thus begins the account of the genealogy and race of Adam, the first formed man—The Book of generation of Adam: for Adam was a type of Christ. For as Adam was the father of the mortal life of all men, so is Christ the Father of the immortal life of the faithful, as S. Paul teaches, Romans 5:14, &c, and 1 Corinthians 15:47 et seq. The Hebrew is ÏŠÎµÎ¼Î³ÎµÏŠ ÏÏ„Ïˆ sepher toledoth, i.e., the book, or catalogue, and enumeration of the generations of Adam. For, in the5th of Genesis , many, indeed all the generations are given by which the human race was propagated from Adam to Noah and the Flood, whence it is probable that S. Matthew , who alludes to Moses, wrote likewise in Hebrew, in this passage, sepher toledoth, i.e, the book of the generations, in the plural. The LXX, however, in Gen. v, have translated ×’ï¢“×’×›×Ÿ×¢ ×“×•×ï¢‘×£×•×©×¢, the Book of the generation, in the singular, because the generation of Adam was one, by which Hebrews , as it were the patriarch of the whole human race, begat Seth, which generation was afterwards continued by Seth and his posterity, and was propagated as far as Noah. The Greek interpreter of S. Matthew , and the Latin Vulgate, which was translated from the Greek, here followed the LXX, because properly there is related the generation of Christ alone, whose origin indeed is derived from Abraham, through many generations of forefathers, and is brought down to Christ. As, therefore, Adam was the beginning or origin of the old world, so is Christ of the new and better world, whence he is called by Isaiah 9:6, "The Father of the coming age." (Vulgate). Hence also Virgil, following the Cumæan Sibyl, sings thus concerning Him, Eclogue iv.:—
"Now the last age of Cuman Verses is come,
Afresh the great cycle of ages begins;
Returneth the Virgin, Saturnian Kingdoms return:
The heavenly Offspring descends from on high:"
"Dear increase of God, true Offspring of Jove,
Begin, Boy, by smiles thy Mother to know."
It is plain that these things were spoken by the Sibyl concerning Christ; but Virgil, either through ignorance or flattery, has transferred them to Pollio, the son of Asinius Pollio, the Roman Consul.
Note, 1st, Book here is the same as catalogue, or enumeration, or description, whence the Syriac translation, Î»ÏŠÎ»Î°, ketobo, i.e, a description, or writing. For this is the exact meaning of the Hebrew, sepher, to which the Greek ×’ï¢“×’×›×Ÿ×¢ and Latin liber correspond. In a like sense, the paper in which was recorded the putting away of a wife by her husband was called a Book of divorcement. So the Book of the righteous is the catalogue in which the names and acts of the righteous are recorded. The Book of Life is the catalogue of the elect, who are written in the mind of God as in a book. Cicero called a catalogue of names, a book of names.
Note, 2nd, the word generation. First, and most evidently, it is the same as the race, or genealogy of Christ. Second, the generation of Christ is the conception and birth of Christ. See ver18. The birth (×“ï¢‘×××—×£×™×¢) of Jesus Christ was on this wise. Third, as Maldonatus observes, "the generation of Christ is the life of Christ." For Matthew , in the Gospel, relates the history of the whole course of the life of Christ. Fourth, the Hebrew toledoth properly signifies generations, many of which intervened between Adam and Christ. The steps in Jacob"s ladder, above which God stood, represented these generations—those steps, I mean, by which the angels ascended from earth to heaven. For as this ladder joined, as it were, earth to heaven, and Jacob to God, so this series of generations united all the patriarchs to Christ, who was made Flesh, and so united all men to Himself and to God.
Son of David, i.e, descendant of David: for the Hebrews call all male lineal descendants, sons. The Evangelist places David first, then Abraham: 1st, because David was the nearer to Christ, and through him Christ reaches to Abraham; 2nd, because thus, in a more compendious manner, without repetition, Christ"s genealogy is stated. He wished to impress this fact, that Christ was descended from Abraham through David. So S. Jerome3rd, and chiefly, because the promise of God made to David concerning Christ, as about to be born of his posterity, was the later, more special, and more glorious promise, as S. Chrysostom, Theophilus, Euthym, teach. Hence the Jews constantly call their Messiah the Son of David. Hence on Palm Sunday, when Christ entered into Jerusalem, they hailed Him as Messiah: Hosanna to the Son of David, i.e, O Lord, save our Messiah, speaking of Him as David"s son and heir. Lastly, by the title, Son of David, the nobility of the race from whence Messiah sprung is hinted at, as also His kingdom, viz, that He too should be a king, as being the Son of David, a king, according to that divine voice of the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin, "He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end." (S. Luke 1:31.) For this reason the prophets everywhere speak of Christ as David"s son and heir, thus Isaiah 9:7, Isaiah 45:3; Jeremiah 25:5; Ezekiel 34:23, Ezekiel 37:25, &c.
The first promise which was made to David concerning Christ, that He should spring from him, and reign for ever, is found 2 Samuel 7:12; the same was confirmed, Ps. lxxxviii. and cxxxi.; and repeated to Song of Solomon , David"s Song of Solomon , 1 Kings 9:5. When, therefore, S. Matthew says, Jesus Christ the Son of David, he means that all these promises were now fulfilled in Christ. Thus S. Chrysostom2; Theophilus, Euthym.; Irenus, lib8 , c8; S. Ambrose, lib3in Luc, c3; and others.
Son of Abraham. The word Son here may be referred either to David or to Christ. For David, as well as Christ, was a Song of Solomon , i.e. a descendant, of Abraham. It signifies, therefore, that Christ, through David His father, was also the Son of Abraham, who was the father of them that believe, and of the ancient Church. The first express promise concerning Christ was made to him. ( Genesis 22:18.) Now, from the birth of Abraham to the birth of Christ there were2 ,000 years; from the death of David to Christ, 1 ,013years. So great was the antiquity of the oracles and promises of God concerning Christ; so constant and sure was God"s faithfulness in fulfilling them. And this is why S. Matthew so carefully derives the genealogy of Christ from Abraham, even through forty-two generations, in order that he might show the Jews that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah promised to Abraham, and that He was the Son of Abraham and the rest of the patriarchs; and that He might therefore, as such, be received, cherished, and worshipped by the Jews.