Genesis 38:6
And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.
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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.Judah marries and has three sons. "Went down from brethren." This seems to have been an act of willful indiscretion in Judah. His separation from his brethren, however, extends only to the matter of his new connection. In regard to property and employment there seems to have been no long or entire separation until they went down into Egypt. He went down from the high grounds about Shekem to the lowlands in which Adullam was situated Joshua 15:33-35. "A certain Adullamite." He may have become acquainted with this Hirah, when visiting his grandfather, or in some of the caravans which were constantly passing Shekem, or even in the ordinary wanderings of the pastoral life. Adullam was in the Shephelah or lowland of Judah bordering on Philistia proper. "A certain Kenaanite." This connection with Shua's daughter was contrary to the will of God and the example of his fathers. Onan was born, we conceive, in Judah's fifteenth year, and Shelah in his sixteenth.

At Kezib. - This appears the same as Akzib, which is associated with Keilah and Mareshah Joshua 15:44, and therefore, lay in the south of the lowland of Judah. This note of place indicates a change of residence since her other children were born. In the year after this birth the dishonor of Dinah takes place. "Took a wife for Er." Judah chose a wife for himself at an early age, and now he chooses for his first-born at the same age. "Was evil in the eyes of the Lord." The God of covenant is obliged to cut off Er for his wickedness in the prime of life. We are not made acquainted with his crime; but it could scarcely be more vile and unnatural than that for which his brother Onan is also visited with death. "And be a husband to her." The original word means to act as a husband to the widow of a deceased brother who has left no issue. Onan seems to have been prompted to commit his crime by the low motive of turning the whole inheritance to his own house. At the time of Er's death Judah must have been in his twenty-seventh year; Joseph was consequently in his twenty-third, and Jacob had for ten years past had his headquarters at Hebron. Hence, the contact with Timnah, Adullam, and Enaim was easy.

2. And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite—Like Esau [Ge 26:34], this son of Jacob, casting off the restraints of religion, married into a Canaanite family; and it is not surprising that the family which sprang from such an unsuitable connection should be infamous for bold and unblushing wickedness. No text from Poole on this verse.

And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn,.... Chose one for him, and presented her to him for his liking, whom he approving of married:

whose name was Tamar; which signifies a "palm tree": the Targum of Jonathan says, she was the daughter of Shem; but it is altogether improbable that a daughter of his should be living at this time, and young enough to bear children: it is much more probable that she was daughter of Levi, Judah's brother, as an Arabic writer (o) asserts; but it is more likely still that she was the daughter of a Canaanite, who was living in the same place, though his name is not mentioned, Genesis 38:11.

(o) Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 16.

And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.
6. Tamar] = “a date palm.” A female name, occurring twice in the family of David (2 Samuel 13:1; 2 Samuel 14:27).

Judah, as head of the family, selects a wife for his firstborn, as in Genesis 24:3, Genesis 34:4.

Verse 6. - And Judah took a wife (cf. Genesis 21:21; Genesis 24:4) for Er his firstborn, - "by the early marriage of his sons Judah seems to have intended to prevent in them a germinating corruption (Lange) - whose name as Tamar - "Palm tree" (Gesenius). Though the name was Shemitic, it does not follow that the person was. Cf. Melchisedeck and Abimelech. Yet she is not expressly called a Canaanite, though it is more than probable she was. Lange conjectures that she may have been of Philistine descent, and thinks the narrative intends to convey the impression that she was a woman of extraordinary character. Genesis 38:6When Ger was grown up, according to ancient custom (cf. Genesis 21:21; Genesis 34:4) his father gave him a wife, named Thamar, probably a Canaanite, of unknown parentage. But Ger was soon put to death by Jehovah on account of his wickedness. Judah then wished Onan, as the brother-in-law, to marry the childless widow of his deceased brother, and raise up seed, i.e., a family, for him. But as he knew that the first-born son would not be the founder of his own family, but would perpetuate the family of the deceased and receive his inheritance, he prevented conception when consummating the marriage by spilling the semen. ארצה שׁחת, "destroyed to the ground (i.e., let it fall upon the ground), so as not to give seed to his brother" (נתן for תּת only here and Numbers 20:21). This act not only betrayed a want of affection to his brother, combined with a despicable covetousness for his possession and inheritance, but was also a sin against the divine institution of marriage and its object, and was therefore punished by Jehovah with sudden death. The custom of levirate marriage, which is first mentioned here, and is found in different forms among Indians, Persians, and other nations of Asia and Africa, was not founded upon a divine command, but upon an ancient tradition, originating probably in Chaldea. It was not abolished, however, by the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 25:5.), but only so far restricted as not to allow it to interfere with the sanctity of marriage; and with this limitation it was enjoined as a duty of affection to build up the brother's house, and to preserve his family and name (see my Bibl. Archologie, 108).
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