Genesis 38:26
And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She has been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 38:26. And Judah acknowledged them — His guilty conscience and the horror of so foul a fact, together with the sudden surprise, forced him to make an immediate and ingenuous confession. She hath been more righteous than I — This he says because he had broken his word with her in withholding Shelah from her, whom he had promised; whereas she had kept her faith with him, and had lived as a widow honestly; besides, she had committed the fact out of desire to have a child, he to satisfy his lust. She was, however, more guilty than he in another respect, as having knowingly committed both adultery and incest, when he designed neither. And he knew her again no more — Thus showing the sincerity of his confession, by forsaking the sin confessed, the only sure way of showing it.38:1-30 The profligate conduct of Judah and his family. - This chapter gives an account of Judah and his family, and such an account it is, that it seems a wonder that of all Jacob's sons, our Lord should spring out of Judah, Heb 7:14. But God will show that his choice is of grace and not of merit, and that Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief. Also, that the worthiness of Christ is of himself, and not from his ancestors. How little reason had the Jews, who were so called from this Judah, to boast as they did, Joh 8:41. What awful examples the Lord proclaims in his punishments, of his utter displeasure at sin! Let us seek grace from God to avoid every appearance of sin. And let that state of humbleness to which Jesus submitted, when he came to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, in appointing such characters as those here recorded, to be his ancestors, endear the Redeemer to our hearts.Tamar bears Perez and Zerah to Judah. After three months her pregnancy was manifest. "Let her be burnt." It is manifest Judah had the power to execute this punishment. The life of the widow of his son was in his hands. Stoning was the mode of punishment by the law of Moses Deuteronomy 22:20-24; burning, only in aggravated cases Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9. He is a severe judge in a case where he is equally criminal. "She hath been more righteous than I. Tamar was less culpable in this matter than Judah. For he was moved by lust to commit fornication, and was the indirect occasion of Tamar's conduct by withholding Selah. But Tamar, though wronged, was not free from blame in her mode of righting herself. The youthful indiscretion of Judah in forming an intermarriage with a Canaanitish family, without the concurrence of his brothers or his father, has been fruitful of crime. If this immorality goes on, the chosen family will be speedily absorbed in the surrounding paganism. Hence, we begin to see the necessity of an immediate removal to another land, where they may be kept more distinct from the native superstition. By the disclosure of Tamar Judah is brought to acknowledgment of his fault, and, we may infer, to repentance. His abstaining from all further sexual intercourse with her may be accepted as a proof of this. "A scarlet thread." The right of primogeniture here manifests its importance. "Perez" - a breach. Slight incidents become the foundation of names, and are often the hinges on which great events turn. The minutest circumstances connected with the progenitors of the promised seed have a lasting interest.

Judah was at the close of his twenty-ninth year when Perez and Zerah were born. The dates in his family history may be arranged as underneath, on the supposition that the first child was born when the father was in his fourteenth year. This hypothesis is fairly allowable when we take into consideration not only other cases, but the early willfulness of Judah, and the example he gave to his children. The command also to be fruitful and multiply Genesis 35:11, which was given especially to Jacob, may have had a tendency to encourage early marriages. It is certain that the Jewish rabbis considered a man to have transgressed a divine precept who passed the age of twenty without being married. They also fixed the marriageable age for males at thirteen years and a day. King Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah when he was not more than twelve 2 Kings 16:2; 2 Kings 18:2; and King Josiah the father of Jehoiakim, when fourteen years of age 2 Kings 22:1; 2 Kings 23:36.

Judah 13 years 6 months when Er was born.

Judah 14 years 4 12 months when Onan was born.

Judah 15 years 3 months when Shelah was born.

Judah 28 years 9 months when Perez was born.

Judah 42 years 3 months when Hezron was born to Perez.

Judah 43 years 2 months when Hamul was born.

- Joseph in Potiphar's House

According to our reckoning, Perez and Zerah were born when Judah was in his twenty-eighth year, and therefore, Joseph in his twenty-fourth. Here, then, we go back seven years to resume the story of Joseph.

