Was Rahab Too Old To Be In The Royal Lineage?

Was Rahab Too Old To Be In The Royal Lineage?

Curt Wildy

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; 3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse… Matthew 1:1-5

“…Nathan, which was [the son] of David, 32 Which was [the son] of Jesse, which was [the son] of Obed, which was [the son] of Booz, which was [the son] of Salmon, which was [the son] of Naasson, 33 Which was [the son] of Aminadab, which was [the son] of Aram, which was [the son] of Esrom, which was [the son] of Phares, which was [the son] of Juda, 34 Which was [the son] of Jacob, which was [the son] of Isaac, which was [the son] of Abraham…” Luke 3:31

Introduction

The following statement was made by someone who does not believe that Rahab the Harlot could have been in the lineage of King David and the Lord Jesus Christ. I chose it because similar arguments abound, so this quote is somewhat representative.

If Rahab the harlot, a Canaanite woman, was the mother of Booz in Christ’s genealogy, the Jews will say that  Christ was not the Messiah because the Messiah could not have been born from a lineage that was not pure Israelite. The importance of this should be self evident. There is no proof whatsoever that Rahab the harlot is the same as Rachab in Christ’s lineage…

There are approximately 768 years from the time of Judah’s birth in circa 1758 BC to the time of David’s birth in circa 990 BC.   This is an average of 76.8 years between each generation.   Applying this average, Salma, who begat Booz of Rachab, would’ve lived around circa 1277‑1050 BC.  Assuming Rahab the harlot was at least 15 years old in 1444 BC when the “Wars of the Lord” ended (meaning that Joshua would’ve been 100 years old), she would have lived around circa 1460­‑1340 BC.  Based this average, Rahab the harlot would’ve died long before Salma was born. Therefore, Rachab, the mother of Booz, could not have been Rahab the harlot. http://study.faithweb.com/study/Was%20Jesus%20of%20Rahab/Rahab.html

Such an argument (with an accompanying chart provided on the page at issue) looks convincing, but it is not. It is all based upon erroneous conjecture concerning what they believe a generation should be. Instead of guessing and speculating, it behooves us to consider…

The Biblical Testimony

Please consider the following passages:

Numbers 32:10 And the LORD’S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying, 11 Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:  12 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD. 13 And the LORD’S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed.

Numbers 1:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first [day] of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, 2 Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of [their] names, every male by their polls; 3 From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies. 4 And with you there shall be a man of every tribe; every one head of the house of his fathers. 5 And these [are] the names of the men that shall stand with you: of [the tribe of] Reuben; Elizur the son of Shedeur. 6 Of Simeon; Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. 7 Of Judah; Nahshon the son of Amminadab.

Ruth 4:18 Now these [are] the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, 19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, 20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon (Salma/Salmah),  21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, 22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

Exodus 6:23 And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

1 Chronicles 2:3 The sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah: [which] three were born unto him of the daughter of Shua the Canaanitess. And Er, the firstborn of Judah, was evil in the sight of the LORD; and he slew him. 4 And Tamar his daughter in law bare him Pharez and Zerah. All the sons of Judah [were] five. 5 The sons of Pharez; Hezron, and Hamul. 6 And the sons of Zerah; Zimri, and Ethan, and Heman, and Calcol, and Dara: five of them in all. 7 And the sons of Carmi; Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the thing accursed. 8 And the sons of Ethan; Azariah. 9 The sons also of Hezron, that were born unto him; Jerahmeel, and Ram (Aram), and Chelubai (Caleb).10 And Ram begat Amminadab; and Amminadab begat Nahshon, prince of the children of Judah; 11 And Nahshon begat Salma, and Salma begat Boaz, 12 And Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, 13 And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third,7  14 Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh

Matthew 1:4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse…

Based upon the passages above, we can list out the order of birth as follows:

  • Judah begat Pharez and Zerah of Tamar;
  • Pharez begat Hezron;
  • Hezron begat Ram;
  • Ram begat Amminadab;
  • Amminadab begat Nahshon (and Elisheba, the wife of Aaron; Nahshon would have been at least twenty during the second year of the Exodus);
  • Nahshon begat Salma (Salmah/Salmon);
  • Salma begat Boaz of Rachab;
  • Boaz begat Obed of Ruth;
  • Obed begat Jesse;
  • Jesse begat David the king;

