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Matthew 1:17

17. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Having enumerated the generations from Abraham to Christ, he divides them into three divisions of fourteen generations, because three times at the end of fourteen generations the state of the people of the Jews was changed. From Abraham to David they were under Judges; from David to the carrying away into Babylon under Kings; from the carrying away to Christ under the High Priests. What he would shew then is this; like as ever at the end of fourteen generations the state of men has changed, so there being fourteen generations completed from the carrying away to Christ, it must needs be that the state of men be changed by Christ. And so since Christ all the Gentiles have been made under one Christ Judge, King, and Priest. And for that Judges, Kings, and Priests prefigured Christ’s dignity, their beginnings were always in a type of Christ; the first of the Judges was Joshua the son of Nave; the first of the Kings, David; the first of the Priests, Jesus son of Josedech. That this was typical of Christ none doubts.

CHRYSOSTOM. Or he divided the whole genealogy into three parts, to shew that not even by the change of their government were they made better, but under Judges, Kings, High Priests, and Priests, held the same evil course. For which cause also he mentions the captivity in Babylon, shewing that neither by this were they corrected. But the going down into Egypt is not mentioned, because they were not still in terror of the Egyptians as they were of the Assyrians or Parthians; and because that was a remote, but this a recent event; and because they had not been carried thither for sin as they had to Babylon.

AMBROSE. (in Luc. c. 3.) Let us not think this is to be overlooked, that though there were seventeen Kings of Judæa between David and Jeconiah, Matthew only recounts fourteen. We must observe that there might be many more successions to the throne than generations of men; for some may live longer and beget children later; or might be altogether without seed; thence the number of Kings and of generations would not coincide.

GLOSS. Or we may say, that there are three Kings overlooked, as was said above.

AMBROSE. (ubi sup.) Again, from Jeconiah to Joseph are computed twelve generations; yet he afterwards calls these also fourteen. But if you look attentively, you will be able to discover the method by which fourteen are reckoned here. Twelve are reckoned including Joseph, and Christ is the thirteenth; and history declares that there were two Joakims, that is two Jeconiahs, father and son. The Evangelist has not passed over either of these, but has named them both. Thus, adding the younger Jeconiah, fourteen generations are computed.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Or, the same Jeconiah is counted twice in the Gospel, once before the carrying away, and again after the carrying away. For this Jeconiah being one person had two different conditions; before the carrying away he was King, as being made King by the people of God; but he became a private man at the carrying away; hence he is reckoned once among the Kings before the carrying away; and after the carrying away once among private men.

AUGUSTINE. (De Cons. Ev. ii. 4.) Or, one of Christ’s forefathers is counted twice, because in him, Jeconiah to wit, there was made a passing off to strange nations since he was carried to Babylon. Wherever a series turns out of the right line to go in any other direction there is an angle made, and that part that is in the angle is reckoned twice. Thus here is a figure of Christ, who passes from the circumcision to the uncircumcision, and is made a cornerstone.

REMIGIUS. He made fourteen generations, because the ten denotes the decalogue, and the four the four books of the Gospel; whence this shews the agreement of the Law and the Gospel. And he put the fourteen three times over, that he might shew that the perfection of law, prophecy, and grace, consists in the faith of the Holy Trinity.

GLOSS. Or in this number is signified the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit. The number is made up of seven, doubled, to shew that the grace of the Holy Spirit is needed both for soul and body to salvation. Also the genealogy is divided into three portions of fourteen thus. The first from Abraham to David, so as that David is included in it; the second from David to the carrying away, in which David is not included, but the carrying away is included; the third is from the carrying away to Christ, in which if we say that Jeconiah is included, then the carrying away is included. In the first are denoted the men before the Law, in which you will find some of the men of the Law of nature, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all as far as Solomon. In the second are denoted the men under the Law; for all who are included in it were under the Law. In the third are found the men of grace; for it is finished in Christ, who was the giver of grace; and because in it was the deliverance from Babylon, signifying the deliverance from captivity that was made by Christ.

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) After having divided the whole into three periods of fourteen generations, he does not sum them all up and say, The sum of the whole is forty and two; because one of those fathers, that is Jeconiah, is reckoned twice; so that they do not amount to forty-two, as three times fourteen does, but because one is reckoned twice over, there are only forty-one generations. Matthew therefore, whose purpose was to draw out Christ’s kingly character, counts forty successions in the genealogy exclusive of Christ. This number denotes the time for which we must be governed by Christ in this world, according to that painful discipline which is signified by the iron rod of which it is written in the Psalms, Thou shall rule them with a rod of iron. That this number should denote this our temporal life, a reason offers at hand, in this, that the seasons of the year are four, and that the world itself is bounded by four sides, the east, and west, the north, and the south. But forty contains ten four times. Moreover, ten itself is made up by a number proceeding from one to four.

GLOSS. Or, the ten refers to the decalogue, the four to this life present, which passes through four seasons; or by the ten is meant the Old Testament, by the four the New.

REMIGIUS. But if any, maintaining that it is not the same Jeconiah, but two different persons, make the number forty and two, we then shall say that the Holy Church is signified; for this number is the product of seven, and six; (for six times seven make forty-two;) the six denotes labour, and the seven rest.

Matt 1:17

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