After devoting a mere chapter to the genealogy of Esau, the Holy Spirit redirects the reader to the object of the narrative, the called and chosen who are destined to become the Bride of Jesus/Yeshua and the light of the world.
Unlike Esau, who forsook the Promised Land, Jacob settled in the land of his father and grandfather. Jacob continues to yearn for peace and quiet, but, it is not to be—at least not yet. The family must descend to Egypt to fulfill the purposes of God. The four hundred years of bondage promised to Abraham’s descendants began with the birth of Isaac and will culminate in the crossing of the Red Sea.
We begin this week with a mysterious declaration.
“These are the generations of Jacob, Joseph…” (Gen 37:2a)
Typically, the word translated as “generations” is followed by a list of offspring as we saw last week in the long genealogy of Esau.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the honor of kings to search it out. ” Prov. 25:2
Since only one son is introduced by this verse, however, some versions have translated this word as “chronicles” instead of “generations.” The word, according to the sages and translators, is definitely plural. In plain English it could read: “Joseph ARE the offspring of Jacob.” The Holy Spirit beckons us to consider this grammatical difficulty, a red flag for sure.
Jacob will adopt Joseph’s sons before his death, adding two tribes to the children of Israel. “Joseph,” in fact, means “God will add.”
And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. (Gen 48:5-6a)
Let that sink in for a moment, Manasseh and Ephraim, born to Asenath, daughter of the priest of the sun god, will not only be adopted into Jacob’s household, but, will be made joint heirs and rulers with Jacob’s other sons. Joseph’s sons were foreigners, raised in an entirely different culture than Jacob’s other sons, in a country where idolatry was the norm. But, the Holy Spirit wants us to understand now, weeks ahead of the torah portion containing the adoption story, that Joseph’s sons ARE part of Israel.
Does this foreshadow the adoption of which the disciples teach?
“remember that you were at that time separated…alienated from…Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise…having no hope and without God…but now…you who once were far off have been brought near… (see Eph. 2:12-13) .
“…you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” …and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ… (see Romans 8:15-17)
Here is something to stop and ponder. Can we find anywhere a footnote to God’s instructions to Israel at Mount Sinai that He did not intend Ephraim and Manasseh obey them?
You recall from last week that Levi and Simeon slew all of the men of Shechem and had taken the women and children. We concluded that through the story of Dinah’s kidnapping and rape, the serpent’s evil plan to swallow up Jacob’s family into the Shechemites was exposed. God intervened in Jacob’s presumptuous plan to settle in the fertile region, and, instead, told Jacob to take the family to Bethel [House of God]. As a bonus, at least in my opinion, God used the situation to release some of the serpent’s captives from the Shechemites, to give them an opportunity to be grafted in to Israel, and thereby, provide suitable wives for some of Jacob’s sons. God brought down holy terror upon the surrounding nations so that Jacob and company could flee unharmed to Bethel to renew the covenant and to offer sacrifices.
As we begin this week, the sons had returned to Shechem, which leads us to ask why? For an excellent presentation on this subject, please consider Daniel Pinner’s post.
And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.” So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan. (37:13-17)
For some reason the brothers had moved their tents and flocks away from the fragrant and lush landscape of Shechem, the location of Jacob’s well (John 4:6).
Seeing Joseph approaching at a distance, the brothers plotted to kill him; but,Reuben stopped them, put him in a dry well and instructed the brothers not to lay a hand on him. Reuben apparently intended to return to rescue Joseph. Being the firstborn, he undoubtedly knew Jacob would hold him responsible for Joseph’s welfare; but, for a unknown reason, Reuben left the scene. (37:18-22).
While the brothers were eating a meal, a caravan of Ishmaelites approached and Judah suggested selling Joseph instead of killing him (37:25-27). Reuben returned and, finding Joseph missing, tore his clothes in grief. The brothers slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood.
Then they took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” And he identified it… (see 37:31-33a).
At this point, Joseph’s story is strangely and suddenly interrupted by an altogether different story which also hinges on a goat.
Tamar—Harlot or Heroine?
