How little reason had the Jews, who were so called from this Judah,
to boast, as they did, that they were not born of fornication?(Joh 8:41).
We have in this chapter,
Judah's marriage and issue, and the untimely death of his two
eldest sons, ver. 1 - 11.
Judah's incest with his daughter - in - law Tamar, ver. 12 - 23.
His confusion when it was discovered, ver. 24 - 26.
The birth of his twin sons in whom his family was built up,
ver. 27 - 30.
1: Judah went down from his brethren - Withdrew for a time from his
father's family, and got intimately acquainted with one Hirah an
Adullamite. When young people that have been well educated begin to
change their company, they will soon change their manners, and lose their
good education. They that go down from their brethren, that forsake the
society of the seed of Israel, and pick up Canaanites for their
companions, are going down the hill apace.
2: He took her - To wife. His father, it should seem, was not
consulted, but by his new friend Hirah.
7: And Er was wicked in the sight of the Lord - That is, in defiance
of God and his law. And what came of it? Why God cut him off presently,
The Lord slew him. The next brother Onan was, according to the
ancient usage, married to the widow, to preserve the name of his deceased
brother that died childless. This custom of marrying the brother's widow
was afterward made one of the laws of Moses, (De 25:5).
Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of
his own body, of the wife he had married, and the memory of his brother that
was gone, he refused to raise up seed unto his brother. Those sins that
dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile
actions. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord - And it
is to be feared, thousands, especially of single persons, by this very
thing, still displeased the Lord, and destroy their own souls.
11: Shelah the third son was reserved for the widow, yet with
design that he should not marry so young as his brothers had done, lest
he die also. Some think that Judah never intended to marry
Shelah to Tamar, but unjustly suspected her to have been the death
of her two former husbands, (whereas it was their own wickedness that slew
them) and then sent her to her father's house, with a charge to remain
a widow. If so, it was an inexcusable piece of prevarication; however
Tamar acquiesced, and waited for the issue.
14: Some excuse this by suggesting that she believed the promise made
to Abraham and his seed, particularly that of the Messiah, and that she
was therefore desirous to have a child by one of that family, that she might
have the honour, or at least stand fair for the honour of being the mother
of the Messiah. She covered her with a veil - It was the custom of
harlots in those times to cover their faces, that tho' they were not
ashamed, yet they might seem to be so: the sin of uncleanness did not then
go so bare - faced as it now doth.
17: A kid from the flock - A goodly price at which her chastity and
honour were valued! Had the consideration been thousands of rams, and ten
thousand rivers of oil, it had not been a valuable consideration. The
favour of God, the purity of the soul, the peace of the conscience, and the
hope of heaven: are too precious to be exposed to sale at any such rates.
He lost his Jewels by the bargain: He sent the kid according to his promise,
to redeem his pawn, but the supposed harlot could not be found. He sent it
by his friend, (who was indeed his back - friend, because he was
aiding and abetting in his evil deeds) the Adullamite; who came back
without the pledge. 'Tis a good account, if it be but true, of any place
that which they here gave, that there is no harlot in this place, for
such sinners are the scandals and plagues of any place. Judah sits down
content to lose his signet and his bracelets, and forbids his friend
to make any farther enquiry.
Lest he should be laughed at as a fool for trusting a whore with his
signet and his bracelets. He expresses no concern about the sin, only about
the shame. There are many who are more solicitous to preserve their
reputation with men, than to secure the savour of God, lest we be shamed
goes farther with them than lest we be damned.
28: It should seem the birth was hard to the mother, by which she was
corrected for her sin: the children also, like Jacob and Esau,
struggled for the birth - right, and Pharez who got it, is ever named
first, and from him Christ descended. He had his name from his breaking
forth before his brother; this breach be upon thee - The Jews, as
Zarah, bid fair for the birth - right, and were marked with a scarlet
thread, as those that come out first; but the Gentiles, like
Pharez, or a son of violence got the start of them, by that violence
which the kingdom of heaven suffers, and attained to the righteousness
which the Jews came short of: yet when the fulness of time is come, all
Israel shall be saved. Both these sons are named in the genealogy of
our Saviour, (Mt 1:3), to perpetuate the story, as an instance of the
humiliation of our Lord Jesus.