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Genesis 38 - The Spiritual Significance of Judah and Tamar

By Rob Jones

The story of Judah and Tamar is the story of the continual separation between the called and the chosen, or God’s elect.  It is the contrast of the bond and the free found in Galatians 4:22-5:1.  As always, it is a story of continual struggle between those who continue in God and those who don’t.  But as in each other example in scripture, this story reveals to us yet another aspect of Christ. 

      The overarching point of this story is that all of God’s elect, including Christ Himself, must come out of the called.  It is here in Genesis 38 that God’s word clearly defines the roles of the called and the elect and how they are, were, and will be as depicted here.  This is the revealing of the linkage from Leah to Judah to David to Christ and to His elect.  For as he is so are we in this world.  [Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  (1 John 4:17)] It is the explanation of why, in Christ’s eyes, the church is, was, and will be only called and not elect.  It is here that Christ lays clearly the foundation that all of God’s elect, including Christ, and the requirement to “come out of her” and “be ye separate”. [And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.  (Revelation 18:4)] [Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  (2 Corinthians 6:17)]

      But why now?  Why does the inspired Word of God show us this story here, immediately after reading of Joseph being sold by his brothers into slavery?  Why not finish the story of Joseph and come back to what appears on the surface to be a much less significant story.  The reason why is that we are still in the story of Joseph.  We are just getting a clearer picture of what was given us in the previous chapter.  You see, it was Judah in Genesis 37:26-27, who persuaded his brothers not to slay Joseph because he felt there was no real benefit in killing him.  What’s interesting is that if that step hadn’t happened, obviously the book of Genesis would have had a different message altogether.  Nevertheless, it didn’t and we all know how the story of Joseph ended.  It is through the very life of Joseph saved by Judah that all his brothers, including Judah, are later saved.  Because of what Judah did, we are later told that he “prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's”.  [For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)  (1 Chronicles  5:2)]

      But still, why here?  The whole purpose for placing this story here is because it is here that Christ shows us the spiritual significance of what Judah did.  Here we are given the eyes to see the spiritual ramifications of sparing Joseph’s life.  It is for this and this alone that Judah was told by Jacob that [Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.  (Genesis 49:8)] Now let’s take a look at Chapter 38. 

And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.  (Genesis 38:1) 

      As we enter into Genesis 38:1, we are immediately given two things.  First, we are introduced again to Judah and second, we are told that he “went down from his brethren”. 

      First let’s look at Judah and what he represents here.  Judah is Judas.  [Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;  And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;  (Matthew  1:2-3)] He spiritually represents the church and her desire to walk only with the Lord while in the flesh and to continually betray and kill Christ and His elect.  It is the church, like Judah and Judas, who can only know Tamar in the flesh, through the veil. Judah, like Judas, is called, chosen, but NOT faithful.  [Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?  (John 6:70)]  These are those contrasted with those we find in Revelation 17:14. [These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.  (Revelation 17:14)]

      Secondly, let’s focus on Judas going “down from his brethren”.  On the surface, such a statement seems relatively insignificant when in fact it contains a wealth of significance.  Genesis 38:1 is the first time Judah’s name is mentioned after Genesis 37:26.  By showing us that “Judah went down from his brethren”, Christ spiritually is letting us know that we are still at that point where we last left Judah, at the point he has just preserved the life of his brother Joseph.  We are at the point where Judah distinguishes himself from his brethren or in essence, creates separation from the called. 