And it came to pass at that time that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite [justice of the peoples], whose name was Hirah [royal family]. And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah [wealth]; and he took her and went in unto her. (Gen 38:1-2)
The phrase “went down” is literally “descended,” and points to moral decline. The phrase “turned in to,” means to bend away from ethics and emphasizes the slippery slope on which Judah was treading. The Holy Spirit is informing us that Judah’s departure from the family was more than just physical. It was a separation from Israel’s family values.
Why did Judah depart from his family? The Stone Chumash records the sages’ view that Jacob suspected Judah had killed Joseph. According to this view, Judah’s brothers blamed him for the whole incident and accused him: “You told us to sell him. Had you advised us to send him back to Father, we would have listened!” Yet, it appears that in reality Judah is actually responsible for saving Joseph’s life, though he is unaware of what has come of Joseph at this juncture.
Consider the pain and turmoil all of Jacob’s sons suffered as a result of the hatred of their brother and their deception of their father. Did Judah, likely in his early twenties (Joseph being 17), depart in shame? Anger? Despair? Rejection?
Whether through Hirah’s influence or not, Judah married the daughter of a wealthy Canaanite. Judah had certainly heard more than once that Abraham had forbidden his servant to take a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanites and of Isaac likewise forbidding Jacob. That Esau had rebelliously done the very thing his father forbade, and, therefore, disqualified himself from Isaac’s blessing, surely had not been withheld from Judah.
It is clear to me that Judah also distanced himself from the blessing. Consider the chain of events: God, quite plainly, killed his first two sons, calling them “wicked.” (38:6-7). Later, Judah’s wife died (vs. 12), as well, likely of grief.
The names of their sons are very interesting: Er (awaken!), Onan (complaining), and, lastly, Shelah (petition), whom the Torah makes a point of saying was born at Chezib (falsify). Is God is trying to give Judah a message? Wake up! Stop complaining! And petition Me! Was it at Chezib (falsify) where God was dealing with Judah about his deception to his father?
Judah arranged a marriage (38:6) for his eldest son to a woman named Tamar (tall, upright, palm tree). Her name hints at righteousness. The righteous flourish like the palm tree. (Psalm 92:12) In addition, palm trees feature prominently in Ezekiel’s Temple. (Eze 41:18-19) We will examine Scripture for keys to her character; but, righteous or not, we cannot argue that God specifically chose Tamar for the lineage of Messiah.
Tamar became a widow when God struck down her husband (vs. 7). Judah instructed his second son to marry Tamar, according to the ancient custom of yibbum, also known as levirate marriage. But, Onan refused, which, in God’s eyes, was wicked.
“Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. And what he did was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and he put him to death also.” (Gen 38:9-10)
We must stop here to examine the concept of yibbum. From the ancient perspective, this was an act of mercy to assure provision and protection for a widow without children, as well as a means of continuing the dead brother’s line of descent. For a heart warming example of yibbum in modern times, please click here. The firstborn from such a union is regarded by Torah as heir of the deceased brother rather than of the genetic father. A brother who refused to marry his childless brother’s widow was seen as selfish and a disgrace to the family.
“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.’ (Deut 25:5-10)
The sages see yibbum as “the process in which the dead brother gains a new life” (Artscroll Stone Chumash pg. 209). Yibbum, in their eyes, resurrects the dead brother, so to speak, and is, therefore, one of the most mysterious of all the commandments. We will return to that thought.
Fearful that he would lose his only remaining heir, Judah sent Tamar back to her father’s house, promising to call for her when Shelah became of age to marry, though, in truth, he had no such intent. Judah suspected Tamar was the cause of her son’s deaths (Gen 38:7-10). In Judah’s blindness, caused by dwelling among the Canaanites (similar to Lot’s blindness in dwelling in Sodom), he could not discern the wickedness of his children. Judah’s decree effectively imprisoned Tamar. By being sent back to her father to wait with no intent to call her , Judah not only sentenced her to perpetual widowhood, but, also to the shame of barrenness.
After the death of his wife, Judah went to Timnah with his friend Hirah for what was likely a sheep shearing festival ( 38:12). This was quite likely a cultural excuse for drinking, merrymaking, and carousing, as men often do, a way for Judah to get away from his problems.
But, curiously, a “little bird” informed Tamar of Judah’s whereabouts.
And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. (38:13-14).
When Shelah had come of age to marry and Judah had not sent for her, Tamar surely realized her fate. Formerly rejected by her husband’s brother, now she was rejected by Judah himself.
Did a brokenhearted Tamar plead with God to release her from captivity? Did He send a “little bird” to whisper to Tamar that she need not accept Judah’s sentence?
I have no doubt that Tamar, like Ruth and Rahab, also ancestors of Messiah, sought the Kingdom and, by faith, was willing to act in a manner which would bring reproach upon her from her community. God obviously intervened on her behalf, for no manner of human planning or scheming could bring about the conclusion of this extraordinary story with its many details and apparent coincidences.
When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. (38:15)
Notice that the Holy Spirit does not judge Tamar a prostitute. Rather, Judah assumed it just as Jacob had assumed that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal when Judah presented Joseph’s bloodstained coat.
He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—” He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him (38:16-18).
Just as Jacob could not recognize Leah in his tent, so did Judah fail to recognize his deceased son’s wife. But, most intriguing of all is Judah’s offer of the goat. Remember, it was goat skins that Jacob used to deceive Isaac into believing he was Esau, it was a goat’s blood in which Joseph’s coat was dipped to present to Jacob, and now, it is a goat which Judah offers Tamar.
It seems that if Judah had intended to seek a prostitute he would have been prepared to offer compensation. The sages explain that because of Judah’s choice to reside among the Canaanites, known for sexual immorality, God sent a demon of lust to overpower Judah in order to provoke him to repent. God’s ultimate purpose was to redeem Judah and motivate him to repent and return to righteousness.
Tamar asked Jacob for three items that would conclusively identify their owner: his signet, his cord, and his staff. What exactly were these items?
♦ The signet would have been a ring or a pendant that could be stamped in clay or wax to authorize messages or purchases. It would have been like a combination driver’s license/Mastercard.
♦ The staff was a rod that was used as a scepter to denote the authority of the head of the tribe, the one chosen by God to rule. To understand, read the story of when Aaron’s rod budded. (Num 17) Jacob promised Judah on his death bed “the scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh [a reference to Messiah] comes” (Gen. 49:10).
♦ The Hebrew word translated as “cord” is translated as “fringes,” “tassels”, or “tzittzit, which God commanded Moses to instruct the people of Israel to wear:
“The LORD said to Moses,”Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. (Num 15:37-39)
I am convinced that Tamar understood the value of the covenant that God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that she desired to raise up offspring that would be as the stars of heaven. When asked what she required for her services, Tamar did not miss a beat. She quickly requested the tokens of the covenant. Judah, on the other hand, apparently did not hesitate to hand over his most valuable possessions to one he supposed to be a prostitute. How is this any different from Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of stew?
Tamar conceived during the encounter. Returning home, the tokens of the covenant in her hand and the seed of Judah in her womb, Tamar removed her veil, donned her widow’s garments (38:14-19), and quietly waited on God.
No Harlot Here
Judah sent his friend Hirah to exchange the goat for the items he had left with Tamar; but, she was not to be found. The men of the place stated emphatically, “No harlot has been here” (38:21). That the phrase is repeated in the next verse, to me, reinforces the righteousness of Tamar. When Hirah reported back to Judah, he replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, or we shall be laughed at. You see, I sent this young goat, and you did not find her.” (38:23)
About three months later, Judah was informed that Tamar was pregnant. Judah’s response is quick. “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” (38:24)
Here, in my opinion, is yet another indication of Tamar’s righteousness. The Torah specifically requires that the daughter of a priest who commits harlotry who should be burned (Lev. 21:9).
I picture Tamar, upon hearing Judah’s sentence, bowing low before her father-in-law in neither fear nor condemnation, as she presents his signet, cord, and staff, saying:
“By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant. Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” (Gen. 38:25)
In a final twist of irony, “please identify” is the very same phrase that Judah said to Jacob as he approached with Joseph’s robe that had been dipped in the blood of the goat. (Gen 37:32)
Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again. (Gen 38:24-26)
The writer intentionally keeps us in suspense. Does Judah take his signet, cord, and staff from her? Or does she keep them as proof to show to her children? We are told that he did not sleep with her again. Does he consider himself her husband? What is their relationship after this event?