24. Bring her forth, and let her be burnt—In patriarchal times fathers seem to have possessed the power of life and death over the members of their families. The crime of adultery was anciently punished in many places by burning (Le 21:9; Jud 15:6; Jer 29:22). This chapter contains details, which probably would never have obtained a place in the inspired record, had it not been to exhibit the full links of the chain that connects the genealogy of the Saviour with Abraham; and in the disreputable character of the ancestry who figure in this passage, we have a remarkable proof that "He made himself of no reputation" [Php 2:7]. His guilty conscience, and the horror of so foul a fact, together with his sudden surprisal, forced him to an ingenuous confession, whereas he might have used many pretences and evasions, which would easily have prevailed with such partial judges.

She hath been more righteous than I. She was more unchaste, because she knowingly committed adultery and incest, when he designed neither; but he was more unjust, because he was the cause of her sin, both by withholding Shelah from her, who was hers both by right and by Judah’s promise, and by whom her chastity should have been preserved; and by his solicitation and encouragement of her to the sin.

He knew her again no more; showing the sincerity of his confession by his forsaking of the sin confessed. See Job 34:32. And it may be probably concluded, that he neither knew her nor any other woman afterward, because there is no mention of any child which he had after this time. And Judah acknowledged them,.... He knew them, and owned them to be his:

and said, she hath been more righteous than I; he means, not with respect to the sin of uncleanness committed by them, in which she was the greatest criminal; she sat not only in the way to tempt him to it, but she knew who he was, and wilfully committed incest with him; whereas he thought and knew of nothing else but simple fornication; but with respect to the affairs in connection between them: she had on her part, according to his direction, kept herself a widow, in expectation of being given to his son Shelah for a wife; but he had not made good his part, he had not fulfilled his promise, he had neglected to give her to his son, which he ought to have done, according to the usage of those times, and as he had suggested to her he would; and his neglect of this had been the cause and occasion of this criminal conversation between them; and this is the reason he himself gives of her being more righteous than he:

because I gave her not to Shelah my son; as he ought to have done, and as he promised he would:

and he knew her again no more; in a carnal way; he did not repeat the sin, but abstained from it having, no doubt, true repentance for it; though Jarchi observes, that some interpret the words, and Ben Melech says some copies read, "he did not cease to know her"; but took her for his wife and married her, which is supposed to be as justifiable as other things done before the law of Moses; but this is not likely, and it looks as if he never married any wife after, or, if he did, had no more children, since we read of no other but Shelah, and the twins he had by Tamar; and it seems as if Shelah also did not marry Tamar upon this, such an incest being committed with her, since he appears to have had children by another woman, Numbers 26:20.

And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been {i} more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again {k} no more.

(i) That is, she ought rather to accuse me than I her.

(k) for the horror of the sin condemned him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. more righteous] Judah acknowledges that Tamar had a claim upon the observance of marriage customs, and that he had done wrong in neglecting her, and in ignoring the sacred obligations of tribal “levirate” marriage, upon which depended the very existence of an Oriental community. The Heb. verb means “to be right, to have right on one’s side”; and Judah’s words might be rendered “she is in her rights as against me” (cf. Davidson’s Theology of the O.T., p. 267).Verse 26. - And Judah acknowledged (or discerned, ut supra, i.e. recognized) them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; - though Tamer was far from innocent (vide vex. 16), she was by no means as culpable as Judah - because that (כִּי־עַל־כֵּן, for, for this cause, i.e. that so it might hap, pen to me: vide Genesis 18:5) I gave her not to Shelah my son. And (in token of his penitence) he knew her again no more. After this had occurred, Thamar laid aside her veil, put on her widow's dress again, and returned home. When Judah, therefore, sent the kid by his friend Hirah to the supposed harlot for the purpose of redeeming his pledges, he could not find her, and was told, on inquiring of the inhabitants of Enayim, that there was no קדשׁה there. הקּדשׁה: lit., "the consecrated," i.e., the hierodule, a woman sacred to Astarte, a goddess of the Canaanites, the deification of the generative and productive principle of nature; one who served this goddess by prostitution (vid., Deuteronomy 23:18). This was no doubt regarded as the most respectable designation for public prostitutes in Canaan.
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