A Jewish Tax Collector Connects to Old Testament Prophecy

Third in a series about my journey back to life after brain cancer surgery in 2004 and the depression that followed.

In previous blog posts, I began telling the story of my brain tumor and the depression which followed it.  The second article in the series described my faith in God which sustained me through both trials.

Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I’ll be publishing the book of Matthew a chapter at a time, with commentary to follow a week or so later. Hopefully people will contribute to a discussion on what the text says and debate my opinions on it.

Careful Translation of Others’ Words

Translator’s notes and headings are in italics, while headings and bold text are in regular font as they appeared in the 1984 German Bible Society edition. Verse numbers and most cross references from the German version were omitted for readability.

Synonyms were used to make the reading more interesting. Note five synonyms for begat in the genealogy of Jesus, where an entire life is sometimes compressed into three words. Children can build their vocabulary from a simple word and a less well known synonym and won’t need to refer to a dictionary as often.

There were no chapter and verse numbers in the original Greek text written by Matthew, one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples. Martin Luther translated Matthew’s account into German in 1522, and the German Bible Society revised it into modern German in 1984.

A Despised Tax Collector’s Persuasion

Matthew’s account was not a complete biography, but rather an attempt to persuade his Jewish readers that Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited Messiah.

The Romans were smart rulers in the ancient world, keeping the famous Pax Romana (Roman peace) by building roads, viaducts and other infrastructure. They got local people in conquered countries to collect the necessary taxes to run their government. Each province was required to pay a certain amount. If the local tax collector raised more than that he was allowed to keep the difference.

In most cases the temptation to collect more than a reasonable wage was overwhelming, and tax collectors grew wealthy by cheating their fellow countrymen. So the fiercely nationalistic Jews despised tax collectors as traitors as well as hating their Roman oppressors.

Matthew was an unlikely gospel (Good News) writer – saved by grace out of a despised group of people, and probably dishonest himself. Jesus fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies concerning Himself, and Matthew mentions many of the important ones in his account.  

So without further introduction, here is

The Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 1

            A tax collector’s connection to Old Testament prophecy

Word-by-word English translation from Martin Luther’s German, revised by the German Bible Society 1984

Jesus’ Family Tree

This is the book of the history of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, Jacob begat Judah and his brothers.

Judah procreated Perez and Zerah with Tamar. Perez procreated Hezron. Hezron procreated Ram. Ram generated Amminadab. Amminadab generated Nahshon. Nahshon generated Salmon.

Salmon produced Boaz with Rahab. Boaz produced Obed with Ruth. Obed produced Jesse.

Jesse created the King David. David created Solomon with the wife of Uriah.

Solomon begat Rehoboam. Rehoboam begat Abijah. Abijah begat Asa. Asa procreated Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat procreated Joram. Joram procreated Uzziah.

Uzziah generated Jotham. Jotham generated Ahaz. Ahaz generated Hezekiah.

Hezekiah produced Manasseh. Manasseh produced Amon. Amon produced Josiah.

Josiah created Jeconiah and his brothers around the time of the Babylonian captivity. After the Babylonian imprisonment, Jeconiah begat Shealtiel. Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel.

Zerubbabel procreated Abiud. Abiud procreated Eliakim. Eliakim procreated Azor. Azor generated Zadok. Zadok generated Akim. Akim generated Eliud. Eliud produced Eleazar. Eleazar produced Matthan. Matthan produced Jacob.

Jacob created Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who then was called Christ.

All the limbs from Abraham up to David are fourteen members. From David up to the Babylonian internment are fourteen limbs. From the Babylonian confinement up to Christ are fourteen members.

Jesus’ Birth

The birth of Jesus the Messiah happened like this: It became apparent that Mary, his mother, whom Joseph had trusted, was pregnant by the Holy Spirit before he took her home.[i]

But Joseph, her husband, was merciful and did not want to bring her into disgrace, but thought to leave her secretly.

While he was still considering this, see, there appeared to him the angel of the Lord in a dream and spoke, “Joseph, you son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, to yourself, for what she has conceived, that is from the Holy Ghost. And she will bear a son, whom you shall give the name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

This all happened, so that it would be fulfilled, what the Lord said through the Prophets, who then spoke (Isaiah 7:14):

“See, a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and she will give him the name Immanuel;” which means when translated: God with us.

When now Joseph awoke from sleep, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took his wife to himself.

And he did not touch[ii]  her until she bore a son; and he gave him the name Jesus.  


[i] See glossary under “Betrothal.” The Jewish betrothal represents a legally binding promise of marriage. The conjugal intercourse would first be taken up after the home-taking of the bride by the bridegroom.

[ii] Or “handle”, meaning in this context to have sexual relations with her. Roman Catholic, most Protestant, and Orthodox churches agree on the Virgin Birth, one of the basic doctrines of historic Christianity. Liberalism would reduce Jesus to a mere man, a good teacher who was born of a young woman in the natural way.

Individual beliefs within churches about the Virgin Birth, the eternal triune God becoming a man, vary, including pastors. However, Jesus either had a miraculous birth by union of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, with a virgin or he did not. There is no middle ground.

Translator’s notes and headings are in italics, while headings and bold text are in regular font as they appeared in the 1984 German Bible Society edition. Verse numbers and most cross references from the German version have been omitted for readability. Permission is granted to copy this freely for individual or group Bible studies as long as passages are quoted in their entirety and proper attribution is given. Copyright Dale Murrish 2013.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dale Murrish February 04, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Religious bigotry IS political, not theologians arguing fine points of doctrine. That can and has been done peacefully. That’s my point. People are carefully taught to hate another group of people. I oppose all forms of religious bigotry – which is condemned throughout the Bible, by the way. Professing Christians throughout history who hated another group of people for their religious views were not following the Bible. They were in error and will be corrected for their sin when they get to heaven.
John David February 04, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Typical. You are utterly biased. By the way, your "Big Ants controlling Little Ants" is very unfeeling and unsympathetic towards the thousands killed and maimed in Northern Ireland because of their beliefs, as well as the denial of human and civil rights, including jobs, housing, education and other rights by the Bible believing Protestants against the Catholics. You praise Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce, but in reality you don't understand either of them nor would you ever be capable of emulating them. You are unbelievable.
Daffy Noodnicks February 05, 2013 at 12:43 AM
"People are carefully taught to hate another group of people." I agree entirely, suc as when a blogger writes that a socially marginalized group of people aren't "normal". I also suggest looking up the No True Scotsman fallacy because you are up to your elbows in illogical hypocrisy as usual.
Kristen Skladd February 06, 2013 at 03:51 PM
Hello everyone, Please remember we all have the right to our own opinion and you are welcome to share yours by blogging on Patch like Dale. Please visit http://troy.patch.com/blog/apply. Thanks.


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