Sometimes it is argued that genealogical descent can only be traced through a male, but in 1 Chronicles 2:34-35 (in the genealogy of Judah, vs. 3) we read this:
“Sheshan had no sons, only daughters, but he did have an Egyptian servant whose name was Jarha. Sheshan gave his daughter in marriage to his servant Jarha, and she bore him Attai.”
Then in verse 36 the genealogy continues through Attai (who fathers Nathan). So there is precedent in the Hebrew Bible that a genealogy could at times be counted through a female in the absence of a male.
This is an important backdrop for tracing Yeshua’s genealogy (from King David) through his mother Miriam. It can be argued quite convincingly that the genealogy in the gospel of Matthew is through Miriam, based upon the phrase (Mt. 1:16a), “Joseph the *husband* of Mary” being a lacking, alternate translation that reads better as “Joseph the *father* of Mary.”
The Greek text reads ”aner,” which does mean husband in certain contexts, but it is not limited to a husband. The word basically carries with it the idea of male/man (contrasted with female/woman). The REV Bible commentary states in part on Matthew 1:16:
“The Greek is anēr (#435 ἀνήρ), and means “an adult human male.” Anēr is generally assumed to mean “husband” in this verse, but that cannot be the case. For one thing, the list of the three sets of 14 generations that go from Abraham to Christ (vv. 2-16), makes this impossible. If Joseph is the husband of Mary, there would only be 13 generations in the last list of “14 generations.” Also, the Aramaic text reads differently in this verse than it does in verse 19, and in verse 19 Joseph is unmistakably referred to as the “husband” of Mary. The difference in the vocabulary indicates a difference in the relationship.”
Full note here: https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/Matthew/chapter1/16
So aner *could mean* “father” or “guardian” in the Greek of Matthew (1:16), and Aramaic manuscripts of Matthew’s gospel read differently in comparing 1:16 (gavra) with 1:19 (bala; vs. 19’s Joseph is definitely speaking of a husband). It’s also interesting that two manuscripts of a Hebrew Matthew (in the Shem Tov tradition) read “avi” (father) in Matthew 1:16.
It shouldn’t surprise us that more than one Joseph is listed in Matthew 1, as more than one Jacob is as well (compare vss. 2 and 16). Joseph was a prominent name in Israel.
This also pairs well with other women being mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy (which wasn’t normally the case). Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (though the latter not by name) are all there in Matthew 1, so listing Mary/Miriam fits this pattern in verse 16.
There’s much more to this, but I’m just beginning to collect all my thoughts and studies for the last three weeks in writing, so I’ll end with one closing point. Paul writes in Romans 1:3 that Yeshua was *born of* a descendant of David according to the flesh, and Matthew 1:16 speaks of “Mary, from whom *was born* Yeshua.” I think Paul was referencing Yeshua’s birth mother in Romans.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.