Jechoniah and His Brothers (Matthew 1:11) -- By: John Nolland

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 07:1 (NA 1997)
Article: Jechoniah and His Brothers (Matthew 1:11)
Author: John Nolland

Jechoniah and His Brothers (Matthew 1:11)

John Nolland

Trinity College, Bristol

Matthew directs his reader’s engagement with the genealogy he provides by means of framing materials and the use of internal annotation. The omission of three generations of kings from the genealogical list (1:8) and the confusions involved in identifying Josiah as father of Jechoniah and his brothers (v. 11) can be shown to have a similar annotative role: by careful manipulation of the traditions available to him Matthew is able to use these apparent abberations not only to achieve his fourteen generations schema, but also to evoke significant elements in the history of the period covered by his genealogy.

Key words: Matthew, genealogy, intertextuality

The Matthean genealogy in 1:(1)2-16(17) makes use of a number of techniques to direct the reader’s engagement with the offered listing of the ancestors of Jesus. First there are the framing materials provided in vv. 1 and 17 which bring into prominence the identity of Jesus as Christ and the links with David and Abraham, and draw attention to the role of fourteens in the construction of the genealogy. Then there is a series of annotations1 which cumulatively encourage the reading of the genealogy as a compressed narrative of an unfolding history: in brief compass Matthew evokes the glories and tragedies of that story in which the purposes of God unfold; Jesus is located firmly within, but at the climax of, the history of God’s dealings with his people. Beyond annotations there is also the breach of pattern in v. 16 through which the difference in the circumstances of Jesus’ birth to that of all others in the genealogy are hinted at without being explicated.2

The present article is concerned with yet another technique that Matthew makes use of in presenting the genealogy. It occurs twice in the genealogy; one of the occurrences has been successfully explored in the literature and the other, so far as I have been able to discover, has not. The technique involved here is not one which is visible to the casual reader, but is nonetheless an effective means of communication

to readers sufficiently initiated into biblical genealogy. The features of the Matthean account which I have in mind are (1) the placing of Uzziah (῾Οζιαν) immediately after Joram in the generational sequence and (2) the identification of Jechoniah as son of Josiah (along with the mention of Jechoniah’s brothers). In the former, three generations of kings ...

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