New Light on Notable Points of Controversy
By Henry V.A. Parsell
It is very probable that the majority of those who have studied the life of Jesus the Christ, as related in the New Testament, have read through the genealogies in Matthew and in Luke and have supposed that Jesus had no other ancestors.
The genealogy given in Luke iii; 23-38 is very complete, giving a line of descent from God Himself, through Abraham and through David to Jesus; seventy-seven names in all, or eleven groups of seven each.
Matthew’s list of the progenitors of Jesus begins only at Abraham and proceeds to give but three groups of fourteen each, or forty-two generations down to Jesus. For this same period, Luke gives fifty-six generations. So between the lists of Matthew and of Luke there is a difference of fourteen generations from the time of Abraham down to Jesus.
Naturally, Biblical students and scholars have sought the explanation of these differences, and three methods of reconciling the two lists have arisen; one is based on the Laws of Adoption; another on the possibility of Levirate marriages having occurred in the line of descent; and the third, and weakest, is based on the plurality of the names of these ancient worthies and the possibility of their being recorded in duplicate owing to their similarity.
Recent scholars take, a new view of these difficulties, and some of them have concluded that Luke’s genealogy is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and that Matthew’s list is that of Jesus only.
Whether this view be true or not, let us accept it for the purpose of our present study, which is to compute the unknown ancestry of Jesus. For this undertaking we will construct a table from the genealogy by Matthew as follows:
|Joseph and Mary||Parents||2|
|Eleazar||Great, great grandparents||16|
|Eliud||etc., doubling at each generation||32|
|The total sum is………..||2,104,023,252,670|
|Ancestors given above||41|
This we must regard as the actual number of progenitors of Jesus who are entirely unrecorded in Matthew. It will be noted that this number is only calculated back to Abraham. We will not weary our readers by stating what the result would have been had we used Luke’s list.
A difficulty would have arisen had the genealogy from Luke been used, for the problem of the Flood would have been encountered, with the re-peopling of the entire world after that event. But this trouble might perhaps be met by the passage from the Fourth Conference of the Count de Cabalis, which relates that: “Noah, growing wise by the fatal example of Adam, consented that his wife Vesta should yield to the Salamander Oromasis, the Prince of Fiery Substances; and likewise persuaded his three sons to give their three wives to the Princes of the Three other Elements. The Universe by this means was in a short time re-peopled with so heroic, knowing, beautiful and rare Men that their posterity, dazzled with their Virtues, took them for Deities.”
It is fortunate that these unknown ancestors of Jesus have remained un-recorded, for it would require an immense library to store all the books required for such a set of records. Let us see how this figures out. There is told of an unhappy Prince of Grenada, heir to the Spanish throne, that he was imprisoned for thirty-three years in the Place of Skulls, Madrid, and that during this confinement he made a great study of the Bible. Among various interesting results he found that the entire Bible contains 724,732 words. Now if each of these words were replaced by a name of one of the progenitors of Jesus figured as above, it would require no less than 2,903,174 books as large as the Bible to record the names of this ancestry! This would be for the names only, without a word to indicate the relationships in each instance.
There is good reason to believe that there may be some occult meaning hidden in this genealogical list of Matthew, for in the 17th verse of this first chapter we read:- “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” Here we have the number fourteen given three times in very unequivocal language, a total of forty-two generations.
The Shatapatha Brahmana contains an allegory of “Fourteen Precious Things” but they are not specifically mentioned because their properties, for occult purposes, are explained only at the Fourth Initiation in the Hindu system.
The Secret Doctrine tells us that in the Laws of Manu it is stated that there are fourteen Manus for every Kalpa, or interval from creation to creation. There are also seven Dawns and seven Twilights, or fourteen Manvantaras. These are typified in almost a microcosmic way by the seven days and seven nights in each week of our earthly calendar.
The physical basis of Nature is four, the number of the four elements. Passing upward through the nine Rosicrucian Degrees and out by the ineffable Tenth the Initiate would arrive at a state of unfoldment based on the Four Elements plus the Ten Degrees, making a total of Fourteen steps. Repeating a like process in each of the Three Heavens would bring him to a state of perfection incomprehensible to ordinary mortals.
Another way of considering these three periods of fourteen is to suppose that the Initiate performs the Thirteen Alchemical Operations on each plane of life, passing at the fourteenth step into the next plane.
As the Four Elements are the basis of the visible world, so Fourteen is the number of the basis of the mental world. The ancient Greeks associated the number fourteen with Reincarnation, for in returning to earth the soul takes on again a visible, human form; and the number of humanity is five, or one plus four (14 in Kabala reduces to 5).
The Fourteenth Path of Wisdom is called, in the Sepher Yetzirah, the Path of the Illuminating Intelligence, which is certainly one of the attributes of the Master Jesus, for it is the Institutor of Arcana, the foundation of Holiness.
In the Hebrew Alphabet the Fourteenth Letter is Nun, whose meaning is given as Fish, equivalent to the Greek Icthys, and here again we find a relation to the Christ.
The Fourteenth Degree of the Scottish Rite is entitled “Grand Elect Perfect and Sublime Master Mason.”
Among the Tarot cards, the fourteenth is entitled Temperance. This is the fundamental quality in Equilibrium, the line of balance between Severity and Justice, between Pride and Humility, between Prodigality and Miserliness. It is the Middle Path of the Sephirotic Tree of Life.
So we find that the number Fourteen has various analogies to attributes which relate to perfection, and when they are in threefold grouping, as in Matthew, i:17, we are not surprised that they typify the evolutionary status of the Master Jesus.
Passing now to the genealogy of the line of Mary as given in Luke iii:23-38, we find eleven groups of seven ancestors each. Now in the Hebrew alphabet the eleventh letter is Koph, analogous to our letter K. It is one of the seven double letters and is assigned to Venus, the planet of Love, Divine and Human. Its color is blood-red, and therefore symbolizes not only the First Great Outpouring when Mary gave to a waiting world the First-Fruits of her own Substance, but also the Outpouring of the Water and the Blood when the Spear of Longinus released the Christos from the Corpus of the Master, Jesus, on Golgotha.
Eleven is also the number of the Initiate, and of a New Beginning, both of which are closely related to the Son of Mary.
Seven is a number of many meanings, but if we take but one, that of it being the number of Perfection, it will suffice. Combining, therefore, the seven and eleven, – the seventy-seven generations in Luke’s genealogy, we find typified a Perfected Initiate who brings a New Beginning, a New Era upon our Earth. The Jesus of history was the culmination of a lineage extending through the evolutionary periods of the Old Testament narration. His life was the result of an intent, which had been planned in ages past. Whether we could name all his ancestry matters not, but our figures show how all the reproductive forces of the vast number of early progenitors came slowly but surely clustering around the Stem of Jesse and finally to a glorious fruition in Him by whose Light we strive to walk, the MYSTIC ROSE OF SHARON.