Genesis 38: That’s Messed Up!

Before I dive in here, I just want to direct you to a post by an awesome young lady (who happens to be my fiance’s roommate) about this blog. She is too kind. But what’s up with being “seemingly wonderful?” She knows me for crying out loud! 😉

All right. Where to start with Genesis 38? Joseph’s story has barely begun and suddenly we are off on a detour with the brother who sold him into slavery. Weird.

It was also the most sexually explicit chapter so far. (And I just want to say “greetings!” to anyone who inadvertently stumbled upon this blog using a search engine)

But after reading carefully and thinking through the different characters and events, I found some really interesting things.

License to Kill

Yes, God has been the instigator of some pretty large scale destruction, but that was a long time ago. Since then we have only heard a threat to kill Abimelech that never came to fruition.

But here God assassinates two men for their wickedness: Er (worst name ever!) and his brother, Onan.

We don’t know what Er was up to but we know about Onan. He refused to carry on the legacy of his brother by getting his wife pregnant. That sounds weird to us but it was pretty normal back then. This practice carries on the family name and provides protection for the woman. She will have children and a family that will take care of her.

Onan wants nothing to do with this. He doesn’t want to care for her or his family.

So he dies. Bummer.

Double Standards

Judah sees absolutely nothing wrong with visiting the local temple prostitute and getting her pregnant.

But he draws the line at his own daughter-in-law whoring around with her whoredom! He feels so strongly about this that he wants to burn her to death.


And for that, I award Judah the AAA for “Total Lack of Cognitive Dissonance.” Congratulations.

Tamar . . . Winning!

Genesis 38 reads like a sexual power struggle. Everyone uses sex to gain power over someone else. After careful consideration, I have declared Tamar the winner. Why? Take note of the following:

  • She has two dead husbands and no children. Things are not looking good for her.
  • Her Father-in-law is too afraid to give her his third son because he too might die.
  • Remember, for women of this culture, having a husband and children was a way of securing their future and livleyhood. Tamar has none of these now.

So what is she to do?

I'm going to solve this problem using my sexuality!

  • She takes matters into her own hands and tricks Judah into getting her pregnant. This is a big risk as she resorts to the aforementioned “whoredom”
  • She finds a way to make Judah take responsibility for the pregnancy; a move that secures her future and protection within his family.

Nice move Tamar. Well played.

You can say what you want about the morality of this whole debacle, but God seems to be way more displeased with Onan’s actions than with Tamar’s. (or with Judah’s for that matter)

Like he was with Hagar and Sarah, God seems to be on the side of the ones with the least amount of power.


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