Jesus and the secret number

A sample from “The Jewish
Background of the new testament course”

The ancient Jewish interpretive method

The number fourteen is a clear example of gematria – a Jewish interpretive method that assigns numbers to each Hebrew letter. For example: The first Hebrew letter Aleph (א) equals 1, Dalet (ד), the fourth letter, equals 4, and Vav(ו) the sixth letter equals 6. Gematria calculates the numerical value of a particular word and then matches it with another word with the exact same numerical value, thus revealing a connection between them. 

So, why fourteen?

Matthew builds his genealogy around the number 14 because David’s name in Hebrew (דוד) has a value of 14. ד(dalet) + ו (vav) + ד (dalet), or 4 + 6 + 4 = 14. Also, David is the fourteenth name listed in the genealogy. The emphasis on David here is abundantly clear. Matthew uses the number fourteen to connect Jesus to King David, and thus presents his genealogy in a distinctively Jewish way.

Discover the Jewish background

Both genealogy and gematria were important to first century Jews. Therefore, it was very important to Matthew to use this number and make the connection between Jesus and David obvious. Enroll in our upcoming “Jewish Background of the New Testament” course and you will significantly deepen your knowledge of the Jewish theological, historical, linguistic and archaeological backgrounds of the New Testament.