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Song of Solomon
Genesis 38 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name
And it came to pass
. The present chapter appears to interrupt the continuity of the narrative of Joseph's history. Partly on this account, and partly because the name Jehovah occurs in it (vers. 7, 10), it has been pronounced a later Jehovistic interpolation (Tuch, Bleek, Davidson, Coleuso). Its design has been explained as an attempt to glorify the line of David by representing it as sprung from Judah (Bohlen), or to disclose the origin of the Levitate law of marriage among the Jews (Knobel); but the incidents here recorded of Judah and his family are fitted to reflect dishonor instead of glory on the ancestry of David (Havernick); and the custom here mentioned of raising up seed to a dead brother by marrying his widow, though the idea may have originated with Judah (Lange), is more likely to have descended from earlier times (Delitzsch, Keil). Rightly understood, the object of the present portion of the record appears to have been not simply to prepare the way for the subsequent (
) genealogical register (Gerlach), or to contrast the wickedness of Judah and his sons with the piety and chastity of Joseph in Egypt (Wordsworth), or to recite the private history of one of Christ's ancestors (Bush, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or to show that the pre-eminence of Judah in the patriarchal family was due exclusively to grace (Candlish), but also and chiefly to justify the Divine procedure in the subsequent deportation of Jacob and his sons to Egypt (Keil). The special danger to which the theocratic family was exposed was that of intermarrying with the Canaanites (
). Accordingly, having carried forward his narrative to the point where, in consequence of Joseph's sale, a way begins to open up for the transference of the patriarchal house to the lend of the Pharaohs, the historian makes a pause to introduce a passage from the life of Judah, with the view of proving the necessity of such removal, by showing, as in the case of Judah, the almost certainty that, if left in Canaan, the descendants of Jacob would fall before the temptation of marrying with the daughters of the land, with the result, in the first instance, of a great and rapid moral deterioration in the holy seed, and with the ultimate effect of completely obliterating the line of demarcation between them and the surrounding heathen world. How the purity of the patriarchal family was guarded till it developed into a powerful nation, first by its providential withdrawment in infancy from the sphere of temptation (
), then by its separate establishment in Goshen beside a people who regarded them with aversion (
), and latterly by its cruel enslavement under Pharaoh (
), is a subject which in due course engages the attention of the writer.
At that time.
If the date of Judah's marriage, as is most probable, was shortly after the sale of Joseph (Keil, Kurtz, Lange, Alford, Wordsworth, Quarry), since at the time of that atrocity Judah was still living with his brethren, the only difficulty calling for solution is to account for the birth of Judah's grandchildren, Hezron and Hamul (the sons of Pharez, the twin child of Judah by Tamar), in the short interval of twenty-two years which preceded Jacob's descent into Egypt without making Er and Onan marry in comparative boyhood. The case becomes a little less perplexing if Hezron and Hamul, though said to have come into Egypt (
), may be regarded as having been born there (Hengstenberg), since twenty-two years afford sufficient space for the birth of Judah's three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah, which may have taken place during the first three years after their father's marriage, and for the birth of Pharez and Zarah, even if Er married as late as eighteen. Of course if the narrative requires the birth of Hezron and Hamul to have taken place in Canaan (Kalisch), it is simply impossible to hold that all this occurred within little more than a score of years. Hence
the date of Judah's marriage has been placed before the sale of Joseph (Augustine, Aben Ezra, Rosenmüller, Drechsler, Baumgarten, Gerlach, Ainsworth, Candlish, Murphy, Inglis); but even on this assumption the task is arduous to make the birth of Hezron and Hamul occur before the emigration of their great-grandfather to Egypt. For as Judah was not more than four years older than Joseph (cf.
with Genesis 30:25), his age at the time of Joseph's sale could not have been more than twenty-one. But placing Judah's marriage at the earliest possible date, viz., in his fifteenth year, only substitutes an interval of twenty-eight years instead of one of twenty-two, in which Judah's son Er must be born, grow up to manhood, (say at fifteen) marry, die, and leave his widow Tamar, who, after marrying with Onan and waiting for Shelah (which would consume at least another year), must become the mother of twin sons by her father-in-law (for which another year would be required), and must see the elder of the two married at ten years of age, if his sons are to be born upon the soft of Canaan. On either hypothesis, therefore, it seems indispensable to hold that Judah's grandsons were born in Egypt; and in this case there is little gained by putting Judah's marriage earlier than Joseph s sale,
in Judah's twenty-first year.
