A Jewish Tax Collector Connects to Old Testament Prophecy

Third in a series about my journey back to life after brain cancer surgery in 2004 and the depression that followed.

In previous blog posts, I began telling the story of my brain tumor and the depression which followed it.  The second article in the series described my faith in God which sustained me through both trials.

Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I’ll be publishing the book of Matthew a chapter at a time, with commentary to follow a week or so later. Hopefully people will contribute to a discussion on what the text says and debate my opinions on it.

Careful Translation of Others’ Words

Translator’s notes and headings are in italics, while headings and bold text are in regular font as they appeared in the 1984 German Bible Society edition. Verse numbers and most cross references from the German version were omitted for readability.

Synonyms were used to make the reading more interesting. Note five synonyms for begat in the genealogy of Jesus, where an entire life is sometimes compressed into three words. Children can build their vocabulary from a simple word and a less well known synonym and won’t need to refer to a dictionary as often.

There were no chapter and verse numbers in the original Greek text written by Matthew, one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples. Martin Luther translated Matthew’s account into German in 1522, and the German Bible Society revised it into modern German in 1984.

A Despised Tax Collector’s Persuasion

Matthew’s account was not a complete biography, but rather an attempt to persuade his Jewish readers that Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited Messiah.

The Romans were smart rulers in the ancient world, keeping the famous Pax Romana (Roman peace) by building roads, viaducts and other infrastructure. They got local people in conquered countries to collect the necessary taxes to run their government. Each province was required to pay a certain amount. If the local tax collector raised more than that he was allowed to keep the difference.

In most cases the temptation to collect more than a reasonable wage was overwhelming, and tax collectors grew wealthy by cheating their fellow countrymen. So the fiercely nationalistic Jews despised tax collectors as traitors as well as hating their Roman oppressors.

Matthew was an unlikely gospel (Good News) writer – saved by grace out of a despised group of people, and probably dishonest himself. Jesus fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies concerning Himself, and Matthew mentions many of the important ones in his account.  

So without further introduction, here is

The Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 1

            A tax collector’s connection to Old Testament prophecy

Word-by-word English translation from Martin Luther’s German, revised by the German Bible Society 1984

Jesus’ Family Tree

This is the book of the history of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, Jacob begat Judah and his brothers.

Judah procreated Perez and Zerah with Tamar. Perez procreated Hezron. Hezron procreated Ram. Ram generated Amminadab. Amminadab generated Nahshon. Nahshon generated Salmon.

Salmon produced Boaz with Rahab. Boaz produced Obed with Ruth. Obed produced Jesse.

Jesse created the King David. David created Solomon with the wife of Uriah.

Solomon begat Rehoboam. Rehoboam begat Abijah. Abijah begat Asa. Asa procreated Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat procreated Joram. Joram procreated Uzziah.

Uzziah generated Jotham. Jotham generated Ahaz. Ahaz generated Hezekiah.

Hezekiah produced Manasseh. Manasseh produced Amon. Amon produced Josiah.

Josiah created Jeconiah and his brothers around the time of the Babylonian captivity. After the Babylonian imprisonment, Jeconiah begat Shealtiel. Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel.

Zerubbabel procreated Abiud. Abiud procreated Eliakim. Eliakim procreated Azor. Azor generated Zadok. Zadok generated Akim. Akim generated Eliud. Eliud produced Eleazar. Eleazar produced Matthan. Matthan produced Jacob.

Jacob created Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who then was called Christ.

All the limbs from Abraham up to David are fourteen members. From David up to the Babylonian internment are fourteen limbs. From the Babylonian confinement up to Christ are fourteen members.

Jesus’ Birth

The birth of Jesus the Messiah happened like this: It became apparent that Mary, his mother, whom Joseph had trusted, was pregnant by the Holy Spirit before he took her home.[i]

But Joseph, her husband, was merciful and did not want to bring her into disgrace, but thought to leave her secretly.

While he was still considering this, see, there appeared to him the angel of the Lord in a dream and spoke, “Joseph, you son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, to yourself, for what she has conceived, that is from the Holy Ghost. And she will bear a son, whom you shall give the name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

This all happened, so that it would be fulfilled, what the Lord said through the Prophets, who then spoke (Isaiah 7:14):

“See, a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and she will give him the name Immanuel;” which means when translated: God with us.

When now Joseph awoke from sleep, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took his wife to himself.

And he did not touch[ii]  her until she bore a son; and he gave him the name Jesus.  


[i] See glossary under “Betrothal.” The Jewish betrothal represents a legally binding promise of marriage. The conjugal intercourse would first be taken up after the home-taking of the bride by the bridegroom.

[ii] Or “handle”, meaning in this context to have sexual relations with her. Roman Catholic, most Protestant, and Orthodox churches agree on the Virgin Birth, one of the basic doctrines of historic Christianity. Liberalism would reduce Jesus to a mere man, a good teacher who was born of a young woman in the natural way.

Individual beliefs within churches about the Virgin Birth, the eternal triune God becoming a man, vary, including pastors. However, Jesus either had a miraculous birth by union of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, with a virgin or he did not. There is no middle ground.

