS 8; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1969) 154–9Google Scholar; Mayordomo, Anfang, 243–8. Not all modern scholarship follows such an interpretative strategy; e.g. Mayordomo, Anfang, 248–50, is very hesitant with respect to viewing the (four or five) women as a group, both in view of the precise character of the four (or five) women and because of his suspicion of tendencies to group the women together coûte que coûte. See also the considerations of Heil, ‘Roles’, who doubts the unified character of the women as Gentiles (540–1), and of Nolland, ‘Women’, 539, who does not see a unified role for all four (or five) women either. France, R. T., The Gospel of Matthew (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007) 38–9Google Scholar, sees the first four women in the genealogy both as Gentiles and as women who have been involved in embarrassing relationships.

4 This interpretative strategy became popular following Luther's preference for it. Cf. e.g. Brown, Raymond E., The Birth of the Messiah (New York: Doubleday, 2nd ed. 1999) 72Google Scholar.

5 On which, see in general esp. Konradt, Israel, e.g. 350–4. The notion that the four women are indicative of Matthean theology is supported by the probability that they have been added redactionally by Matthew; cf. Luz, Matthäus I, 131. For this interpretative strategy vis-à-vis the women, see, with Konradt, Israel, 289 n. 18; Schweizer, Eduard, Das Evangelium nach Matthäus (NTD 2; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986) 9Google Scholar; Limbeck, Meinrad, Matthäus-Evangelium (SKKNT 1; Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1991) 23Google Scholar; Hare, Douglas R. A., Matthew (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching; Louisville, KY: John Knox, 1993) 6Google Scholar; Gundry, Robert H., Matthew: A Commentary on his Handbook for a Mixed Church under Persecution (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994) 1415Google Scholar; Keener, Craig S., A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids/Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 1999) 7881Google Scholar; Luz, Matthäus I, 135–6 (acknowledging the difficulties of this interpretation); Rothfuchs, Wilhelm, Die Erfüllungszitate des Matthäus-Evangeliums. Eine biblisch-theologische Untersuchung (BWANT 88; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1989) 100Google Scholar; Stegemann, ‘ “Uria” ’, 260–6, Nolan, Brian M., The Royal Son of God: The Christology of Mt 1–2 in the Setting of the Gospel (OBO 23; Fribourg/Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979) 62–3Google Scholar; Tisera, Guido, Universalism according to the Gospel of Matthew (EHS 16482; Frankfurt a.M.: P. Lang, 1993) 44–6Google Scholar; Bauer, David R., ‘The Literary and Theological Function of the Genealogy in Matthew's Gospel’, Treasures New and Old: Recent Contributions to Matthean Studies (ed. Bauer, David R. and Powell, M. A.; SBLSS 1; Atlanta: Scholars, 1996) 129–59, at 148–9Google Scholar; Eckstein, Hans-Joachim, ‘Die Weisung Jesu Christi und die Tora des Mose nach dem Matthäusevangelium’, Jesus Christus als die Mitte der Schrift. Studien zur Hermeneutik des Evangeliums (ed. Landmesser, Christoph, Eckstein, Hans-Joachim, and Lichtenberger, Hans; BZNW 86; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1997) 379403, at 385Google Scholar; Ostmeyer, Karl-HeinrichDer Stammbaum des Verheißenen: Theologische Implikationen der Namen und Zahlen in Mt. 1.1–17’, NTS 46 (2000) 180–1Google Scholar; Jackson, Glenna S., ‘Have Mercy on Me’: The Story of the Canaanite Woman in Matthew 15.21–28 (JSNTSup 228; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2002) 28, 93–9Google Scholar; Olmstead, Wesley G., Matthew's Trilogy of Parables: The Nation, the Nations and the Reader in Matthew 21.28–22.14 (MSSNTS 127; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2003) 74CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Slee, Michelle, The Church in Antioch in the First Century CE: Communion and Conflict (JSNTSup 244; London/New York: T. & T. Clark, 2003) 129Google Scholar; Wick, Peter, ‘Matthäus und die Mission’, Zeitschrift für Mission 29 (2003) 7790, at 78Google Scholar; Backhaus, Knut, ‘Entgrenzte Himmelsherrschaft: Zur Entdeckung der paganen Welt im Matthäusevangelium’, ‘Dies ist das Buch' Das Matthäusevangelium. Interpretation—Rezeption—Rezeptionsgeschichte (FS H. Frankemölle; ed. Kampling, R.; Paderborn: Schöningh, 2004) 75103, at 89–90Google Scholar; Hays, Richard B., ‘The Gospel of Matthew: Reconfigured Torah’, HTS 61 (2005) 165–90Google Scholar, at 172–3, cf. also Davies and Allison, Matthew I, 171.

