Genesis 38 — Yehudah, Tamar and the prophetic twins Perets and Zerah


This chapter about a scandalous encounter between Yehudah (Judah) and his daughter-in-law Tamar seems out of place in the account of Yosef’s slavery in Mitsraim (Egypt). Yet the twins in this chapter — Perets (Perez) and Zerah — share a link to Messiah with Yosef (Joseph).

Food for thought from the recorded discussion

Did these events occur before or after Yosef (Joseph) was sold into slavery? Were the twins of Tamar a replacement for Er and Onan? Why was Tamar more righteous than Yehudah?

Why is the grammar of Genesis 38 different from the preceding and following chapters? Why is this chapter inserted here between the events of Yosef’s life?

What does it mean in Gen. 38:1 that Yehudah “departed” from his brothers?

Why did Yehudah find a Caananite wife? What was her name? What was her father’s name? What does the name “Shua” mean?

Who were the three sons of Yehudah?

Why was Shelah born in a different place than the older two sons?

What does the name of Shelah’s hometown mean?

What does the name Tamar mean?

What does widow mean in Hebrew? Why was she sent back to her father’s house?

How long was Yehudah’s mourning for his wife? What did he do after his time of mourning ended?

Why did Tamar “play the harlot”? What is a harlot? What did Yehudah give the “harlot” as a pledge? Why is Tamar considered an adulteress even though her husband was dead while Yehudah was never accused of adultery?

What was the signet? What was the cord? What was the staff? How does God use a rod? Why didn’t Yehudah seek out his items further?

Why did Yehudah demand that Tamar be burned when her pregnancy was discovered? How did Tamar turn the tables on Yehudah? Who came out ashamed at the end?

What was the scarlet cord? How did the birth of Tamar’s twins startle the midwife? Which one of Tamar’s twins became the forefather of the Messiah? Why did little Zerah withdraw his hand? What does the birth of these twins tell us about the Messiah?

Reader: David De Fever. Speaker: Richard Agee.

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