That Judah went down
- from Hebron (
), or the mountains (Keil), towards the south (Aben Ezra, Rosenmüller)
from his brethren
, - setting up a separate and independent establishment apart from them; "not only immediately after Joseph was sold, but also on account of it," "in a fit of impenitent anger" (Kurtz), in a spirit of remorse (Lange) -
and turned in to a certain Adullamite
, - literally,
(sc. his tent,
up to, as
far as, or close by, a man,
an Adullamite, i.e.
belonging to Adullam, a town in the Hebron valley (Joshua 15:85); in the time of the conquest the seat of a Canaanitish king (
), afterwards celebrated for its connection with the history of David (
1 Samuel 22:1, 2
2 Samuel 23:13
), subsequently mentioned in Scripture (
2 Chronicles 11:7
), but never successfully identified (
' Land and the Book,' pp. 606, 607; Robinson, 2:175) -
whose name was Hirah
- "Nobility" (Gesenius).
And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name
Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.
And Judah saw there the daughter of a certain
of a man, a
, - not of a merchant (Onkelos), but of an inhabitant of the land of Canaan -
whose name was Shuah
; - "Wealth," "Riches," "Cry for Help" (Gesenius). This was not the name of Judah's wife (LXX.), but of her father - (vide ver. 12) - and he took her, -
married her (viz.
and went in unto her
And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er.
And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er
- "Watcher" (Gesanius). What is commonly regarded as an idiosyncrasy of the Elohist, viz., the naming of a child by its father, here occurs in a so-called Jehovistic section.
And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan.
And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan
- "Strength" (Gesenius). The naming of a child by its mother a peculiarity of the so-called Jehovist; but
And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah: and he was at Chezib, when she bare him.
And she yet again conceived
and she added again
bare a son; and called his name Shelah
: - "Prayer" (Gesenius), "Peace" (Furst) -
, absent (Gerlach); or, translating impersonally,
it was, i.e.
the event happened (Murphy) -
, - probably the same as Achzib (
Micah 1:14, 15
) and Chezeba (
1 Chronicles 4:22
), which in the partitioning of the land fell to the sons of Shelah, and was here mentioned that Shelah's descendants might know the birthplace of their ancestor (Keil); or the fact of Judah s absence at the birth of his third son may be recorded as the reason of the name, "Peace," "Rest, "Prosperity, which the child received (Gerlach) -
when she bare him
in her bearing of him
And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name
And Judah took a wife
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.
And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.
And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord.
The connection between Er's name (
) and Er's character (
) is noticeable. The special form which his wickedness assumed is not stated; but the accompanying phrase suggests that, as in the case of the Sodomites (
), it was some unnatural abomination.
And the Lord slew him
caused him to die
; not necessarily by direct visitation; perhaps simply by allowing him to reap the fruits of his youthful indulgence in premature and childless death, which yet was so rapid and so evidently entailed by his evil courses as immediately to suggest the punitive hand of God.
And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.
And Judah said unto Onan
(obviously after a sufficient interval),
Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her
, - literally,
and perform the part of levir, or husband's brother, to her
. The language seems to imply that what was afterwards in the code Mosaic known as the
Deuteronomy 25:5, 6
) was at this time a recognized custom. The existence of the practice has been traced in different frames among Indians, Persians, and other nations of Asia and Africa -
and raise up seed to thy brother.
As afterwards explained in the Hebrew legislation, the first. born son of such a Levirate marriage became in the eye of the law the child of the deceased husband, and was regarded as his heir.
And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled
on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
Verses 9, 10.