6 Cf. e.g. Robert R. Wilson, ‘Genealogy, Genealogies’, ADB 2.929–32; Oppel, ‘Stammbaum Jesu’, 684–5; Weimar, Peter, ‘Toledot’, NBL 3 (2001) 896–7Google Scholar; Neu, Rainer, ‘Genealogie’, 4RGG 3 (2000) 658–60Google Scholar; and further Mayordomo, Anfang, 218, who refers to Freund, L., ‘Über Genealogien und Familienreinheit in biblischer und talmudischer Zeit’, Festschrift Adolf Schwarz zum siebzigsten Geburtstage 15. Juli 1916 gewidmet von Freunden und Schülern (ed. Krauss, S.; Berlin/Wien: Löwit, 1917) 163–92Google Scholar; Plum, K. Friss, ‘Genealogy as Theology’, SJOT 3 (1989) 6692Google Scholar; Jeremias, Joachim, Jerusalem zur Zeit Jesu (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962) 308–31Google Scholar; Johnson, Purpose, 77–82; Oeming, Manfred, Das wahre Israel: Die ‘genealogische Vorhalle’ 1 Chronik 1–9 (BWANT 128; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1990) 936Google Scholar; Orsatti, Mauro, Un saggio di teologia della storia: Esegesi di Mt 1,1–17 (Studia Biblica Paideia; Brescia: Paideia, 1980) 1531Google Scholar; Robinson, R. B., ‘Literary Functions of the Genealogies of Genesis’, CBQ 48 (1986) 595608Google Scholar; Speyer, W., ‘Genealogie’, RAC 9 (1976) 1145–268Google Scholar; Wilson, Robert R., ‘The Old Testament Genealogies in Recent Research’, JBL 94 (1975) 169–89Google Scholar; Wilson, , Genealogy and History in the Biblical World (New Haven: Yale University, 1977)Google Scholar.

7 Cf. also France, Matthew, 29.

8 So e.g. Mayordomo, Anfang, 217–18 with Johnson, Purpose, 3–82 and Speyer, ‘Genealogie’, 1149–201; for references to classical and Hellenistic literature, cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 219 n. 93 and esp. Mussies, Gerard, ‘Parallels to Matthew's Version of the Pedigree of Jesus’, NT 28 (1986) 3247Google Scholar.

9 Cf. in general Fischer, Irmtraud, Gender-faire Exegese (Exegese in unserer Zeit 14; Münster: LIT, 2004)Google Scholar. Specific contributions to this aspect of reading Matthew can be found in Levine, Amy-Jill and Blickenstaff, Marianne, eds., A Feminist Companion to Matthew (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2001)Google Scholar, in which volume see especially the programmatic essay by Janice Capel Anderson, ‘Matthew: Gender and Reading’, 25–51.

