Judah: didn’t see that one coming…

Cover to Cover

Reading: Genesis 35:16-38:30

Focus: Genesis 38:1-26

The final chapters of Genesis focus upon the story of Joseph and the preservation of the growing tribes of Israel. One chapter that is often missed in the Joseph story, as it is not about Joseph himself, is the story of his elder brother, Judah. This particular event in Judah’s history is told after our introduction to the dreamer and betrayal into slavery by his brothers, in some ways, it seems a bit odd to include this story. However, the overall story is not about Joseph so much as it is a story of God’s plan of preservation of His Promise.

In summary, the story goes that Judah, after having his own sons, found a wife, Tamar, for his eldest son who, however, died because of his wickedness. Customarily, the second brother was to aid in carrying on his brother’s lineage through his brother’s wife; the brother failed in this obligation and subsequently died. The third brother was, at the time, too young and Judah promised to Tamar that he would fulfil his obligation when he came of age, however, that never eventuated. As a result, Tamar remained childless. One day, however, Judah was passing through Tamar’s region (as she was living with her parents) and she disguised herself as a prostitute. Judah, possibly still in grief for the recent passing of his wife, entered into the service, of what he thought, was a prostitute. As a result, Tamar became pregnant by her father-in-law, Judah. Eventually, Tamar was caught out for prostitution but having proof of Judah’s involvement, found herself redeemed out of Judah’s failure to give her his third son.

At this point, one seriously wonders why such a story is recorded. What significance does it have? Have you ever looked back in your own life wondered where, in the grand scheme of things, those weird, unusual events fit in life’s journey? This is one of those stories: one that would for many generations people would wonder…why? However, God’s plans are not so easily thwarted or disturbed by our human negligence. As it would turn out, Tamar’s sons by Judah were the direct descendants of King David. If that’s not already ringing any bells, one only needs to look at the genealogies of Matthew and Luke to quickly discover how this all fits into the grand scheme. (see Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38) Did you see that one coming? Well, welcome to God’s world.

Next Reading: Genesis 39:1-41:57