Genesis Chapter 38  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Genesis 38
Gen 38:1

“Judah went down.” Jacob’s 12 sons were wild and crazy, and there no doubt could have been many stories recorded about them, but this record about Judah is especially important and makes it into the Bible because Judah was Jacob’s son in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, and then so was Judah’s son Pharez whose mother was Tamar.

Gen 38:2

“went in to her.” An idiom for sexual intercourse (cp. Gen. 29:23; 30:4; 38:2, 18; Judg. 16:1; Ruth 4:13; 2 Sam. 12:24).

Gen 38:3(top)
Gen 38:4(top)
Gen 38:5(top)
Gen 38:6(top)
Gen 38:7(top)
Gen 38:8(top)
Gen 38:9

“he wasted it on the ground.” Onan would pull out of Tamar before he ejaculated so he would not impregnate Tamar.

Gen 38:10(top)
Gen 38:11(top)
Gen 38:12

“after many days.” This is an idiom; in this case it would have been a number of years that Tamar had obediently waited.

Gen 38:13(top)
Gen 38:14(top)
Gen 38:15(top)
Gen 38:16(top)
Gen 38:17(top)
Gen 38:18

“Your seal and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” Tamar was very wise. She knew Judah did not like her and would have liked nothing better than for her to die or somehow be out of his life. So Tamar likely knew that if she showed up pregnant that Judah would order her death, which indeed he did (Gen. 38:24). So she asked that she be given in pledge things that no one could deny belonged to Judah himself: his personal seal, cord, and staff. The seal would have been a ring, stamp, or cylinder on a cord worn around his neck, and the cord would have been handmade and unique. Similarly, his staff was the staff of the patriarch of the tribe and would have been widely recognized. Ordinarily, Judah would never have handed these over, but in this case, he was so overconfident that this prostitute would give him his things back because they would have been basically useless to her that he gave them to her.

“and went in to her.” An idiom for sexual intercourse; the Hebrew is more literally “he went to her,” but it can also mean that he went “into” her, that is, he had sexual intercourse with her. This idiom occurs in a number of verses (cp. Gen. 29:23; 30:4; 38:2, 18; Judg. 16:1; Ruth 4:13; 2 Sam. 12:24).

“and she conceived by him.” This is one of the many times in Scripture that we see the invisible hand of God guiding history. It is normally unlikely that a woman gets pregnant by having sexual intercourse only once. Also, she herself would not have known it for at least a few weeks.

Gen 38:19(top)
Gen 38:20(top)
Gen 38:21(top)
Gen 38:22(top)
Gen 38:23(top)
Gen 38:24(top)
Gen 38:25

“cords.” Here the word “cords” is plural, while in Genesis 38:18 it is singular. It is likely that the “cord” was made up of a number of cords woven together and was unique and beautiful, aiding the identification as Judah’s cord.

Gen 38:26

“But he knew her again no more.” That is, Judah did not have sex with Tamar again. The word “know” is sometimes used idiomatically for sexual intercourse (see commentary on Matt. 1:25).

Gen 38:27

“at the time of her travail.” That is, in the time of her labor and birth.

Gen 38:28(top)
Gen 38:29

“Perez.” The word means, “a breach,” “a breaking out or through.” Thus the name means something like “He who breaks out.” While being the oldest son has not come to mean much in modern culture, in the biblical culture being the first son had lots of honor and responsibility.

Gen 38:30(top)

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