Genesis 38:1-30

 |  April 9, 2018

Gen. 38:1-30

  1. Locate the passage

This passage seems to interrupt the Joseph narrative. It reminds us that the focus has not left Jacob and his family (Gen. 37:2). Here, we see another picture of deceit in Jacob’s family. The passage provides additional insight into Judah’s character, it highlights one aspect of the Jewish law, and ultimately is another picture of the sexual dysfunction of Jacob’s family that juxtaposes Joseph’s response to sexual temptation in the next chapter.

  1. Genre

The passage is narrative and includes conversations between Judah and Tamar twice before their sexual encounter (but not after), then the people and Judah after Tamar is found to be with child by Judah. It also records the conversation between the midwife and Tamar at the birth of her twins.

  1. Determine the structure of the passage

38:1-11 – Judah brings further dysfunction into his family

38:12-23 – Tamar knows something about her father-in-law’s character

38:24-26 – Tamar is demonstrated as more righteous than Judah

38:27-30 – Tamar gives birth to twins

  1. Exegete the passage

Meanwhile … back to the rest of Jacob’s family. Joseph has been sold into slavery by his brothers and Judah and the rest move on with their lives.

This passage vividly contrasts the innocent of Joseph with the guilt of his brothers, here represented by Judah.

The irony of Er, despite the fact that his name spelled backwards in Hebrew ( עֵֽרand רַע) means, “Evil” and the obvious connection of his name in English to “error,” is that his name in Hebrew means, “protector” (HALOT). An act he clearly did not live up to with Tamar.

38:1 – A great deal is contained in the phrase, “Judah departed from his brothers”

38:2 – Sexual miscontrol continues to plague in Jacob’s (Abraham’s) family

38:3-5 – The unnamed woman bore Judah 3 sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah

38:6-7 – Judah procures a wife for his son, Er.

38:8-10 – Judah gave Er’s widow to Onan

38:11 – Judah promised something to Tamar that the text is not clear that he intends to fulfil

38:12 – After a long time

38:13-16 – It was told Tamar

38:17-18 – Tamar requests items that would easily be identified as belonging to Judah. She had clearly thought through this plan.

38:20-23 – Judah sought to fulfill his pledge to the roadside “harlot.”

38:24 – When it was discovered that Tamar was pregnant, she was accused of “zona,” not “qedesa.”

38:25 – Tamar was paraded in front of her father-in-law, but instead of her being shamed, the tables are turned, when she publically announces the identity of the father of her child.

38:26 – It is clear that Judah immediately knows two things:

38:27-30 – Tamar gave birth to twins

  1. Let the structure of the text drive the sermon

Theological Question: Does God condone deceit?



Category: Sermon Structure
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