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Restoring Matthew 1:1-17 and Gospel According to the Hebrews

Shalom Chaverim,

As the Scripture Restoration Project continues, I have decided, for the time being, to go back to the beginning of Matthew and start working thru the Genealogy of Messiah found there. The nativity account found in Matthew chapters 1-2 is also the nativity account which was found in the Gospel according to the Hebrews (Which the Ebionites had removed from their version of GH).

There are three reasons we can know that the GH Nativity account parallels that of Matthew 1-2 for three reasons:

To begin with, the ancient hostile Rabbinic parody Gospel titled “Toldot Yeshu” (which appears to have been a parody on GH), by its very title, indicates that the original document (GH) opened with the words תולדות ישוע “Toldot Yeshua” (generations of Yeshua) near the beginning of the book.

Secondly the Gospel according to the Hebrews was anciently regarded as the original of Matthew, with our Matthew being an abridgment of GH. (Click here for more on this fact)

Finally, all of the Nativity material which appears in the surviving citations of GH, have parallels to Matthew 1-2 and none of them have parallels with the Nativity account in Luke.

So as I restore the original Hebrew of the first two chapters of Matthew, I will be simultaneously restoring the original Hebrew of the first two chapters of the Gospel according to the Hebrews.

I have followed the united testimony of the DuTillet and Shem Tob versions in reading אלה תולדות “these are the generations” and not “The Book of the Generations”. The fact that this unique reading is found in both of these Hebrew versions, points to their common ancestor (click here and here to better understand this significance and the relationship between these two texts). Moreover this reading gives us precisely seven words in Matthew 1:1 in parallel to Gen.1:1. (Read my Commentary on Matthew 1:1 for the structural parallel between Matthew 1:1 and Gen. 1:1)

The links I am providing help you to see how this project unfolds, and the rational basis for the choices I am making. This work of restoration is not arbitrary, but based on data and demonstrable relationships between sources.

In Matthew 1:8 The names of three kings are omitted here. These three names do appear in one of our ancient Aramaic Texts (Old Syriac (c)), however they are clearly not part of the original text of Matthew, since verse 17 (even in Old Syriac (c)) still counts only fourteen names. It was not unusual for ancient Hebrew genealogies to be abbreviated and omit names. For example if we compare the genealogy of Ezra as given in Ezra 7:1-5 1 with that given in 1Chron. 6:4-15 we find that the later genealogy given in Ezra also has omitted names.

In Matthew 1:13 there is a well known mistake in the Greek text of this passage. While the text itself claims to give three lists of fourteen names (Mt. 1:17), the Greek text contains only 13 names in the last list:

14 names from Abraham to David:

1. Abraham
2. Isaac
3. Jacob
4. Judas
5. Phares
6. Esrom
7. Aram
8. Aminadab
9. Naasson
10. Salmon
11. Boaz
12. Obed
13. Jesse
14. David

14 names from David to the carrying away to Babylon

1. Solomon
2. Roboam
3. Abia
4. Asa
5. Jehosaphat
6. Joram
7. Ozias
8. Joatham
9. Achaz
10. Ezekias
11. Manases
12 Amon
13. Josias
14. Jehonias (carrying away to Babylon)

13 names from carrying away to Babylon to Messiah

1. Salathiel
2. Zorobabel
3. Abiud
4. Eliakim
5. Azur
6. Sadoc
7. Achim
8. Eliud
9. Eleazar
10. Matthan
11. Jacob
12. Joseph
13. Yeshua/Jesus

However the DuTillet Hebrew manuscript of Matthew contains the missing Name “Abner” which occurs between Abiud and Eliakim in the DuTillet Hebrew text of Mt. 1:13. In Hebrew and Aramaic “d” (ד) and “r” (ר) look very much alike and are often misread for each other. In this case a scribe must have looked back up to his source manuscript and picked back up with the wrong name, thus omitting “Abner” from the list. The Greek text must have come from a Hebrew or Aramaic copy which lacked the name “Abner.” There is amazingly clear evidence for this. The Old Syriac Aramaic version of Matthew was lost from the fourth century until its rediscovery in the 19th century. (Click here to see the important relationship the Old Syraic holds to the DuTillet text) This ancient Aramaic text has “Aviur” where the Greek has “Aviud” thus catching the error in a sort of “freeze frame” and demonstrating the reliability of the reading in the Hebrew.

When I look at the marginal notes in an edition of Hebrew Matthew published by Johannes Quinquarboreus Aurilacensis (YQA) in 1551 I find something very interesting . (JQA was a student of Sebastian Munster.)

Muster had published an edition of Hebrew Matthew in 1537 from a manuscript he stated that he had obtained from “among the Jews”. JQA republished Munster’s Matthew text with marginal notes offering alternate readings. Unfortunately JQA did not tell us from where he derived these alternate readings? Were these readings his own Hebrew translations of Greek or Latin versions of Matthew or were that from other manuscripts of Hebrew Matthew?

I recently found a clear answer to this question while reviewing these marginal notes. I noticed that JQA gives a marginal note to אביהוד (Abihud) which reads נא אבנר. נא is a Hebrew abbreviation meaning “in another version” and אבנר is the name “Abner”. This reading makes it clear that these are alternate readings from other Hebrew manuscripts of Matthew. This is because this reading is a key variance in the DuTillet Hebrew version of Matthew. It is also significant that JQA published this variant in his column note in 1551, before the DuTillet manuscript was discovered and published in 1553.

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