THE REVERSAL OF EVIL
We finished our last post with the thesis, drawn largely from the work of Dr. Michael Heiser, that Second Temple Judaism saw in Genesis 6:1-4, not only the story of a supernatural rebellion, but one of the central passages in biblical theology and in understanding God’s plan in history: “Yes, the entrance of sin into God’s good world occurred in Eden, but the unanimous testimony of Second Temple Judaism is that the Watchers are to blame for the proliferation of evil on the earth.” Since the New Testament writers belonged to Second Temple Judaism, this understanding of the Watchers being responsible for the spread of evil on earth, and the theme of reversing the effects of this evil, had to be part of their theology. “Consequently, it should be no surprise that the sin of the Watchers was in the back of their minds as they wrote about what the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth must, did, and would reverse at His coming and return.” The New Testament writers knew that Jesus’ mission was the reversal of evil – and if they believed that the evil was brought and spread by the Watchers, then Jesus had to reverse what the Watchers did.
Let us try to see the traces of this Second Temple theology in the gospels. We will discover the allusions to the Watchers and their sin and to the evil they brought, and you will be surprised to see that these allusions, once discovered, shed light on some quizzical Scriptures—all of a sudden, questions that you’ve tried to answer for a long time, will find clear answers.
And here is the first question – the one that has probably been asked an endless number of times by an endless number of people since the Gospel of Matthew was written: Why are the four women named by Matthew in Jesus’ genealogy, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba? There are four traditional Biblical matriarchs in Israel: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah (we even sing a song about arba imahot –Four Mothers); if Matthew decided to include women, and to include four of them, would it not be more logical, to have these four mothers in the genealogy of the Jewish Messiah? Why aren’t the matriarchs mentioned at all, while these four women are named explicitly in Jesus’ bloodline?
Let us have a quick look at these women.
Tamar – the story of Tamar is found in Genesis 38. She is probably a Canaanite woman (although the text doesn’t say so explicitly); she is a widow; after the double tragedy she experienced (the death of her two husbands), it seemed that she would remain childless; however, she disguises herself as a prostitute and deceives Judah, her father-in-law, in order to have a child from him. “When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face.” From this union, Perez is born, and from him will descend David – and Jesus. Interestingly enough, we find no condemnation of Tamar in the Torah, although it is clear that her desperate deed was not some regular, normative or exemplary action.
Rahab – we find the story of Rahab in the book of Joshua, in chapters 2 and 6. Unlike Tamar, who was disguised as a prostitute, Rahab really was a prostitute. She lives in Jericho and she is certainly a Gentile. The Book of Joshua tells us that “Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”
Ruth (from the book of Ruth) – Like Rahab, Ruth is clearly a Gentile, a Moabite. Her background itself is of interest: for Israel, Moabite women were associated with seduction and idolatry. This association comes from the well-known episode in the wilderness in Numbers 25 when the Israelites became involved with women from Moab and followed them into idolatry. However, besides her background, Ruth does something that, as in case of Tamar, should have an “improper” feel to later Jewish readers. In Chapter 3, “she went down to the threshing floor … And after Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down” . “The Hebrew word translated ‘feet’ (regel) is a well-known euphemism for genitalia in the Hebrew Bible… By uncovering Boaz’s ‘feet’ (genitalia), Ruth is, in effect, offering herself as a wife to Boaz. Given the patriarchal setting of Israelite culture, this was a transgression of the way things were usually done.”
Bathsheba – everyone would know the story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:1- 27) – and clearly, as in the previous stories, a sexual transgression is also evident here.
Thus, we can see that all four women in Matthew 1 are connected in some way with illicit sexual relations. The New Testament scholar Amy Richter believes that what she calls the “Enochic Watchers Template” is essential for understanding the women in the genealogy of Jesus: “According to the Enochic Watchers’ Template, evil came into the world when the Watchers transgressed their heavenly boundary to engage in illicit sexual contact with women and teach them illicit arts…. The consequences of the Watchers’ transgression are violence, unrighteousness, evil, idolatry, and disease.” She believes that all four women of the Hebrew Bible named by Matthew in his genealogy of Jesus are connected with the Enochic Watchers’ Template – and therefore they foreshadow the reversal of the Watchers’ transgression that the Messiah would bring.
We can now answer the question why these four women are named by Matthew. The sin of the Watchers was sexual in its nature, and the consequences of the Watchers’ fall are evident in all the four stories, and this is the main reason for these women to be included in the genealogy of the Messiah who would bring about the reversal and repair of the consequences of the Watchers’ sin. An essential part of Jewish tradition is a belief that when the Messiah comes, all things will be repaired (even pigs will become kosher)—and if we remember the fall of the Watchers, we can see this belief already reflected in Matthew’s genealogy.
 Heiser, Michael S. Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Kindle Locations 107).