Translator’s notes and headings are in italics, while headings and bold text are in regular font as they appeared in the 1984 German Bible Society edition. Verse numbers and most cross references from the German version have been omitted for readability. Permission is granted to copy this freely for individual or group Bible studies as long as passages are quoted in their entirety and proper attribution is given. Copyright Dale Murrish 2013.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kristen Skladd January 27, 2013 at 01:05 AM
Great blog post once again, Dale! Glad to have you writing for Patch!
Dale Murrish January 28, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Thanks for the kind words. Evangelical Christians have always been strong supporters of Israel's right to exist and human rights for everyone, despite being misrepresented by others who don't understand their point of view. Human beings are all flawed and fall short of God's commands - I'm for freedom of religion. Freedom to choose and change one's religion, not have someone tell me what to believe. America has the most freedom of any country on earth in this regard - may it ever be so!
cookiepro2 January 28, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Dale, Thank you for the translation and the interesting historical contextual notes. Looking forward to the next installment.
Dale Murrish January 30, 2013 at 10:34 PM
ZZ, I agree with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor who dismissed those late in life writings of Martin Luther as the writings of a madman. Bonhoeffer ultimately gave his own life to oppose Hitler’s persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany. Eric Metaxas, who wrote an excellent biography of Bonhoeffer, will speak at Woodside Bible Church February 19: http://www.gotothehub.com/liveevents/bonhoeffertour/ “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” — DIETRICH BONHOEFFER You know darn well I will not be defending these racist writings of Luther; when he got to heaven he found out he was wrong. No doubt it caused him much pain and regret to have his seriously wrong writings used to justify mass murder in later times. Typical leftist thought, though. Focus on the 1% error to justify trashing the 99% good someone does! We are not yet in heaven, as Ronald points out so well. There is still real evil here on earth. If it is not restrained (by force as a last resort), evil wins. We can’t all be pacifists. Only those who live in civilized countries with rule of law have that luxury or they will be slaughtered as Ronald described. (Most anti-religionists are not genuine pacifists, but rather leftists.)
Dale Murrish January 30, 2013 at 10:36 PM
No disrespect towards Jews was intended. Most early Christians were Jews who were saved by grace from their rebellion against God, just like Old Testament Jewish believers in God were saved by grace. Plenty of non-Christians also believe in God. There was and is no difference between Jew and Gentile. All of us fall short of the glory of God and need rescue from our rebellion. I agree that people should stop coercing and killing each other over religion. Christians haven’t done this for several hundred years. (The Nazis were not Christians.) Most “religious wars” were defensive or were not really about religion, but about one group of people trying to control another group of people. The number of people killed by atheist regimes (the least peaceful religion with the possible exception of Islam) in the last century is far greater. People should have the freedom to choose and change their religion.
John David January 31, 2013 at 01:24 AM
Dale, you continue to make the broad unsubstantiated claim that"The Nazis were not Christians". However, authoritative sources indicate German Christian churches' complicity with Nazis and support of them and their anti-Semitic beliefs. For example http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005206. Even German evangelicals were divided regarding Nazism. You can't claim that groups you do not personally agree with, like Nazis or the KKK, were not supported by Christians or that Christians did not comprised much of their membership.
Daffy Noodnicks January 31, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Typical Dale Murrish: sweeping generalizations, misdirection, change the subject.
Daffy Noodnicks January 31, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Dale's statements about atheism are also unsubstantiated illogical false dichotomies, based on sweeping generalizations. I assume he is refering to communist/stalinists regimes. This is a preposterous hasty generalization (law of small numbers) and another irrational rhetorical technique Dale uses to change the subject from something he doesn't want to adress, and attack some group he finds threatening. To assert that Stalinists shared the same "religion" with anyone else who doesn't believe in a supreme being is ridiculous (also a straw man argument, yet another illogical argument). Almost as ridiculous as saying not believing in religion is a religion. Thats sort of like saying being barefoot is a kind of a shoe.
Dale Murrish February 01, 2013 at 01:34 AM
John David, I drew my conclusions on this complex subject from Eric Metaxas’ 500+ page biography Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. No Nazi leader was a Christian. Catholic priests, Poles and Slavs were also systematically persecuted by the Nazis. The state-controlled “German Christians” were either co-opted or coerced by the Nazis. Some evangelicals stood by or were afraid to speak up. Others like Bonhoeffer actively resisted and paid for it with their lives. Perhaps some genuine Christians were in error like Luther and have since repented of their sin, either on earth or when they got to heaven. Not everyone who calls himself a Christian is one. KKK members may have used Christian symbols, but few if any were actually Christians. I’ll make a deal with you. Read Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer biography, Dennis Prager’s Still the Best Hope: Why the World needs American Values to Triumph, or Mark Levin’s Ameritopia (both authors are Jewish). Tell everyone what you think of them in a blog post and then I’ll read and comment on your “authoritative source.” http://www.ericmetaxas.com/ http://stores.dennisprager.com/PROD/DPBK6a.html http://www.marklevinshow.com/home.asp We should focus our efforts on blocking countries that want to wipe Israel off the map and criticizing current leaders who make anti-Semitic remarks. The Nazi swastika is a twisted cross.
