Saturday, August 1, 2009


This is a learning blog. If I write what I learn, I learn it better.

Today Matthew 1:1 - sepher toledot yeshua hamashiach ben-david, ben-avraham

I didn't know that second word - the generations. I haven't read any place in the poetry I have translated that used this word - from yeled - ילד - to bear, bring forth, etc.

Here it is in Genesis 2:4 אֵלֶּה תֹולְדֹות הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ בְּהִבָּרְאָם
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

So Matthew - right off the bat - raises the generational language of Genesis to the forefront. 'The generations' is used 13 times in Genesis - and you can see that the phrase has no usage in the Psalms or Job or the Song or any other place where I have dipped my foot into the water.

Gen(13) Exd(3) Num(13) Rth(1) 1Ch(9)
Genesis 5:1 is even closer to Matthew 1:1 - comparing Jesus with Adam סֵפֶר תֹּולְדֹת אָדָם
in the day when God created Adam - בְּיֹום בְּרֹא אֱלֹהִים אָדָם

Adam is the collective humanity so Genesis adds the statement about image in this verse. Even without the article, I would be tempted to render this, in the day when God created the human or humanity, but perhaps it reminds us with more ambiguity of the singular anarthrous adam in Genesis 1.26 - let us create a human in our image. Then - the creation is not complete until the one spoken of in Matthew arrives in the fullness of time.

Generations could be rendered birthings - for so they go on as is easily seen in the Hebrew New Testament (see next post for the full pattern).
אַבְרָהָם הוֹלִיד אֶת־יִצְחָק
וְיִצְחָק הוֹלִיד אֶת־יַעֲקֹב
וְיַעֲקֹב הוֹלִיד אֶת־יְהוּדָה וְאֶת־אֶחָיו

The word for generation in the psalms is dor - used 37 times - e.g. Psalm 24:6 - where one could imagine the interpretation that Jesus, the righteous one, having received the blessing (verse 5) causes the generation following him (us) to seek to find the face of Jacob.

זֶה דֹּור דרשֶׂו מְבַקְשֵׁי פָנֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב
This is the generation seeking him, desiring your face, Jacob.

There's much more to come on Matthew - I am going to post on one blog only from now on. (I still hope to continue with Ruth - we will of course come to her in Matthew - when the Moabite is included in Israel.) Mark Goodacre has a good intro to the genealogy here.

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