Genesis 38



1 “And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren,

and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.”  And it came to

pass. The present chapter appears to interrupt the continuity of the narrative of

Joseph's history. Partly on this account, and partly because the name Jehovah

occurs in it (vs. 7, 10), it has been pronounced a later Jehovistic interpolation

(Tuch, Bleek, Davidson, Coleuso). Its design has been explained as an attempt

to glorify the line of David by representing it as sprung from Judah (Bohlen), or

to disclose the origin of the Levitate law of marriage among the Jews (Knobel);

but the incidents here recorded of Judah and his family are fitted to reflect dishonor

instead of glory on the ancestry of David (Havernick); and the custom here

mentioned of raising up seed to a dead brother by marrying his widow, though

the idea may have originated with Judah (Lange), is more likely to have descended

from earlier times (Delitzsch, Keil). Rightly understood, the object of the present

portion of the record appears to have been not simply to prepare the way for the

subsequent (ch. 46:8-27) genealogical register (Gerlach), or to contrast the

wickedness of Judah and his sons with the piety and chastity of Joseph in Egypt

(Wordsworth), or to recite the private history of one of Christ's ancestors (Bush,

Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or to show that the pre-eminence of Judah in

the patriarchal family was due exclusively to grace (Candlish), but also and chiefly

to justify the Divine procedure in the subsequent deportation of Jacob and his sons

to Egypt (Keil). The special danger to which the theocratic family was exposed

was that of intermarrying with the Canaanites (ch. 24:3; 28:6).  (And thus,

America today is loosing its Judeao-Christian culture – CY – 2018)  Accordingly,

having carried forward his narrative to the point where, in consequence of Joseph's

sale, a way begins to open up for the transference of the patriarchal house to the

land of the Pharaohs, the historian makes a pause to introduce a passage from the

life of Judah, with the view of proving the necessity of such removal, by showing,

as in the case of Judah, the almost certainty that, if left in Canaan, the descendants

of Jacob would fall before the temptation of marrying with the daughters of the land,

with the result, in the first instance, of a great and rapid moral deterioration in the

holy seed, and with the ultimate effect of completely obliterating the line of

demarcation between them and the surrounding heathen world. (Consider

ch. ch. 15:13-16 – that this situation is further down the road to the full cup

of iniquity of the Amorites compared to what it was when this message was

given to Abram.  CY – 2018)* See footnote below -  How the purity of

the patriarchal family was guarded till it developed into a powerful nation, first

by its providential withdrawment in infancy from the sphere of temptation (ch. 46:5),

then by its separate establishment in Goshen beside a people who regarded them

with aversion (ibid. v. 34), and latterly by its cruel enslavement under Pharaoh

(Exodus 1:10), is a subject which in due course engages the attention of the writer.

At that time.

of Joseph (Keil, Kurtz, Lange, Alford, Wordsworth, Quarry), since at the time

of that atrocity Judah was still living with his brethren, the only difficulty

calling for solution is to account for the birth of Judah's grandchildren,

Hezron and Hamul (the sons of Pharez, the twin child of Judah by Tamar),

in the short interval of twenty-two years which preceded Jacob's descent

into Egypt without making Er and Onan marry in comparative boyhood.

The case becomes a little less perplexing if Hezron and Hamul, though said

to have come into Egypt (ch. 46:27; Exodus 1:1; Deuteronomy 10:22), may

be regarded as having been born there (Hengstenberg), since twenty-two

years afford sufficient space for the birth of Judah's three sons, Er, Onan,

and Shelah, which may have taken place during the first three years after

their father's marriage, and for the birth of Pharez and Zarah, even if Er

married as late as eighteen. Of course if the narrative requires the birth of

Hezron and Hamul to have taken place in Canaan (Kalisch), it is simply

impossible to hold that all this occurred within little more than a score

of years. Hence:

(Augustine, Aben Ezra, Rosenmüller, Drechsler, Baumgarten, Gerlach,

Ainsworth, Candlish, Murphy, Inglis); but even on this assumption the task

is arduous to make the birth of Hezron and Hamul occur before the emigration

of their great-grandfather to Egypt. For as Judah was not more than four years

older than Joseph (compare ch. 29:35 with 30:25), his age at the time of Joseph's

sale could not have been more than twenty-one. But placing Judah's marriage

at the earliest possible date, viz., in his fifteenth year, only substitutes an interval

of twenty-eight years instead of one of twenty-two, in which Judah's son Er must

be born, grow up to manhood, (say at fifteen) marry, die, and leave his widow

Tamar, who, after marrying with Onan and waiting for Shelah (which would

consume at least another year), must become the mother of twin sons by her

father-in-law (for which another year would be required), and must see the

elder of the two married at ten years of age, if his sons are to be born upon

the soft of Canaan. On either hypothesis, therefore, it seems indispensable

to hold that Judah's grandsons were born in Egypt; and in this case there is

little gained by putting Judah's marriage earlier than Joseph s sale, i.e. in

Judah's twenty-first year. That Judah went down - from Hebron (ch. 37:14),

or the mountains (Keil), towards the south (Aben Ezra, Rosenmüller) from

his brethren, - setting up a separate and independent establishment apart from

them; "not only immediately after Joseph was sold, but also on account of it,"

"in a fit of impenitent anger" (Kurtz), in a spirit of remorse (Lange) - and

turned in to a certain Adullamite, - literally, and pitched  (his tent, ch. 26:15)

up to, as far as, or close by, a man, an Adullamite, i.e. belonging to Adullam,

a town in the Hebron valley (Joshua 15:35); in the time of the conquest the

seat of a Canaanitish king (ibid. 12:15), afterwards celebrated for its

connection with the history of David (I Samuel 22:1-2; II Samuel 23:13),

subsequently mentioned in Scripture (II Chronicles 11:7; Nehemiah 11:30;

Micah 1:15), but never successfully identified (vide ' Land and the Book,' pp.

606, 607; Robinson, 2:175) - whose name was Hirah - "Nobility" (Gesenius).

the world formulated from a literal reading of the Old Testament by James Ussher,

the  Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.  It was published in 1650.


Modern skepticism and unbelievers often use his compilations as to try and

prove the Bible is untrue by mistaking his dates (attached to the top of

reference columns) as a part of revealed scripture, especially by the dates

of Creation being 4000 B. C.   In reality, they are Ussher’s works.

According to Ussher:

This means that from Abraham to Jacob there had been approximately

184 years for the Canaanites to progress in iniquity since the revelation

from God to Abraham.  The 400 years that God mentioned about going

into Egypt had not started yet.  But with the advent of Joseph, it was about

to begin.  I am a 75 year old man who have seen the United States publicly

testify that the have gone from a Christian nation into a pagan society in

my lifetime – basically in the last half-century.  CAN YOU IMAGINE



WOULD BE LIKE?  Do you think He will?  Then let your behaviors

continue!  CY – 2018)

2 “And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was

Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.”  And Judah saw there the

daughter of a certain (literally, of a man, a) Canaanite, - not of a merchant

(Onkelos), but of an inhabitant of the land of Canaan - whose name was Shuah; -

"Wealth," "Riches," "Cry for Help" (Gesenius). This was not the name of Judah's

wife (Septuagint), but of her father - (see v. 12) - and he took her, - i.e. married her

(viz. ch. 6:2; 24:67) - and went in unto her. (My friends!  I will try to be as kind

and blunt as I can:  Judah’s “turning in” (v. 1); “saw there a daughter of a certain

