The Life of Joseph - Lesson 11,  The profligate conduct of Judah and his family.


Genesis 38:12-14,  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. And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep. And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.

Genesis 38:15-19,  When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?  And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him. And she arose, and went away, and laid by her veil from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood.

Tamar's time had now come to carry out her plan to have seed raised up in her so that she would obtain that which was her right.

For she had every right to have a child by the nearest of kin to her deceased husband.

It was obvious to her that Judah was not about to give her his youngest son Shelah (Shay law').

Shelah was now grown and Judah continued to ignore Tamar while she lived at her father's house.

Judah also was now a widower and he himself was free to perform the function of a brother in order for his son's name to continue.

But of course Tamar knew that he would not be a willing partner lest he also die because of this young woman Tamar.

Doesn't the scripture tell us that Judah considered Tamar to be the one responsible for the deaths of Er and Onan as though she were a bad luck omen?

So Tamar carried out her well thought out plan forcing Judah to meet his responsibilities in her regard.

The fact is that Judah, as did Onan, refused to do his duty and therefore drove this woman to do desperate and deceptive things so that she would receive her right of a child.

She pretended to be the temple harlot and sat in the way of passage of Judah.

She knew that Judah's habit was to engage the services of such a woman.

She knew that he would not have the price of such services because his flock was at Timnah.

She knew what security, in lieu of payment to ask, in order to prove the paternity of the child.

She fully expected to have to prove this in order to save her life later when she was accused by Judah of harlotry.

What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand.

One writer has said that the signet or ring represents his person, the bracelet represents his possessions, and the staff represents his position as shepherd.

So Judah forfeited his person, his possessions and his position for the sake of a moment of lust.

Judah was well on his way to becoming a second Esau, who in a moment of lust for a meal, sold his birthright.

Genesis 38:20-21,  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. Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this place.

Tamar now has Judah's signet, his bracelets, and his staff, things that Judah values and he wants them returned.

Would he have paid Tamar's price of a kid had she not exacted the pledges?

Hirah perhaps said, I'll go get them for you.

Perhaps he thought: I'd like a look at this woman myself.

But she was nowhere to be found and the men of the place denied that there was ever a harlot in that place.

They knew of no such woman.

Genesis 38:22,23,  And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place. And Judah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.

So Hirah returns with the goat and gives a report to Judah.

I'm sorry but there was no sign of the harlot neither was there any knowledge by the men of a harlot in that place.

So Judah resigns himself that the pledges have been lost.

He says to Hirah, Let her keep the pledge articles for herself lest I be ashamed and be thought of as a man who does not keep his word.

I tried to pay her with this kid but she is nowhere to be found.

Judah was upset not because he had transgressed against God, not because he had committed an act of immorality, but because he was afraid his reputation as a man of his word might be ruined.

For some, being a man of your word is simply the right thing to do but for others being a man of your word is simply profitable and done to maintain that profitability.

I think that Judah's character indicates that he was of the latter persuasion.

Genesis 38:24-26,  And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.

It is interesting to see the authority that Judah had over his daughter-in-law Tamar.

She had returned to live with her father until called by Judah to marry his youngest son Shelah (Shay-law).

And yet when Judah hears a report of her pregnancy and an accusation that she has played the whore it is not Tamar's father who responds but it is Judah, her father in law who responds.

And apparently, as family head, he had within his power, to put her to death for this transgression for he commanded that she be brought forth and be burnt.

Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.

Oh, how righteous you are Judah.

And how short your memory is.

Our Lord would have cautioned Judah, Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

Judah, in his self righteousness, would have hastened to pick up the first stone!

It would be hard to find a worse hypocrite in scripture than we find here in Judah.

But the only difference between him and Tamar was that Tamar was a woman and he was a man, that Tamar had gotten caught and he had not.

Where is she, the immoral wretch? She has disgraced my name!

Talk about a double standard.

But this double standard is part of man's nature for we see this double standard still thriving and still healtly in our day when all blame is laid on the women and none on the man.

We can envision Tamar being confronted with her sin but she had a surprise confession to make.

Put your fire on hold or prepare the fire for two, for by the man whose signet, bracelets, and staff are these, I am with this child.

Judah acknowledged the signet, the bracelets and the staff.

Judah's sin had found him out.

Sin is like that.

It will raise its ugly head at the most inopportune time when you least expect it.

Communicate that to your children early and do them the favor of knowing that their sin will find them out.

And Judah .... said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.

But where is the fire, Judah, now that you have been implicated?

So Tamar is now exonerated and recognized as desperately doing what was her right to do.

Judah is at the least, saying that Tamar was more in the right than he, for he did not fulfill his responsibilities.

By her desperate act she won the right to be the mother of Judah's children and in the final analysis was held up as the more righteous.

But Judah never again knew Tamar in an intimate way.

Genesis 38:27-30,  And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb. And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first. And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez. And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.

And it came to pass is used three times in this passage.

Ladies, as you went though an event like Tamar was now going through, did you too think that it would never come to pass?

But it is interesting to see the prominence of this phrase "And it came to pass" in conjunction with the birth of a child.

Ladies! It does come to pass as we have so repeatedly seen in our congregation.

And it came to pass 6 months after confronting Judah that, of Tamar, twins were born.

It seems to indicate that she knew that she had twins in her womb for unless they knew this why did they tie a scarlet thread around the hand of the first born.

They did because they knew another child was coming and they wanted to identify the first born.

However the one they identified as the first born was not the first born.

The one they identified as their choice of the first born was to be the second born.

For God had other plans.

Zahar's hand, on whom they tied the scarlet thread, withdrew in favor of  Pharez, in whose line the Christ would be born.

This important fact is clearly given to us in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke