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Bible 101 Lesson 7B

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Jim Parker

Read Genesis 38.
If you really want to find everything it says, read it 5 times through.

There are four things that are done which are covered in the Law of Moses. That may be an indication that Genesis was written some time later than the events of Exodus. (or not)

The first thing is Judah taking a wife from the pagan Philistines. The Law (which won't come for another 500 years or so) forbids taking pagan wives because they will lead the man astray to worship idols. That's what happened to Solomon. (1Ki 11:4)

The second thing that was covered by the Law was, when a man died without children, his brother was to take his widow as a wife and their children will bear the name of the deceased brother.

Two of the sons of Judah took Tamar as a wife and died without producing any children.

Then Judah held back his third son out of fear that the third son would also die childless.

So, Tamar took matters in her own hands and disguised herself as a prostitute. Then she waited for Judah to come by and ...well you know. It is forbidden in the Law to have sex with one's father in law. (Lev 18:15)

She became pregnant and everyone knew but they didn't know who the father was. According to the Law, if she was raped where no one could hear her cry out then she had no guilt. But is she was raped in the town and did not cry out then she and the man would be guilty. (Deut 22:23-29)

So, Judah questioned his daughter in law and it came out that HE was the father. So he declared that she was more righteous than he was.

So why bother to put this chapter in Genesis? Why make this diversion from the story?

It's there because Tamar is the ancestor of David.

Which is another indication that the text of Genesis we have today may have been composed much later than Moses.

HOWEVER, that does not mean that the STORY ("history") does not date to the time of the sons of Jacob. And, it would have been normal for the people of Israel to have memorized their "story of us" and to have passed it on from generation to generation.
So why bother to put this chapter in Genesis? Why make this diversion from the story?
I believe the chapter is in the bible to demonstrate an extremely human situation and very natural at that time. To explore Israels history and how it relates to certain tribes. Everything happens for a reason, Tamar was raped if i am not mistaken and she slept with her husbands father. Isnt this very human and relatable.