A Double Portion in Israel
And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Peretz [the breach maker or breaker]. Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah [shining, rising]. (Gen 38:28-30)
Messiah would come from the line of Peretz (Mat 1:3). Messiah Yeshua, speaking through the prophet Micah, calls Himself “the breaker” or “he who opens the breach.”
“I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the LORD at their head. (Mic 2:12-13)
But, what of Zerah? It is an amazing story which I encourage you to search out. Here, on BibleTools.org is an excellent presentation of the two lines of Tamar and how God kept His promise that “the scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes.”
The Messianic Significance of Yibbum
We cannot leave this story until we consider the significance of yibbum to the Messianic Kingdom. As we have demonstrated in previous lessons, the Household of God (Israel) is currently divided along the lines of Jew and gentile, the House of Judah and the House of Israel, the parties to the “New Covenant” (Jer 31: 31-35, Heb. 8-11). It is necessary to understand that followers of the God of Israel who were not raised in Jewish practice, by default, fall into the second category. But, the problem is that the House of Israel was taken into captivity by the king of Assyria and was pronounced dead on arrival.
Hosea pronounced the cause of Ephraim’s death: “he incurred guilt through Baal and died.” (Hos 13:1)
God informed Hosea, “I will put an end to the kingdom of the House of Israel…I will no more have mercy upon the House of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. But I will have mercy upon the House of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God… (Hos 1:4-7)
When Ephraim was exiled, he died spiritually. God confirms this truth to Isaiah, “within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.” (Isa 7:8)
Moses had foretold this. “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” (Deut. 32:21)
To demonstrate the pain that God had endured from His bride’s idolatry, God instructed Hosea to bear children through a harlot, Gomer. Idolatry, to Yahweh, is what adultery is to humans.
Gomer’s first child was called Jezreel, (Hos. 1:4) which means “scattered” or “sown.” The House of Israel would be scattered to the four winds by the king of Assyria. The second child was called Lo Ruhamah (no mercy) (vs. 6), for God’s mercy to the House of Israel had come to an end. The third child was called Lo Ami (not my people), for God said to the House of Israel, “you are not my people, and I am not your God.” (Hos 1:9)
However, as absolute and finite as this judgment seems, in the very next verse God makes an incredible announcement.
“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, You are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, You are the sons of the living God. (Hos 1:10)
Dear friends, these familiar words, scattered throughout the New Testament, proclaim a the resurrection of the House of Israel!
The Mystery of the Ages
Peter, exhorts the “elect,” the “strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1-2), whose ancestors had been sown in exile, to understand they are part and parcel of the “royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.” Echoing the vows that the God of Israel spoke as He pledged Himself to the children of Jacob, and, it must be noted, to the mixed multitude that dwelt with them on Mount Sinai (see Exo 19:5-6), Peter reminds them that those by faith grafted into the family have the responsibility to walk in the light of Torah.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light [euphemism for Torah]: you who in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 Pet 2:9-10)
Peter is not alone in this theology. Paul also quotes Hosea:
What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.'” And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.'” (Romans 9:22-26)
The apostle John is singing the same song:
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1-2)
So determined was He not to leave his brother Ephraim disgraced and dishonored, Judah, in the flesh of Jesus/Yeshua of Nazareth, performed the mitzvah of yibbum to the barren widow, the House of Israel.
“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the LORD.
“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. (Isa. 54:1-4)
This role had fallen to Judah, the Jewish people, after the demise of the Northern Kingdom; but, like Onan, they refused to deliver the “seed” to their brother. This attitude can be seen, for example, in Peter’s statement to Cornelius that it was unlawful for a Jew to enter the house of a Gentile (Acts 10:28). That “law” was but one of the traditions of men that render the law of God of no effect, according to Yeshua (Mark 7:13). But, God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son with the offer of yibbum via His disciples to the widow who had been imprisoned and sentenced to a life of fruitlessness.
