Thursday, October 14, 2010

Judah Learns Who The Harlot Was - Genesis 38:25-26

It was while she was being brought out that she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “I am with child by the man to whom these things belong.” And she said, “Please examine and see, whose signet ring and cords and staff are these?” And Judah recognized them, and said, “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not have relations with her again.

When Judah had learned that Tamar, his widowed daughter-in-law, was pregnant, he ordered that she be brought out and burned in accordance with the practice of the day for women caught in immorality. While such arrangements were being made, Tamar sent Judah the signet ring, the cords, and staff that Judah had left with her when he thought he had availed himself of the services of a prostitute. With them, she sent him a message that simply said, “Take a look at these. These belong to the man who got me pregnant.”

It is not clear whether anyone else recognized these items. Most likely his friend the Adullamite would have done so, had he seen them at this time. Certainly Judah recognized them with great horror as he realized the ‘harlot’ he had slept with was Tamar. And his remarks are most interesting. “She is more righteous than I.” What was he saying?

It is possible he saw what was at the bottom of this and that he indeed was to blame for what happened because he had failed to give Tamar his last son, Shelah, to have as a husband who could give her children. There are other things to note from this passage as well. Judah had acted in secrecy, visiting who he thought was a prostitute. No one would know except those he had chosen to tell. We often think just that as we do things we hope no one sees or knows about. Yet, almost always, a day of reckoning does arrive.

There are those who think this whole episode especially the part of Tamar sending Judah his things and saying, “see, these belong to the man who got me pregnant, check to see if you recognize them” is a dramatic irony that parallels he and his other brothers sending his brother Joseph’s blood stained coat and asking their father if he recognized it as his son’s (Genesis 37:32,33). With the words he now utters, Judah convicts himself and indirectly confesses his sin.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that after being instrumental in saving the life of Joseph (Genesis 37:26, 27), history now records his sin and unrighteousness, for which he is remembered. While the words “And he did not sleep with her again” tells us he never repeated his sin, it is not clear as to whether or not those that he wronged forgave him. Nevertheless, as we pursue God’s forgiveness of our own sins, this passage serves to remind us that the evidence of true repentance is that the sin be abandoned.

It should be so with us. Let us not sin in secret. Let us recognize the need for forgiveness when we do. Let us abandon the sin we have been forgiven for. Let us forgive others who sin against us. And as we shall soon see, let us always look for the “purpose of God” in all that happens in our lives.

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