Genesis 38:26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.
Genesis 29:35 New International Version (NIV)
35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.[a] Then she stopped having children.
- Genesis 29:35Judah sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for praise.
Genesis 29:35 This is a recording of the birth of Judah, he was the 4th Son of Jacob by his first wife Leah.
Read Genesis 37:26-28 This is where Judah decides that instead of killing his brother, Joseph, they will sell him off to the Ishmaelites into slavery. The Ishmaelites are actually Ishmael’s people. Ishmael, if you recall from a few lessons back, is their Grandfather, Isaac’s half brother. Ishmael’s people are always in conflict with Isaac’s side of the family.
Genesis 37:26-28 New International Version (NIV)
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels[a] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
- Genesis 37:28 That is, about 8 ounces or about 230 grams
Read Genesis 38 This is the story of Tamar who was Judah’s daughter in law. Her first husband died because he was wicked in the Lord’s sight, and in keeping with tradition she is remarried to her first husband’s brother who is instructed by Judah to raise children in his brother’s name. Onan dishonors God’s rule about this tradition and God kills him because of this. After her second husband died, then Judah promised that she Shelah was old enough he would give Tamar his last son as her husband. In the meantime she was to go live in her father’s house again. Judah did not honor his promise to Tamar, so Tamar took matters into her own hands, and dressed up as a prostitute and Judah chose to to lie with her. Tamar became pregnant, but she had evidence that Judah was the father. Judah did not recognize Tamar when he lay with her (perhaps her face was covered). When Judah found out about her pregnancy he was ready to have her killed, but then he was humbled to find that he was the father. He recognized that Tamar only did this because he didn’t keep his promise to her. He did not have her killed, but did not take her to wife, he did support her. She had twin boys named Perez and Zerah.
Genesis 38 New International Version (NIV)
Judah and Tamar
38 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullamnamed Hirah. 2 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. 4 She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. 5 She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.
6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death.
8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.
11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.
12 After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.
13 When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,”14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.
15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face.16 Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.”
“And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked.
17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said.
“Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked.
18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?”
“Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. 19 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again.
20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21 He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”
“There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said.
22 So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’”
23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”
24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”
Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”
25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”
26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.
27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.[a] 30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.[b]
Note: The important thing to notice here is that Judah when faced with his sin, recognized that he had done the wrong thing, and was sorry for it. God was good to forgive him and Tamar for their sin and include them in the lineage of Jesus. According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, women were only listed in genealogy in the Jewish culture if there were property or any rights being transmitted through them, or if there was something remarkable about them.** Tamar took a remarkable risk of her life to ensure her future. Women without husbands or son’s were basically at the mercy of society to take care of them. Most became beggars. She was counting on Judah’s sense of justice to fix the problem and he didn’t disappoint her. If Judah had not taken responsibility for his actions, then Tamar would likely have been stoned to death!
One of Jesus’ names is the Lion of Judah.
Revelation 5:5 Then one of the elders said to me, Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.
Read Genesis 49:8-10 This is where Judah is told he is a lion’s cub and that the scepter will not depart from him until it comes to whom it belongs. This is a reference to Jesus. Judah was the 4th son, but Jacob gave leadership to Judah’s tribe over all of the others.
Genesis 49:8-10 New International Version (NIV)
8 “Judah,[a] your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[b]
until he to whom it belongs[c] shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
**Ungers Bible Dictionary