Does Matthew 1:8-9 contain errors?

DOES MATTHEW 1:8-9 CONTAIN ERRORS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read in Matthew 1:8-9: “[8] And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; [9] And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;….” Nothing appears unusual until we compare Matthew to the Old Testament family records. First Chronicles 3:11-12 lists the following genealogical data: “[11] Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, [12] Amaziah his son, Azariah his son, Jotham his son,….”

The discrepancies are obvious in that Matthew skipped names #2, #3, and #4:

  • CHRONICLES: “(#1) Joram, (#2) Ahaziah, (#3) Joash, (#4) Amaziah, (#5) Azariah*, (#6) Jotham.”
  • MATTHEW: “(#1) Joram, (#5) Ozias*, (#6) Joatham.”

*Note: Matthew did not omit Azariah. “Ozias” is the Greek form of the Hebrew “Uzziah,” the alternate name of Azariah.

Why did the Apostle Matthew skip the names Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah—especially since the Old Testament record includes them? Does the Bible contain mistakes here? Have the critics at last inflicted the “death-blow” to the Scriptures? No!

THE TEXTUAL CRITICS SPEAK

The “scholar” or textual critic supposes that Matthew was mixed up, possibly confusing “Ochozias” (Greek form of the Hebrew “Ahaziah” [#2]) with “Ozias” (Greek form of the Hebrew “Uzziah” [#5]). Allegedly, Matthew, when copying the Old Testament genealogy (what they claim was the Greek Septuagint), he overlooked three names because the first name [#2] resembled the name that followed those three names [#5]. Glancing back and forth, his eyes landed on #5 when they should have landed on #2. Believing he had already written the names [#2–#4], when he had really written only #5, Matthew proceeded to copy #6 and never noticed his earlier omissions. Could this be plausible in accounting for the discrepancy between Matthew and the Old Testament prophet? We are not convinced.

Unfortunately, the “scholar” never gives Scripture the benefit of the doubt. This is because unbelief dominates “scholarly” Bible circles and “Christian” thought. Textual critics (seminary professors, Bible college graduates, et cetera) are not necessarily people who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as their personal Saviour. No doubt, they were trained in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, church history, theology, and denominational doctrinal statements, but none of that automatically qualifies them to be competent in understanding and explaining the things of God. Despite their formal education, if they do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit (the Bible’s Author), then they are unable to discern spiritual truths and avoid spiritual errors. They will be like the skillful Babylonian wise men, experts in worldly wisdom but utterly useless in interpreting God’s wisdom (Daniel 2:1-11,27-28; Daniel 5:5-9,15-16; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:1-16).

THE FACTS AT A GLANCE

Just so we are clear, we will summarize the main points now:

  1. According to 1 Chronicles 3:11-12, the chronological, historical order was: (#1) Joram, (#2) Ahaziah, (#3) Joash, (#4) Amaziah, (#5) Azariah/Uzziah, (#6) Jotham.
  2. Textual critics claim the Apostle Matthew “should” have written this to be in perfect accordance with 1 Chronicles: “(#1) Ioram, (#2) Ochozias, (#3) Ioas, (#4) Amazias, (#5) Ozias, (#6) Joatham.” (Matthew was writing in Greek, remember, while the Old Testament names were originally Hebrew. This explains the spelling differences. Disagreeing with the scholars here, we do not believe Matthew was using the Greek Old Testament or Septuagint. His source was the Hebrew Old Testament.)
  3. For some reason, it is said, Matthew “carelessly” eliminated the second, third, and fourth names, penning instead in Matthew 1:8-9 in Greek: “(#1) Ioram, (#5) Ozias, (#6) Joatham” (in English, “Joram, Ozias, Joatham”).
  4. Matthew’s faultfinders appear to be correct—except for one problem. Had they read the context before passing judgment on God’s Holy Word, they would have learned Matthew’s goal was not to repeat the Old Testament genealogy verbatim! These three were deliberate omissions!!

THE BIBLE SPEAKS

Matthew 1:17 identifies the purpose of the genealogy given in this chapter: “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.” Since it is a shorthand or abbreviated record, some gaps or omissions are expected. Whether in Greek or English, we see that the Holy Spirit isolated these ancestors of Christ into three groups of 14 generations each:

  • Abraham to David (verses 2-6) — 14 generations.
  • David to Babylon (verses 6-11) — 14 generations.
  • Babylon to Christ (verses 12-16) — 14 generations.

The three omissions occur in the middle group of 14. Had the three absent names been included, the reckoning would increase to 17, destroying the harmony or symmetry. It would not be 14…14…14 but 14…17…14. The Holy Spirit intended three groups of 14, and those three names were the ones He elected in removing from the record. Matthew is not denying these men were historical characters; they were real people, just like you and me. It is merely that their names are not useful to his purpose in laying out this balanced family tree. Contrary to what the “Christian” (?) scholars tell us, the Holy Spirit knew what He was doing here in Matthew 1:8-9!!

Despite our foregoing observations, the question still nags us. Of all the names to disregard (and He could have edited out others), why did the Holy Spirit remove those three particular names? It is likely because of idolatry that Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah do not appear in Matthew’s record (Exodus 20:5 opposes idolaters up to the “third and fourth generations”).

AHAZIAH: King Ahaziah, the first name absent from Matthew’s record, was doubly evil. See 2 Kings 8:16-27. Firstly, since his father Jehoram King of Judah had intermarried with a daughter of King Ahab of Israel (verse 18), Ahaziah was grandson of King Omri of Israel. Omri and his son Ahab were both idolaters, Baal worshippers. Secondly, Ahaziah married into Ahab’s family, the woman being his cousin (see verse 27). Through Ahaziah, Baal worship was largely introduced into the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Consequently, God slew Ahaziah in battle. Ahaziah’s idolatrous mother Athaliah subsequently killed all her grandchildren but one, ultimately usurping David’s throne for seven years (2 Kings 9:27-29; 2 Kings 11:1-21; 2 Chronicles 22:1–23:21).

JOASH: This is the second name omitted from the family tree in Matthew chapter 1. See 2 Chronicles 24:1-27 for the historical records. After Ahaziah’s mother Athaliah seized David’s throne as queen for nearly seven years, she was executed for her idolatry. Her sole surviving grandson, Ahaziah’s son Joash (then only seven years old), was anointed to sit on his father David’s throne. Reigning for four decades, King Joash oversaw renovations of the Jerusalem Temple. However, he continued in his father’s ways and waxed idolatrous once his mentor Priest Jehoiada died. Joash’s servants conspired against and assassinated him when he was less than 50 years old.

AMAZIAH: He is the third King of Judah eliminated from Matthew’s genealogical reckoning. Refer to 2 Chronicles 25:1-28 for the historical account of his administration. Son of Joash, Amaziah was originally a believer in Israel’s God. Then, like his ancestors, he too forsook JEHOVAH God and engaged in idol worship. After reigning nearly 30 years, he was assassinated.

No, Matthew 1:8-9 does not contain errors! The Holy Spirit intentionally removed three names to serve His purposes—namely, to make a middle set of 14 names, and gloss over some of most corrupt rulers of Jerusalem and Judah. It may also be related to the promise of Exodus 20:5.

Also see:
» Does Matthew 1:11 contain errors?
» Does Matthew 1:12 contain an error?
» Is Matthew 2:23 a mistake?

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