The Number 14 in Matthew 1
I don’t know how many of you share my enthusiasm for numbers and words in the scriptures but it sure is a joy of mine to see so many connections in God’s word. Is it a coincidence? Hardly. In fact, we could use such connections to argue the authenticity, perfection, and inspiration of the Bible as originating solely with God. I cannot tell you how long (if ever) it would take me to come up with the connections the scriptures make. One of my favorites is found in the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew. Immediately as we open up the New Testament, God has a grand gift in store for His readers. Yet, it is this chapter that quite a few people would tend to overlook or simply ignore because it’s just genealogies. I remember in my younger years as a disciple, I would be one of those who would prefer not to read a chapter saturated with so many names. How grave a mistake I made! Genealogies aren’t just names (long names sometimes we can’t pronounce) but they show us the origin of an important individual crucial to the text at hand. It also shows us the connections between their ancestors in the Old Testament and how the promises of God come to pass in the New Testament.
Having said that, Matthew 1 deals with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 1:1, we are told that Jesus is “the Son of David.”I believe most of us are aware that Jesus is not the literal son of David, but He is his son in the sense that He descended from him. It is this verse that gives us a preview of what is to come not only in the remainder of the chapter but the rest of the book. The next 15 verses (vv. 2-16) detail for us 3 sections of the genealogy of Christ. The first section connects Abraham to David. The second section connects David to the deportation to Babylon. The third section connects the deportation to Babylon to Jesus. What is striking about these three sections is that each of them lists 14 generations. In fact, in Matthew 1:17 the Bible says,
“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.”
Any reader might quickly glance over this text without realizing an important aspect. The number 14 is repeated three times in verse 17. Such repetitions do not occur in the Bible without pointing us towards an essential connection. So, what is the significance of the number 14? Remember, we said that verse 1 would be pivotal in the rest of the chapter and the book. The important thing to consider is the phrase: “Son of David.”The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and many Jews in the 1stcentury were capable of understanding the language and its connections. The name David in Hebrew is written as: דוד. The first and third symbols is the letter daled (dalet). The middle symbol is vav. Daled is the 4thletter of the Hebrew alphabet and vav is the 6thletter. Thus, if you would add the letters with respect to their number occurrence in the alphabet you would get: 4+6+4= 14. David’s name numerically is equal to 14. How awesome is that! I hope by now you have seen the significance of the number 14 in Matthew 1.
God made a covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7 (read it along with Matthew 1 to see the beauty of its fulfillment) that one of his descendants would sit on the throne forever. Matthew tells us that Jesus was this descendant. Jesus Christ descended from David and would fulfill God’s covenant with David. The number 14 is stressed so we can understand that Jesus was the son God talked about and God’s promise to David took its full effect. The word of God is so powerful and so amazing. Let us never take it for granted but may we seek to always learn from it.