Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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.SECOND SECTION
Judah’s temporary separation (probably in sadness on account of the deed). His sons. Thamar.
1And 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 [noble, free]. 2And Judah saw there the daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah [cry for help]; and he took her, and went in unto her. 3And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er [עֶר, watcher]. 4And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his 5name Onan [strength, strong one]. An she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah [peace, quietness, shiloh?]; and he was at Chezib [delusion], when she bare him. 6And Judah took a wife for Er his first-born, whose name was Thamar [palm], 7And Er, Judah’s first-born, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him. 8And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. 9And Onan knew that the seed should not be his [of his own name]; and it came to pass, that 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. 10And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; wherefore he slew him also. 11Then said Judah to Thamar his daughter-in-law, Remain a widow in thy father’s house, till Shelah my son be grown; (for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did); And Thamar went and dwelt in her father’s house. 12And in process of time the daughter of Shuah, Judah’s wife, died; and Judah was comforted, and went up to his sheep-shearers to Timnath [possession], he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13And it was told Thamar, saying, Behold, thy father-in-law goeth up to Timnath, to shear his sheep. 14And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place [literally, gate of two eyes]1 which is by the way to Timnath: for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife. 15When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. 16And 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? 17And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock; and she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? 18And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thy hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her; and she conceived by him. 19And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood. 20And 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. 21Then 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. 22And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also other men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place. 23And Judah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed; behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her. 24And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told to Judah, saying, Thamar 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 25be burnt. 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. 26And 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. 27And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that behold twins were in her womb. 28And 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. 29And 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 [breach], 30And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand; and his name was called Zarah [going forth, sun-rising].
GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS
The story here narrated is not, as Knobel supposes, an insertion in Joseph’s history, but a parallel to it, considered from the one common point of view as the story of the sons of Israel. According to the previous chapter, Joseph (that is, Ephraim) appeared to be lost; here Judah, afterwards the head tribe, appears also to be lost. But as in the history of the apparently lost Joseph there lay concealed the marks of a future greatness, so must we look for similar signs in the history of Judah’s apparent ruin. Parallel to Joseph’s spiritual ingenuousness, patience, hopeful trust in the future, appears Judah’s strong and daring self-dependence, fulness of life, sensuality combined with strong abstinence, besides the sense of justice which leads him to acknowledge his guilt. Examine it more closely, and we cannot fail to trace a strong feature of theocratic faith. It is a groundless conjecture of Knobel, that the object of this narrative was to show the origin of the levirate law among the Jews, that required the brother of a husband who died without issue to take the widow to wife, and that the firstborn of this connection should stand in the toledoth, or genealogical lists, in the name of the deceased, Deut. 25:5; Matt. 22:23; Ruth 4. See WINER on “Levirate Marriage.” The law in question is of a later date, and needed no such illustration. The custom here mentioned, however, might have existed before this time (see DELITZSCH, p. 534). But why could not the idea have originated even in Judah’s mind? Besides this, Knobel presents chronological difficulties. They consist in this, namely, that in the period from Joseph’s abduction to Jacob’s migration into Egypt—about twenty-three years—Judah had become not only a father, but a grandfather by his son Pharez (according to Gen 46:16). Now Judah was about three years older than Joseph, and, consequently, not much above twenty at his marriage, provided he had intended it at the time when Joseph was carried off. On account of this difficulty, and of one that follows, Augustine supposes that Judah’s removal from the parental home occurred several years previous. But this is contradicted by the fact of his presence at the sale of Joseph (see KEIL, p. 246); whilst the remark of Delitzsch, that “such early marriages were