Genesis 38:1-30 “The Descent of Judah, Foreshadowing God’s Work of Grace”

Posted on March 18, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Genesis Class, Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bryan E. Walker

 Read: Gen.38:1-30

It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her and went in to her, 3 and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4 She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5 Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. Judah was in Chezib when she bore him.

6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.

12 In the course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.

20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to take back the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim at the roadside?” And they said, “No cult prostitute has been here.” 22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I have not found her. Also, the men of the place said, ‘No cult prostitute has been here.’” 23 And Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, or we shall be laughed at. You see, I sent this young goat, and you did not find her.”

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.

27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.

Review/Introduction: In the last couple of weeks we have begun studying the final toledoth of Moses’ book, The Account of Jacob, featuring Jospeh. We saw last week the dramatic story of Joseph being betrayed by his brothers and sold to some slavers who take him down to Egypt. The 10 brothers then deceive their father Jacob with a torn and bloody robe of many colours making him believe that Joseph is dead. Throughout that first story of Joseph we saw his godly character which was pointing us to Christ in many parallel ways but the big idea was God’s sovereignty and Providence as we saw God working through even little details so that Joseph would be in a place so that he would be able to eventually provide salvation for his brothers and their families as well as the surrounding world, again pointing to Christ. Included in this famous and popular story of Joseph which most of us heard in Sunday school or Vacation Bible School as children, was an introduction to Judah, whose idea it was to sell Joseph and make a bit of cash. Amazingly enough, this sordid introduction of the 4th son of Jacob prepares the way for Judah becoming the royal tribe and ultimately, producing Jesus the Messiah. Today’s examination of ch.38 takes us away from Joseph and focuses on Judah in what is one of the more difficult and seldom understood texts in the book of Genesis.


Gospel Points: In this sordid story today we see the amazing grace of God who brings Judah to a point of extreme humility and repentance through a rather severe judgment as his first two sons die for being evil wretches, his wife dies, and then his sin and hypocrisy are exposed through his daughter-in-law, Tamar. We will see how God uses a Canaanite girl to preserve the line of what will become the royal tribe of Israel, ultimately producing Jesus, the Messiah, when the patriarch, Judah, completely loses the vision of being a blessing to the whole world. Along the way we will see the idea of kinsman-redeemer played out which also will point us to Jesus. This passage should give us hope for the most hardened sinners we know because God’s grace can overpower even the coldest and most vile hearts. He saved us didn’t he!?


Literary Analysis


Plot- In chapter 37 the plot centered around the hatred of Joseph by the 10 older brothers which came about because of the favoritism shown by Jacob (who grew up as the favorite of his mother, but not the favorite of his father) who gave Joseph the robe of many colours symbolizing his place as the Firstborn of the Favorite Wife. Add to this favoritism the fact that Joseph won his father’s approval by his good behaviour contrasted with the misbehaviour of the other brothers and then the dreams sent to Joseph by God and his obedient proclamation of that ‘gospel’ to his unbelieving brothers and you get a perfect storm of hatred culminating in the brothers’ desire to murder him and their ultimately selling him to slavers. This family is very dysfunctional and fractured, hinted at by the distance from home the brothers have taken their father’s flocks and demonstrated by their crimes against Joseph and their deception of their father. Yet Moses is clearly setting the stage, as he writes this family/national history, for God’s great act of redemption as Joseph will be used to save Egypt and the world around from the famine, and Joseph will bring reconciliation to his repentant brothers reuniting the family in the end. With the longer range in view we see Judah emerging as the leader of the brothers with the eventual blessing by Jacob indicating that the tribe of Judah would be the kingly tribe and the Messiah, Jesus Christ, being his primary descendant, bringing salvation to all the world.