One of the best scriptural confirmations of Judah in this chapter can be found in the parable of the two sons.  In that parable, Judah represents the second son…the one that says he will do what Christ has asked of him, yet does not and in the end fails to repent.  I’m going to show you the parable here and then work it into the parable here of Judah.  [But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.  He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.  And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.  Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before youFor John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.  (Matthew  21:28-32)] 

And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.  (Genesis 38:2) 

      I think one of the most interesting things to note here is that we are never told of Judah’s wife’s name.  All we know is that she was the daughter of a Canaanite named Shuah.  Shuah, in the original Hebrew, means ‘prosperity’.  What this symbolizes for us is the relationship between Judah, the church and her heresy.  Being married to a Canaanite is symbolic of rebellion against Christ.  We are not to marry Canaanites, but instead to overcome them.  [And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.  (Genesis  28:1)] Canaanites are one type of the ‘many’ giants of the promise land.  In other words, they are those who came in by some other way.  [Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  (John 10:1)]

      But even more specifically, the reference here to being married to that of ‘prosperity’ gives us spiritual insight into the church and its obsession with the prosperity doctrine and the need for physical blessings.  Judah’s marriage to ‘that of prosperity’ shows the ‘physical’ church’s marriage to their false doctrine claiming it is God’s desire for us to have complete victory in all things.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  [For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;  (Philippians 1:29)] [Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  (2 Timothy  3:12)] [And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  (Romans 8:17)] [For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  (1 Peter 2:21)] [Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.  (1 Peter 4:19)]   

And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er.  (Genesis 38:3) 

      The name Er, in the original Hebrew means “watchful”.  So it is here that we learn that the church is, was, and will be given watchfulness. 

And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan.  (Genesis 38:4) 

      The name Onan, in the original Hebrew means “strong”.  So this verse depicts spiritually that the church, or Judah, is, was, and will be given strength. 

And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah: and he was at Chezib, when she bare him.  (Genesis 38:5) 

      The name Shelah, in the original Hebrew, means “a request or petition”.  Well how can that be significant?  What request or petition could Christ be spiritually alluding to here?  The request that He is alluding to is the very same request that we saw earlier in Matthew 21:28. [But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.  (Matthew 21:28)]  Shelah is this request and this reference to him being born is where we first see the Matthew 21:28-32 confirmation begin. 

      The appearance and role of Shelah throughout this chapter spiritually parallels the request of Matthew 21 and reveals to us the identification of the second son.  As we continue in this chapter, you will see that the second son who said he would and did not do that which Christ requested of him is none other than Judah or the church.

      Shelah is born to Judah, the petition made, and he later failed to repent and return.  Such is the case with the church. The church is, was, and will be given a petition or request from Christ and like Judah, they are, have been, and will continue to fail to repent and return unto Him. 

      What’s even more of a confirmation is that Judah appears to have been at Chezib when Shelah was born.  Chezib, in the original Hebrew, means “falsified”.  Do you think that the response to Christ from the second son was possibly false in any way?  Do you think that maybe there’s a slight possibility that the son never intended to do what he said he was going to do?  Just look at yourself and your own children for that answer.  Well, the same holds true for Judah. 

      Lastly, it’s important to note that all three children were born out of one born out of ‘prosperity’.  Is this really all symbolic of the church?  [Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:  (Revelation 3:17)] [And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin.  (Hosea 12:8)] Absolutely, and all of it is exactly as the rich man of Mark 10:17-22.  [And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.  Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.  And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.  Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.  And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.  (Mark 10:17-22)] 

And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.  (Genesis 38:6) 

      The name Tamar, in the original Hebrew means “palm”, as in the palm tree.  Tamar spiritually represents a number of different things.  First she is representative of the preparation for the coming of the Lord, both in the palms of John 12:13 [Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.  (John 12:13)] and in John the Baptist. [For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  (Matthew 3:3)] [As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.  (Mark 1:2)] [And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;  (Luke 1:76)] [Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.  (Matthew 17:13)]

      Secondly, Tamar represents Christ, the Word, [In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  (John 1:1)] [And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14)] and thirdly, she represents the heaven of His elect, the perfect bride, known as heavenly Jerusalem [But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.  (Hebrews  12:22-24)], new Jerusalem [And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  (Revelation 21:2-3)], or Jerusalem which is above, the mother of us all [But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.  (Galatians 4:26)]. 
 
 
 

And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.  (Genesis  38:7) 

      Ever wonder why Er was slain without having first passed seed to Tamar?  Like with Judah, the church’s watchfulness is, was, and will be taken away from them because of their wickedness before they ever spread the truths of God.  [And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.  (Revelation 21:27)] [Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediatelyBlessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.  And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.  And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.  Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.  (Luke 12:35-40)] A second to this can be found in Matthew 25:1-13. 

