December 5, 2019

Jesus Ancestors (1:1-17) – Part 1

Nobody enjoys reading genealogies. That is, unless you’re a genealogist! The Bible has several, and most of us when confronted by one tend to roll our eyes and press the delete button. It seems irrelevant.

But in Jesus’ day, genealogies were taken with great seriousness. A genealogy was see as a “pedigree”. It proved “purity” of lineage. Jesus’ culture, of course, was Jewish and  no one could call himself/herself a “Jew” if there was any foreign blood in their veins. The “Chosen People” had “chosen DNA”. They were exclusive.

What’s more, with the critical component of religious observance in Jewish culture, those who served them spiritually, the priests, had to have an unbroken lineage right back to the first priest, Moses’ brother Aaron. And the priest’s wife had to have “pure Jewish blood” at least five generations back. The priests had to prove their acceptability as God’s servants by this exacting physical and spiritual rigour. Nothing else would do. Indeed, Jerusalem’s ruling council of seventy elders, the “Sandhedrin”, made sure of it. They kept and assiduously checked the genealogical records.

There was no “gray area” when it came to being a Jew. Interestingly, in modern Israel there is a very strict adherence to pedigree in the Ministry of Immigration. If you arrive at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv with papers proving your Jewish heritage, you are given citizenship immediately… It was founded as a Jewish state and Israel works hard at keeping the “bloodlines” pure. But, no papers – no citizenship. Case closed. Appeal as much as you have energy for, to the Ministries of Immigration and Interior, but you’ll lose. A pedigree is a pedigree.