The gospel of Matthew opens with a detailed genealogy of Jesus Christ, from Adam to Joseph. In the time of Jesus, a person’s ancestry was crucial to members of the Jewish faith. A Jew traced his or her tribal lineage to one of the twelve sons of Jacob (also called Israel), which was important for land ownership as well as proof of Jewish heritage.
Most readers of Matthew’s gospel don’t take the time to read through all the unfamiliar names, but those who do will notice something unusual: five women are mentioned. Modern Christians will likely not realize the impact of this inclusion. Biblical scholars, however, will know that women were considered very insignificant during the time of Christ and were not normally mentioned in a person’s genealogy; especially since a Jewish man might have multiple wives. These five women are all mentioned in the Old Testament by name and most are not the type of women one would associate with the Savior.