And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.  (Genesis  38:8) 

      I mentioned it periodically already but I want to make sure that everyone at least has the opportunity to see that the seed spoken of in the chapter represents the truths of God found in His Word.  Like Onan, the church is asked to pass on the truths of God through Christ, to its brother. 

And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.  (Genesis 38:9) 

      Onan, like his brother Er, was unable to pass seed to Tamar.  But why?  To answer that, you must first notice that the first thing mentioned here is that Onan knew the seed wasn’t rightfully his.  This again spiritually signifies the church.  They do not possess the truth in their heresies.  Like Onan, the church’s seed gets wasted on the ground.  In other words, the church’s seed is discarded either by the way side, in the stony places, or among the thorns, but it is not to be found on the good ground that bears fruit. [And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;  And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:  Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:  And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.  And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:  But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.  (Matthew 13:3-9)]   
 

And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.  (Genesis  38:10) 

      The church’s strength, depicted here in Onan, is, was, and will also be taken away from them for their failure to teach the truths of God to their brother.  [Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.  (Jeremiah 20:5)] [Also, thou son of man, shall it not be in the day when I take from them their strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that whereupon they set their minds, their sons and their daughters,  (Ezekiel 24:25)] [Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled.  (Amos 3:11)]  

Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at thy father's house, till Shelah my son be grown: for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house.  (Genesis 38:11) 

      This verse starts off with Judah speaking to his daughter in law.  The Hebrew word translated here as daughter in law actually means “bride, perfect”.  Could Tamar actually represent the perfect bride as we mentioned earlier?  So what is the significance of telling Tamar to remain a widow until Shelah be grown.  Let’s deal with the widow part first.  The symbolism behind remaining a widow can be found in 1 Timothy 5:5. [Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.  (1 Timothy 5:5)] Tamar was to trust in God and continue in prayer and supplications night and day.  And this she did.  She remained until Shelah was grown.  Now, regarding Shelah, remember Shelah represents Christ’s petition or request found in Matthew 21:28.  So by Judah saying wait until Shelah my son be grown, he is simply responding as the second son did in Matthew 21:30.  He is saying I will and as we’ll see later on, he is no different than the second son, who does not do what He told Christ he would do. 

      I also want to draw attention to the fact that Judah’s wavering here for Shelah is indicative of a lack of faith when compared to Abraham.  Abraham lacked no faith in offering up his son Isaac. [And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.  (Genesis 22:2)] [And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.  (Genesis 22:5)] [By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,  Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:  Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.  (Hebrews 11:17-19).  Judah, on the other hand, lacks faith and is afraid of losing his son.  [And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.  (Hebrews 2:15)] [There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.  (1 John  4:18)]  

And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.  (Genesis  38:12) 

      So now we’re told that the nameless wife of Judah dies.  What’s the significance of that?  The death of his wife is symbolic of the loss of Christ and the church being cast away.  The bride is dead to Judah. [For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,  (Isaiah 3:1)] [What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded  (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.  (Romans 11:7-8)] The bride of Christ is, was, and will be dead to the church. 

      Look at more of this verse.  The Hebrew word translated “comforted” here is also translated “repented” numerous times throughout the Old Testament.  So Judah repented for his bride in the flesh, but failed to do so for the perfect bride.  He like the church fails, failed, and will continue to fail to see the things of the spirit and to repent and return to the ‘perfect’ bride.  It is Judah who typifies the church at Corinth, not able to see spiritual things even though they are sanctified in Christ, called to be saints.  They are yet carnal.  [Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:  (1 Corinthians  1:2)] [For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?  (1 Corinthians  3:3)]  The death of the wife in the flesh is because Judah, like the church desires to remain in the flesh. [For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.  (Romans 7:5)] [For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the fleshThat the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  (Romans 8:2-10)]

