A legal examination of Jesus’ genealogical record would have shown that he was the rightful heir to the throne of King David. The Apostle Matthew recorded in his gospel not only the critical links between Jesus and King David, but also his heritage all the way back to the time of Abraham, the forefather of Christian faith (Genesis 15:6). What is important to note is that four women were included in the genealogy of Jesus. It was unnecessary for him to include these women in his record, but Matthew must have felt that these women’s involvement in the birth of Israel’s Messiah was critical to our understanding of Jesus’ human identity.
The first women listed in Matthew’s genealogical record was Thamar (Matthew 1:3), the mother of twin sons that were technically both the sons and grandsons of Judah, the fourth son that was born to Jacob by his unloved wife, Leah (Genesis 29:35). Thamar or Tamar, as she is known in the Old Testament, tricked Judah into having sex with her by pretending to be a prostitute (Genesis 38:16). After Tamar had conceived, Judah acknowledged, “She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son” (Genesis 38:26). Judah’s conviction of his sin revealed that the execution of God’s plan of salvation had been hindered by his own selfish desire to preserve his youngest son’s life.
The second woman Matthew recorded in Jesus’ genealogy was a woman known as Rahab the harlot (Matthew 1:5). When the Israelites entered the Promised Land and were preparing to attack Jericho, spies were sent ahead to discover the best way to enter the city (Joshua 2:1). Rahab testified of her faith in God when she told the two spies, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when you came out of Egypt…for the LORD your God he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:9-11).
The third woman listed in Jesus’ genealogy was Ruth (Matthew 1:5), the grandmother of King David. The book of Ruth tells us that Ruth was willing to leave her home and family behind in order to follow Naomi, her mother-in-law, back to Beth-lehem, the birthplace of Jesus. Because of her faith in God, Ruth stated to Naomi, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
The final woman Matthew mentioned was not actually named, but identified only as the wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:6). Bath-sheba was an adulteress and yet, her son was chosen to be the heir of David’s throne. David had numerous wives (2 Samuel 3:2-5), so Bath-sheba was not the only candidate, and maybe, not even been the best candidate for providing David with an heir, but her son Solomon became king of Israel and was the one God chose to build his temple instead of David. Perhaps the greatest testament to her faith, was Bath-sheba’s belief that God never breaks a promise. Holding her husband accountable, Bath-sheba said to David, “My lord, thou swarest by the LORD thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne” (1 Kings 1:18).