Genesis 38 – Flirting With Sin?


I think it’s interesting to note that the previous chapter ended with the Bible’s account of Joseph being sold into slavery. Now, you’re going to have to wait till tomorrow’s chapter to grasp the impact that this chapter has on Joseph’s story. But if we did a little compare and contrast between Joseph and Judah we’ll notice some very interesting character traits. Keep in mind the character qualities Judah reveals in this chapter…hold on tight, this chapter gets quite descriptive.

About this time, Judah left home and moved to Adullam, where he stayed with a man named Hirah. 2 There he saw a Canaanite woman, the daughter of Shua, and he married her. When he slept with her, 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and he named the boy Er. 4 Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to another son, and she named him Onan. 5 And when she gave birth to a third son, she named him Shelah. At the time of Shelah’s birth, they were living at Kezib.

6 In the course of time, Judah arranged for his firstborn son, Er, to marry a young woman named Tamar. 7 But Er was a wicked man in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord took his life. 8 Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. You must produce an heir for your brother.”

9 But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he spilled the semen on the ground. This prevented her from having a child who would belong to his brother. 10 But the Lord considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the Lord took Onan’s life, too.

11 Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, “Go back to your parents’ home and remain a widow until my son Shelah is old enough to marry you.” (But Judah didn’t really intend to do this because he was afraid Shelah would also die, like his two brothers.) So Tamar went back to live in her father’s home.

12 Some years later Judah’s wife died. After the time of mourning was over, Judah and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went up to Timnah to supervise the shearing of his sheep. 13 Someone told Tamar, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.”

14 Tamar was aware that Shelah had grown up, but no arrangements had been made for her to come and marry him. So she changed out of her widow’s clothing and covered herself with a veil to disguise herself. Then she sat beside the road at the entrance to the village of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. 15 Judah noticed her and thought she was a prostitute, since she had covered her face. 16 So he stopped and propositioned her. “Let me have sex with you,” he said, not realizing that she was his own daughter-in-law.

“How much will you pay to have sex with me?” Tamar asked.

17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” Judah promised.

“But what will you give me to guarantee that you will send the goat?” she asked.

18 “What kind of guarantee do you want?” he replied.

She answered, “Leave me your identification seal and its cord and the walking stick you are carrying.” So Judah gave them to her. Then he had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant. 19 Afterward she went back home, took off her veil, and put on her widow’s clothing as usual.

20 Later Judah asked his friend Hirah the Adullamite to take the young goat to the woman and to pick up the things he had given her as his guarantee. But Hirah couldn’t find her. 21 So he asked the men who lived there, “Where can I find the shrine prostitute who was sitting beside the road at the entrance to Enaim?”

“We’ve never had a shrine prostitute here,” they replied.

22 So Hirah returned to Judah and told him, “I couldn’t find her anywhere, and the men of the village claim they’ve never had a shrine prostitute there.”

23 “Then let her keep the things I gave her,” Judah said. “I sent the young goat as we agreed, but you couldn’t find her. We’d be the laughingstock of the village if we went back again to look for her.”

24 About three months later, Judah was told, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has acted like a prostitute. And now, because of this, she’s pregnant.”

“Bring her out, and let her be burned!” Judah demanded.

25 But as they were taking her out to kill her, she sent this message to her father-in-law: “The man who owns these things made me pregnant. Look closely. Whose seal and cord and walking stick are these?”

26 Judah recognized them immediately and said, “She is more righteous than I am, because I didn’t arrange for her to marry my son Shelah.” And Judah never slept with Tamar again.

27 When the time came for Tamar to give birth, it was discovered that she was carrying twins. 28 While she was in labor, one of the babies reached out his hand. The midwife grabbed it and tied a scarlet string around the child’s wrist, announcing, “This one came out first.” 29 But then he pulled back his hand, and out came his brother! “What!” the midwife exclaimed. “How did you break out first?” So he was named Perez.[a] 30 Then the baby with the scarlet string on his wrist was born, and he was named Zerah.[b]


Now that was an interesting chapter. As we’ve seen thus far, Genesis is filled with accounts of men and women doing some pretty gross things. But “these things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.” (1 Cor. 10:11). So simply because it is found in the Bible doesn’t mean its ok to do it.
Judah is obviously an immoral man. Although his wife just passed away, he immediately encounters a prostitute along the way to Timnah, who just so happened to be his daughter-in-law (he is unaware of this), whom he had deceived, and begins to deal with her for sex. As children of God we will also encounter temptation along the narrow way to heaven. We may not be directly searching for it but Satan will set up a disguised trap for us. It may seem attractive and pleasing but if we knew what was hidden behind that mask, we would immediately run away instead of “flirting” with it. Judah didn’t know. He decided to flirt with “sin” and he got caught up in it. What he didn’t know was eventually going to hurt him and the same goes for us. What we don’t know can and will hurt us. We often excuse our sins due to ignorance, but God desperately wants to shine his light (The Bible) upon us, not to make you miserable and unhappy but to protect you from the one who threatens your life at every moment. And although Judah was a womanizer, who failed at his own “game,” Joseph will be a breath of fresh air as we see him encounter a similar situation.
Have you been flirting with sin? Do you need help letting go of that which has enslaved you. Comment or message us, we’d like to help.
And if you ever thought being able to overcome sin was impossible, just wait and see what tomorrow’s chapter has in store. Hint: it’s not impossible.

There are several lessons to learn from this chapter, if you have anything you’d like to share with us about this chapter we’d be glad to hear.
Do you have questions? I’m sure I did. So go ahead and we’ll do our best to provide answers from the Bible. God Bless 😀

Josue Hernandez.

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