Canaanite” (here) is in league with Dinah’s going “out to see the daughters of

the land.”  (ch. 34:1)  The difference being that Dinah basically was raped by

Shechem and Judah having the class to marry Shuah before having intimate

relations with her.  I have long wanted to bring in the morality of Abimelech’s

day [ch. 20 and what has happened to society during this long interlude – by the

way, Bishop Ussher puts this event at 1898 B.C. – a mere 3,916 years prior to

our pseudo-Progressive morality of today – HOW MORALITY HAS

DETERIORATED IN TIME!???] with that of the times here of Dinah

and Jacob.  Also to ponder the morality of America and the world today – Dinah’s

going out and Judah’s so casually turning in remind me of the adulterous woman

described in Provers 30:20 – “Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth

and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.” CY – 2018)

3 And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er.”

“Watcher" (Gesanius). What is commonly regarded as an idiosyncrasy of the

Elohist, viz., the naming of a child by its father, here occurs in a so-called

Jehovistic section.

4 “And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan.”

"Strength" (Gesenius). The naming of a child by its mother a peculiarity of the

so-called Jehovist; but see Genesis 16:15.

5 “And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah:

and he was at Chezib, when she bare him.” "Prayer" (Gesenius), "Peace" (Furst) –

and he (i.e. Judah) was - absent (Gerlach); or, translating impersonally, it was, i.e.

the event happened (Murphy) - at Chezib, - probably the same as Achzib

(Joshua 15:44; Micah 1:14-15) and Chezeba (I Chronicles 4:22), which in the

partitioning of the land fell to the sons of Shelah, and was here mentioned that

Shelah's descendants might know the birthplace of their ancestor (Keil); or the

fact of Judah s absence at the birth of his third son may be recorded as the reason

of the name, "Peace," "Rest, "Prosperity, which the child received (Gerlach) –

when she bare him - literally, in her bearing of him.

6 “And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.”

And Judah took a wife (compare ch. 21:21;  24:4) for Er his firstborn, - "by the

early marriage of his sons Judah seems to have intended to prevent in them a

germinating corruption (Lange) - whose name as Tamar - "Palm tree" (Gesenius).

Though the name was Shemitic, it does not follow that the person was. Compare

Melchisedeck and Abimelech. Yet she is not expressly called a Canaanite, though

it is more than probable she was. Lange conjectures that she may have been of

Philistine descent, and thinks the narrative intends to convey the impression that

she was a woman of extraordinary character.

7 “And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the

LORD slew him.”  And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord.

The connection between Er's name (עֵר) and Er's character (רַע) is noticeable. The

special form which his wickedness assumed is not stated; but the accompanying

phrase suggests that, as in the case of the Sodomites (ch. 13:13; 19:5), it was some

unnatural abomination. And the Lord slew him - literally, caused him to die; not

necessarily by direct visitation; perhaps simply by allowing him to reap the fruits

of his youthful indulgence in premature and childless death, which yet was so

rapid and so evidently entailed by his evil courses as immediately to suggest

the punitive hand of God.

8 “And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her,

and raise up seed to thy brother.”  And Judah said unto Onan (obviously after a

sufficient interval), Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, - literally, and

perform the part of levir, or husband's brother, to her. The language seems to imply

that what was afterwards in the code Mosaic known as the Lex Leviratus (Deuteronomy

25:5-6) was at this time a recognized custom. The existence of the practice has been

traced in different frames among Indians, Persians, and other nations of Asia and

Africa - and raise up seed to thy brother. As afterwards explained in the Hebrew

legislation, the firstborn son of such a Levirate marriage became in the eye of the

law the child of the deceased husband, and was regarded as his heir.

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.  10 And the thing which he did

displeased the LORD: wherefore He slew him also.”  And Onan knew that the

seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when - literally, and it was if, i.e.

whenever - he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground

(literally, destroyed to the ground), lest that he should (or, so as not to) give

seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased (literally, was evil

in the eyes of) the Lord: - the word Jehovah is employed not because the writer

was a late interpolator, but because the sin of Onan was an offence against the

sanctity and prosperity of the theocratic family (Hengstenberg) - wherefore He

(i.e. Jehovah) slew him also.

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.”