not customary in the patriarchal family,” is of no importance at all, besides its leaving us in doubt whether it was made in respect to Judah’s own marriage, or the early marriage of his nephews. “Jacob,” he says, “had already attained to the age of seventy-seven years,” etc. In reply to this, it may be said, that early marriages are evidently ascribed to other sons of Jacob (Gen 46), though these children, it is probable, were for the most part born in Egypt. Between the patriarchs and the sons of Israel there comes a decisive turning-point: earlier marriages—earlier deaths (see Gen 50:20). Nevertheless, the twenty-three years here are not sufficient to allow of Pharez having two sons already at their close. Even the possibility that Pharez and Zarah were born before the migration to Egypt, is obtained only from the supposition that Judah must have married his sons very early. Supposing that they were seventeen or eighteen years old, the reason for so early a marriage may have been Judah’s knowledge of Er’s disposition. He may have intended to prevent evil by his marriage, but he did not attain his object. The marriage of Onan that resulted from this was but a consequence of the first; and, in fact, Onan’s sin seems to indicate a youthful baseness. Judah, however, might have made both journeys to Egypt whilst his own family was still existing. With respect to Judah’s grandchildren, it is an assumption of Hengstenberg (Authentic, p. 354), that they were born in Egypt, and that they are considered to have come to Egypt, as in their fathers, together with Jacob (DELITZSCH, p. 538). According to Keil, the aim of our narrative is to show the three principal tribes of the future dynasties in Israel, and the danger there was that the sons of Jacob, through Canaanitish marriages, might forget the historic call of their nation as the medium of redemption, and so perish in the sins of Canaan, had not God kept them from it by leading them into Egypt. It must be remarked, however, that, in this period, it was with difficulty that such marriages with Canaanitish women could be avoided, since the connection with their relations in Mesopotamia had ceased. Undoubtedly the beginning of corruption in Judah’s family, was caused by a Canaanitish mode of life, and thereby the race was threatened with death in its first development; but we see, also, how a vigorous life struggles with, and struggles out of, a deadly peril.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Judah’s separation, his marriage, and his sons (Gen 38:1–5).—And Judah went down.—He parted from his brethren at the time they sold Joseph. It was not, as in the case of Esau, the unbridled impulse of a rude and robust nature that prompted him prematurely to leave his paternal home, though he showed thereby his strong self-reliance. On account of his frank disposition, Judah could not long participate in offering, as his brethren did, false consolations to his aged father (Gen 37:35). It weighs upon him that he cannot tell the true nature of the case without betraying his brethren; and it is this that drives him off, just as his grudge against those who had involved him in their guilt separates him from their company. Besides, a bitter sadness may have come upon him on account of his own purpose, though meant for good. Thus he tries to find peace in solitude, just as a noble-minded eremite or separatist, leaves a church that has fallen into corruption. Like his antitype, the New-Testament Judas, but in a nobler spirit, does he try to find peace, as he did, after having sold his Lord. In a similar manner did the tribe of Judah afterwards keep its ground against the ten tribes in their decline and ruin. The question now arises, whether Judah went down from the Hebron heights in a westerly direction towards the Mediterranean Sea, to the plain of Sarepta, as Delitzsch and Knobel suppose, or eastward toward the Dead Sea, where, according to tradition, the cave of Adullam lay (1 Sam. 22:1), in which David concealed himself from Saul. Chezib (Gen 38:5) was situated east from Hebron, if it be identical with Ziph of the desert of Ziph. Timnath, according to Josephus, 15:57, was situated upon the heights of Judah, and could be visited as well from the low country in the east, as from that of the north. If, according to Eusebius and Hieronymus, Adullam lay ten Roman miles, or four leagues, east of Eleutheropolis (Beitdschibrin), this statement again takes us to the mountains of Judea. It is, therefore, doubtful. Still it is worthy of note that David, like his ancestor, once sought refuge in the solitude of Adullam.—And turned in to, etc.—“וַיֵּט and he pitched, namely, אהלו, his tent, Gen 26:25, close by (עַד) a man, belonging to the small kingdom of Adullam (Josh. 12:15) in the plain of Judah (Josh. 15:35).” Delitzsch. This settlement indicates friendly relations with Hirah. No wonder that Hirah gradually yields himself, as a servant, to the wiser Judah. Here Judah marries a Canaanite woman. This should be noted in respect to Judah, who became afterwards the principal tribe, as also in respect to Simeon (Gen 46:10), because it would be least expected of him, zealous as he was for the Israelitish purity in the murder of the Shechemites. Without taking into view the unrestrained position of Jacob’s sons, this step in Judah might be explained from a transient fit of despair respecting Israel’s future. In the names of his three sons, however, there is an intimation of return to a more hopeful state of mind.—Er, Onan, Shelah (see 1 Chron. 2:3).—The place of Shelah’s birth is mentioned, because there remained of him descendants who would have an interest in knowing their native district.
