Genesis: Judah

Genesis 38:1–30

What. The. Heck.

If that’s your response to today’s chapter, you’re not alone. And it’s not the worst thing in the world. In fact, it’s probably the most normal and responsible reaction to this story. Certainly, the “How Does This Apply to My Life” paradigm of understanding the Bible really doesn’t work here, does it?

Yet, this is in Genesis. It’s part of the Five Books of Moses. It’s part of the Torah. When Paul, centuries later, says all Scripture is God-breathed and useful, “all Scripture” includes this story. So what in the world do we do with that?

First, from a storytelling point of view, we interrupt the Joseph story to communicate that time passes between chapters 37 and 39.

Second, we get a view into how messed up this family is through whom God has chosen to save the world.

We’ve already gotten the picture that Jacob’s sons are some pretty rough-around-the-edges dudes. Two of them murder in cold blood an entire village for the dishonor of their sister. Another one sleeps with his stepmom. Several of them plot to murder their youngest brother but decide it’s a better idea to sell him as a slave instead.

These ain’t choir boys.

Now another one ignores the plight of his widowed daughter-in-law, solicits a prostitute—who turns out to be said daughter-in-law out for revenge—and has two kids by her.

But you know what the real kicker is? Judah, Tamar, and Perez all get named in the New Testament. Have you seen that before? When Matthew goes to tell the story of Jesus, he starts with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Tamar, and Perez. Tamar is one of four women mentioned by Matthew in the family tree of Jesus. And that’s no small detail.

According to Matthew, this story in Genesis 37 is part of the family tree and heritage of Jesus.

What if that’s just how big God’s grace is?

What about you? What do you see?


About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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