10 As Mayordomo, Anfang, 220, rightly notes, the Matthean genealogy is emphatically introduced as standing in the tradition of earlier Jewish genealogies. Specifically the Old Testament ‘Toledot’-formula in Matt 1.1 achieves this literary contextualization of the genealogy (compare Zeph 1.1, Bar 1.1, Tob 1.1; see further Gen 5.1–32; 6.9–10; 10.8, 20–27; 25.3; Num 26.33, 58. The specific form used in Matt 1.1–16 to indicate the ‘begetting’, i.e. ἐγέννησεν, occurs over 80 times in 1 Chron 1–9 (Hellenistic texts prefer a different verb, namely, γίνεται or ἐγένετο); Matt 1.2–6 agrees with 1 Chron 1.34—2.15 and Ruth 4.18–22, and Matt 1.6–12 agrees with 1 Chron 3.1–19. Therefore, one may agree with Mayordomo when he states that ‘Durch die genealogische Zusammenfassung der Geschichte Israels, wie sie sich auf Jesus zubewegt, wird eine christologische Aussage gemacht’ (Mayordomo, Anfang, 221). For the relation between Genesis and Matt 1.1, see esp. Hieke, Thomas, ‘BIBLOS GENESEOS: Matthäus 1,1 vom Buch Genesis her gelesen’, The Biblical Canons (ed. de Jonge, Henk Jan and Auwers, Jean-Marie; BEThL 163; Leuven: Peeters, 2003) 635–49Google Scholar. France, Matthew, 28, observes rightly that ‘the effect on a Jewish reader (of Βίβλος γενέσεως in Matt 1.1) is comparable to that of John's opening phrase, “in the beginning…” ’

11 Cf. below, section 3. With respect to the genre and literary function of genealogies it should be maintained here that the ‘encomiastic’ character of genealogies makes the occurrence of precisely these women all the more striking; in particular, the episodes from Israel's history concerning Judah and Tamar, David and Bathsheba, as well as the somewhat awkward episodes about Rahab and Ruth, are not the ones that would be typically highlighted in any genealogy. See Mayordomo, Anfang, 222, referring to John Chrysostom's reaction to the occurrence of Tamar and Bathsheba (In Matth. 3.2); Mayordomo notes only Chrysostom's reaction to the occurrence of Tamar, but Chrysostom notes Bathsheba as well in a similar manner. The embarrassing character of the Judah–Tamar episode becomes clear also from the fact that Josephus skips over Gen 38 in his Antiquitates.

12 Neutral in the sense that the interpretative trajectory that is followed here is not the one popular in the early Church, which viewed the four women as sinners, cf. e.g. Mayordomo, Anfang, 245 n. 239 for references, and see Konradt, Israel, 289 n. 18.

13 The thesis advanced here differs from that advanced in earlier scholarship that the ‘irregular relationships’ of the five women in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus witness to God's extraordinary way of achieving his goals in the world. Even if such an observation might be helpful theologically, from a literary point of view such a notion is not emphasized by the genealogy in Matt 1.1–16. See for this interpretation, e.g., Schnackenburg, Rudolf, Matthäusevangelium (I NEB 1/1; Würzburg: Echter, 1985) 18Google Scholar; Gnilka, Joachim, Das Matthäusevangelium (HThKNT 1/1; Freiburg i.B.: Herder, 1986) 9Google Scholar; Hagner, Donald, Matthew, I (WBC 33; Dallas: Word, 1993) 10Google Scholar; Frankemölle, Hubert, Matthäus: Kommentar I (Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1997) 142Google Scholar; Stendahl, Krister, ‘Quis et Unde? An Analysis of Mt 1–2’, Judentum, Urchristentum, Kirche (FS J. Jeremias; ed. Eltester, W.; BZNW 26; Berlin: Töpelmann, 1964) 94105, at 101Google Scholar; Vögtle, ‘Genealogie’, 94–5; Zakowitch, Yair, ‘Rahab als Mutter des Boas in der Jesus-Genealogie (Mt 1,5)’, NT 17 (1975) 15, at 1Google Scholar; Waetjen, H. C., ‘The Genealogy as the Key to the Gospel according to Matthew’, JBL 95 (1976) 205–30, at 215–16, 218Google Scholar; Brown, Birth, 73–4; cf. further Sand, Alexander, Das Evangelium nach Matthäus (RNT 1; Regensburg: Pustet, 1986) 44Google Scholar; Davies and Allison, Matthew I, 171–2.