It is important to note that Nahshon was called a prince of Judah two years after the Exodus as per Numbers 1:7. It is also important to note that his son, Salma/Salmah/Salmon, would have been nineteen years old or younger when the Israelites began their entry into the land under Joshua’s leadership, as per Numbers 32:11. This would make Salmon and Rahab the Harlot contemporaries and likely close in age. This alone evidences the fact that Rahab the Harlot is in view in Matthew 1:5. Moreover, the argument that “the Messiah could not have been born from a lineage that was not pure Israelite” is clearly refuted in the very same verse given that Ruth is listed in the genealogy. Some try to argue that Ruth was an Israelite living in Moab and not a true Moabitess; however, this is absurd reasoning given the fact that Ruth is called a Moabitess five times in the Book of Ruth whereas Naomi (who was clearly an Israelitess) was never called a Moabitess even though she too lived in Moab for a time. Some amongst the self-righteous, not being satisfied, argue that Rahab could not be in the lineage of Christ because no harlot would be in His genealogy. Sadly, they are ignorant of the fact that we are all harlots by nature.

What About The Gaps In Time

Many struggle over the chronological issue because they believe that the timeline covering the books of Joshua (when Salmon and Rahab likely wed), Judges (during the time of Ruth), and 1 Samuel (particularly chapter 16 when David is anointed king by God) is too vast a period for only Salmon, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse to cover. The Jews of old struggled over this as well and had two conflicting explanations. One traditional point of view states that Salmon serves as a “bridge” or “ladder” representing several people in the lineage who were left out to maintain the numerical symbolism of the genealogy.

I do not see a need for such an argument; I believe that the second traditional viewpoint is the most accurate — Salmon, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse all lived very long periods of time. The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia cites Jewish rabbinical tradition (the Midrash) stating that Boaz was 80 and Ruth was 40 when they met. Others, though less frequently, give him an age of 120 years old or more when he met Ruth (see http://creationwiki.org/Boaz). I do not presume to know the age of Boaz, but I would point out the following:

  • Moses was 120 years old when he died and “his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated” (Deuteronomy 34:7);
  • Aaron, the uncle of Salmon by marriage, was 123 years old when he died in mount Hor (Numbers 33:39);
  • Joshua was 110 years old when he died (Joshua 24:29). When he was 85 years old, Joshua stated concerning himself “…I [am as] strong this day as [I was] in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength [was] then, even so [is] my strength now…;”
  • Gideon the son of Joash died in an unspecified “good old age” (Judges 8:32);
  • Eli was 98 years old and his eyes were dim, that he could not see (however, he died not from natural causes, but from falling backwards as we read in 1 Samuel 4:18); and
  • Jesse “went among men [for] an old man in the days of Saul” showing that his life span was longer than the average.

We read in Ruth 4:13 “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.” The fact that the Bible specifically states that “the LORD gave her conception” may be indicative of the fact that though Boaz was quite old, the Lord blessed his seed nonetheless. We read in Ruth 3:10 “…Blessed [be] thou of the LORD, my daughter: [for] thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.” The strong implication is that Boaz was of significant age (eighty or more as per tradition). From a genetic point of view (though all is in the hands of God), he likely passed his proclivity for long life down to Obed and Jesse. It is reasonable to believe that if Jesse “went for an old man in the days of Saul,” Obed likely lived to be of lengthy age as well (reinforcing the likelihood that Boaz lived for some time). Moreover, by seeing the ages of Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Eli, we can see that it wasn’t impossible for men like Nahshon and Salma to have lengthy lifespans and to pass it on down their lineage to Boaz. It is true that David was only 70 years old when he died, but the hardships of his life are argued by many to be the cause of his early death.  Solomon died young, but his death at around sixty is often attributed to the gravity of his sin and the temporal punishment for it.

Summary

If we go by God’s word alone, it becomes clear that Rahab the Harlot was the mother of Boaz by Salmon. Despite her past, and despite her being a gentile, this elect sinner was saved by grace and blessed providentially by being the Great-great-grandmother of David. More importantly, through the womb of Rahab came the ancestors of Mary and through the womb of Mary came God Incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David. Far too many have their own agendas and want to force the Bible to say what it does not say. Rahab teaches us many lessons if God gives us ears to hear; to Him be the glory.

Discussion continued here.

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