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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Genesis 38



Verses 1-30

The Story of Judah and Tamar - Genesis 38:1-30 records the story of Judah and Tamar. The important reason for the insertion of this narrative account lies in the fact that David, the king of Israel, was of the lineage of one of the twins conceived in this wicked manner. The story was especially important to the Israelites during the period of the kingdom as they sought to trace the genealogy of the royal Davidic lineage. Whether this story found itself within the book of Genesis immediately by the hand of Moses or later during the compilation of the Holy Scriptures after the Babylonian captivity or somewhere in between does not weaken its divine inspiration. However, like several passages in the book of Genesis , such as Genesis 36:31, which refers to the period of kings reigning over the nation of Israel, the story of Judah and Tamar suggests later compilation when the Davidic lineage was well established with the children of Israel.

Genesis 36:31, "And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel."

A second reason for the insertion of the story of Judah and Tamar is given by Arthurs, who refers to Mathewson's argument that this narrative "not only heightens tension by suspending the plot but also positions Judah as a foil to Joseph." While Joseph resists temptation, Judah yields to sexual passions, making Judah the hypocrite and Joseph the genuine man of righteousness. 248]

248] Jeffery D. Arthurs, Preaching With Variety (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2007), 75.

Genesis 38:1"a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah" - Comments- This was apparently a friend of Judah. See Genesis 38:12; Genesis 38:20.

Genesis 38:12, "And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah"s wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite."

Genesis 38:20, "And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman"s hand: but he found her not."

Genesis 38:8"Go in unto thy brother"s wife" - Comments- Note that the event of taking a brother's wife took place before the Mosaic Law commanded it ( Deuteronomy 25:5).

Deuteronomy 25:5, "If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband"s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband"s brother unto her."

Genesis 38:11Comments- According to Genesis 38:14; Genesis 38:26 Tamar knew Judah's motive of withhold his third son from her and this was the reason she deceived him into coming in to her. She did not want to remain barren and become a reproach among her own people.

Genesis 38:24Comments- The fact that Judah pronounced the judgment of death upon Tamar was a reflection of the customs of his day. The Code of Hammurabi, believed by some scholars to have been written by a Babylonian king around 2100 B.C, impacted its culture for centuries. It is very likely that Judah's rash statement was influenced by law 110 of this Code, which allowed burning people for heinous crimes. Law 110 says, "If a ‘sister of a god' open a tavern, or enter a tavern to drink, then shall this woman be burned to death."

The practice of putting the adulteress to death was also in Mosaic Law ( Leviticus 21:9, Deuteronomy 22:21).

Leviticus 21:9, "And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire."

Deuteronomy 22:21, "Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father"s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father"s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you."

Genesis 38:29Word Study on "Pharez" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Pharez" (H 6557) means, "breach," or "breaking forth." Pharez continued the lineage of Jesus.

Genesis 38:30 And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 38:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

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