Genesis 38:28
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 38:28-29. When she travailed — 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 birthright, 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 birthright, and were marked, as it were, with a scarlet thread, as those that came 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, Matthew 1:3, to perpetuate the story, as an instance of the humiliation of our Lord Jesus.

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.Tamar bears Perez and Zerah to Judah. After three months her pregnancy was manifest. "Let her be burnt." It is manifest Judah had the power to execute this punishment. The life of the widow of his son was in his hands. Stoning was the mode of punishment by the law of Moses Deuteronomy 22:20-24; burning, only in aggravated cases Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9. He is a severe judge in a case where he is equally criminal. "She hath been more righteous than I. Tamar was less culpable in this matter than Judah. For he was moved by lust to commit fornication, and was the indirect occasion of Tamar's conduct by withholding Selah. But Tamar, though wronged, was not free from blame in her mode of righting herself. The youthful indiscretion of Judah in forming an intermarriage with a Canaanitish family, without the concurrence of his brothers or his father, has been fruitful of crime. If this immorality goes on, the chosen family will be speedily absorbed in the surrounding paganism. Hence, we begin to see the necessity of an immediate removal to another land, where they may be kept more distinct from the native superstition. By the disclosure of Tamar Judah is brought to acknowledgment of his fault, and, we may infer, to repentance. His abstaining from all further sexual intercourse with her may be accepted as a proof of this. "A scarlet thread." The right of primogeniture here manifests its importance. "Perez" - a breach. Slight incidents become the foundation of names, and are often the hinges on which great events turn. The minutest circumstances connected with the progenitors of the promised seed have a lasting interest.

Judah was at the close of his twenty-ninth year when Perez and Zerah were born. The dates in his family history may be arranged as underneath, on the supposition that the first child was born when the father was in his fourteenth year. This hypothesis is fairly allowable when we take into consideration not only other cases, but the early willfulness of Judah, and the example he gave to his children. The command also to be fruitful and multiply Genesis 35:11, which was given especially to Jacob, may have had a tendency to encourage early marriages. It is certain that the Jewish rabbis considered a man to have transgressed a divine precept who passed the age of twenty without being married. They also fixed the marriageable age for males at thirteen years and a day. King Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah when he was not more than twelve 2 Kings 16:2; 2 Kings 18:2; and King Josiah the father of Jehoiakim, when fourteen years of age 2 Kings 22:1; 2 Kings 23:36.

Judah 13 years 6 months when Er was born.

Judah 14 years 4 12 months when Onan was born.

Judah 15 years 3 months when Shelah was born.

Judah 28 years 9 months when Perez was born.

Judah 42 years 3 months when Hezron was born to Perez.

Judah 43 years 2 months when Hamul was born.

- Joseph in Potiphar's House

According to our reckoning, Perez and Zerah were born when Judah was in his twenty-eighth year, and therefore, Joseph in his twenty-fourth. Here, then, we go back seven years to resume the story of Joseph.

24. Bring her forth, and let her be burnt—In patriarchal times fathers seem to have possessed the power of life and death over the members of their families. The crime of adultery was anciently punished in many places by burning (Le 21:9; Jud 15:6; Jer 29:22). This chapter contains details, which probably would never have obtained a place in the inspired record, had it not been to exhibit the full links of the chain that connects the genealogy of the Saviour with Abraham; and in the disreputable character of the ancestry who figure in this passage, we have a remarkable proof that "He made himself of no reputation" [Php 2:7]. The midwife bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, in token of his being the first-born, which she confidently expected he would be.

This breach be upon thee, be imputed to thee, as the same phrase is taken Genesis 16:5.

And it came to pass when she travailed,.... Her birth throes came strong and quick upon her:

that the one put out his hand; which showed that she was like to have a difficult and dangerous time of it; that the birth was not like to be according to the usual and natural order, which may be considered as a correction for her sin:

and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying,

this came out first; she tied this to his wrist, that she might know whose hand it was, and so which was the firstborn; which, to know was a matter of consequence, since to the firstborn there were some special and peculiar privileges.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 28. - And it came to pass, when she travailed, - literally, in her bringing forth (cf. Genesis 35:17) - that the one put out his hand: - literally, and it (sc. the child) gave a hand, i.e. it was an abnormal and dangerous presentation - and the midwife (vide Genesis 35:17) took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first. Genesis 38:28Thamar brought forth twins; and a circumstance occurred at the birth, which does occasionally happen when the children lie in an abnormal position, and always impedes the delivery, and which was regarded in this instance as so significant that the names of the children were founded upon the fact. At the birth ויּתּן־יד "there was a hand," i.e., a hand came out (יתּן as in Job 37:10; Proverbs 13:10), round which the midwife tied a scarlet thread, to mark this as the first-born.
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