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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 38

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-30

The History of Judah

The sins recorded in this chapter testify eloquently to the great need the world had of the Greatest of the descendants of Judah, who came to teach the virtue of purity and the sanctity of family life. The honesty and truthfulness of the historian are shown in his not concealing the dark spots in the history of Judah, whose descendants attained to such greatness. The direct purpose of the narrative is to show the ancestry of David, who was descended from Pharez the son of Judah by Tamar: see Ruth 4:18; Matthew 1:3.

1. Adullamite] Adullam was in the lowland of Judah, SW. of Jerusalem.

8. The law in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, respecting the duty of a surviving brother to marry his deceased brother’s widow in order to continue the race, will fully explain the circumstances here detailed. To inculcate observance of this law was probably the aim of the historian. Had Judah given Shelah to Tamar, as he admitted he should have done according to ancient custom, the events recorded here would not have happened: see also Matthew 22:23.

13. Timnath] on the Philistine border of Judah.

14. An open place] RV ’the gate of Enaim,’ near Adullam.

15. Harlot] RM Heb. Kedeshah, ’that is, a woman dedicated to impure heathen worship: see Deuteronomy 23:17; Hosea 4:14.’ The surrender of their chastity as the greatest sacrifice women could make was common in heathen worship. At Corinth in St. Paul’s day it is known that this shocking practice formed part of the ritual at the temples dedicated to Aphrodite.

18. Bracelets] rather, ’cord’ by which the seal was suspended round the neck.

26. The reason of Tamar’s action may be found in the strong desire for the perpetuation of the family, so often observed in the sacred narrative.

27-30. This incident testifies to the importance and privileges attached to the firstborn.

Pharez] ’breach.’ Zarah] perhaps ’scarlet,’ but uncertain.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 38". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/genesis-38.html. 1909.
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