Now in ch.38 we see Judah basically leaving the fractured family and going out on his own, marrying a Canaanite woman and engaging in all the sins of the Canaanites. This is the low point in the lives of the Patriarchs as the obedient son is a slave in Egypt, yet presumed dead by his father, and the leading son has forsaken the faith of his fathers and become thoroughly corrupted by the Canaanites. At this low point in the covenant family’s history who provides the spark which will lead them back from the precipice of going wholly pagan? The Canaanite daughter-in-law, Tamar. God’s grace is amazing and surprising as Judah is broken and proclaims that Tamar is more just than he.


Again we see the common obstacle of childlessness in a patriarchs family as Tamar has no children by her husband and brother-in-law. It is this childless condition that drives her to the unusual and desperate act of deceiving her father-in-law Judah by playing a prostitute. Strangely, this radical act points to Judah as a type of Christ as her kinsman-redeemer.


The chapter is easily divided into two sections, vv.1-11 and vv.12-30 with Moses giving us the markers “It happened at that time….” and “In the course of time….” The first section tells of Judah’s departure from the family, marrying into the Canaanites, and what happens to his sons while the second section tells the sordid story of how Tamar tricked her father-in-law Judah into fathering her twins. The dramatic twist at the end gives us the hope of God’s grace in Judah’s life.


Irony- there is plenty of irony in this story QQ: find ironic links from this story with what has gone before and what comes in chapter 39. This chapter, featuring Judah’s unfaithfulness and immoral behaviour, sets up ch. 39 and Joseph’s faithfulness under sexual temptation. Judah voluntarily leaves home while Joseph was forced away from home into slavery. In this story yet another “goat” and some clothes are used as part of a deception; furthermore, clothes are used in 39 to frame Joseph. In this story as well as in ch.37 a brother is betrayed as Tamar’s deceased husband has no offspring as promised. In this chapter, Onan apparently hates his deceased brother Er as shown by refusing to follow through on a sacred commitment. Tamar, an immoral Canaanite who plays the prostitute to actually sleep with her father-in-law will be one of 5 women mentioned and one of 4 women named in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1 (the other women being Rahab the prostitute, Ruth a Moabitess-descendant of incest, the wife of Uriah, an adulteress, and the virgin Mary). Judah’s twins by Tamar hearken back to Jacob and Esau where the younger supplants the older, and the color red is associated with one twin who loses out on the birthright (Esau and Zerah). Waltke writes, p.507, “Judah Goldin argues convincingly that this striking similarity between the births of Judah’s parents and of his sons shows that in the miraculous history of the covenant people a special divine elections rests on Judah and his offspring. Perez is like his grandfather Jacob, the one who strives and prevails.”


Chronology- Moses seems to give us a definite chronology of when Judah got married in relation to when Joseph was sold by the phrase “It happened at that time…”; it does appear that Judah left home and entered marriage with the Canaanites right after Joseph was sold. Emotionally this makes sense as the now leading brother suffers from guilt and sin, has almost killed Joseph, sold him as a slave, deceived his father and leaves home. The timing works out so that by the time of Judah’s confession of wronging Tamar he is also heading for Egypt the second time and guaranteeing Jacob the safety of Benjamin with his own life…a changed Judah (43:8-10; 44:33-34).


Context- chapter 38 and the story of Judah and Tamar is the third step in the Chiastic structure (step C) of Toledoth 10, corresponding with the 12th step (3rd from the bottom, or C1) which is the blessing of Jacob upon his children, focusing on Judah as the one who shall reign. Thus the Judah/Tamar story points to the prophecy of Jacob for Judah as the one who shall produce the Messiah and whose tribe will be the kingly tribe of Israel.