2. The marriage of the sons with Thamar. It may, at least, be said of Thamar, that she is not expressly called Canaanitish. If we could suppose a westerly Adullam, she might have been of Philistine descent. By the early marriage of his sons, Judah seems to have intended to prevent in them a germinating corruption. That he finds Thamar qualified for such a state, that beside her Er appears as a criminal, whose sudden death is regarded as a divine judgment (then Onan likewise), and all this, taken in connection with the fact that, after the death of both sons, she hoped for the growing-up of the third, Shelah, seems to point her out as a woman of extraordinary character.—Till Shelah my son be grown.—According to Knobel (Delitzsch and Keil), Judah regarded Thamar as an unlucky wife (comp. Tobit 3:7), and was, therefore, unwilling to give to her the third son, but kept putting her off by promises, thus causing her to remain a widow. This, however, is inconsistent with Judah’s character, and is not sustained by the text. It is plainly stated that Judah postponed Shelah’s marriage to Thamar becaused he feared that he might die also. It was not superstition, then, according to the analogy of later times, but an anxiety founded on the belief that the misfortune of both his sons might have been connected with the fact of their too early marriage, that made the reason for the postponement of his promise.—In her father’s house.—Thither widows withdrew (Lev. 22:13).
3. Judah’s crime with Thamar (Gen 38:12–16).—And (when) Judah was comforted.—After the expiration of the time of mourning, he went to the festival of sheep-shearing at Timnath upon the mountains, in company with Hirah.—And it was told Thamar.—The bold thought which now flashed across the mind of Thamar is so monstrously enigmatical, that it takes itself out of the range of all ordinary criticism. Mere lust would not manifest itself in such a way. It might have been a grieved feeling of right. She seemed to herself, by Judah’s command and her own submission to it, condemned to eternal barrenness and mourning widowhood. To break these barriers was her intention. A thirst, however, for right and life, was not her only motive for assuming the appearance of a harlot, the reproach of legal incest (for the intimation of Er’s baseness and of Onan’s conduct leaves it a question whether it was so in reality), and the danger of destruction. Like the harlot Rahab, she seems to have had a knowledge of the promises made to Israel. She even appears to cling, with a kind of fanatical enthusiasm, to the prospect of becoming a female ancestor in Israel. See the Introduction, p. 81. AMBROSIUS: “Non temporalem usum libidinis requisivit, sed successionem gratias concupivit.” According to Keil, Judah came to her on his return. Since the sheep-shearing festivals were of a jovial kind, this assumption might serve for an explanation and palliation of Judah’s sin; still it cannot be definitely determined from the text.—And sat in an open place.—Lange translates: And sat in the gate of Ennayim (Enam, in the low country of Judah, Josh. 15:34).—Which is by the way to Timnath.—“She puts off from her the common garments of a widow, which were destitute of all ornaments (Judith 10:3; 16:8), covers herself with a veil, so as not to be recognized (comp. Job 24:15), and wraps herself in the manner customary with harlots.” Knobel. “Thamar,” says the same, “wishes to appear as a kedescha” (a priestess of Astarte, the goddess of love). This, however, could hardly have been her intention, as appearing before Judah. The proper distinction may be thus made: According to Gen 38:15, he thought her to be a zona (זוֹנָה), but in Gen 38:21 the question is asked, according to the custom of the country: Where is the kedescha? (הַקְּדֵשׁה). As a son of Jacob he might have erred with a zona, but could not have had intercourse with a kedescha, as a devotee of the goddess of love. Still the offence is great; though there is to be considered, on the one side, the custom of the times, together with Judah’s individual temperament, and the excitement caused by the sheep-shearing, whilst, on the other, there is to be kept in mind the enigmatical appearance of the transaction, behind which moral forces, and a veiled destiny, are at work. This giving of the seal-ring, the cord, and the staff, shows that Judah has fallen within the circle of a magical influence, and that it is not fleshly lust alone that draws him. These pledges were the badges of his dignity. “Every Babylonian, says Herodotus, carries a seal-ring, and a staff, on the top of which there is some carved work, like an apple or a rose. The same custom prevailed in Canaan, as we see here in the case of Judah.” Delitzsch. To this day do the town Arabians wear a seal-ring fastened by a cord around the neck (ROBINSON: “Palestine,” i. p. 58). “The he-goat appears also as a present from a man to his wife (Judg. 15:1).” Knobel.—Lest we be shamed.—These words characterize the moral state of the country and the times. In his eager search for the woman and the pledges (which probably were of far more value than the kid), Judah shows himself by no means so much afraid of moral condemnation, as of mocking ridicule.
