14 Generations

14 Generations - How many years?

14 Generations - How many years?
MATTHEW 1 COMMENTARY
Matthew 1:12-16 Shealtiel & Zerubbabel

Matthew 1:17 Fourteen Generations

Matthew 1:18-19 Mary Betrothed to Joseph
MATTHEW 1:17  17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, from David until the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon until the Christ, fourteen generations.

What is meant by “generations” in the passage above?
God renamed Abram, who was born in 2167 BC, “Abraham” in 2068 BC when he was “ninety-nine years old” (Genesis 17:1); David was crowned king in 1010 BC; the southern kingdom of Judah was deported to Babylon in 586 BC; and Jesus was born about 6 BC (see When was Jesus born?). This means that the first set of “fourteen generations” in Matthew 1:17 covered 1,058 years (2068 BC to 1010 BC), the second set of “fourteen generations” covered 424 years (1010 BC to 586 BC), and the third set of “fourteen generations” covered about 580 years (586 BC to 6 BC). So these weren't fourteen directly sequential generations. For example, “Hezron” (Genesis 46:9 and Matthew 1:3) was already born when the Jews entered exile in Egypt in 1875 BC, and “David was thirty years old when he began to reign” (2 Samuel 5:4) in 1010 BC, which means he was born in 1040 BC. Only seven men are named in Matthew 1:3-5 between Hezron and David (see genealogy of Jesus), who were born - assuming Hezron was born just before the exile in Egypt began - 835 years apart (1875 BC to 1040 BC). If the “fourteen generations” were directly sequential generations, each of the eight generations of men directly preceding David would have had to wait until 104 years of age to sire their sons. While some of them may have lived to be that old, they didn't all become fathers as centenarians. As mentioned earlier, the named “generations” were those of the men that Matthew was inspired to mention, not directly sequential generations.

But why “fourteen” generations, and why three sets of them?
The first set covers the rise: God starting with one man - Abraham - and blessing his descendants into a great nation. The second set covers the fall: that great nation falling into apostasy, turning its back on God, and being destroyed. The third set covers the salvation: the arrival of God to save them from their sin. And fourteen is a multiple of seven, the number associated with God's completion (e.g., creating the heavens and the earth in seven days, including Sabbath (see Genesis 1); healing Naaman after having him dip seven times in the Jordan River (see 2 Kings 5); destroying the wall of Jericho after having seven priests blow seven horns on the seventh trip around the city on the seventh day (see Joshua 6); etc.). Perhaps it signals God's sovereignty over all three phases of the Jewish nation's rise, fall and salvation.

Could such rise and fall happen today?
A few centuries ago, boatloads of people left the comforts of their home continent to worship God Biblically in a new land, and God blessed their descendants into a mighty nation. At the height of its prosperity, however, it also decided that it no longer needed God, turned its back on Him, and is rejecting repeated warnings to repent and turn back to Him.

What will happen if it turns back to Him?
“If My people, who are called by My name, humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

What will happen if it doesn't turn back to Him?