Genesis 38: Tamar Just Wants a Man!

Genesis 38: Tamar Just Wants a Man!

Journey through the Book of Genesis with me.  The plan is simple. Read ONE chapter a day. Blog or journal 5* things you learned that you previously didn't know and ask 5* questions about the chapter that you'll ponder all week. Let's go!

** You'll probably learn way more than 5 things and have more than 5 questions about each chapter. That's totally fine. The more the merrier! 

GENESIS 38:1-30


QUESTION 1: Why does the scripture pause in the middle of Joseph’s narrative to highlight Judah at his worst? (considering that later on, he would become a significant part of the Biblical narrative)?

QUESTION 2: How is it that Er was considered “wicked in the sight of the Lord” and immediately “put to death” by God, yet in the previous chapter, all 10 brothers engaged in what was undoubtedly an act that could be considered “wicked in the sight of the Lord?”

QUESTION 3: Why was Onan reluctant to impregnate Tamar?

QUESTION 4: What was Tamar’s original intention in sitting at the entrance to “Enaim”? Did she simply intend to confront Judah about his promise to marry her to Shelah or did she adjust on the fly when Judah assumed she was a prostitute?

QUESTION 5: How did Shelah feel about his father impregnating a woman who had been promised to him? Was he upset or was he glad he didn’t have to carry the “burden” of being married to the woman through whom his tw older brothers had been killed?


INSIGHT 1: In several accounts in the Bible where it states that a person “went down”, it almost always results in a troubling encounter. (Genesis 12:10; Genesis 42:3; Exodus 32). Judah going down to join Hirah the Adullamite would only spell trouble. 

INSIGHT 2: Onan may have refused to impregnate Tamar (his older brother’s widow) as a way of protecting his own children from losing out on their inheritance. It’s possible that the child Tamar would birth would have priority over Onan’s own children (assuming he was already married and was taking Tamar as a second wife). Whatever the case may be, God considered his act selfish and wicked and worthy of death. 

INSIGHT 3: By the death of son #2, it’s clear that Judah no longer wants anything to do with Tamar. He views her as a death trap. Hence, his offer in verse 11 is somewhat trite, “Remain a widow in your father's house, till Shelah my son grows up”. Judah has no intention of marrying Tamar off to his last son, Shelah (for fear of losing another son), as indicated by Tamar’s own observation in verse 14. 

INSIGHT 4: Judah’s choice to leave with Tamar his signet, his cord and staff is tantamount to him leaving his American express credit card with his pin number with her. 

INSIGHT 5: Judah’s righteous indignation at Tamar in verse 24 is ironic, not to mention, hypocritical, considering that three months earlier, he had spent an afternoon with a perceived-prostitute and had no qualms about it other than being “laughed” at (v.23)

INSIGHT 6: In spite of Judah’s action, he proves honorable in the end by acknowledging his fault in the matter and clearing Tamar of any wrong (v.26).

INSIGHT 7: Perez means, “to breach” or to “break through.” Whereas no one account speaks of how Perez accomplishes this (in light of his unusual birth narrative), Ruth 4:12 suggests that he grew up to become someone honorable, worthy of admiration – “ Further, may your house be like the house of Perez.” Ruth 4:18 also points out that there are nine generations between Perez and David. Hence, Perez would end up becoming an ancestor of Jesus!  

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