Genesis Chapter Thirty-Eight
Read Genesis 38:1-11
v.1 “AND IT CAME TO PASS AT THAT TIME, THAT JUDAH WENT DOWN FROM HIS BRETHREN, AND TURNED IN TO A CERTAIN ADULAMITE WHOSE NAME WAS HIRAH.”
After Joseph is sold into slavery we find another son of Jacob causing himself, and probably his father as well, enough grief to fill a lifetime. First of all we find him leaving the companionship of his brothers and his family and moving into the region of a Canaanite tribe identified as the Adullamites. The site of the city of Adullam is said to be located about 13 miles west of Bethlehem, not far from Gath and it is called one of the royal cities of the Canaanites. There once again we see proven beyond doubt that:
I Corinthians “BE NOT DECEIVED, EVIL COMPANIONSHIPS CORRUPT GOOD MORALS.” (ASV)
As is common when young
v.3-5 “AND SHE CONCEIVED, AND BARE A SON; AND HE CALLED HIS NAME ER. AND SHE CONCEIVED AGAIN, AND BARE A SON; AND SHE CALLED HIS NAME ONAN. AND SHE YET AGAIN CONCEIVED, AND BARE A SON; AND CALLED HIS NAME SHELAH: AND HE WAS AT CHEZIB, WHEN SHE BARE HIM.”
Genesis 46:12 and Numbers
26:19 name five sons of
v.6 “AND JUDAH TOOK A WIFE FOR ER HIS FIRSTBORN, WHOSE NAME WAS TAMAR.”
v.7 “AND ER,
Since Jacobs oldest
sons had already disgraced themselves the birthright of the firstborn had
already passed to
v.8 “AND JUDAH SAID UNTO ONAN, GO IN UNTO THY BROTHER’S WIFE, AND MARRY HER, AND RAISE UP SEED TO THY BROTHER.”
It was a commandment of God that if a man died without a child, that his brother should take his widow as his wife and provide sons that would be considered heirs of the one who had died. This was a part of the Mosaic Covenant:
Deuteronomy 25:5-6 “If brethren dwell together, and one of them
die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a
stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to
wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. And it shall be, that the
firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is
dead, that his name be not put out of
This is also the subject of a discussion between Jesus and the Sadducees in Matthew concerning whose wife she should be in the resurrection. We’re not told whether God had also given this commandment to Jacob or not but in view of what follows we can almost be assured that it was God’s commandment during the time of the patriarchs as well.
v.9 “AND ONAN KNEW THAT THE SEED SHOULD NOT BE HIS; AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN HE WENT IN UNTO HIS BROTHER’S WIFE, THAT HE SPILLED it ON THE GROUND, LEST THAT HE SHOULD GIVE SEED TO HIS BROTHER.”
Onan simply refused to comply with what was required of him to provide his brother an heir.
v.10 “ AND THE THING WHICH HE DID DISPLEASED THE LORD: WHEREFORE HE SLEW HIM ALSO.”
God’s justice is again swift and sure and again the one that refuses to obey him is removed from this earth and removed from generating one through whom God would provide the blessings promised the patriarchs.
v.11 “THEN SAID JUDAH TO TAMAR HIS DAUGHTER IN LAW, REMAIN A WIDOW AT THY FATHER’S HOUSE, TILL SHELAH MY SON BE GROWN: FOR HE SAID, LEST PERADVENTURE HE DIE ALSO, AS HIS BRETHREN did. AND TAMAR WENT AND DWELT IN HER FATHER’S HOUSE.”
Read Genesis 38:12-26 – Judah and Tamar
v.12 “AND IN THE PROCESS OF TIME THE DAUGHTER OF SHUAH JUDAH’S WIFE DIED; AND JUDAH WAS COMFORTED, AND WENT UP UNTO HIS SHEEP-SHEARERS TO TIMNATH, HE AND HIS FRIEND HIRAH THE ADULLAMITE.”
We find Timnath again
as one of the towns in the region that God gave to the descendants of
v.13-14 “AND IT WAS TOLD TAMAR, SAYING, BEHOLD THY FATHER IN LAW GOETH UP TO TIMNATH TO SHEAR HIS SHEEP. AND SHE PUT HER WIDOW’S GARMENTS OFF FROM HER,AND COVERED HER WITH A VAIL, AND WRAPPED HERSELF, AND SAT IN AN OPEN PLACE, WHICH is BY THE WAY TO TIMNATH; FOR SHE SAW THAT SHELAH WAS GROWN, AND SHE WAS NOT GIVEN UNTO HIM TO WIFE.”
