The evangelist reckoneth the genealogy of our Saviour by three periods, reckoning thrice fourteen descents. The first period began in Abraham, Gen_21:2,3 and ended in David. The second began in Solomon, and ended in Jehoiachin. The third began with Jehoiachin, and ended in Christ. Luke (as we shall see in its place) fetcheth our Saviour’s line from Adam. From Abraham to David there is no difference between Matthew and Luke, they both reckoned up the same fourteen persons, Luk_3:32-34. But Luke repeating our Saviour’s pedigree by his mother’s side, and Matthew by his supposed father’s side, Joseph, after David they must differ, Mary descending from David’s family by his son Nathan, Joseph descending from him by Solomon. All interpreters agree that there are great difficulties about the genealogy of Christ, especially in reconciling Matthew and Luke; and the enemies of Christianity have in all times made their advantage of them, to weaken our faith as to the gospel: but Christians ought to consider,
1. That the Jews had without doubt perfect genealogies, and were more especially exact in keeping them as to the royal tribe of David, which was Judah, and the priestly tribe of Levi, that they might have a right king and high priest; and it cannot be expected that after seventeen hundred years almost we should make out genealogies as they could.
2. That they were very apt to make strifes about words and endless genealogies; as appears by the apostle’s cautioning both Timothy and Titus against it, 1Ti_1:41Ti_6:4Tit_3:9.
3. That it had been a sufficient exception against Christ if they could have proved he had not lineally descended from David.
4. That though they cavilled at Christ for many things, yet they never made any such cavil.
5. That we are forbidden strife and endless labour about genealogy. And therefore it is the most unreasonable thing imaginable for us to make such little dissatisfactions grounds for us to question or disbelieve the gospel, because we can not untie every knot we meet with in a pedigree.
But in this first period no such difficulties occur; both the evangelists are agreed, and the Old Testament agrees with both. That Abraham begat Isaac (when he was an hundred years old) we are assured by Moses, Gen_21:2,5; that Isaac begat Jacob he also telleth us, Gen_25:26. So also that Jacob begat Judah and his brethren, Gen_29:35. Judah was Jacob’s third son by Leah, and that son of whom dying Jacob prophesied, That him should his brethren praise, and to him should his father’s children bow down. That the sceptre should not depart from Judah, nor the lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh came; and unto him should the gathering of the people be, Gen_49:8-10. Though Saul, who was the first king of Israel, (given them in wrath), was of the tribe of Benjamin, 1Sa_9:21; yet David was of the tribe of Judah, in whose line the kingdom held unto the captivity.
And his brethren: the brethren of Judah are here mentioned, being the heads of the Jewish nation: Christ descended from Judah.