14 Cf. e.g. Konradt, Israel, 288; Mayordomo, Anfang, 244; compare Mussies, ‘Parallels’, 38–9. For genealogies with and without women, cf. Gen 4.1–2, 17, 22, 25–26; 5.1–32; 6.9–10; 10.1–32; 11.10–32; 19.37–38; 22.20–24; 25.1–6, 12–26; 35.21–26; 36.1–43; 46.8–27; Exod 6.14–25; Ruth 4.18–22; Zeph 1.1; 1 Chron 1–9; Ezra 7.1–5; Est 2, 5. See also various registers: Levitical: Num 3.14–39; 1 Chron 9.19–34; 15.4–24; 2 Chron 17.8; 29.12–14; 31.12–17; 34.12–13; 35.8–9; Neh 10.2–13; 12.1–26; political/military: 2 Sam 23.8–39; 1 Chron 11.11–47; 12.3–23; 27.1–34; and general registers of families and inhabitants: Num 26.1–65; 1 Chron 9.3–17; Ezra 2.1–63; 8.1–14; 10.18–44; Neh 7.4–65; 10.1–28; 11.1–19; see further Tob 1.1; Jdt 8.1; 9.2; Bar 1.1; 1 Macc 2.1; Jub. 4.1–33; 7.18–19; 8.1–8; 33.21–24; 44.11–34; Josephus Ap. 1.7; Vit. 1; Ps.-Philo Lib. Ant. 1–2; 4–5; 8; 42.1.

15 Cf. e.g. Konradt, Israel, 288.

16 Cf. e.g. Gen 11.29–31 (Sarai); Exod 6.20 (Jochebed, the mother of Moses); 6.23 (Elisheba, the wife of Aaron); cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 244.

17 Cf. e.g. Ps.-Philo Lib. Ant. 1.4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19; 2.4; 4.12–14; 8.8; further 2.1–2 (the wife of Cain); 4.11 (the wife of Melcha); 8.5 (the wives of Esau). Cf. Freund, R. A., ‘Naming Names: Some Observations on “Nameless Women” Traditions in the MT, LXX and Hellenistic Literature’, SJOT 6 (1992) 213–32Google Scholar.

18 Mayordomo, Anfang, 244. Examples include Gen 4.19–22; 22.20–24; 25.1–2, 12; 35.22c–26; 36.1–5, 9–19; 46.15, 18, 22, 25; 1 Chron 1.32–33; 2.3–4, 18–27, 46, 48–49; 3.1–9; 4.4–7, 17–20; 7.13–19; 8.8–11. Kings can be introduced with reference to their mothers in a similar way, cf. e.g., 1 Kings 14.21; 15.2, 10; 22.42; 2 Kings 8.26; 12.2; 14.2; 15.2, 33; 18.2; 21.1, 19; 22.1; 23.31, 36; 24.8, 18). Levin, Christoph, Der Jahwist (FRLANT 157; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993) 181CrossRefGoogle Scholar, states: ‘Im allgemeinen sind für die Genealogien die Mütter eher unwesentlich’. See however the critique of similar positions by Fischer, Irmtraud, Die Erzeltern Israels: Feministisch-theologische Studien zu Genesis 12–36 (BZAW 222; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1994) 71–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar, who shows that in the genealogies in Genesis (‘Toledot’) mothers play an important role (unlike daughters).

