Genealogies in the Bible can be places where we scratch our heads and wonder "why in the world would God inspire anyone to write down a list of names?" When we do some digging, of course, we find that even a list of names can have a message for us.
In the OT, there are many genealogies. The two that I want to focus on today are the ones mentioned in Matthew and in Luke.
What strikes most people is that they are different.
Matthew’s and Luke’s seem to be two different genealogies which have lead scholars to conclude that Matthew is writing Joseph’s genealogy and that Luke is writing Mary’s genealogy.
Another difference is that Matthew begins his genealogy with Abraham and ends with Joseph. Luke begins his genealogy with Joseph and ends with Adam. Each one of them has reasons for doing this if you study the rest of their Gospels. Matthew is trying to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenants and has also come to restore and fulfill the Kingdom of David. Luke, on the other hand, is trying to show that Jesus came for all of the descendants of Adam, which are the Jews and the non-Jews alike.
Another difference and something that is very significant is the number of people mentioned in their genealogies.
Luke lists 77 people which seems very significant when we consider the number 7. The earth was created in seven days and God rested on the seventh day. The word 7 is related to the Hebrew word for oath. Literally, when you were taking an oath you would "7" yourself. But another number is significant and that is the number 70. We see after the time of Noah that there were 70 nations that were his descendants. So 70 may represent all of the nations in the world.
I am speculating that when Luke mentions 77 people in this genealogy that he is reminding the readers that God the Father, who is the Father of every nation through Adam, is going to swear an oath once more, not just for the Jews but for all of the nations. This covenant oath that will be sworn will restore our sonship with God just like Adam had.
Then we read in Exodus chapter 1 verse 5, where Moses tells us that the descendants of Israel that came into the land of Egypt were 70. So the nation of Israel is embodying what happened to all the nations. All of the nations have been made slaves to sin and need liberating. But God is going to do with this one nation what he plans to do with all of the nations, that is - free them all from the bondage of sin so that they can come to the mountain of God and worship him.
Matthew has his genealogy broken down into three parts each containing 14 people with a grand total of 42 people.
From the time of Abraham to David - 14 generations
From David to the Babylonian deportation - 14 generations
From Babylonian deportation to Jesus - 14 generations
Now there is in the Hebrew language great significance concerning the number 14. Each Hebrew letter also represents a number and when you take the name of King David, DVD, and you replace his name with numbers and then add it up it equals the number 14. David appears 14th in the genealogy. So Matthew is trying to stress that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic line of kings.
But their total number of 42 is also significant.
We look in the OT and see that Israel had made 42 encampments during that wandering in the desert before they crossed into the promised land of Canaan. Similarly, I think Matthew is saying that 42 generations have passed while we wander here on the earth and now Jesus has come and just like the Jesus of the OT - Joshua, he will lead us into the true promised land of Heaven.
We also see that the woman of Revelation 12, which represents our Lady but also the church, flees from the devil for 1260 days into the wilderness. 1260 days is 42 months. So this is similar to what happened in OT times of wondering in the wilderness, but this time it is with the church. In a certain sense, we are wandering around in the wilderness while we travel to the promised land of Heaven.