“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations” (Matthew 1:17).
Lot of numbers in the Bible have significance: six days of creation, twelve disciples, forty days and nights of rain. But what about fourteen? Why does Matthew make us notice the three sets of generations in the ancestry of Jesus Christ? Actually, Matthew skips a few names so that it will fit this pattern. Why?
Some commentators suggest it made it easy to rememember in a time when oral tradition was important. Others say it shows God’s orderly plan and purpose at work here rather than a random occurance. Still others notice that three times fourteen is forty-two, the number of days in six weeks, which could correspond to the six days of creation. When the number fourteen shows up in Scripture, it’s often a time reference, like “a couple of weeks.”
Since Matthew was a tax collector, he might have been a numbers guy, and liked it when the numbers added up. I’m a numbers guy and appreciate patterns and symmetry. As he thought about the history of his people, Matthew may have noticed the rise of God’s people from Abraham to King David, their fall into sin and Babylonian exile, followed by the coming of the one who would make all things new. I’m seeing a little creation-fall-redemption pattern here. Another reminder of the gospel, which always adds up to good news.