Family Tree – The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Have you ever researched your family tree? If so, you may have found the good, the bad and the ugly – more than you expected or bargained for. The bible has many lists of ancestries but when I saw the women listed in Jesus’ ancestry in Matthew 1, I was intrigued. Why these particular women? When I read their stories, I was blown away by what God was showing me. Interestingly, there are a lot of parallels to what these women went through and my own story. My next blogs will give you some insights into these women and why God used and allowed their stories and their names to be included in Jesus’ family tree. My prayer is that you will see how God uses the good, the bad and the ugly not only in HIS story but in your story that He is weaving for you as well.
At that Time
Genesis 38 begins with ‘At that time Judah left his brothers…..’ intriguing to say the least. That means an important event occurred prior to Genesis 38. Genesis 37 then, tells the story of Joseph when he is sold by his brothers (Judah included) as a slave. Note who’s idea it was to sell Joseph and for how much in Genesis 37:27,28. Note too how much their father Jacob grieved over the supposed loss of Joseph when Judah and his brothers fabricated the story of Joseph’s demise:
“I will continue to mourn until I see my son in the grave.”
Judah is a money hungry opportunist
Some significant observations appear here. Namely that Judah seems to be a money hungry opportunist as well as a guilty coward when it comes to dealing with his father’s grief. He takes his share of the money and takes off, leaving his brothers’ to deal with the aftermath of their shared actions. Have you ever had someone close to you leave you in the lurch financially or emotionally or both?
As the story unfolds in Genesis 38, Judah leaves Hebron and goes south to stay with his friend Hirah. Hirah is a Canaanite who lives in Adullam. “Hirah” meant ” splendor” which suggests that Hirah is part of the ruling class of Adullam. It certainly follows Judah’s character that Judah would seek out a rich ‘friend.’
While living with Hirah, Judah sees and then marries a Canaanite woman. Judah’s wife is not named; she is simply called the daughter of Shua. Interestingly, the name Shua means wealth. Hello dowry! Judah’s wife bears him three sons – Er, Onan, and Shelah. Shelah is born at Kezib (also known as Chezib and Aczib) located west southwest of Adullam and even further distance from Hebron. It appears that Judah is continuing to distance himself from his family and from the havoc he wreaked before he left them. Does this ring any bells for you dear one?
Tamar – A Family Affair
Judah acquires a bride for his oldest son Er. So begins a family affair. Tamar, meaning ‘Date Palm’, becomes a widow not once but twice. Genesis 38:7 says ‘But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life.’ The word ‘evil’ here is the same word used in Genesis 18:20 where God is describing the men of Sodom and Gomorrah. It means to be rebelliously twisted or perverted continuously. It is hard to imagine then, what Tamar had to endure from Er. Judah then gives Tamar in marriage to his second son, Onan.
Deuteronomy 25:5,6 says ‘When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.’ ‘ And it shall be that the first-born whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.’ Such marriage does not originate with the Law of God given through Moses. It’s been a common practice in the Near East for centuries. It serves a very practical purpose, that of ensuring the ongoing of the family name. As such, it is commanded in the Law of Moses.
Judah tells Tamar to remain a widow
Onan knows that the offspring from his union with Tamar will only further the cause of his deceased brother rather than his own. Consequently he is not willing to have any children by her. To prevent Tamar from conceiving, Onan “spills his seed on the ground” (Genesis 38 verse 9). He knows his society commends the raising of seed to a brother’s name. His father has directly commanded it (verse 8). Onan, however wants the inheritance all for himself by never impregnating Tamar. What is more diabolical is the fact that Onan is also preventing Judah’s family tree from growing. God puts Onan to death also because he too is evil.
We are led to infer from the story that Judah never knows why children have not been conceived. Only Tamar will have known the cause. From Judah’s biased perspective it is Tamar who must be the jinx, and this prompts him to withhold his last son. However, what he does to Tamar is still cruel beyond words.
Tamar’s childless state leaves her helpless and socially disadvantaged in the ancient Near East where sons care for mothers after the father’s death. Also, Judah is responsible for Tamar because she is his daughter-in-law. Instead, Judah tells Tamar to remain a widow and sends her back home in shame, to be a financial ‘burden’ on her own family. Have you ever been left helpless and hopeless dear one?
God is weaving my life and yours, the good, the bad and the ugly for our good and His Glory
I have recently completed a book called ‘Why Does He Do That?’ Inside the minds of angry and controlling men.’ It has helped me understand the ‘bad and the ugly’ part of the life that God is weaving for me. Like Judah, I had an individual who was selfish and self-centered to such a degree that I had to get free from his abuse but not before he wreaked havoc in my life and in the lives of my loved ones.
Micah 6:8 says ‘He has shown you, O mortal (that’s us) what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’
This simple but profound instruction I take at face value. I encourage you to do the same in the circumstance you may be in right now dear one. You will see that is will ring true time and again as we explore ‘the rest of the story’ of Judah and Tamar. We’ve seen a family tree that is twisted and broken. Can anything good come from such a beginning? Stay tuned.