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An Unlikely Hero

and an unexpected attitude adjustment.

Genesis 38:1–11 (ESV)

It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her and went in to her, and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. Judah was in Chezib when she bore him.

And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother's wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” But 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. Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father's house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father's house.

Remember how Abraham didn’t want a Canaanite wife for Isaac? Remember also how Esau’s wives made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah? Looks like Judah doesn’t remember.

That’s odd; he must know the history. This is straight-up rebellion, and it’s not going well. His first two sons have died, and he’s scared that he’s going to lose Shelah too. He could end up with no heirs. But how does having Tamar live in her father’s house help that? What is he up to here?

It looks like he wants to protect everyone until Shelah is ready to marry Tamar. But, as we shall see later, that’s not it. In fact, the truth may be just the opposite.

It’s more likely that Judah sees Tamar as the cause of his two sons’ deaths and he wants to prevent Shelah and her from ever coming together. This fits very well with what happens next.

But the LORD killed Er and Onan; Tamar had nothing to do with it. In fact, Tamar ultimately becomes the hero of the whole story. She will end up being the mother of the Davidic line.

Judah is being set up for a whopper of an attitude adjustment.

As long as we’re on the subject of women who make important contributions, let’s lift up the women in our churches. We often don’t appreciate the extent to which they seem to carry everything.

Praise God for their dedication, leadership, and initiative. Pray that God will continue to bless the women’s ministries. Pray for growth.

Pray that they will be drawn closer to the LORD and to each other.

Pray that the men will learn to fellowship as tightly as the women do.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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