Then said Judah to Tamer his daughter-in-law, Remain a widow - alma-nah, from

alam, to be solitary, forsaken, signifies one bereft of a husband, hence a widow

(compare  Exodus 22:21) - at thy father's house (compare Leviticus 22:13),

till Shelah my son be grown. It is implied that this was merely a pretext on the

part of Judah, and that he did not really intend to give his third son to Tamar,

considering her an unlucky woman (Delitzsch, Keil, Kalisch), or, at least, not

at present, under the impression that the deaths of Er and Onan had been

occasioned by their too early marriages (Lange). The reason of his failure to

release Tamar from her widowhood is added in the ensuing clause. For he said

(in his heart), Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar

went and dwelt in her father's house.”


12 “And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died; and

Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath,

he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.”  And in process of time - literally,

and the days were multiplied (compare ch. 4:3), which is rendered by the same

words in the Authorized Version - the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died; and

Judah was comforted (or, comforted himself, ceased to mourn), and went up unto

his sheep-shearers (see ch. 31:19) to Timnath, - a border town between Ekron and

Bethshemesh (Joshua 15:10) in the plain of Judah (Kalisch, Wordsworth, W. L.

Alexander in Kitto's 'Cyclopedia'); but more probably here a town (Joshua 15:57)

in the mountains of Judah (Robinson, 2:343, Keil, Alford, 'Speaker's Commentary') –

he and his friend - ποιμὴν αὐτοῦ - ho poimaen autouhis shepherd friend???? –

CY – 2018 (Septuagint) - Hirah the Adullamite.

13 “And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to

Timnath to shear his sheep.”  And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy

father in-law - חָם, a father-in-law, from חָמָה, unused, to join together. Compare

γαμβρόςgambros - for γαμερόςgameros -  a son-in-law, or generally one

connected by marriage, from γαμέω gameomarry -  goeth up to Timnath to

shear his sheep.

14 “And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a

veil, 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.” And she put her widow's garments off from her (to prevent

detection by Judah), and covered her with a veil, - to conceal her features,

after the fashion of a courtesan  (v. 15; compare Job 24:15) - and wrapped herself, -

possibly with some large mantle (Alford) - and sat in an open place, - literally,

in the opening (i.e. gate) of Enaim (Septuagint, Gesenius, Keil, Kalisch, Lange, et alii);

less happily, in the opening of the eyes, i.e. in a public and open place (Calvin), in the

parting of the ways, in bivio itineris (Vulgate), in the opening (or breaking forth) of

the two fountains (Aben Ezra, Rosenmüller) - which is by (or upon) the way to Timnath;

- "close to the site of Thamna, now Tibneh, three miles to the east, on an ancient road

coming from Adullam, the very road by which the patriarch Judah would have come

from Adullam to Timnah, is a ruin called Allin, or Anita, or Ainim" ('Palestine

Exploration,' quoted by Inglis) - for she saw that Shelah was grown (he was probably

not much younger than either of his brothers who had died), and she was not given

unto him to wife - literally, for a wife.

15 “When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had

covered her face.”  When (literally, and) Judah saw her, he (literally, and he)

thought her to be an harlot; - literally, thought her (i.e. took her for) an harlot,

like λογίζεσθαι τινα εὶς τι (compare I Samuel 1:13; Job 13:24), or to זונָה

(feminine participle of זָנַה, commit fornication); see ch. 34:31 - because she

had covered her face - more meretricis (harlot; public prostitute).

16 “And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me

come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And

she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?”

Though willing to commit adultery or fornication, Judah would have shrank from

the sin of incest. And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in

unto me? The conduct of Tamar, though in every way reprehensible, is not to be

attributed to mere lust, or inordinate desire for offspring, if not from the son Shelah,

then from the father Judah, but was probably traceable to a secret wish on the one

hand to be avenged on Judah, and on the other hand to assert her right to a place

amongst the ancestresses of the patriarchal family. Yet Tamar was really guilty

of both adultery and incest, though Lange thinks the wickedness of Er and Onan

renders this open to question.