      I know you keep wondering why she doesn’t have a name.  Well here’s why.  The name is symbolic of having Christ.  The new name is Christ which is a gift given only to those who overcome.  Such a new name is reserved only for the elect. [He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.  (Revelation  2:17)] [Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.  (Revelation 3:12)] 

      But there’s yet more to this verse.  The verse tells us that Judah was on his way to the sheepshearers in Timnath.  What could be the significance of this?  Sheepshearers or sheering the flock is not something for God’s people. [All the firstling males that come of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep.  (Deuteronomy  15:19)] It is symbolic of God’s people being oppressed and afflicted.  [He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.  (Isaiah 53:7)] Sheepshearers are those who dominate the flock.  [“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight (not rulership) thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mindNeither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”  (1 Peter 5:1-3)], [“Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.”  (2 Corinthians 1:24)][ But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servantEven as the Son of man came not to be ministered (Gk: attended to or served) unto, but to minister (Gk:serve), and to give his life a ransom for many.  (Matthew 20:25-28)]

      So we’ve established that Judah, like the church, was on his way to oppress God’s people.  But what about Timnath?  The Hebrew word translated Timnath here means ‘appointed portion’.  So Judah is on his way to oppress God’s people and receive his ‘appointed portion’.   Sound familiar?  [Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  (Matthew 6:2)] [And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  (Matthew 6:5)] [Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  (Matthew 6:16)]  It is no coincidence the Judah, along with Laban, Nabal, and Absalom are the primary ones associated with sheering sheep in the Old Testament.   

And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep.  (Genesis  38:13) 

      This verse is spiritually symbolic of Christ.  Like with Egypt, Christ is being called to confront Judah.  [And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.  (Exodus 5:1)] [And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.  (Exodus 7:16)] [And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.  (Exodus  8:1)] [And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.  (Exodus  8:20)] [Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.  (Exodus 9:1)] [And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.  (Exodus 9:13)] [And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.  (Exodus  10:3)]  

And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.  (Genesis 38:14) 

      What are we to make of all that is in this verse?  Tamar, as we mentioned earlier, signifies Christ in that she goes from ‘perfect’ to veil and back to ‘perfect’ again.  This is simply Christ starting as the Word becoming flesh and then returning back to the Father.  In this verse we see the first two aspects in her removing her status as a widow and in her covering herself with a veil. 

      What’s equally significant is what Tamar or Christ does after putting on the veil.   She goes and sits right in the direct path of Judah.  Why did she do this?  The scripture tells us that Tamar sat on the route to Timnath to make sure that she’d see Judah because Shelah was now grown and had not yet been given to her.  But what is the spiritual significance of all this?  If you remember from our discussions earlier, Shelah represents the request.  Remember the parable of the two sons.  Judah is still acting as the second son.  The request or Christ’s petition to the second son had not been fulfilled.  It was now time for the request to be fulfilled.  The time was at hand.  [Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.  (Revelation 1:3)] [And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.  (Revelation 22:10)] [And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  (Matthew 3:2)] 

When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.  (Genesis  38:15) 

      Just like the church, Judah can’t recognize the ‘perfect’ in Tamar through the veil, the veil has him blinded.  [(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.  (Romans 11:8)] He instead looks at her for fornication and adultery (spiritual idolatry).  He is looking to give himself over not to that which is ‘perfect’ but to something less than ‘perfect’ or in other word less than Christ.  He is only interested in spiritual fornication or in falling for a cheaper lover. [And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in ChristBut even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.  (2 Corinthians 3:13-16)] [By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;  (Hebrews 10:20)]

      Judah is not at all interested in what’s behind the veil or in removing the veil.  This, likewise, is symbolic of the church, blinded by the veil and whose desire is not perfection or Christ, but is instead in fulfilling its needs and its idols of the heart. [Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filledLabour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.  (John 6:26-27)] [Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?  (Ezekiel 14:3)] 

And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?  (Genesis 38:16) 

      God again makes it very clear that Judah is, was, and will be blinded from the truth.  Notice that there is a requirement to come into Tamar (Christ).  What could that requirement be?  [But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.  (Matthew 24:13)] [Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  (Matthew  7:21)] Yes, like we read in Matthew 21:28-32, it is those who do the will of the Father that continue.  Judah, like the church, is the second son who does not do the will of the Father. 