Some observations about these verses: first of all it seems to have been very easy for Tamar to accomplish her purpose. We’re reminded of the power of lust:
James 1:14-15 “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
In the times and culture of the patriarchs, harlots or prostitutes covered their faces so that they would not be recognized. Man’s shame obviously has eroded over the intervening centuries as such is definitely not the case today.
Tamar is either so callus or so determined that she conducts the business transaction of a harlot freely and apparently without any hesitation or second thought.
v. 17-18 “AND HE SAID, I WILL SEND thee A KID FROM THE FLOCK. AND SHE SAID, WILT THOU GIVE me A PLEDGE, TILL THOU SENT it? AND HE SAID, WHAT PLEDGE SHALL I GIVE THEE? AND SHE SAID, THY SIGNET, AND THY BRACELETS, AND THY STAFF THAT is IN THINE HAND. AND HE GAVE it HER, AND CAME IN UNTO HER, AND SHE CONCEIVED BY HIM.”
Judah and Tamar come to an agreement regarding the price for her services and he pledges to send her a kid from his flocks. But Tamar is very much a business woman and demands a guarantee, just a promise won’t do. Consequently he leaves his signet ring, bracelets and staff with her; all three items easily identified as his, especially since the signet ring was used to seal documents, contracts and other agreements the same way we use our signatures today.
v.19 “AND SHE AROSE, AND WENT AWAY, AND LAID BY HER VAIL FROM HER, AND PUT ON THE GARMENTS OF HER WIDOWHOOD.”
Her purpose accomplished, Tamar returns to her normal place and activities.
v.20-22 “AND JUDAH SENT THE KID BY THE HAND OF HIS FRIEND THE ADULLAMITE, TO RECEIVE his PLEDGE FROM THE WOMAN’S HAND: BUT HE FOUND HER NOT. THEN HE ASKED THE MEN OF THAT PLACE, SAYING, WHERE is THE HARLOT THAT was OPENLY BY THE WAY SIDE? AND THEY SAID, THERE WAS NO HARLOT IN THIS place. AND HE RETURNED TO JUDAH, AND SAID, I CANNOT FIND HER; AND ALSO THE MEN OF THE PLACE SAID, that THERE WAS NO HARLOT IN THIS place.”
For whatever reasons,
v.24 “AND IT CAME TO
PASS ABOUT THREE MONTHS AFTER, THAT IT WAS TOLD JUDAH, SAYING, TAMAR THY
DAUGHTER IN LAW HATH PLAYED THE HARLOT; AND ALSO, BEHOLD, SHE is
WITH CHILD BY WHOREDOM. AND
Again we find common ground between the law of the patriarchs and the law given by God through Moses. Since God does not change (Malachi 3:6) that should not be any great surprise to us.
Leviticus 21:9 “And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.”
So, not knowing the whole story;
We see again the immutable law that says:
“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23
In this case, not only has Tamar’s sin become obvious, but
v.25 “WHEN SHE was BROUGHT FORTH, SHE SENT TO HER FATHER IN LAW, SAYING, BY THE MAN, WHOSE THESE are, am I WITH CHILD: AND SHE SAID, DISCERN, I PRAY THEE, WHOSE are THESE, THE SIGNET, AND BRACELETS, AND STAFF.”
So when Tamar is called
Read Genesis 38:27-30 – The
v.27 “AND IT CAME TO PASS IN THE TIME OF HER TRAVAIL, THAT, BEHOLD, TWINS were IN HER WOMB.”
So now we learn that
Tamar is not only going to provide offspring to
v.28 “AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN SHE TRAVAILED, THAT the one PUT OUT his HAND: AND THE MIDWIFE TOOK AND BOUND UPON HIS HAND A SCARLET THREAD, SAYING, THIS CAME OUT FIRST.”
Perhaps remembering the situation with Jacob and Esau and in order to verify which twin was born first. At the first sight of a the appendage of one of the babies, the midwife marks it with a scarlet thread.
v.29 “AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS HE DREW BACK HIS HAND, THAT, BEHOLD, HIS BROTHER CAME OUT; AND SHE SAID, HOW HAST THOU BROKEN FORTH? This BREACH be UPON THEE: THEREFORE HIS NAME WAS CALLED PHAREZ.”
The child identified by
the scarlet thread was not born first but rather his brother, Pharez or Perez. As
a result Pharez carried the birthright due to the
eldest son of
v.30 “AND AFTERWARD CAME OUT HIS BROTHER THAT HAD THE SCARLET THREAD UPON HIS HAND AND HIS NAME WAS CALLED ZARAH.”
So the fifth son of