17 “And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou

give me a pledge, till thou send it?” And he said, I will send thee a kid from the

flock – literally, a kid of the goats (v. 20; compare Judges 15:1). And she said,

Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? - literally, if thou wilt give me a

pledge (עֵרָבזֹן, from עָבַ, to give in pledge, a word peculiar to traders which the

Greeks and Romans appear to have borrowed from the Phoenicians, the originators

of traffic: compare ἀῥῤαβών -  arrabon - arrhabo: until thy sending (then I consent

to thy proposal).

18 “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.”  And he said, What pledge shall I give

thee? And she said, Thy signet, - the chotham, or signet, was either worn on the

finger, δακτυλίονdaktulion -  (Septuagint) or suspended round the neck by a

pithil, or silk string. Its impression was a sign of property and a means of security

(compare Matthew 27:66; John 3:33; Ephesians 1:13). Among the ancient

Babylonians it was customary for every one to wear such a ring (Herod., 1:195);

and modern Arabians in towns wear a seal-ring on the finger, or fastened by a

cord round the neck, the impression of which serves as a signature (Robinson, 1:52).

The seals and signets that have been brought to light by the excavations in Assyria

and Babylon (Layard, 'Nin. and Bab.,' 152-159, 602-608) are of various forms and

materials. They show the art of engraving to have been of great antiquity; but

whether Judah's signet was marked with alphabetical characters cannot be

determined, though it may have been, since alphabetical writing was as old at least

as the time of Abraham (see Keil, 'Introd.,' Part I. sect. 1. Genesis 1. § 4) - and thy

bracelets (rather, thy chain, pithil, as above), and thy staff (the mateh, or rod,

was so called from the idea of stretching out, the root being natah, to stretch out

or extend) that is in thine hand. This too every BabyIonian carried (Herod., 1:195).

"It was necessarily adorned with some device carved upon it, and consisting in

a flower or a fruit, a bird, or some other animal" (Kalisch). And he gave it her,

and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.  (It seems to me that once

Judah’s libido kicked in that, like many men throughout history, lost control

and would, unthinkingly, give away quit a bit for the satisfaction of his desires.

CY – 2018)

19 “And she arose, and went away, and laid by her veil from her, and put on

the garments of her widowhood.  20 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.”  And Judah sent the kid - literally, the kid of the goats, which

he had promised (v. 17) - by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive

his pledge from the woman's hand: but (literally, and) he (i.e. Hirah) found her not.

21“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.”

Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, - literally,

the consecrated, the prostitute being regarded as "one devoted to the worship

of Astarte, a goddess of the Canaanites, the deification of the generative and

productive principle of nature," corresponding to the Babylonian Ashtarte,

whose worship was of a grossly libidinous character (Herod., 1:199). Compare

Deuteronomy 23:19; Numbers 25:1; Hosea 4:14; and see Keil on Deuteronomy

23:19 - that was openly by the way side? - or, that was in Enajim on the way, see

above on v. 14). And they said, There was no harlot (or kedeshah) in this place.

22 “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.  23 And Judah said, Let

her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not

found her.”  And Judah said, Let her take it to her, - literally, let her take to herself

(the pledge) - lest we be shamed (literally, become a contempt, i.e. by inquiring after

her. Though not afraid to sin against God, Judah was pained at the idea of losing

his reputation before men [piles and piles of this sin are heaped upon the

TRASH HEAP OF HISTORY – CY – 2018]): behold, I sent this kid (i.e.

I take you to witness that I have fulfilled my premise), and thou hast not found her.

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 Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.”

And it same to pass about three months after (the usual time at which pregnancy

is certainly determined), that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter-in-law

hath played the harlot (or, acted as a zonah); and also, behold, she is with child by

 whoredom. And Judah said (altogether unmindful of his own iniquity three months

previous), Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. Under the law stoning was the

punishment allotted to the crime of Tamar (Deuteronomy 22:20-24), burning being

added only in cases of excessive criminality (Leviticus 20:14;  21:9). It is obvious

that the power of life and death lay in the hand of Judah, as the head of his family.

