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Shemot/Exodus 6:14 These are the heads of their fathers' houses: the sons of Reuven ...
This somewhat truncated genealogical list (it only features the first three of Israel's sons: Reuven, Shimon and Levi) comes at a strange place in the text. In the previous verse (v. 13)HaShem starts speaking to Moshe and Aharon, is interrupted by these names and finally resumes in verse 29. Rashi comments that "[the Torah] had to set out the genealogy of the tribe of Levi until Moshe and Aharon because of Moshe and Aharon." This doesn't immediately make sense because both Moshe and Aharon have been mentioned before in the narrative without any mention of their lineage - why does the Torah have recourse to it at this point? The list has two purposes, one of which is disclosed in verse 27: "this Moshe and Aharon" - in other words, it authenticates which Moshe and Aharon Hashem spoke to: these particular ones. The second purpose is to show that Moshe and Aharon are among the leaders of Israel - they are clan or tribe leaders, recognised as such by the community (HaGriz).
In the days following the building of the Second Temple and the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the return from Babylon, Nehemiah conducted a census of the returnees and checks the genealogies of those who were to serve as Priests and Levites in the Temple. He writes that there were those who could not prove their ancestry - even among the cohanim - and "these searched their ancestral registration, but it could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood ... until a priest arose with Urim and Thumim" (Nehemiah 7:64-65, NASB). These priests were not allowed to share in either the obligations or the benefits of the priesthood until it was proven that they really were cohanim either by genealogical documents or directly by the L-rd.
Perhaps that is why we find two genealogies for Yeshua in the B'rit Chadashah. Although slightly different and starting from different points, Matthew's (Matthew 1) and Luke's (Luke 3) list of Yeshua's ancestors serve those two same purposes: firstly to anchor Him in His people - a true Israelite, a descendant of the fathers: Avraham, Yitz'chak and Ya'akov - and a true man, descended from Adam and Chava. Secondly, it provides His accreditation as a direct descendant of King David, of the tribe of Judah and therefore standing in the prophecy originally given to Ya'akov: "The sceptre shall not pass from Y'hudah ... until He comes to whom [obedience] belongs" (B'resheet 49:10, CJB), confirmed to David: "I will maintain Him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and His throne will be set up for ever" (1 Chronicles 17:14, NASB) and spoken of by the prophets: "Then a shoot will spring forth from the stem of Jesse, and branch from his roots will bear fruit" (Isaiah 11:1, NASB). This is why, on the day of Shavu'ot, Peter could stand before the people and say: "G-d has made Him both L-rd and Messiah - this Yeshua - who you executed on a stake" (Acts 2:36, CJB).
Further Study: Psalm 2:1-12; Hebrews 1:1-5
Application: Sometimes in our focus on Yeshua as our Friend and Brother (and, indeed, He is both), we can lose sight of the fact that He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, that He is not only qualified but entitled to be the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Holy One of G-d and that He is not only to receive our prayers but our worship.
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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