“And Judah begat Pharez and Zara of Tamar; and Pharez begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram.” – Matthew 1:3
“And Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab; and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse.” – Matthew 1:5
“And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah.” – Matthew 1:6The Scriptures above come from the genealogy of Jesus as found in Matthew. I have emphasized the names (and standardized the spelling) of the four women found in the genealogy. Rahab and Ruth were both Gentiles, and Tamar was possibly a Gentile.
In addition to these women listed in the genealogy of Jesus, there are others that contributed to the advancement of the seed of Abraham as intended by the Lord.
Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, was pregnant with twins. She was told by the Lord that the elder son, Esau, would serve the younger, Jacob. When she found that Isaac, who knew of the Lord’s prophecy, intended to give the birthright to Esau, she took matters into her own hands and tricked Isaac. (Genesis 27:6-29) Jacob received the blessing as intended by the Lord.
When Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, saw that he was not going to take the necessary steps to continue his bloodline through his sons, which the Lord intended to include the Messiah, Jesus, she took matters into her own hands and became pregnant by Judah. Her son, Pharez, is listed in the genealogy above.
The result of the actions of Tamar are shown in the Book of Ruth. At the very end of the book the generations from Pharez (Tamar’s son) to David are listed. If you count you will find there are ten generations. The importance of this number is found in Deuteronomy 23:2 which states that an illegitimate child (Pharez was illegitimate) cannot enter “the congregation of the Lord” until the tenth generation. King David was the tenth generation.
Rahab the harlot, was instrumental in the success of the men that were sent by Joshua to spy on the city of Jericho. One of the men was Salmon who later married Rahab. Their son, Boaz, married Ruth the Moabitess who became the great-grandmother of King David.
The following quote from Alastair Roberts makes a very interesting observation about some of the women in the royal genealogy of the Lord Jesus:
“One dressed up as a harlot (Tamar), another was a harlot (Rahab), a further one came from a nation that acted the harlot with Israel (Ruth) and the final one had an adulterous relationship with the king of Israel (Bathsheba). In the whole of the canon of Scripture a prominent theme is that by which God takes a cheap whore and transforms her into a virgin bride.”
Guess who the cheap whore is that was transformed into a virgin bride. It is us! We are all fallen sinners. Praise God for His plan which began before the earth was formed! (Titus 1:2) Praise Him for His mercy and His grace! Praise Him always!