19 The unusual character of the first four women makes it highly unlikely that their inclusion intends to draw attention to all other women that are presupposed but not named by the Matthean genealogy. This approach is followed by Nowell, Irene, ‘Jesus’ Great-grandmothers: Matthew's Four and More’, CBQ 70 (2008) 115Google Scholar, esp. 2 for methodological considerations; this modern ‘midrashic’ approach certainly yields interesting results, but few that are plausible.

20 Cf. e.g. Mayordomo, Anfang, 236–7; Hagner, Matthew I, 12.

21 Cf. e.g. Mayordomo, Anfang, 249; Stegemann, ‘Die des Uria’, 255; Konradt, Israel, 289; Luz, Matthäus I, 134–5.

22 Cf. e.g. Hagner, Matthew I, 4.12; Pesch, Rudolf, ‘ “He will be Called a Nazorean”: Messianic Exegesis in Matthew 1–2’, The Gospels and the Scriptures of Israel (ed. Evans, Craig A. and Stegner, W. Richard; JSNTSup 104; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1994) 129–78, at 148Google Scholar; Schenk, Wolfgang, Die Sprache des Matthäus: Die Text-Konstituenten in ihren makro- und mikrostrukturellen Relationen (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1987) 301Google Scholar.

23 In this case, however, this is not the only possible or necessary interpretation. Mayordomo, Anfang, 238, argues rightly that the passive tense does not have to be a passivum divinum; however, he also notes that the syntax of Matt 1.16 prepares for the removal of Joseph from the actual genealogy of Jesus. Given the latter, at least at a second reading of Matt 1.16 in its narrative context, a first-century reader may well have seen the passive tense in Matt 1.16 as indicating divine intervention. At the same time, the impersonal nature of the passive tense in this context heightens the suspense of the narrative at a first reading. See also Luz, Matthäus I, 136, and Konradt, Israel, 29, both with a certain reluctance and not using the term passivum divinum.

24 Cf. e.g. Mayordomo, Anfang, 237.

25 Even if the original audience of Matthew was familiar with the motif of the virginal conception of Jesus, the motif is still special enough to suspect that a reader may have wondered what Matthew would have to say about it: narrative suspense and curiosity concerning what will come next are not alternatives, it seems. Cf. Nolland, ‘Women’, 537–8; slightly differently, Mayordomo, Anfang, 237.

26 With Mayordomo, Anfang, 238.

27 Luz, Matthäus I, 133–34.

28 Cf. Davies and Allison, Matthew I, 171–2; see further also Mayordomo, Anfang, 245–6 (he regards this option as unlikely), and Konradt, Israel, 289 n. 18, who also doubts the irregularity, i.e., sinfulness of the relationships of the women as a common denominator.

29 Arguments that, on account of a different spelling of her name, not Rahab of Jericho but some other unknown Rahab is in view in Matt 1.5 are highly unlikely; cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 229.

30 In this way, the ‘unusual relationships’ of the five women also explain why women like Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel are missing (otherwise, Konradt, Israel, 289 n. 18).

31 As far as Tamar is concerned, cf. Gen 38.26, where Judah acknowledges his guilt and Tamar's innocence; the theme of Judah's guilt occurs time and again in early Jewish tradition (e.g. Jub. 41; Test. Jud. 12.1–12), even if sometimes another woman, Judah's Canaanite wife, is the source of all his troubles, cf. e.g. Jub. 41.2–7; Test. Jud. 10.6: Judah thus becomes a victim, especially of his own weaknesses and passions, as is expounded throughout Test. Jud., esp. in 8.2; 11.1–4; 12.3–6; 13.3–8; 14.4–6; 15.5–6. On Judah's role as a ‘tragic hero’, cf. esp. Menn, Esther Marie, Judah and Tamar (Genesis 38) in Ancient Jewish Exegesis (JSJSup 51; Leiden: Brill, 1997) 107213Google Scholar. On the history of interpretation of Judah and Tamar, esp. with reference to the Matthean genealogy, cf. (with Mayordomo, Anfang, 226 n. 119) Bauckham, Richard, ‘Tamar's Ancestry and Rahab's Marriage’, NT 38 (1995) 314–20Google Scholar; Bloch, Renée, ‘ “Judah engendra Phares et Zara, de Tamar” (Mt 1,3)’, Mélanges bibliques (FS André Robert; Paris: Bloud & Gay, 1957) 381–9Google Scholar; Hayes, Christine E., ‘The Midrashic Career of the Confession of Judah (Genesis 38,26)’, VT 45 (1995) 6281, 174–87Google Scholar; Johnson, Purpose, 280–2; Menn, Judah, passim; Wassén, Cecilia, ‘The Story of Judah and Tamar in the Eyes of the Earliest Interpreters’, Literature and Theology 8 (1994) 354–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

