Women Highlighted in Jesus’ Genealogy

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Robin Scroggs writes, “The genealogy of Jesus’ ancestry . . . contains the names of four women, apart from Mary, and all of these four were involved in some form of sexual irregularity . . .”

I see no reason to exclude Mary. So scandalous was her out-of-wedlock pregnancy that it took divine intervention to stop righteous Joseph from breaking his betrothal covenant with her (Matthew 1:18-20). The move Joseph was contemplating was so serious that it was regarded as divorce (Matthew 1:19).

I disagree with the reason Scroggs gives for including Ruth in “sexual irregularity,” but there were other reasons. She was not a virgin when she remarried, but a widow. That was acceptable. The way she took the initiative in getting her second husband, however, must have raised many eyebrows (Ruth 3:3-9). Moreover, she was a Moabitess (a fact made so prominent that it is specifically stated seven times in the book, such as Ruth 1:22). Jews were not meant to marry a Moabitess (Deuteronomy 23:3; 1 Kings 11:1-2; Ezra 9:1-2; Nehemiah 13:1-3). Likewise, no Jew was meant to marry a Canaanite, and another of Jesus’ ancestresses, Rahab, had not only been a prostitute but a Canaanite.

The other women:

    * Tamar conceived by pretending to be a prostitute and having intercourse with her father-in-law and, by the way, ended up cleverly exposing his double-standards, which he humbly acknowledged (Genesis 38:11-26).

    * Bathsheba was an adulteress who ended up married to David only because he arranged the murder of her first husband.

The point is that despite Jesus being surrounded by people wanting to spurn such women, the New Testament reveres them as ancestresses of the Messiah. Inspired by Jesus himself, it insists that no one’s gender or past excludes a person from being powerfully used of God.



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