A.  Introduction: beginning of Joseph’s story 37:2-11

  B.  Jacob mourns ‘death’ of Joseph 37:12-36

    C.  Interlude: Judah signified as leader 38:1-30

      D.  Joseph’s enslavement in Egypt 39:1-23

        E.  Joseph savior of Egypt through disfavor at Pharaoh’s court 40:1-41:57

          F.  Journeys of brothers to Egypt 42:1-43:34

            G.  Brothers pass Joseph’s test of love for brother 44:1-34

            G1.Joseph gives up his power over brothers 45:1-28

          F1. Migration of family to Egypt 46:1-27

        E1. Joseph savior of family through favor at Pharaoh’s court 46:28-47:12

      D1. Joseph’s enslavement of Egyptians 47:13-31

    C1. Interlude: Judah blessed as ruler 48:1-49:28

  B1. Joseph mourns death of Jacob 49:29-50:14

A1. Conclusion: end of Joseph story 50:15-26


Characterization- Judah is portrayed as self-absorbed, lost, not caring about his broader family or even his immediate family, let alone the broader vision of God’s covenant promises to his family. With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the covenant promises is repeated and reconfirmed; not so with this this generation which has seemingly completely abandoned the covenant. How telling it is when Judah proclaims of his Canaanite/prostitute/incestuous daughter-in-law, “she is more righteous than I”. Waltke writes, p.508, “If Joseph steps onto the pages of sacred history as a bratty do-gooder, Judah enters as a slave trader who has turned his back on Abraham’s God-given vision. He is callous towards his father and cynical about the covenant family.” Judah marries a Canaanite, known only as the daughter of Shua, and has a Canaanite for a best friend (Hirah, the Adullamite), and participates in cultic prostitution. Judah shows no reverence towards God at all in this story. Judah’s home life must have been fairly bad to produce two sons, both of whom were so evil as to be killed off by the Lord. Notice that Moses does not include any emotions from Judah over the death of his sons. In some ways you could compare Judah with Lot who also lived closely with the pagans and suffered loss because of it.


Tamar is portrayed as the heroine as she does not stay in her Canaanite home with her father as directed by Judah, but, like Ruth after her, chooses to stay within the covenant family. Waltke, ibid., “Normally Canaanite women absorb Israelite men into their debased culture (Deut.7:1,3). In that light, her deception as a Canaanite prostitute to snare her widowed father-in-law into fatehring covenant seed should be evaluated as a daring act of faith. Her faithful deception wins her a place in the messianic lineage along with the faithful treachery of Rahab. In her daring ruse she acts quickly, decisively, and shrewdly, qualities also commendable in a king.” We are, no doubt, uncomfortable with this.


Key Words-

People: Judah-16x; Tamar-5x; Er-3x; Onan 3x; Shelah 4x; Hirah the Adullamite-3x; Shua/Shua’s daughter- 2x.

Terms about sex and childbirth- 28!

So even though Judah is shown to be breaking the covenant and going pagan, this story is about the blessings of the covenant- offspring being The Key Term. God promises the patriarchs, offspring, land and blessings.

Geography- Judah went down from his brothers, Chezib, Timnah, Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. The symbolism of Judah departing from his brothers and going down, descending, as did Lot when he departed from Abraham.



XI. The Account of Jacob: Joseph and His Brothers, or, How Israel Came to Live in Egypt Instead of the Promised Land

  1. A.     Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery in Egypt by His Brothers, 37:2-36
    1. 1.      Joseph, Beloved of His Father, and His Dreams, 37:2-11
    2. 2.      Joseph Betrayed By His Brothers, Sold into Slavery, 37:12-36

