Today we begin Genesis Chapter 38.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James Version, click here.
In Genesis Chapter 38, we are suddenly transported back to the Land of Canaan.
Now I think this is another one of those parts of the Bible where the details just fly over most people’s heads unless of course one has received a solid Jewish religious education.
What we have here is not only a story of genealogy and culture, but we’ll also find much historical data connected to later cities, places and people.
Most of the place names listed here (Abdullam, Chezib, Timnah, and Enam), will appear later in the area governed by the Tribe of Judah.
There are two main characters in this section: Judah and Tamar.
Let’s talk a little about Judah today.
The main purpose of chapter 38 is to show Judah’s rise to prominence and the formulation of the messianic line from which King David and later Yeshua will originate.
Judah will be the one to carry the torch of covenant promise that started with Abraham.
If you recall, Judah was Jacob’s 4th son from Leah, one of the two legal wives of Jacob.
I want to introduce an interesting family dynamic and reveal a pattern you are going to see throughout the whole Bible concerning Judah and Joseph.
First, concerning the family dynamic, Judah, in spite of being the fourth son, probably viewed himself as the one worthy of receiving the first born blessing and all the money and power that came with it.
Why would he entertain such thoughts?
Because he was thinking that the three sons that preceded him had most likely disqualified themselves for their reckless behavior.
Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn) had slept with Jacob’s concubine Bilah.
And Simeon and Levi, the next two in line, were unworthy because they had led the murderous raid on all the males of Shechem.
So Judah naturally felt that since he was the next runner up, he would become the one chosen to inherit the firstborn blessing.
However, one major threat stood in his way.
It was so obvious to everybody that Jacob had favored Joseph more than the other brothers.
What worried Judah was that Jacob was probably seriously considering bypassing his first 10 sons and handing over all the wealth and power of the clan to Joseph.
This would have angered Judah to no end.
Now this brings me to an interesting pattern that began here and continues on till this very day.
The pattern is this:
The rivalry between Judah and Joseph will continue on through their respective descendants.
Judah and Joseph’s descendants will grow to become the two most dominant tribes in Israel:
The Tribe of Judah and The Tribe of Ephraim.
In case you’re wondering, the name Ephraim (Joseph’s son) will later be used interchangeably with Joseph.
Centuries later these two tribes will dominant Israel and under the the rulership of David and Solomon will eventually split into the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Ephraim (otherwise known as the 10 tribes of Israel).
They will war against each other until Assyria conquers the Northern Kingdom of Ephraim and scatters the 10 tribes of Israel throughout the Gentile nations.
So my point is that from the time of Joseph to this very day, the descendants of Judah and Joseph have been in conflict with each other.
However, the story doesn’t end there.
The Bible says that eventually Judah and Ephraim will return to the promised land, reconcile, and be ruled under ONE KING.
That King will be a descendant of David.
I pray that day comes soon.