And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when
whenever (cf. Ewald, Hebrews Synt., § 3456) -
he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground
destroyed to the ground
lest that he should
(or, so as not to)
give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased
evil in the eyes of
: - the word Jehovah is employed not because the writer was a late interpolator, but because the sin of Onan was an offence against the sanctity and prosperity of the theocratic family (Hengstenberg) -
slew him also
And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.
Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at thy father's house, till Shelah my son be grown: for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren
. And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house.
Then said Judah to Tamer his daughter-in-law, Remain a widow
, to be solitary, forsaken, signifies one bereft of a husband, hence a widow (cf.
at thy father's house
till Shelah my son be grown
. It is implied that this was merely a pretext on the part of Judah, and that he did not really intend to give his third son to Tamar, considering her an unlucky woman (Delitzsch, Keil, Kalisch), or, at least, not at present, under the impression that the deaths of Er and Onan had been occasioned by their too early marriages (Lange). The reason of his failure to release Tamar from her widowhood is added in the ensuing clause.
For he said
Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamer went and dwelt in her father's house.
And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.
And in process of time
literally, and the days were multiplied
), which is rendered by the same words in the A.V. -
the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died; and Judah was comforted
(or, comforted himself, ceased to mourn),
and went up unto his sheep-shearers
, - a border town between Ekron and Bethshemesh (
) in the plain of Judah (Kalisch, Wordsworth, W. L. Alexander in Kitto's 'Cyclopedia'); but more probably here a town (
) in the mountains of Judah (Robinson, 2:343, Keil, Alford, 'Speaker's Commentary') -
he and his friend
ὁ ποιμὴν αὐτοῦ
Hirah the Adullamite
And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep.
And it was told Tamer, saying, Behold thy father in-law
, a father-in-law, from
, unused, to join together. Of.
, a son-in-law, or generally one connected lay marriage, from
goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep
And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which
by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.
And she put her widow's garments off from her
(to prevent detection by Judah),
and covered her with a veil
, - to conceal her features, after the fashion of a courtesan (ver. 15; cf.
and wrapped herself,
- possibly with some large mantle (Alford) -
and sat in an open place,
in the opening
(LXX., Gesenius, Keil, Kalisch, Lange,
); less happily, in the opening of the eyes,
in a public and open place (Calvin), in the parting of the ways,
in bivio itineris
(Vulgate), in the opening (or breaking forth) of the two fountains (Aben Ezra, Rosenmüller) -
which is by
the way to Timnath
; - "close to the site of Thamna, now Tibneh, three miles to the east, on an ancient road coming from Adullam, the very road by which the patriarch Judah would have come from Adullam to Timnah, is a ruin called Allin, or Anita, or Ainim" ('Palestine Exploration,' quoted by Inglis) -
for she saw that Shelah was grown
(he was probably not much younger than either of his brothers who had died),
and she was not given unto him to wife
for a wife
When Judah saw her, he thought her
an harlot; because she had covered her face.
Judah saw her, he
(literally, and he)
thought her to be an harlot
; - literally,
took her for)
de r& (cf.
1 Samuel 1:13
), or to
(fem. part. of
, commit fornication);
because she had covered her face
And 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
his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?
And 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
). Though willing to commit adultery or fornication, Judah would have shrank from the sin of incest.
And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?
The conduct of Tamer, though in every way reprehensible, is not to be attributed to mere lust, or inordinate desire for offspring, if not from the son Shelah, then from the father Judah, but was probably traceable to a secret wish on the one hand to be avenged on Judah, and on the other hand to assert her right to a place amongst the ancestresses of the patriarchal family. Yet Tamar was really guilty of both adultery and incest, though Lange thinks the wickedness of Er and Onan renders this open to question.
And he said, I will send
a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give
a pledge, till thou send
And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock
a kid of the goats
(ver. 20; cf.
And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?
if thou wilt give me a pledge
, to give in pledge, a word peculiar to traders which the Greeks and Romans appear to have borrowed from the Phoenicians, the originators of traffic: cf.
vide Gesenius, p. 652)
until thy sending
(sc. then I consent to thy proposal).
And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that
in thine hand. And he gave
her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.