32 Cf. Ruth 4.11–12 (in close association with Rachel and Leah—one more reason to wonder why these two women do not appear in Matthew's genealogy!), Ps.-Philo Lib. Ant. 9.5–6 (in analogy to Abraham; cf. Sarah's function as ‘mother’ of Israel) and see for references to Tamar with various positive connotations: Philo Virt. 219–222; Imm. 137; Congr. 124–126; All. 3.74; Fug. 149–150, 154; Mut. 132–136. Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 228.

33 Such tendencies begin early, cf. the title given to Ps 51 (a penitential psalm). Josephus extols David's deeds with the explicit exception of the ‘wife of Uriah’ (Ant. 7.390–91); a similar sentiment can be found in CD 5.5; see further Mayordomo, Anfang, 232; Countryman, L. William, Dirt, Greed and Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and their Implications for Today (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988) 91Google Scholar; Heil, ‘Narrative Roles’, 541; Nolland, ‘Women’, 537.

34 For references, cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 232–3.

35 Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 246; it seems problematic, however, to use this argument and not continue to consider the five women as a group of some sort.

36 On this, cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 247, referring to Hanson, A. T., ‘Rahab the Harlot in Early Christian Tradition’, JSNT 1 (1978) 5360Google Scholar, at 53: ‘Perhaps we might say that irregularity of some sort characterized all four, and in that respect they foreshadowed Mary's case’. Cf. e.g. Carter, Warren, Matthew: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996) 122–3; Brown, Birth, 73–4Google Scholar; Gabler, Marie-Louise, ‘Die Mutter Jesu im Zeugnis der Evangelien’, ThBer 21 (1995) 1142, at 16Google Scholar; Hagner, Matthew, I, 10; Stendahl, ‘Quis’, 101, all supporting this view.

37 Cf. Gen 38.24 (Tamar); 2 Sam 11.5 (Bathsheba); Matt 1.18 (Mary). Compare also Konradt, Israel, 289 n. 18; this does not seem to apply to Rahab, however, whose profession might be problematic, but whose (assumed) pregnancies were not.

38 Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 244.

39 Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 248–9.

40 Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 222–3; compare Wilson, ‘Genealogies’, 179.

41 The Abrahamic sonship in Matt 1.1 is explicated in terms of a physical sonship in Matt 1.2 and thus forms the (normative) starting point of the descending genealogy of Jesus.

42 Cf. Konradt, Israel, 17–94, esp. 93–4, and in a similar Willitts, vein Joel, Matthew's Messianic Shepherd-King: In Search of the ‘Lost Sheep of the House of Israel’ (BZNW 147; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2007) 5192CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Judah might not need such a qualification and might be more closely related to ‘Abrahamic’ messianic expectations, i.e. views of the composition of the (eschatological) Israel; cf. Gen 49.10, the point of departure for messianic texts associated with Judah.

43 Cf. Konradt, Israel, 24–5.

44 Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 223.

45 Cf. the remark by Mayordomo, Anfang, 223: ‘Die Genealogie setzt nicht nur Jesus in Verhältnis zur Geschichte Israels, sondern auch die Geschichte Israels in Verhältnis zu Jesus’.

