Genesis 38

NOTE: This post was corrected on February 14th, 2018. The audio file and visuals that appeared here prior to that date were from a previous teaching done in 2010. (Oops!)

In this Torah project teaching, we discover a chapter that does not seem to belong in the narrative. In fact, if it was not there at all you would not notice anything missing. But this amazing chapter displays God’s faithfulness to Judah even in the depth of Judah’s depression.

Visuals: Genesis 38.pdf

Medios Visuales: Gén 38.pdf

Categories Genesis, Media, Torah Project | Tags: | Posted on February 14, 2018

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  1. by Dane

    On February 15, 2018

    My Chumash says that Tamar was a daughter of Shem, and therefore would be the daughter of a priest (as the tradition is that Malchedezedek is closely related to Shem). It then uses the statement that Judah ordered to have Tamar burned would be in accordance with Vayikra (Leviticus) 21:9, in that illicit sexual activity is to be punished with fire for a daughter of a priest, while stoning is appropriate for other people engaged in such illicit sexual activities (Bamidbar [Deuteronomy] 22:21).

    I like your assessment of a great depression came upon Judah, but it diminishes the offer Judah made to be surety for Benjamin (B’resheet [Genesis] 43:9). If he was so depressed that he was disparaging of life, it would mean nothing that he offered himself for Benjamin. If on the other hand, Tamar was of priestly stock, that puts a priest in the lineage of the Messiah.

    On the third had (since we all have 3 hands), we could both be right.

  2. by L. Grant Luton

    On February 20, 2018

    Dane, Your Chumash commentary makes this statement because some of the ancient commentators could not bear the thought that Judah would ever marry a Canaanite woman. However, other respected commentators (R’ Nachmanides among them) contest this. As to Tamar’s punishment as proof that she was the daughter of a priest, some of the Sages explain that Judah was not calling for her fiery death. In the Torah, when someone was burned to death (Lev.20:14/21:9) it states that they were to be burned “in/with fire” (באש). But that word is absent in the case of Tamar. R’ Elie Munk states: “The code of Hammurabi…stipulates that unfaithful wives were to be branded with a mark on their foreheads.” That is the more likely case in Genesis 38. But, who knows! As you say, we could both be right. Shalom!

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