New Defender's Study Bible Notes
1:18 espoused. According to Jewish law at the time, the espousal was almost equivalent to marriage, except for the consummation, and could be dissolved only by a legal divorce. Infidelity during that period on the part of the bride might even be punishable by death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Joseph, however, was a “just man” (Matthew 1:19), who loved Mary, and was unwilling to have her humiliated even by a public divorce.
1:18 before they came together. The miracle of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus was not His virgin birth, for it was a normal human birth in every way, but rather His miraculous conception. This was the woman’s seed (Genesis 3:15), the “new thing in the earth” (Jeremiah 31:22) and the prophesied virgin conception of Isaiah 7:14. It is explicitly recorded here in Matthew 1:18-25, and also in Luke 1:26-38, then further implied in John 1:14, Galatians 4:4 and other Scriptures.
1:21 his name. This is the first of 144 references to the “name” or “names” of Christ. The word (Greek noma) occurs only about 95 times in the New Testament in reference to all other names. His name is indeed “above every name” even in this respect (Philippians 2:9).
1:21 JESUS. The Hebrew for “JESUS” is Yehoshua, meaning “Jehovah saves.” The name also may be contracted simply to Yeshua, which is the Hebrew word for “salvation,” frequently used in the Old Testament. It is also equivalent to “Joshua.” Appropriately, this is the first use of “save” in the New Testament.
1:23 a virgin. This is a quotation from Isaiah 7:14, the great prophecy of the virgin birth. The Greek word for “virgin” is parthenos, which never has any other meaning. The Hebrew word is almah, and there has been some unjustified controversy as to whether this word also has only this meaning. Its quotation here by Matthew using parthenos, guided by divine inspiration, settles this question. Isaiah prophesied the virgin birth (or better, the miraculous conception) of Jesus, and Matthew records the fulfillment.
1:25 knew her not. Mary remained a virgin after her marriage to Joseph until after the birth of Jesus. Later, however, she did have other sons (Matthew 12:46).