And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?  (Genesis 38:17) 

      The spiritual significance of the kid here can be found in understanding the offerings of the Old Testament.  Judah offering a goat is symbolic of the sin offering that was to be accepted by the priest. [And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.  (Leviticus 5:6)] I’ll go into this in more detail later. 

And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.  (Genesis 38:18) 

      Notice here that Tamar asks for a pledge. Why?  [But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  (Luke  12:20)]  Tamar, like Christ wants more than a sin offering, she wants all of Judah.  But as we know, Judah, or the church is without watchfulness.

      So what about the signet, bracelets and the staff?  What’s the significance there?  The signet spiritually signifies both being chosen and the heart.  [In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.  (Haggai 2:23)] [Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.  (Song of Solomon 8:6)]

      The bracelets represent the soul in relation to its use to bind the ephod to the breastplate [And they did bind the breastplate by his rings unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue [same Hebrews word as bracelets], that it might be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate might not be loosed from the ephod; as the LORD commanded Moses.  (Exodus 39:21)] and the mind [And thou shalt put it on a blue lace [same Hebrews word as bracelets], that it may be upon the mitre [Heb: turban]; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be.  (Exodus 28:37)] [And they tied unto it a lace of blue, to fasten it on high upon the mitre [Heb: turban]; as the LORD commanded Moses.  (Exodus  39:31)]

      The staff is symbolic of Judah’s strength and might.  [The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.  (Psalms 110:2)] Do you see what we’ve just collected here?  [And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  (Mark 12:30)] [And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.  (Luke 10:27)] We will see clearly later in verse 24 that Judah, and the church, do not love their neighbor as themselves.

      The last point I want to show here is probably one of the most significant ones in the entirety of this chapter.  It deals with the conception of Tamar.  God’s plan is, was, and will be to use the seed of Judah, still in sin, still desiring and serving sin, to bring forth his elect…and do so all the while unaware to Judah.  Such is the case with the church. 

And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood.  (Genesis  38:19) 

      Tamar here, in removing her veil and putting on her garments of widowhood, is symbolic of Christ and Him being restored to God. 

And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman's hand: but he found her not.  (Genesis 38:20) 

      This is so fascinating and important to understand.  Here we have Judah, the church, still looking to give his sin offering to the old priest, still looking through the veil, not even realizing that there is a new priest, one where the sin offering has already been met.  [For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.  (Hebrews 7:12)]  

Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this place.  (Genesis  38:21) 

And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place.  (Genesis 38:22) 

      Still Judah has no idea he’s being used of God.  God is using evil to bring about good by giving seed to Jerusalem above, the mother of us all.  [But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.  (Genesis  50:20)] 

And Judah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.  (Genesis 38:23) 

      Judah again shows his fear or lack of perfect love in his being afraid to be shamed.   But the truth here is that neither Judah, the church, nor any of his friends can find her because they are looking with eyes of the flesh for something spiritual. [But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  (1 Corinthians  2:14)]  Judah has no clue that Tamar no longer has the veil, that there is a new priest, and that there is no more offering for sin.  [Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.  (Hebrews  10:18)] 

And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.  (Genesis  38:24) 

      Here we see that Judah learns that Tamar is pregnant not knowing he was the seed giver.  This symbolizes the church’s desire to persecute and kill God’s elect.  Burn them with ‘eternal hellfire’.  The church up till the last minute prior to being judged, still seeks to persecute and kill God’s elect.  [Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.  (Luke 13:33)] [They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.  (John 16:2)] [But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;  (Matthew 10:17)]

      All this persecution occurs without them ever seeing themselves as the fornicator or as the ones who cause the elect to be born.  [For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  (Romans  11:25)] 

When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff.  (Genesis 38:25) 

      Tamar is now seen judging Judah.  She represents those in the kingdom, those who judge the world and the angels.  [Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?  (1 Corinthians  6:2-3)] Notice that it is Tamar who judges Judah by the very words of his mouth. [And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:  (Luke 19:22)] [For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.  (Matthew 12:37)]

      Look at what Tamar does.  She goes directly to Judah to show him that it is he himself that is in sin.  This is just what the elect are to do.  [See Ezekiel 2 and 3].  But just as Ezekiel tells us, the church does not hear us nor does Judah hear in this particular case with Tamar.   

