Genesis 38:30
And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread on his hand: and his name was called Zarah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(30) Zarah.—Heb., the rising, especially of the sun. There is in the name an allusion to the red streak placed (upon the child’s hand.

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]. No text from Poole on this verse. And afterward came out his brother that had the scarlet thread upon his hand,.... By which it was known that he so far came out first; which confirms the remarkable birth of his brother, who notwithstanding got the start of him:

and his name was called Zarah; not from "rising", or his coming forth like the rising sun, as is usually observed; but rather from his return, or drawing back his hand, and as it were returning to his mother's womb; and so, according to Hillerus (l), Zarah, by a transposition of letters, comes from "Chazar", to return: but Jarchi thinks he had his name from the refulgent appearance of the scarlet thread on his wrist.

(l) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 372.

And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
30. Zerah] A word which probably meant “the rising of the sun”; but was apparently in popular etymology connected with a word meaning “scarlet.” See, for Zerah, an Edomite, Genesis 36:13; Genesis 36:17; Genesis 36:33.

In this narrative we may discern a reminiscence of a time in which the clans of Ex and Onan disappeared from the tribe of Judah; while those of Perez and Zerah, connected with native Canaanites, became incorporated with it, but were rivals with one another, Zerah, though the more ancient, being obliged to yield to the greater vigour of Perez.Verse 30. - And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and hi, name was called Zarah - Splendor.



About three months afterwards (משׁלשׁ prob. for משּׁלשׁ with the prefix )מ Judah was informed that Thamar had played the harlot and was certainly (הנּה) with child. He immediately ordered, by virtue of his authority as head of the tribe, that she should be brought out and burned. Thamar was regarded as the affianced bride of Shelah, and was to be punished as a bride convicted of a breach of chastity. But the Mosaic law enjoined stoning in the case of those who were affianced and broke their promise, or of newly married women who were found to have been dishonoured (Deuteronomy 22:20-21, Deuteronomy 22:23-24); and it was only in the case of the whoredom of a priest's daughter, or of carnal intercourse with a mother or a daughter, that the punishment of burning was enjoined (Leviticus 21:9 and Leviticus 20:14). Judah's sentence, therefore, was more harsh than the subsequent law; whether according to patriarchal custom, or on other grounds, cannot be determined. When Thamar was brought out, she sent to Judah the things which she had kept as a pledge, with this message: "By a man to whom these belong am I with child: look carefully therefore to whom this signet-ring, and band, and stick belong." Judah recognised the things as his own, and was obliged to confess, "She is more in the right than I; for therefore (sc., that this might happen to me, or that it might turn out so; on כּי־על־כּן see Genesis 18:5) have I not given her to my son Shelah." In passing sentence upon Thamar, Judah had condemned himself. His son, however, did not consist merely in his having given way to his lusts so afar as to lie with a supposed public prostitute of Canaan, but still more in the fact, that by breaking his promise to give her his son Shelah as her husband, he had caused his daughter-in-law to practise this deception upon him, just because in his heart he blamed her for the early and sudden deaths of his elder sons, whereas the real cause of the deaths which had so grieved his paternal heart was the wickedness of the sons themselves, the mainspring of which was to be found in his own marriage with a Canaanite in violation of the patriarchal call. And even if the sons of Jacob were not unconditionally prohibited from marrying the daughters of Canaanites, Judah's marriage at any rate had borne such fruit in his sons Ger and Onan, as Jehovah the covenant God was compelled to reject. But if Judah, instead of recognising the hand of the Lord in the sudden death of his sons, traced the cause to Thamar, and determined to keep her as a childless widow all her life long, not only in opposition to the traditional custom, but also in opposition to the will of God as expressed in His promises of a numerous increase of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Thamar had by no means acted rightly in the stratagem by which she frustrated his plan, and sought to procure from Judah himself the seed of which he was unjustly depriving her, though her act might be less criminal than Judah's. For it is evident from the whole account, that she was not driven to her sin by lust, but by the innate desire for children (ὅτι δὲ παιδοποΐ́ιας χάριν, καὶ οὐ φιληδονίας τοῦτο ὁ Θάμαρ ἐμηχανήσατο, - Theodoret); and for that reason she was more in the right than Judah. Judah himself, however, not only saw his guilt, but he confessed it also; and showed both by this confession, and also by the fact that he had no further conjugal intercourse with Thamar, an earnest endeavour to conquer the lusts of the flesh, and to guard against the sin into which he had fallen. And because he thus humbled himself, God gave him grace, and not only exalted him to be the chief of the house of Israel, but blessed the children that were begotten in sin.
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