4. Thamar and her sons (Gen 38:27–30).—And let her be burnt.—By this sentence the energetic Judah reminds us again of David, the great hero of his family. With a rash and angry sense of justice he passes sentence without any thought that he is condemning himself, just as David did when con fronted by Nathan, 2 Sam. 12:5. There are ever in this line two strong natures contending with each other. “In his patriarchal authority, he commanded her to be brought forth to be burned. Thamar was regarded as betrothed, and was, therefore, to be punished as a bride convicted of unchastity. But in this case the Mosaic law imposes only the penalty of being stoned to death (Deut. 22:20), whilst burning to death was inflicted only upon the daughter of a priest, and upon carnal intercourse both with mother and daughter Lev. 21:19; 20:14). Judah’s sentence, therefore, is more severe than that of the future law.” Keil. The severity of the decision appears tolerable only upon the supposition that he really intended to give to Thamar his son Shelah; besides, it testifies to an arbitrary power exercised in a strange country, and which can only be explained from his confidence in his own strength and standing. How fairly, however, does Thamar bring him to his senses by sending him his pledges. The delicate yet decisive message elicits an open confession. But his sense of justice is expressed not only in the immediate annulling of the decision, but also in his future conduct towards Thamar. The twin-birth of Rebecca is once more reflected. We see how important the question of the first-born still remains to the Israelitish mother and midwife. In the case of twins there appears more manifestly the marks of a striving for the birth-right. Pharez, however, did not obtain the birth-right, as Jacob sought it, by holding on the heel, but by a violent breach. In this he was to represent Judah’s lion-like manner within the milder nature of Jacob. According to Knobel, the midwife is supposed to have said to Pharez: A breach upon thee, i. e., a breach happen to thee; and this is said to have been fulfilled when the Israelitish tribes tore themselves away from the house of David, as a punishment, because the Davidian family of the Pharezites had violently got the supremacy over its brethren.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Judah’s beginnings as compared with those of Joseph.—A strong sensual nature; great advances, great offences—strong passions, great self-condemnation, denials, struggles, and breaches.
2. Judah as Eremite, or Separatist, in the noblest sense; the dangers of an isolated position.
3. Hirah, from a valuable comrade, becoming an officious assistant,—a witness to Judah’s superiority.
4. The sons of Judah. The failure of his well-intended experiment to marry his sons early.
5. Onan’s sin, a deadly wickedness, an example to be held in abhorrence, as condemnatory, not only of secret sins of self-pollution, but also of all similar offences in sexual relations, and even in marriage itself. Unchastity in general is a homicidal waste of the generative powers, a demonic bestiality, an outrage to ancestors, to posterity, and to one’s own life. It is a crime against the image of God, and a degradation below the animal. Onan’s offence, moreover, as committed in marriage, was a most unnatural wickedness, and a grievous wrong. The sin named after him is destructive as a pestilence that walketh in darkness, destroying directly the body and soul of the young. But common fornication is likewise an unnatural violation of the person, a murder of two souls, and a desecration of the body as the temple of God. There are those in our Christian communities who are exceedingly gross in this respect; a proof of the most defective development of what may be called, the consciousness of personality, and of personal dignity.