46 Mayordomo, Anfang, 249.

47 In the case of Tamar, the biblical text is silent on her provenance (Gen 38). According to Jub. 41.1 and Test. Jud. 10.1, 6, she is a daughter of Aram from the family of Terach. The Aram in question here is not the son of Shem (who occurs in Gen 10.22), but the son of Kemuel (Gen 22.21), a grandson of Nahor, Abraham's brother and hence Jewish. Cf. Jub. 34.20, on which see Bauckham, ‘Ancestry’, 314–18; Konradt, Israel, 290. According to Philo Virt. 220–222, Tamar is a Gentile from Syria Palestine (221), who converted to Judaism. However, Ps.-Philo Lib. Ant. 9.5 (a text in which Tamar expresses her abhorrence at the prospect of having to marry a Gentile) identifies her as a Jew. In order to see Tamar as a Gentile and, beyond that, as a proselyte, it is necessary to assume Matthew's knowledge of and preference for the tradition also represented by Philo, not by Jubilees, Testament of Judah, or Liber antiquitatum biblicarum. Here the justified skepticism of Mayordomo, Anfang, 229, with regard to the ethnic identity of Tamar is followed.

48 Following Konradt, Israel, 290; Mayordomo, Anfang, 233. Bathsheba appears as a daughter of Eliam (2 Sam 11.3), i.e., Ammiel (1 Chron 3.5), names that are not clearly ‘Gentile’ (cf. also 2 Sam 23.34; rabbinic traditions identify Bathsheba's father with the Eliam mentioned here, the son of one Ahithophel from Gilo in Judea, cf. Josh 15.51).

49 So e.g. Konradt, Israel, 290–1: Konradt uses the ethnicity of Rahab and Ruth and what he assumes must have been the (Matthean view of the) ethnicity of Tamar for Matthew as an interpretative framework in order to view Bathsheba as a Gentile too.

50 The inclusion of the four women into the genealogy would underscore the soteriological importance of what is said in Matt 1.1 about Jesus being the son of Abraham (who stands in relation to all peoples): Israel has always been open for ‘outsiders’ (cf. Konradt, Israel, 291; Limbeck, Matthäus-Evangelium, 23). In this context, one may observe that three of the four women in the genealogy can be seen as proselytes; for Ruth, cf. e.g. Ruth 1.16; Ps.-Philo Lib. Ant. 61.6; for Rahab: Heb 11.31; 1 Clem 12.1, 7–8; Jas 2.25 (assuming her faith, cf. Konradt, Existenz, 246); compare Josh 2.10–11; 6.25; for Tamar, cf. Philo Virt. 221 (cf. Konradt, Israel, 291 n. 26: Konradt overstates his case, however, by claiming that all four women can ‘ohne weiteres’ be seen as proselytes: for Bathsheba there are no extant early Jewish traditions about her conversion, for Tamar the evidence is inconclusive, i.e. some traditions do see her as a Gentile and proselyte, others do not. See further, e.g., Sim, David, ‘The Gospel of Matthew and the Gentiles’, JSNT 57 (1975) 1948, at 22Google Scholar; Jackson, Mercy, 94–9).

51 Even if this is not necessary for the interpretation of the first four women in the Matthean genealogy, the messianic promises associated with Judah can be interpreted along ‘Abrahamic’ lines. One reason for this is his proximity to Abraham in the genealogy, but also the history of interpretation of Gen 49.10 (cf. the LXX). Furthermore, whereas Matt 1.2 can be seen as a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Konradt, Israel, 26) and their future restoration, this can be understood to take place in an ‘inclusive’ way, i.e. the restoration of the tribes includes the incorporation of the Gentiles.

52 Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 230–1.

53 Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 230, following Zakowitch, ‘Rahab’, 2–4.