Aviva February 01, 2013 at 01:41 AM
Dale wrote: "I agree that people should stop coercing and killing each other over religion. Christians haven’t done this for several hundred years. " Please don't forget Northern Ireland. The Troubles certainly were not "several hundred years" ago. And what about Christians persecuting gay people in Uganda? That is happening now. Christians are calling for the DEATH of gay people. What about all of the Pogroms that took place in Europe even into the 20th century? Christians murdering Jews. What about the persecution of Native Americans and First Nation people of Canada? Children were forced to go to "White" schools and practice Christianity also into the 20th century. I really wish the Patch would delete this article. The headline is offensive.
John David February 01, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Sorry, Dale, but I don't buy you or anyone else making 100% categorical remarks (no true Christians were in the KKK or Nazi Party, among others). You make blanket statements that involve millions of individuals and large organizations which cannot possibly be true, particularly if it involves Christianity or appears to bring shame to Christianity. When it involves Christianity, you say things like " Christians haven't done bad things in hundreds of years", "Christians could never be members of a racist organization", "Christians could never have been members of a fascist organization". Yet in the case particularly of the KKK, millions of Protestant Christians joined the organization, taking part in actions against blacks, Jews, Catholics, and any group they felt threatened "true" Americans and "their" way of life. Your own home state in the 1920s had the largest KKK membership in the country. You deny that this can be true, because you personally believe no "true" Christian could ever be in such a group, whatever a "true" Christian really is (yes, we all know you know with specific certainty who and who are not "true" Christians). Your 100% categorical denial that Christians were not in those groups comes off as willful blindness. The only credit I can give you is that you agree that the churches were complicit by not opposing Nazism, although their leaders and congregations were more involved than having "just stood by".
Dale Murrish February 01, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Like most of your examples (I’m not familiar enough with some of them to comment), the Troubles in Ireland were far more about politics than theology. Big Ants controlling the Little Ants. When one group of people is carefully taught to hate another group of people you have violent actions that should be blocked or punished. I condone no violence, except in self-defense or in extreme cases like Dietrich Bonhoeffer: prevention of a greater crime like the mass murders in Nazi Germany. He compared taking part in the assassination plot against Hitler to shooting a drunk driver who was mowing down people on a pedestrian-only street to prevent more pedestrian deaths. The problem is, once the bullets start flying, you have the Hatfields and the McCoys on a national scale – that’s what we have in the Middle East (people taught to hate each other, then revenge for family members killed). The solution there will be thorny if it is ever found. No one should be forced to believe in a religion or attend a school against their will. Some in America's urban schools are trapped in dangerous, low performing schools by economic circumstances. Efforts to "free the hostages" with options like more charter schools that empower parents and students are being blocked by the MEA, which recently called in sick en masse so its members could protest for its union rights in Lansing. Meanwhile, 26,000 students sat home.
John David February 01, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Dale, The while some of the violence in Northern Ireland has been political, religious bigotry, discrimination, violence and killing has been real problem. Political and religious institutions of the dominant protestant majority have long oppressed the Catholic minority, including annual provocative Protestant marches through Catholic neighborhoods and actions against Catholics by Protestant dominated and controlled police and paramilitary groups. Ian Paisley, an outspoken Protestant preacher exemplifies the Protestant bigotry and discrimination towards Catholics because of their religion. I won't be like you and say categorically that only Protestants engage in violence, provocation or hate in Northern Ireland, or that there is no political side to the troubles, but it is religious hatred abd bigotry that is the root of the problems in Northern Ireland, not politics.
Dale Murrish February 04, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Religious bigotry IS political, not theologians arguing fine points of doctrine. That can and has been done peacefully. That’s my point. People are carefully taught to hate another group of people. I oppose all forms of religious bigotry – which is condemned throughout the Bible, by the way. Professing Christians throughout history who hated another group of people for their religious views were not following the Bible. They were in error and will be corrected for their sin when they get to heaven.
John David February 04, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Typical. You are utterly biased. By the way, your "Big Ants controlling Little Ants" is very unfeeling and unsympathetic towards the thousands killed and maimed in Northern Ireland because of their beliefs, as well as the denial of human and civil rights, including jobs, housing, education and other rights by the Bible believing Protestants against the Catholics. You praise Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce, but in reality you don't understand either of them nor would you ever be capable of emulating them. You are unbelievable.
Daffy Noodnicks February 05, 2013 at 12:43 AM
"People are carefully taught to hate another group of people." I agree entirely, suc as when a blogger writes that a socially marginalized group of people aren't "normal". I also suggest looking up the No True Scotsman fallacy because you are up to your elbows in illogical hypocrisy as usual.
Kristen Skladd February 06, 2013 at 03:51 PM
Hello everyone, Please remember we all have the right to our own opinion and you are welcome to share yours by blogging on Patch like Dale. Please visit http://troy.patch.com/blog/apply. Thanks.


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