And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet,
, or signet, was either worn on the finger,
(LXX.) or suspended round the neck by a
, or silk string. Its impression was a sign of property and a means of security (cf.
, &c.). Among the ancient Babylonians it was customary for every one to wear such a ring (Herod., 1:195); and modern Arabians in towns wear a seal-ring on the finger, or fastened by a cord round the neck, the impression of which serves as a signature (Robinson, 1:52). The seals and signets that have been brought to light by the excavations in Assyria and Babylon (Layard, 'Nin. and Bab.,' 152-159, 602-608) are of various forms and materials. They show the art of engraving to have been of great antiquity; but whether Judah's signet was marked with alphabetical characters cannot be determined, though it may have been, since alphabetical writing was as old at least as the time of Abraham (vide Keil, 'Introd.,' Part I. sect. 1.
. § 4) -
and thy bracelets
(rather, thy chain,
, ut supra),
and thy staff
, or rod, was so called from the idea of stretching out, the root being
, to stretch out or extend)
that is in thine hand
. This too every Baby-Ionian carried (Herod., 1:195). "It was necessarily adorned with some device carved upon it, and consisting in a flower or a fruit, a bird, or some other animal" (Kalisch).
And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.
And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood.
And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood
And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive
pledge from the woman's hand: but he found her not.
And Judah sent the kid
the kid of the goats
, which he had promised (ver. 17) -
by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman's hand
found her not.
Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where
the harlot, that
openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this
hen he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot
, - literally, the consecrated, the prostitute being regarded as "one devoted to the worship of Astarte, a goddess of the Canaanites, the deification of the generative and productive principle of nature," corresponding to the Babylonian Ashtarte, whose worship was of a grossly libidinous character (Herod., 1:199). Cf.
Keil on REFERENCE_WORK:Keil & DelitzschDeuteronomy 23:19
that was openly by the way side?
- or, that was in Enajim on the way,
, ver. 14).
And they said, There was no harlot
) in this place.
And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said,
there was no harlot in this
And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot
in this place.
And Judah said, Let her take
to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.
And Judah said, Let her take it to her
, - literally,
take to herself
(sc. the pledge) -
lest we be shamed
become a contempt, i.e.
by inquiring after her
. Though not afraid to sin against God, Judah was pained at the idea of losing his reputation before men):
behold, I sent this kid
I take you to witness that I have fulfilled my premise),
and thou hast not found her.
And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she
with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.
And it same to pass about three months after
(the usual time at which pregnancy is certainly determined),
that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath played the harlot
(or, acted as a
and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said
(altogether unmindful of his own iniquity three months previous),
Bring her forth, and let her be burnt
. Under the law stoning was the punishment allotted to the crime of Tamar (
), burning being added only in cases of excessive criminality (
). It is obvious that the power of life and death lay in the hand of Judah, as the head of his family.
brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these
I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose
these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff.
When she was brought forth
she was brought forth, and
she sent to her father-in-law
(who apparently had not the heart to witness the execution of his own sentence),
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 Judah acknowledged
, 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.
And Judah acknowledged
ut supra, i.e.
them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I
; - though Tamer was far from innocent (vide vex. 16), she was by no means as culpable as Judah -
, for, for this cause,
that so it might hap, pen to me: vide
I gave her not to Shelah my son.
(in token of his penitence)
he knew her again no more.
And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins
in her womb.
And it came to pass in the time
of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb.
Cf. the case of Rebekah (
And it came to pass, when she travailed, that
hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first.
And it came to pass, when she travailed
, - literally,
in her bringing forth
that the one put out his hand
: - literally,
(sc. the child)
it was an abnormal and dangerous presentation -
and the midwife
took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first.
And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth?
upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez.
And 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:
What a breach hast thou made!
upon thee, a breach, or, Why hast thou broken forth for thyself a breach (Delitzsch)? or, How hast thou made for thee a breach? (Murphy) -
therefore his name was called Pharez
- or Breach (cf.
1 Chronicles 2:4
And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.
And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and hi, name was called Zarah
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