(I am in the process of teaching Genesis 25-50 over a three month period and I am

calling this study – THEN AND NOW – emphasizing what went on over 3,500

years ago and comparing those actions to now.  There is an attempt in Washington,

D.C. currently to oust the sitting President of the Unites States of America,

Donald J. Trump.  He is accused of using his own money to pay off a real

prostitute hush money, one not like Tamar who was seemingly driven to such

action, and not one of choice like Stormy Daniels, the one that Mr. Trump was

associated with prior to becoming President.  It has been made into a Campaign

Finance Issue by the President’s political enemies both openly and covertly

[The Deep State].  At the same time, there are over 200 instances of Unites States

senators and/or representatives, paying off in comparable situations, and not by

using their own money, but with federal tax dollars, the people’s money. 

BUT THIS IS NOW AND THAT WAS THEN!  And like Judah,  these senators

and representative seem to be more afraid of man and the electorate, than they are

of GOD ALMIGHTY, apparently putting far off the DAY of retribution and taking

their chances that it will not matter.  HOW FOOLISH MANKIND SEEMS TO BE! 


ATHEISTS?  CY – December 2018) [Now I am in the process of editing this chapter-

May 4, 2024 and Donald J. Trump has been on trial for the last few weeks and

kept off the campaign trail - being accused of a crime which many say is not

 a crime - CY - 2024]

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.”  When she was brought forth (literally,

she was brought forth, and), she sent to her father-in-law (who apparently had not

the heart to witness the execution of his own sentence), 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 (or chain), and staff.

26 “And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous

than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again

no more.”  And Judah acknowledged (or discerned, i.e. recognized) them, and said,

She hath been more righteous than I; - though Tamar was far from innocent (see

v. 16), she was by no means as culpable as Judah - because that (כִּי־עַל־כֵּן, for, for

this cause, i.e. that so it might happen to me. ) I gave her not to Shelah

my son. And (in token of his penitence) he knew her again no more.

Judah’s Sin with Tamar (vs. 12-26)

Ø      Suddenly. It was occasioned by the sight of a supposed prostitute. Much

evil enters by the eye (compare II Samuel 11:2). There was great need

for the prayer of David (Psalm 119:37).

Ø      Openly. Judah was in the company of Hirah, his friend, when he beheld

Tamar sitting in the gate of Enajim, and, without attempting to hide it

from his friend, went to seek her society. Shamelessness in sin

indicates great depravity.

Ø      Willfully. Though in a manner surprised by the temptation, Judah was

not inadvertently betrayed into commission of his sin with Tamar, but,

on the contrary, went about it in a remarkably deliberate manner.

Ø      Inexcusably. There was no reason why Judah should not have sought a

second wife to succeed Shuah’s daughter, rather than consort with

prostitutes.  (“ is better to marry than to burn (with lust).” 

I Corinthians 7:9)

Ø      Quickly. No doubt Judah thought he had heard the last of his

indiscretion on the way to Timnath; but lo! in three short months

his guilt is discovered. Not every offender is so speedily arrested;

but sooner or later detection is inevitable for all. (“Some men’s sins

are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some

men follow later.  Likewise, the good works of some are clearly

evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hid.” I Timothy

5:24-25) “Be sure thy sin will find thee out.” (Numbers 32:23)

Ø      Unexpectedly. Judah never imagined that his own signet, and chain, and

staff would be produced as witnesses against him; and criminals never

can be sure from what quarter testimony shall arise to condemn them.

Ø      Completely. There was no possibility of Judah s evading the charge of

Tamar. By no sort of ingenuity could he repudiate the articles of dress

With which probably his household were familiar.

Ø      Publicly. At the very moment when Tamar was produced for execution

Judah was obliged to confess his guilt in presence of his assembled

household; and in like manner will the wicked yet be openly convicted


Ø      Candidly. Found out, Judah did not attempt either to deny or to palliate

his guilt, but frankly acknowledged that Tamar’s condition was due to


Ø      Promptly. Nor did he hesitate to own his guilt, but .immediately

confessed what he had done.