6. The Levirate law. Its meaning and object. The theocratic moral idea of the levirate law is ascribed in the Calwer Handbuch to the desire of imperishableness. GERLACH remarks: “An endeavor to preserve families, even in their separate lines, and to retain the thereby inherited property, pervades the laws of the Israelites,—a feeling that doubtless came down from the patriarchs. The father still lived on in the son; the whole family descending from him was, in a certain sense, himself; and, through this, the place among the people was to be preserved. From the remotest antiquity, so much depended upon the preservation of tradition, upon the inheritance of religion, education, and custom, that these things were never regarded as the business of individuals, but of families and nations. When afterward the house of Jacob became a people, this duty of the levirate law necessarily made trouble, and the brother-in-law was no longer forced to it; but even then he was publicly contemned for his refusal (Deut. 25:5; Ruth 4:7; comp. Matt. 22:23).” The first motive for the patriarchal custom, or for Judah’s idea, comes, doubtless, from a struggle of faith in the promise with death. As the promise is to the seed of Abraham, so death seems to mar the promise when he carries away some of Jacob’s sons, especially the first-born, before they have had offspring. Life thus enters into strife with death, whilst the remaining brothers fill up the blank. The second motive, however, is connected with the fact, that the life of the deceased is to be reflected in the future existence of their names in this world. Israel’s sons are a church of the undying. There is a third motive; it is to introduce the idea of spiritual descent. The son of the surviving brother answers for the legitimate son of the dead, and thus the way is prepared for the great extension of the adoptive relationship, according to which Jesus is called the son of Joseph, and mention is made of the brothers of Jesus. The institution, however, being typical, it could not be carried through consistently in opposition to the right of personality. A particular coercive marriage would have been at war with the idea of the law itself.
7. Thamar’s sin, and Thamar’s faith.
8. The Hierodulai. Female servants of Astarte, Aschera, or Mylytta (see DELITZSCH, p. 536). The he-goat sacred to Astarte.
9. Judah’s self-condemnation and confession.
10. Judah’s (Thamar’s) twins; Isaac’s (Rebecca’s) twins.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See Theological and Ethical. It is only with great caution, and in a wise and devout spirit, that this narrative should be made the ground of homiletical discourses.—Judah’s solitude.—The apparent extinction of the tribe.—God’s judgments on the sins of unchastity.—The danger arising from feasts (such as that of the sheep-shearing.—The keeping of promises.—Self-condemnation.—The fall and the recovery in our narrative.—Apparent extinction, and yet a new life, through God’s grace, in Judah’s uprightness and sincerity.
Section First. Gen 38:1–5. STARKE: HALL: God’s election is only by grace, for otherwise Judah never would have been chosen as an ancestor of Christ.—Bibl. Wirt.: Pious parents can experience no greater cross than to have vile and godless children (Sirach 16:1).–GERLACH: This marriage of Judah is not censured, since it was impossible that all the sons of Jacob should take wives from their kindred in Mesopotamia.—SCHRÖDER: Gen 38:5. Chezib; meaning DELUSION, on account of the delusions connected with this place.—The false hope of Judah—afterwards of Thamar.—Then again of Judah.
Section Second. Gen 38:6–11. STARKE: This Thamar, very generally regarded as a Canaanite, though by some of the Jews very improbably called a daughter of Melchizedek, has received a place in the Toledoth of Christ (Matt. 1:3), to show that he is also the hope of the heathen. [The Jews might, in two ways, have suggested to them this strange hypothesis of Thamar’s being the daughter of Melchizedek: 1. Through ancestral pride; 2. From conclusions derived from the law. They reasoned thus: If Judah intended to burn Thamar, she must have been the daughter of a priest. If she was the daughter of a priest, then probably the daughter of Melchizedek.]—HALL: Remarkably wicked sinners God reserves to himself for his own vengeance.
