In our review of the genealogy of Jesus, we’ve considered Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah. Because we have a limited number of possible blog posts leading up to Christmas, let’s skip ahead about four-hundred years from Judah to Salmon.
Salmon was probably born during the forty years that Israel wandered in the Arabian wilderness. He had eaten manna, drunk water from the rock, stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai, faithfully followed the Pillar of Clouds and Fire, and he’d crossed the Jordan River on dry land. He was a warrior who had fought in the famed battle at Jericho and seen God’s provision for victory. He’d marched around the city, and on the seventh day, he watched the indestructible rock walls crumble at God’s command.
I suspect that he’d also watched with a spark of interest as Rahab and her family were safely ushered out of Jericho and grafted into the Israelite community.
As a member of the tribe of Judah, Salmon knew that four-hundred years earlier Judah had received his father’s blessing. Just before his death, while living in Goshen, a fertile region of Egypt, Jacob had prophesied, “Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your hand will be on the necks of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you... The scepter will not depart from Judah or the staff from between his feet until he whose right it is comes and the obedience of the peoples belongs to him” (Genesis 49:8–10, CSB). Salmon knew his bloodline was special. The Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah ... his tribe.
Salmon was also keenly aware that God had been outrageously gracious to Judah. Everyone knew the story of how Judah had married his widowed Canaanite daughter-in-law, the one who had prostituted herself and conceived outside of wedlock. The whole scandalous affair had been graciously forgiven and had become clear evidence of God’s mercy.
Maybe that’s what gave Salmon the courage to take Rahab as his wife. Rahab wasn’t exactly a pure and honorable Jewish girl. Like Tamar, she was a Canaanite prostitute.
Rahab had lived in Jericho and attended to the needs of the two spies that Joshua sent into town to spy. Rahab told the spies, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you completely destroyed across the Jordan. When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below” (Joshua 2:9–11, CSB). God recognized and rewarded Rahab’s faithful heart. “By faith Rahab the prostitute welcomed the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed” (Hebrews 11:31, CSB).
I’m pretty certain that Salmon couldn’t have imagined that the Messiah would be his great, great, great ... grandson. He probably thought that being married to a Canaanite prostitute made him unworthy or disqualified. But God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:9). God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
Salmon didn’t do anything to deserve a listing in the Messiah’s genealogy. Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute certainly didn’t. But isn’t that just God’s way... He uses the least likely in unexpectedly wonderful ways to bring honor and glory to Himself.