Ø      Penitently. This we may infer from the statement of the historian

that the offence was not again repeated.

to indicate whether Judah obtained mercy; but this may be reasonably

concluded from:

Ø      The promptness of his confession.

Ø      The sincerity of his penitence.

Ø      The reality of his faith

as evinced by the fact that he was reckoned among the ancestors of our


27 “And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were

in her womb.”  Compare the case of Rebekah (ch. 25:24).

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.”  And it came to pass, when she travailed, - literally,

in her bringing forth (compare ch. 35:17) - that the one put out his hand: -

literally, and it (the child) gave a hand, i.e. it was an abnormal and dangerous

presentation - and the midwife (ibid.) took and bound upon his hand

a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first.

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.  And it came to pass, as he drew back

his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she (i.e. the midwife) said,

How hast thou broken forth! this breach be upon thee: - literally, What a

breach hast thou made! upon thee, a breach, or, Why hast thou broken forth

for thyself a breach (Delitzsch)? or, How hast thou made for thee a breach?

(Murphy) - therefore his name was called Pharez - or Breach (compare

ch. 46:12; Numbers 26:20; I Chronicles 2:4; Matthew 1:3).

30 “And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon

his hand: and his name was called Zarah.”  (Splendor.)

           The House of Judah: a Family Record of Sin and Shame (vs. 1-30)

Ø      Early. On any hypothesis Er and Onan can have been little more than

boys when they were married, and yet they appear to have arrived at a

remarkable precocity in sin. Nor was it simply that they had shed the

innocence and purity of youth, but they had also acquired a shameful

proficiency in vice. Young scholars are mostly apt learners, especially

in the devil’s school.  (Why is it that some adolescents and teenagers

have a hard time learning in school but pick up things very quickly

in the street? – CY – 2018)

Ø      Unnatural. Though not described, the wickedness of Judah’s first son

had relation to some perversion of the ordinance of marriage; that of his

second is plainly stated to have been uncleanness and self-pollution.

Neither against nature nor contrary to grace are the endearments of the

married state, but every act outside of the Divine permissions

concerning woman IS BOTH!

Ø      Heinous. The act of Er is characterized as “wicked in the sight of the

Lord,” while that of Onan is said to have displeased the Lord. Hence

it may be reasonably inferred that the essential criminality in both cases

was the same. They were both perversions of a natural ordinance.

They both militated against the purity and development of the

theocratic family. Both indicated a contemptuous unbelief in the

promise of the covenant, and a sacrilegious disregard for the calling

of Israel as the progenitor of the promised seed. Hence both were

deserving of Divine reprobation.

Ø      Disastrous. The tendency of all sin is ruinous, both for:

o       body,

o       soul, and

o       spirit.

Whether as a natural result of indulgence in vice, or as a direct

punitive visitation from God, Er and Onan were consigned to

premature graves and this, it should be noted by young persons

of both sexes, is the almost inevitable consequence of indulgence

in secret vice, and in particular of the practice of which Onan

was guilty. Yielded to:

o       it debilitates the physical constitution by a wasting of the

vital powers,

o       it impairs the mental faculties,

o       it corrupts the moral nature,

o       it sears and petrifies the conscience, and finally, what

might have been a fair specimen of noble and virtuous

manhood or womanhood

o       it covers up, a poor, wasted, shivering skeleton, beneath

the clods of the valley, causing it to lie down among the

sins of its youth.

young widow of Er and Onan, though not without its extenuations, in

having been partly provoked by Judah’s reluctance to marry her to Shelah,

and partly inspired by a desire to take her place among the ancestresses of

the promised seed, was yet in many respects reprehensible.

Ø      She discovered impatience. Although Judah did manifest a temporary

unwillingness to give her Shelah for a husband, she might have reasoned

that, after losing two sons, it was not unnatural that he should hesitate

about exposing a third to the same risk of destruction.

