Read Genesis 38
>< v.1-5 Y’hudah starts his life Y’hudah settles near a man named Hirah in Adullam, a town about 1 mile NW of Hevron. His separation from his brothers was more than geographical. He was integrating with the Kena’anim by marrying the daughter of Shua and having 3 sons with her: ‘Er, Onan & Shelah.
>< v.6-12 Evil in the sight of YHWH… “Y’hudah took a wife for ‘Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.” Why did YHWH kill ‘Er? Because ‘Er was rah in the sight of YHWH…we’re not told specifically how he was evil. Why did YHWH kill Onan? Because his deliberate and rebellious rejection of his duty to marry his brother’s widow and produce offspring for his deceased brother (by spilling his semen on the ground) displeased (yara’) YHWH.
**read about levirate law in Deuteronomy 25:5-10
Why wouldn’t Onan want to fulfill his duty of this levirate-type marriage? If he had produced a son, it would not have been his. It would have been a son in the name of the deceased firstborn…that child would then be entitled to Y’hudah’s estate (as the son of the firstborn). If the widow Tamar was not given a son, she would be left with no one to care for her, thus facing extreme poverty.
**James 1:27 The True Religion:: “The religious observance that God the Father considers pure and faultless is this; to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being contaminated by the world.”
Shelah’s Duty Why did Y’hudah tell Tamar to remain a widow after both ‘Er and Onan died? Shelah was still too young to marry. Although it would have been his levirate duty to do so. But truthfully, Y’hudah feared losing his third son. He didn’t know why his other sons died.
>< v.12-14 Widower & Widow A considerable amount of time had passed, Y’hudah’s wife had died. After the mourning period (about thirty days) Y’hudah, along with his trusted friend, Hirah, go to Timnah to supervise and participate in the sheep-shearing season.
Why was Tamar still wearing her widow’s garb? Typically, it was only for the thirty-day mourning period that women were required to wear them. This detail
reveals that she continued to live in a state of mourning because her deceased husband’s brother refused to give her child.
>< v.15-19 ‘Einayim Why does Tamar disguise herself as a prostitute? Tamar knew that Shelah was of marrying age, yet Y’hudah had made no arrangements yet. So she devises a plan to have Y’hudah fulfill the levirate duty himself, but she knew he wouldn’t knowingly do so.
She places herself at the entrance to ‘Einayim. Y’hudah thought her to be a “temple prostitute” which was considered to be a legitimate part of the Kena’ani culture (pagan worship practice symbolizing fertility associated with the temple of Baal).
>< v.20-23 Paying the price Y’hudah seas his friend Hirah with the payment for the prostitute and to collect his items that were given as a guarantee. It wasn’t good for one’s reputation to keep asking for the whereabouts for a prostitute, so to save themselves the shame, Y’hudah decides its best to cut his losses whilst convincing himself that he’d done his part in sending the payment. Oh well!
>< v.24-26 Shame & Repentance Y’hudah was just as guilty of immorality, yet he calls for the execution of Tamar by burning because she was found pregnant as a result of her prostitution. Talk about a double standard! When Y’hudah discovered he was the father of the unborn child, he realized it was by his withholding Shelah from Tamar that he had caused her to take these drastic actions.
Y’hudah :: “She is more righteous than I.” This was said more as an admission of guilt. He repented and did not sleep with her again. But Tamar wasn’t righteous at all in what she had done, no more than Y’hudah was righteous in what he had done.
YHWH God simply used them despite their sin and rebellion to achieve His divine purpose.
>< v.27-30 Tamar’s descendants Tamar gives birth to twin sons, Peretz and Zerach. Notice the events that occur at their birth. Zerach gets passed over for Peretz through whom the line of covenant promise will be carried forward.
**Tamar is a Semite, a descendant of Shem, the sanctified line of good. Y’hudah’s wife was a Kena’ani, from the line of Ham, the accursed line of evil. None of Y’hudah’s
three sons through the Kena’ani woman sired a son. Y’hudah himself impregnates a Semite, Tamar. The purity of the bloodline of the covenant promise was preserved.