And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.  (Genesis 38:26) 

      As we begin to approach the end of this chapter, there is so much we can gain from understanding this verse.  But first, let us rehash a few things.  First of all, Er, Onan, and Judah do not enter into the kingdom. [And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.  (Revelation 21:27)] Secondly, Judah fails to continue [But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.  (Matthew  24:13)] [From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.  (John 6:66)], and fails to repent and return. [Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.  (Revelation 2:5)] [Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?  (Malachi 3:7)] So yes, Judah, the church, “prevailed over his brethren” because he gave his heart, soul, mind, and strength yet he still failed to remain faithful. 

      In this particular verse, Judah acknowledges the righteousness of Christ (Tamar) to be greater than ‘his own righteousness’ but falls short by never seeing HIS own righteousnesses as filthy rags. [But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.  (Isaiah 64:6)]  It’s still about HIS righteousness.  The church, likewise, acknowledges ‘their righteousnesses’ as less than the righteousness of Christ but they still cling on to ‘their righteousnesses’ and thus never see that it is THEIR very righteousnesses that are the filthy rags.

      Judah is judged by his words and made aware of his failure to do as he had told Christ he would do in response to Christ’s petition. (Matthew  21:28-32)  Don’t think for a second that the references to a harlot in verses 31 and 32 are coincidental. 

Lastly we read that Judah “Knew her again no more”.  This is very significant and it is symbolic of Judah going back and walking no more with Christ.  It is symbolic of the woman returning to the wilderness.  [And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.  (Revelation 12:6)] [And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.  (Revelation  12:14)] It’s the same thing that we witness in John 6:66.  [From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.  (John  6:66)] The church will not know heavenly Jerusalem or Jerusalem above any more than they will know that they provide, have provided, and will continue to provide the seed for His elect. 

      Interestingly enough, the word ‘knew’ is the same word used to know God [And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  (Exodus 6:7)] That’s right, the church does not know God because knowing God is a gift reserved for God’s elect.  It is the gift of eternal life.  [And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.  (John 17:3)] [And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.  (1 John 5:20)]

      Now let’s look back at Matthew 21 once again.  [But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.  He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.  And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.  Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.  For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.  (Matthew  21:28-32)] 

And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb.  (Genesis  38:27) 

      The result of Judah’s seed is twins.  Yes, from the called come both the called and the elect.  The called also includes those called and chosen but the elect are the only ones who remain faithful.  [Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?  (John 6:70)] [These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.  (Revelation 17:14)]  

And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first.  (Genesis  38:28) 

      The scarlet thread symbolizes being in bondage to sin…being a ”son of the bondwoman”.  The first son here gets the scarlet thread [Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson (same Hebrews word as scarlet thread), they shall be as wool.  (Isaiah 1:18)] for he is the called.  [But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.  (Matthew 19:30)] [So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.  (Matthew 20:16)] [For many are called, but few are chosen.  (Matthew 22:14)] 

And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez.  (Genesis 38:29) 

      Pharez, on the other hand, represents the line of David to Christ. 

And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.  (Genesis  38:30) 

      Lastly, Zarah represents those who turn back and aren’t willing to continue in God’s word.  He, like Judah and the church, turned back, unwilling to go forward and thus will only be called.  Nonetheless, Pharez and Zarah remain brothers.  The called are still our brothers in Christ. 

      In conclusion, I want you to see that the entire message of Genesis 38 can be summed up into one verse…As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.  (Romans 11:28)