Genesis 38-39

Greetings!

Here are a couple more of those “stories they didn’t teach you in Sunday School.” 

Genesis 38-39 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and lay with her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.

Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death also.

The “sin of Onan” was not masturbation per se, but not fulfilling his duty to the family line.  Jesus came from the line of Judah, and God wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of that plan. 

Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.

After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him. When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.

When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.” “And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked. “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said. “Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked. He said, “What pledge should I give you?” “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.

After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again. Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?” “There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said. So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’” Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”  

About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!” As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”

Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez. Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out and he was given the name Zerah.

God used Judah’s sordid interactions with his daughter-in-law as part of his plan to bring Jesus into the world. 

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.

From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

Joseph realized who he would have been sinning against: God.  We should all take that attitude with our actions.

And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

It is hard to imagine how Joseph would have felt after rising to such a position of prominence and then being jailed on false charges.  However bad prisons are today, they were much worse then.   But Joseph did what was right and God eventually redeemed the whole situation.

Please leave any comments or questions you have.

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14 Responses

  1. “The “sin of Onan” was not masturbation per se, but not fulfilling his duty to the family line. Jesus came from the line of Judah, and God wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of that plan. ”

    I beleieve the exact opposite. After all, Judah refused to give Shelah to Tamar, and was thus not fulfilling his duty, and he was not killed.

  2. Hey Hidden One – Hope all is well with you.

    I’ll concede that God didn’t kill Judah and that He didn’t kill everyone who ever tried to disrupt the family line.

    But what do you think God killed Onan for then? “What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death also.”

  3. For masturbation.

  4. How did you come to that conclusion? That is a sin, but it seems to me that the greater sin was taking advantage of the Hebrew custom of marrying a deceased brother’s wife. He was supposed to attempt to have children with her, but he just used her for sexual gratification.

  5. Yes, which is what masturbation really is: single-person pleasuring sexual activity outside of proper sexual conduct.

    [See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/masturbation%5D

  6. Yeah, I know the definition! There just seem to be some extenuating circumstances with this instance that have lead quite a few scholars to consider otherwise.

  7. Well, the other big term for masturbation, Onanism, does come straight from this story.

    But anyway, what other extenuating circumstances are there?

  8. Onanism? I’ve heard of the “sin of Onan,” but that’s a new one on me.

    Extenuating circumstances: 1) In the line of Jesus’ ancestors. 2) Taking advantage of the levirate law of marriage just for sexual gratification.

    Maybe you are right. I know there are different views here, I was just wondering why you came down on that side. I don’t consider it a major issue.

  9. 1) It didn’t *have* to be that line that bore Jesus, technically.
    2) So that’s taking advantage of custom to masturbate… a sin made worse, yes, but still a sin.

    But I don’t want to come off like I’m carrying around a giant club to clobber all who stand agaisnt me, so ‘oops’. 😛

  10. No problem at all! I was just trying to understand another perspective.

    I need to move on to another topic anyway. Using the M-word has caused my Internet Filter to block my own blog! (I had to go through a few gyrations to get it unblocked). 🙂

  11. Lol! Another topic it is.

  12. I came across ‘proof’ that the sin of Onan is not simply nto keeping his brother’s line going:

    Deut 25:5-10 “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his brother who is dead, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 7 And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders, and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak to him: and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ 9 then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot, and spit in his face; and she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, The house of him that had his sandal pulled off.”

    …public shaming, not death, is the penalty for that.

  13. Hi H.O. – Good perseverance and research!

  14. […] at this excript from https://bible1.wordpress.com/2007/02/22/genesis-38-39/ …Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of […]

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