54 Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 230–1; see further Hanson, ‘Rahab’. That the role of Rahab was somewhat embarrassing can also be learned—even if it is an argument e silentio—from the fact that Philo and Jubilees do not mention her, and that Ps.-Philo Lib. Ant. 20.6–7 recounts the story of Joshua's spies without mentioning her.

55 Cf. e.g. Ps.-Philo Lib. Ant. 61.1; for a different interpretation, cf. Josephus Ant. 5.318–337, who uses the story of Ruth to show how God has the power to elevate the lowliest of human beings to the highest of honours (by becoming an ancestor to David). Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 231.

56 This suits well the genealogy's function to get a grip on history; cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 220, referring to Davies, Margaret, Matthew (Readings: A New Biblical Commentary; Sheffield: JSOT, 1993) 30Google Scholar; Johnson, Purpose, 254; Frankemölle, Matthäus, 138; Kupp, David D., Matthew's Emmanuel (MSSNTS 90; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1996) 53CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lerle, Ernst, ‘Die Ahnenverzeichnisse Jesu: Versuch einer christologischen Interpretation’, ZNW 72 (1981) 112–17, at 115Google Scholar; Limbeck, Matthäus-Evangelium, 25; Nolland, John, ‘Genealogical Annotation in Genesis as Background for the Matthean Genealogy of Jesus’, TynB 47 (1996) 115–22Google Scholar; Nolland, ‘Women’, 529; Pesch, ‘Exegesis’, 139; Waetjen, ‘Genealogy’, 209.

57 Cf. Konradt, Israel, 292.

58 Cf. Mayordomo, Anfang, 247.

59 The ‘biblical basis’ for viewing Judah as a messianic figure is Gen 49.10. The following early Jewish texts take this text as a point of departure for the formulation of messianic expectations: Gen 49.10 LXX (esp. καὶ αὐτὸς προσδοκία ἐθνῶν at the end of the verse); 4Q252, 5.1–7; Test. Jud. 1.6; 17.6; 21.2; 22.1–3; Rev 5:5 See in general Mayordomo, Anfang, 225 n. 114, 232, and, following Mayordomo, P. Feghali, ‘Le messie de Juda: Gn 49,8–10 dans saint Éphrem et les traditions judaïques’, La vie de la parole (FS P. Grelot; Paris: Desclée, 1987) 165–72; and on Qumran and the Targumim, Martínez, F. García, ‘Messianische Erwartungen in den Qumranschriften’, JBTh 8 (1993) 171208, at 174–7Google Scholar; Fernández, Miguel Pérez, Tradiciones mesiánicas en el Targum Palestinense (Valencia: Artes Gráficas Soler, 1981) 123–44Google Scholar; Syrén, Roger, The Blessings in the Targums (AAAH 64/1; Abo: Åbo Akademi, 1986) 101–19Google Scholar.

60 Cf. also Wucherpfenning, Ansgar, Josef der Gerechte. Eine exegetische Untersuchung zu Mt 1–2 (HBS 55; Freiburg i.B.: Herder, 2008) 120–3Google Scholar: the earlier women in the genealogy make it plausible for Joseph to accept Jesus. Wucherpfenning overstates his case, however, when he also wishes to see Rahab's children as conceived out of wedlock; even if Rahab was a prostitute, this is not suggested about her and Salmon's children (!). A similar mistake is made by Carlson, Richard, ‘Reading and Interpreting Matthew from the Beginning’, Currents in Theology and Mission 34 (2007) 434–43, at 436Google Scholar, who rightly emphasizes the preparatory function of the first four women with regard to Mary's pregnancy. Cf. in general the observations made by Bauckham, Richard, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002) 25Google Scholar.

61 With e.g. Heil, ‘Role’, 543: as a Davidide, Jesus continues the Abrahamic promises, as indicated by Rahab and Ruth in his ancestry; this is a modified version of the view that the first four women all indicate the openness of Israel for Gentiles.