*Note: the rise of Judah

  1. B.     The Descent of Judah, Foreshadowing God’s Work of Grace 38:1-30
    1. 1.      Judah Marries a Canaanite, 38:1-11 Sailhamer writes, p.231, “The narrative of chapter 38 has only a loose connection with the Joseph story….In the overall strategy of the book, however, this chapter plays a crucial role. The very fact that the narrative seems to lie outside the course of events of the Joseph story shows that the writer has put it here for a special purpose. It plays an important part in the development of the central themes of the book.”
      1. a.      V.1 “It happened at that time…” Moses deliberately connects the story of Judah/Tamar with what preceded it, the betrayal of Joseph. The events of ch.38 then, happen concurrently with the events in ch.39 over about a 20+ year time period.
      2. b.      b. “Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite.” Went down goes with the opening of ch.39 “Joseph had been brought down to Egypt”. Adullum was a royal Canaanite city (i.e., it was big enough to have a king, Josh. 12:15) located about 3 miles SW of Bethlehem.
      3. c.       C.V.2 “Judah saw…took her…went in to her…” The use of “saw…took” together connotes lust, Gen.3:6; 6:2; 12:15; 34:2.
      4. d.      “the daughter of a certain Canaanite”- Abraham specifically forbade his servant from getting a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites and Isaac and Rebekah were not pleased with Esau’s marrying the local girls. Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped when she went out to visit the women of the land and now, Judah marries a Canaanite, Simeon marries a Canaanite (46:10) and Joseph marries an Egyptian. While we do not know precisely all the reasons why God led this chosen family into Egypt, one possibility is to prevent them from being absorbed by the Canaanites through marriage. The relationship between Judah and his unnamed wife consists of seeing her, taking her, and going in to her (meeting, marrying, having sex) and her conceiving, bearing, and naming three sons. This seems to be a very limited and fleshly oriented relationship.
      5. e.      V.3-4 “Er…Onan” Wenham,p.366, says Er possibly meansguard” or “watchful” but then states that it is evil spelled backwards and the Lord killed him for doing evil. Onan may mean “vigorous”.
      6. f.        V.5 “Shelah…Judah was in Chezib” Shelah, meaning drawn out of the womb, was the ancestor of the Shelanites, mentioned in 46:12; Nu.26:20; 1Chr.2:3; 4:21; and Neh.11:5. Notice that the story begins with Judah having three sons. QQ: Can you think of other men in the previous chapters of Genesis who had three sons listed? Adam- Cain, Abel, Seth; Noah- Shen, Ham and Japheth; Terah- Abram, Nahor and Haran.  Chezib is located SW of Adullam.
      7. g.      V.6 “Tamar” means ‘palm tree”.
      8. h.      V.7 “Er was wicked” This entire episode can be seen to be, in Moses’ day, a warning against intermarriage. This passage is sometimes used by those who want to falsely accuse God of being judgmental and violent in the OT. Moses does not give us the details of Er’s error, but it most likely would involve idolatry.
      9. i.        THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION: God is a just and holy God, while all men are sinners, guilty of rebelling against our Creator who is worthy of all love, obedience and praise. If God only meted out justice, all men would be condemned to hell as all men are sinners. But God does not condemn all men to hell; he mercifully and graciously saves some, showing his grace and love to countless millions of sinners while allowing others to experience his holy justice and wrath. God is in no way unjust in operating in this manner. Er and Onan received what we justly deserve as well. To argue against God’s righteous justice is nonsensical. Is God not the creator? Are not all men sinners? Is God not holy? God’s holy justice, his judgment upon sin, does in fact bring him glory. The universe was created by God to display his glory, including his judgment upon sinners. God’s love does not cancel out his justice. To argue that God should not have killed Er and Onan is to exalt oneself and tear down God, thus reversing the real state of things and is therefore foolish.
      10. j.        V.8 “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law” While the OT Law forbade having sex with, or marrying your brother’s wife (Lev.18:16; 20:21) it did allow for this exception: when a man died childless, his widow would be married to his brother and the first born son would bear his brother’s name (Deut.25:5-10). This custom pre-dates the Mosaic Law and was evidently shared by the Canaanites. It is demonstrated dramatically in the book of Ruth. This practice continued in Jesus’ day, hence the question of the Sadducees in Matt.22:23ff. This custom seems gross to us today, but did provide for the young widows at the time.
      11. k.      V.9 “Onan…so as not to give offspring to his brother.” Abraham heeded his wife’s suggestion and went in to Hagar, producing strife in his home; Jacob, though deceived into it, married sisters, creating a strife filled home; Reuben had violated Jacob’s wife, Bilha; Simeon and Levi had violated the rite of circumcision with the Shechemites because of the raping of Dinah; Judah married outside the faith; and now Onan violates a sacred duty owed to his deceased brother by refusing to give Tamar a child. The text says nothing about Onam marrying Tamar, only having sex with her, and it is stated in a way to mean that this occurred repeatedly. So essentially Onan was using Tamar but not willing to impregnate her. Sarai, Rebekah, and Rachel all had to deal with long trials of childlessness. Do you see the pattern of obstacles and sins in marital relationships within this covenant family? The blessing promised is descendants but that is at the core of the problem for 5 generations now. But by the time of the Exodus…there are hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of descendants!
      12. l.        V.10 “The Lord…put him to death also.” God judged Onan for failing in levirate marriage.
      13. m.    V.11 “Remain a widow in your father’s house.” Judah’s response seems to be out of fear, and he possibly is even blaming Tamar here, since he does not want to give her his third son. He is unjust in sending Tamar away to live with her own father, and he is shirking his responsibility. Tamar’s response in vs.14 shows that she understood Judah was not going to take on his responsibility (which was his given what vs.24 says).
