|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 7. - And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord. The connection between Er's name (עֵר) and Er's character (רַע) is noticeable. The special form which his wickedness assumed is not stated; but the accompanying phrase suggests that, as in the case of the Sodomites (Genesis 13:13; Genesis 19:5), it was some unnatural abomination. And the Lord slew him - literally, caused him to die; not necessarily by direct visitation; perhaps simply by allowing him to reap the fruits of his youthful indulgence in premature and childless death, which yet was so rapid and so evidently entailed by his evil courses as immediately to suggest the punitive hand of God.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord,.... That is, exceedingly wicked, as this phrase signifies, Genesis 13:13, was guilty of some very heinous sin, but what is not mentioned; according to the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi, it was the same with his brother Onan's, Genesis 38:9, which it is suggested he committed, lest his wife should prove with child, and lose her beauty; but if it had been the same with his, it would have been expressed as well as his. An Arabic writer (p) says, that he cohabited with his wife not according to the course of nature, but in the "sodomitical" way:
and the Lord slew him; by his immediate hand, striking him dead at once, as Ananias and Sapphira were stricken, Acts 5:5; or by sending some distemper, which quickly carried him off, as a token of his displeasure at his sin.
(p) Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 16.
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