Judah and Tamar

Genesis Chapter 38
I. Observation • Who are the main characters? What do we know about them? • Judah: • • Tamar:


When do the events of this passage take place? • The transitional introduction of Chapter 38 indicate that it begins just after ending events of Chapter 37, after Jacob has mourned the assumed death of Joseph and Joseph was sold to Potiphar in Egypt. • Where do the events of this passage take place? • Adullam is about 15 miles NW of Hebron (Ryrie). Kezib was where Judah’s wife gave birth to his sons. Even after consulting several resources, it was difficult to determine clearly where Kezib was located; Smith’s Bible Dictionary suggested it was in the “lowlands of Judah.” Timnah was where Judah was having his sheep sheared and where he was traveling when he came upon Tamar disguised as a prostitute. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, it was located approximately 20 miles west of Jerusalem. • What is happening? (Summary of Events) • Judah left his brothers, travels to Adullam, and married a Canaanite woman (v. 1-2) • Judah’s wife bore him three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah. (v. 2-5) • Judah found a wife for Er named Tamar, but Er’s wickedness resulted in God putting him to death (v. 6-7) • Judah told Onan to lie with Tamar to produce offspring for his brother (a common practice in that time), but Onan refused to get her pregnant, so God put him to death (v. 8-10) • After the death of his first two sons, God sent Tamar to live with her father as a widow until Shelah was old enough to marry her. (v. 11). • After Judah’s wife died, he traveled to Timnah, where his sheep were being sheared (v. 12) • Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and went to where Judah would see her (v. 13-14) • Thinking Tamar was a prostitute, Judah solicited her to sleep with him in exchange for a young goat from his flock. (v. 15-17) • Tamar asked for Judah’s seal & staff as a “pledge” until the payment was received (v. 17-18) • Judah sleeps with Tamar and she became pregnant. (v. 18-19) • Judah sent his friend with payment for the prostitute, but she could not be found (v. 20-23) • Three months later, Judah is told that Tamar was found guilty of prostitution and was now pregnant, so he gives the order to have her burned to death (v. 24) • Tamar sends word to Judah, along with his seal and staff, that the owner of those items was the one who got her pregnant. (v. 25) • Judah realized that he was the one who got her pregnant and recognizes his sin (v. 26) • Tamar gave birth to twin sons, Perez and Zerah. It appeared that Zerah would be born first, but Perez was actually born first instead. (v. 27-30) II. Interpretation • What principles are illustrated in this passage? What is the main theme?

In what ways did Judah wrong Tamar? How did Tamar wrong Judah? How did it all start?

What do we know or learn about God from this passage? What is his role in this chapter?

III. Application • God takes sin very seriously. He is not interested in who’s to blame, but seeks justice. It is only by his mercy and grace through the blood of Christ that we can be justified.

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