    2. 2.      Judah, Deceived by Tamar, Fathers Twins, 38:12-30
      1. a.      V.12 “In the course of time” after a long time, after many days- the idea here is that Tamar has the idea that Judah is not going to give his third son to her. Judah is deceiving her…so she will deceive Judah. Judah is so far gone in his faith that he is no longer concerned about the blessings of the covenant regarding descendants. It takes a pagan outsider, Tamar, to protect the covenant! Sailhamer writes, p.232, “Just as in chapter 20 where the seed of Abraham was protected by the righteous Abimelech (cf. also 26:9-11), it is the woman Tamar, not Judah the patriarch, who is ultimately responsible for the survival of the descendants of the house of Judah.” Sailhamer argues that Tamar was likely NOT a Canaanite and that therefore the seed of Judah was preserved from being tainted with Canaanite blood. Other scholars believe she was a Canaanite which makes her comparable to Rahab and Ruth and magnifies God’s grace in this situation. The actual text does NOT clearly state what ethnicity Tamar was, but the situation seems to lean towards her being Canaanite.
      2. b.      “the wife of Judah …died.” No cause of death is given but Judah seems to be surrounded with death. This would explain, though not excuse his use of a prostitute. This is another parallel with his father Jacob in that both Jacob and Judah have lost sons and a wife.
      3. c.       “Judah was comforted” This points us back to 37 where Jacob refused to be comforted in v.35.
      4. d.      V.13-14 “When Tamar was told…she took off her widow’s garments…” Though Tamar had been a widow for longer than Judah had been a widower, she still wore her widow’s garments while he sought a prostitute. 
      5. e.      “to shear his sheep” this would be a large, communal event that would include parties, celebrations, and social gatherings.
      6. f.        “covered herself with a veil” this would be the style for a cultic prostitute, not a common prostitute. Many ancient religions, including the Canaanite religion, included orgies and prostitutes as part of the worship. In v.15, however, Judah thinks she is a common prostitute but in v.21 the term for cultic prostitute is used. The deception of the patriarch with a veil also points us back to Leah and Jacob in ch.29.
      7. g.      V.15-16 Judah is not deliberately committing incest/adultery (she is considered betrothed to his youngest son), but he is deliberately fornicating. Tamar on the other hand, is going to Judah as her nearest kin as a widow, similar to Ruth seeking her kinsman-redeemer, to obtain what is due her.
      8. h.      VV.17-19 Judah seems to have not been prepared for this kind of financial transaction as he promises to send a goat to Tamar in payment. Again, a goat is used in a story where deception is a key part of the plot. Tamar requires a pledge, however, so Judah surrenders his signet and cord as well as his staff (which would have been hand carved and very identifiable). After they were finished, convinced she would conceive, Tamar went back home and put back on her widow garments.
      9. i.        VV.20-23 In the earliest reported case of Identity Theft, Judah has sent the promised payment via his Adullamite friend, but there is no sign of a cult prostitute and the locals deny one was even operating in the area. Judah has been had and acknowledges the potential embarrassment.
      10. j.        V.24 “Bring her out and let her be burned!” After 3 months Tamar is known to be pregnant and when Judah is informed he wants the death penalty for his daughter-in-law even though he had no plan to actually see that she married his youngest son. This kind of hypocritical, sexist, callous, unfair, double-standard is still common throughout the middle-east. Adultery is punishable by death in Lev.20:10; Deut. 22:22. In these passages both the man and the woman were to be put to death.
      11. k.      APPLY: QQ- are we as quick to judge? Are we as harsh? Or, does the world simply think we are quick to judge and are harsh because we hold to a biblical standard while the world holds no standards at all? The recent controversy over Tim Tebow declining to speak at FBC Dallas because of Dr. Jefferies’ strong biblical preaching on homosexuality and Jesus being the only way to salvation reveals where the world is coming from. You either conform to worlds positive view of homosexuality and universalism or you are hated.
      12. l.        APPLY: have you seen the news stories over recent years of how Islam treats women? The stonings, shootings, executions, rapes, throwing acid in the faces of women?
      13. m.    V.25 “Please identify whose these are?” This points back to 37:32 when Judah and his brothers placed the torn and bloody robe of many colours before their father and asked, “please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” Just as Judah deceived his father, Tamar has deceived him and now he looks foolish. He is revealed to be a fraud, liar, and cruel man.
      14. n.      V.26 “She is more righteous than I” But wait!…here is the dramatic end and the main point of the story: Judah suddenly realizes the error of his ways and rightly proclaims his daughter-in-law righteous while he is not! Waltke, p.513, says it is better translated, “She is righteous, not I!” Again, the timing of this confession is crucial- this is close to the time when he goes to Egypt for the second time and persuades Jacob to allow young Benjamin to go along, by pledging his own life.
      15. o.      VV. 27-30 The birth account of Judah’s twins again hearkens back to Jacob and Esau as Zerah’s hand comes out first and they tie a red string around his wrist, but then Perez struggles and is born first, supplanting his brother. It is Perez who is the ancestor of Jesus according to Matt.1:3 although both boys are mentioned. Waltke writes, p.515, “Ten generations, the symbolic number of a complete and significant unity of time (see Gen.5), separate David from Perez in Ruth 4:18-22 and 1 Chronicles 2:5, 9-15. Sarna asserts that this ‘shows that the birth of Perez is taken to be a historic turning point.’ In retrospect, then, this chapter is about the birth of royal seed in the continuity and discontinuity between the generations.”