Ø      She manifested unbelief. If Tamar did regard herself as wronged, as

most undoubtedly she was, instead of taking measures to right herself,

she should have left her cause to God, who had already vindicated her

against the wickedness of her youthful husbands, and who in His own

time and way would doubtless have interposed to assert her prerogative

as a widow belonging to the family of Israel.

Ø      She practiced deception. Laying aside her widow’s garments, and

assuming the attire of a harlot, she took her station at the gate of Enajim,

on the way to Timnath, and pretended to be a prostitute. Tamar

manifestly was not a woman of refined and delicate sensibilities; but

then she was a Canaanite, and had been the wife of Er and Onan, who

were not calculated to improve her modesty.

Ø      She was guilty of temptation. It is true the narrative does not represent

her as having been guilty of solicitation, like the “foolish woman”

described by Solomon (Proverbs 7:6-23; 9:14-18). Perhaps she knew

that Judah would not require solicitation; but if so she was all the more

guilty in placing temptation in Judah’s way.

Ø      She committed incest. The guilt of an incestuous connection which

rested on Judah unconsciously she had knowingly and willingly taken

on herself.

heinous, than those of either his sons or his daughter-in-law were the

offences of Judah. Jacob’s fourth son sinned:

Ø      In marrying a Canaanitish wife. Though Judah’s marriage with Shuah’s

daughter was blessed by God, who made it fruitful, it does not follow

that it was approved by God.

Ø      In withholding Shelah from Tamar. Although it does not appear as yet

to have been commanded that in default of issue a widow should be

married by her deceased husband’s brother, it is obvious that Judah

recognized that it should be so, both by his own act in giving Onan to

Tamar after Er’s death, and by his own subsequent confession with

regard to Shelah (v. 26).

Ø      In deceiving Tamar. Instead of frankly telling her that he did not intend

his third son to become her husband, he bound her to remain a widow,

and sent her home to her father’s house (instead of keeping her in his

own) under the impression that Shelah was only withheld from her on

the score of youth.

Ø      In committing sin with Tamar. Though in reality Judah committed

incest, yet so far as his intention went it was only adultery, or fornication.

Yet all forms of unchastity are forbidden in the law of God. And it

gives a very low conception of the morality of Judah that he, a member

of the consecrated family of Israel, who had himself been married,

should have so openly, and deliberately, and coolly turned aside to

seek the company of a common prostitute, as he imagined Tamar

to be. Judah should have acted on the principle afterwards stated

by Paul (I Corinthians 7:9).

Ø      In condemning Tamar. “Bring her forth, and let her be burnt,” said

the indignant patriarch. It is obvious the sentence was excessive in its

severity.  It was not imperative, else it could not have been remitted;

and a recollection of his visit to Timnath three months previously

should have inclined him to lean to mercy’s side. But the virtuous

Angelos of society always procure indulgence for themselves by

damning their fellow-sinners  (Measure for Measure, Act II.).

Scripture counsels differently (Matthew 7:3; Romans 2:22;

Galatians 6:1).

Tamar’s Twins (vs. 27-30)


Ø      The offspring of the same parents;

Ø      the fruit of the same sin;

Ø      the gift of the same God.


Ø      The order of their birth;

Ø      the import of their names;

Ø      the purpose of their lives — the first being an ancestor of the

promised seed.

The Goodness and Severity of God (vs. 1-30)

These occurrences in the family of Judah would seem

·         to betoken the retributive judgment of God, and

·         illustrate His grace. Joseph is lost, and still Divinely protected.

Judah is a wanderer from his brethren; a sensual, self-willed, degenerate

man; yet it is in the line of this same wanderer that the promised seed shall

appear. The whole is a lesson on the evil of separation from the people of

God. Luther asks why such things were placed in Scripture, and answers,

·         That no one should be self-righteous, and

·         that no one should despair, and

·         to remind us that Gentiles by natural right are brothers,

mother, sisters to our Lord; the word of salvation is a word FOR


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