But this is a people plundered and looted; they are all of them trapped in holes and hidden in prisons; they have become plunder with none to rescue, spoil with none to say, “Restore!” Who among you will give ear to this, will attend and listen for the time to come? Who gave up Jacob to the looter, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned, in whose ways they would not walk, and whose law [Torah] they would not obey? (Isaiah 42:22-24)
My dear readers! Do you see this! This shift in perception changes everything! If the “Church” today only understood this mystery, no longer would God’s house be divided into Jew and gentile, with nearly 40,000 different Christian denominations. We would be “one” as Yeshua prayed, just as He and the Father are “One.” (John 17:11, 21)
The House of Israel is the Lost Sheep
When Yeshua entered into His ministry he announced to his disciples and followers, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” (Mat 15:24) Additionally, he instructed his disciples, “Go…to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” (Mat. 10:6) This is what Yeshua meant by saying, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
It was the House of Israel that was lost among the nations! Dead and buried by the kings of the earth, it was never to rise again except that /Jesus/Yeshua, of the tribe of Judah, willingly came to raise up offspring for his brother Ephraim.
When Yeshua came, He came bearing the light of His Father’s instructions without the burdens that had been attached to it by the religious leaders. On the cross He paid the price for the Bride’s adultery. And, in their quest to be fishers of men, the net of the disciples would bring up not only Jacob’s physical seed, but, men from every nation who would lay down their idols (traditions of men) and walk in the ways of God. Thus, the mystery of the ages is that in order to spread the gospel throughout the entire world, God RESURRECTED the House of Israel!
It is by Jesus/Yeshua’s mitzvah of yibbum that we belong to the “congregation of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). By raising up seed for His brother, Yeshua, just as the sages said, resurrected Ephraim [also known as the House of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, and the House of Joseph]. This is why Paul tells us we have the ministry of reconciliation! (2 Cor. 5:18-19)
Beloved, to be truly born again is to recognize who we are in Israel and the Covenant/Constitution that we are to abide by in order to show our love for God. We were “born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever.” (1 Peter 1:23) Those born again are able to shine brightly in the darkness against the traditions of men as they shed these yokes of idolatry, even as butterflies emerge from their cocoons and dazzle us with their breathtaking beauty.
Let us sum up our lesson today using the meanings of the names and places that we have considered. In Timnah, which means “a portion, weighed out,” at a crossroads called Enaim, which means “double fountains,” Tamar received her Shelah, which means “petition, request.” Hirah, which means “royal family,” the Adullahmite, which means “justice of the nations” came looking for Tamar.
Unwittingly, Judah fulfilled yibbum to the widow shut up in a prison house by his own decree, thereby picturing Jesus/Yeshua’s mitzvah of yibbum to the House of Israel. The Northern Kingdom had been shut out of the covenant by religious leaders who insisted in Jesus/Yeshua’s day–and ours today–that the Torah of Life and Blessing was for them only.
The goat that Judah requested pictures the scapegoat that Jesus/Yeshua became in order to provide “justice for the nations” and made it possible or people of every tribe and tongue can become part of the “royal family” of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Though Judah was “weighed” and found lacking in today’s story, as we will see in the next few weeks, redemption will come and, before we reach the end of the Book of Genesis, Judah will shine like the stars in the heavens.
While Judah “went down,” Tamar’s sense of divine destiny caused her to arise to confront circumstances that would have led others to depression and despair. I have no doubt it was her “petition” that gained the attention of the King of the Universe who answered by arranging the events of this story to ensure His handmaiden received her just due. We celebrate Tamar’s chutzpah, the amazing deliverance that God worked on her behalf, and the “double portion” that she received in Israel.
Thank you, Abba, for helping me to unravel the story of of a mother in the lineage of Messiah. I gratefully acknowledge Esther Marie Menn’s Judah and Tamar in Ancient Jewish Exegesis.
The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high,
Who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD! Psalm 113:4-9 emphasis added
The prophets longed to see what we see! We are truly the most blessed people who have ever lived on the planet! Until next week, shalom!