Summary/Gospel Point: In this episode of the patriarchal history we see that Judah, the one whose idea it was to sell little Joseph in an effort to thwart God’s plans, leaves the family and marries into the Canaanites. There is an idea of judgment and justice given out to Judah by the Lord as two of his sons die early, leaving him no heirs, no grandchildren. While there is a route to having grandchildren, Judah’s fear stops him from fulfilling his promise to Tamar and he does not allow his third son to marry her. In another odd twist, his wife dies, which leads him to sinfully pursue a prostitute, who turns out to be his daughter-in-law, Tamar. Here Judah unwittingly plays the righteous role of the kinsman-redeemer pointing us to Christ and fathering twins (a double blessing) one of whom, Perez, would be an ancestor to Jesus. God’s plan of redemption through judgment and grace is demonstrated clearly in the lives of Judah, his sons, and Tamar.


 Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50 in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI. 1995, pp.429-456.

Sailhamer, John H. “Genesis” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume2, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI 1990, pp.230-233.

            Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis, A Commentary. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.2001 (pp.506-516).

Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26.      Broadman&Holman: Nashville, TN 2005 (pp.631-660).

Ross, Allen P. Creation & Blessing, A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis.

 Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI 1996 (pp.611-620).

Wenham, Gordon. Word Biblical Commentary, Volume2, Genesis 16-50. Word Books: Dallas, Texas 1994 (pp.332-342).


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