Our introduction to the message this week refers to this illustration “Genealogy of Christ” by Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman, which was inspired by Matthew 1:1-17.
The women mentioned in the genealogy are imaged as foundational leaves building and upholding Christ. All of the women are looking at the viewer and holding objects to represent the fact that they took their life and survival into their own hands. They were catalysts who propelled the lineage forward.
In the bottom left, Tamar holds her father-in-law’s insignia, which represents how she assumes his role as the leader of the tribe of Judah and continues its lineage.¹ Moving counterclockwise, Rahab holds the red cord which she lowered to ensure the safety of her family after supplying Israelite spies enough information to achieve victory in Jericho. Next, Ruth holds the wheat that she gleaned from the field. She knows that she must marry again in order to be protected, and so she takes initiative with Boaz. Bathesheba’s name isn’t even mentioned in Christ’s genealogy; she is referred to as the “wife of Uriah.” She withstands abuse from King David, survives the murder of her husband, and ensures that her son Solomon takes the throne. She takes matters into her own hands, becoming, as scholar Dr. Wil Gafney writes, “the queen mother of the united monarchy of Israel.” Finally, there is Mary who looks adoringly at the rose which represents her son. Here she holds the love and pride of a beautiful lineage that leads to the birth of her son, the Messiah.
These women only wanted to ensure safety for themselves and for their children; in the process they ensured the continuation of the lineage of Christ. Without their brilliance, passion, ingenuity, resourcefulness, creativity, and sacrifice, the lineage would have ended.