The story of Joseph is interrupted by Judah and Tamar.
Have you heard the saying, “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your relatives?”
God can, and he was watching the family line of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, closely. This family line was going to be in the genealogy of Jesus through Judah, see Matthew 1.
But Judah mixed with the Canaanites and married Shua, a Canaanite woman. They had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah.
Judah found a wife for Er called Tamar. Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him.
There was a custom, later codified into Levitical law, where the brother marries the widow so the family line is continued and the property stays in the family. So Onan married Tamar.
“But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; therefore He killed him also.” Genesis 38:9-10
So goodbye Er and Onan. Judah told Tamar to remain a widow in her father’s house till his son Shelah was grown – but Judah had no intention of marrying them off; “Lest he also die like his brothers” he thought. He’s obviously blaming Tamar for the deaths, not God.
Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house while Judah ‘forgot’ about her. The years passed and she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife. So she took matters into her own hands.
Finding out Judah was going to Timnah to shear his sheep, Tamar took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and and sat by the road to Timnah. She must have known Judah well enough to know how he’d react.
When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face. So Judah hired Tamar as a prostitute. They negotiated payment;
And he said, “I will send a young goat from the flock.”
So she said, “Will you give me a pledge till you send it?”
Then he said, “What pledge shall I give you?”
So she said, “Your signet and cord, and your staff that is in your hand.”
Tamar conceived and went back to her home and her widow’s clothes. Judah turned up with the goat but couldn’t find her.
About three months later, Judah was told Tamar was pregnant.
So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”
He wanted her killed because she’d committed adultery against Shelah!
When she was brought out, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.” And she said, “Please determine whose these are—the signet and cord, and staff.”
So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.” And he never knew her again.
Tamar gave birth to twin boys, Perez and Zerah. Zerah put his hand out first and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand. But Zerah withdrew his hand and Perez was born first.
Perez is in the genealogy of Jesus; Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Matthew 1:2-3
The Book of Ruth has this strange blessing; where the the elders and all the people at the gate of Bethlehem Ephrathah said, “Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
Why did Tamar get this special honour? Is it because she refused to be forgotten, and she held Judah accountable? Who knows, but God honours vows.
Perez became the ancestral leader of the Perezite clan (Genesis 46:12; Numbers 26:20). The family was well respected and when the Israelites returned from captivity in Babylon, 468 Perezites were chosen to live in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 9:4; Nehemiah 11:4, 6). The Bible says they were “all outstanding men.” Source: Got Questions
Five generations of the family tree of the Messiah are hidden within the text of Genesis 38. The names Boaz, Ruth, Obed, Jesse, and David are placed in chronological order at 49-letter intervals.
Discern, I pray thee, whose sign this is?
The Bible codes or Torah codes are hidden texts within the Hebrew texts, discovered by Israel mathmetician Eliyahu Rips in the 1990s. Hebrew characters have a numerical value and it was with these and computers that messages were discovered using equidistant letter sequences. It’s like a watermark or stamp of authenticity. The codes are not needed as the plain meaning speaks for itself, but the codes are real, they’re interesting and they prove the Bible is the inspired word of God.
Here we have the text from Genesis 38:25, “Discern, I pray thee, whose sign this is.”
The hidden text spells out, “God encoded, God is truth.“
It’s interesting that in Canaanite practise it was harlots who covered their faces. Don’t the Mohammedans know that? They’re all descended from Abraham.
Related post, the scarlet thread …