Gen 38:11. Judah spake deceitfully to his daughter-in-law. Judah may also have thought that his sons’ early marriages hastened their death, especially if they were only fourteen years of age (?); and it may be that on this account he did not wish his son Shelah to marry so young.—HALL: Fulfilment of promises is the duty of every upright man, nor can either fear or loss absolve him.—SCHRÖDER: The seed has the promise of salvation—the promise on which the fathers grew. The levirate law was but a peculiar aspect, as it were, of that universal care for offspring which formed the Old-Testament response to God’s covenant faithfulness. Onan’s sin a murder. It is as if the curse of Canaan descended upon these sons from a Canaanitish woman.—SCHWENKE: The sin of Onan, unnatural, destructive, of God’s holy ordinance, is even yet so displeasing to the Lord that it gives birth to bodily and spiritual death.—HEIM (“Bible Studies”): 1 Cor. 6:11. Why is it that the Holy Ghost mentions first in this chapter the sin of Onan, and then points us so carefully to the Saviour of the world as descending from the incest-stained Judah and Thamar? Here only may we find salvation, forgiveness, the taking away of all guilt, and the curse that rests upon it.
Section Third. Gen 38:12–16. HALL: Immodesty in dress and conduct betrays evil desires.—CRAMER: Widower and widow are to live lives, of chastity. That Thamar desired Shelah to be given to her was not unreasonable; but her course in thus avenging herself is by no means approved, though some of the Christian fathers (Chrysostom, Ambrose, Theodoret) praise her on this very account, and ascribe her design to a peculiar desire to become the mother of the Messiah.
Gen 38:24. It is not agreed whether he spoke these words as judge or accuser. He was here among a strange people; but as he has never subjected himself to them, he would be judge in his own affairs.—CALVIN: Severe as Judah had been against Thamar, he judges now indulgently in his own case.—LISCO has a remarkable view, namely, that Judah himself, after the death of his wife, was under obligation to marry Thamar, if he was not willing to give her to his son. The same view is entertained by Gerlach, undoubtedly from a misunderstanding of the later levirate law.—SCHRÖDER: Harlots only, in contrast with virtuous and domestic women, frequent the streets and markets, lurking at every cornerstone (Prov. 7:12; Jer. 3:2; Isaiah 16:25–31; Jos. 2:15).
Section Fourth. Gen 38:27–30. STARKE: Ver 30. In Christ’s birth-register, too, great sinners are found.—[OSIANDER: These two children signified two people, namely, the Jews and the Gentiles. For the Jews, though seeming to be the first to enter eternal life, have become the last; whilst those of the Gentiles who heard the gospel of Christ have gone before them and become the first (according to Val. Her berger.)]—SCHRÖDER: Zarah, according to some, means brightness, as a name given to him on account of the scarlet color of the thread upon his hand. According to others, it means the sun-rising, as indicative of his appearing first.—LUTHER: Why did God and the Holy Ghost permit these shameful things to be written? Answer: that no one should be proud of his own righteousness and wisdom,—and, again, that no one should despair on account of his sins, etc. It may be to remind us that by natural right, Gentiles, too, are the mother, brothers, sisters of our Lord.
1[Gen 38:14.—בְּפֶתַח עֵינַיִם. Rendered, in our translation, an open place; margin, door of eyes, more literally, with reference to Prov. 7:12. The LXX. have taken it as a proper name, ταῖς πύλαις Αἰνάν, which has led some to regard it as the same with Enam mentioned Joshua 15:34, and referred to by Hieronymus as situated in the tribe of Judah, and called, in his day, Beth-enim. See Rosenmüller. The dual form here is expressive of something peculiar in the place. It means two eyes, or two fountains, probably the former, denoting two openings, that is, two ways, a place where she was certain to be seen. This corresponds to the Vulgate rendering, in bivio itineris. So the Syriac, ܒܦܠܫܬ ܐܘܪܚܬܐ; Arabs Erpenianus the same, صفل الطم ديق. The idea of there being a city there, at that time, or of her taking her place by the gate of a city, is absurd. Aben Ezra says it was a place so called because there were two fountains there. This was an early use of the Hebrew עין, the eye, arising from the beautiful conception that springs, or fountains, were eyes to the earth, as the herbs, in some places, are called אוֹרוֹת, lights coming from the earth.—T. L.]