Genesis 38 Commentary
Jacob’s line continues with the story of Judah. Jacob’s line began in chapter 37 with the story of Joseph. The story of Judah isn’t an interruption as we may easily conclude. It is not even meant to contrast the two main characters in Jacob’s line in terms of morality.
The Bible takes time to highlight the challenges that the blessing faces. The blessing is God’s special gift to mankind. It has faced opposition, distraction and aggression right from the beginning. The aim has been that man should not enjoy God’s blessing. With the Adamic blessing we see the serpent. Noah’s drinking combined with his son’s insolence brought curses on Canaan. The Abrahamic blessing came with an imposter or a pretender in form of Ishmael who represents human means and plans to achieve God’s will and purposes. Jacob’s struggles in his life are a reflection of man’s struggles to obtain the blessing by will-power and cleverness.
So here we see Judah deeply involved in wrong-doing (Judah here means Judah and his line). Sons die as a consequence of wickedness. This is a minus on the blessing. We saw in chapter 37 how Joseph suffered. It’s the dream that suffered. The purpose was to shutdown the dream. The dream is nothing but a repeat of the history-long blessing.
Important though is the line that comes from Tamar. She became a mother of two boys. One of them is called Perez. Perez is an ancestor of the real SEED, as mentioned in the two genealogies that the gospels record – Matthew and Luke.
Admittedly, this section on the seed lineage stinks. You really feel for the blessing. The LORD either completely stops or picks it up but only with these dirty and unreliable characters. That is all there is – wicked individuals. So the LORD works with them. There are few sections in the Holy script that explain GOD’S love better than the sad story of Tamar. That’s me there. That’s you there in the story. How we become part of something completely holy is the mystery of how Tamar and Judah wickedly combine to produce Perez who eventually becomes an ancestor of the LORD Jesus. It’s the mystery of God’s love.