Genesis 38 and 39: Wily Women Don’t Always Win


This article was written by Hayley Mowatt, producer of Bible Book Club.

In today’s episode, we see Judah and Tamar. I have a confession; I have never studied these two chapters of Genesis before today. I knew Tamar was mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy but that’s the most I knew about the woman. Now I know she was a formidable, decisive woman–and as Susan called her, wily. In regards to Judah, I knew Jesus came from the line of Judah but I didn’t know his true beginnings aka masterminding the selling of his brother Joseph and thinking his daughter-in-law was cursed enough to not uphold the law of the day. While this story seems to just get crazier and crazier, it just reconfirms for me how forgiving God is through Jesus for us and our crazy ways.


My Bible bender came early in Genesis 38. It was quite a simple statement from Susan but just rang so true. In Genesis 38: 13 when Tamar veils herself as a disguise, Susan had some takeaways from this passage. She mentions that Judah is trying to get rid of Tamar because he thinks she is cursed. Susan also said that Judah was blind to the fact that his sons died of their own sin. This simple statement definitely hit home. I don’t know how many times I have pointed out other sins right before I made the same sin. Judah is blind to his son’s sins and their consequence before he blindly sleeps with a “prostitute” who veils herself. God made it so clear how hypocritical Judah was in this moment. How many times have I been hypocritical in my judgment of others? I definitely need some time for reflection and prayer after today’s episode.

What was your Bible bender?



My favorite part of this story is how HIS story (God’s story) includes unloved, lonely, obscure, even ill-treated people. 

  • Leah was the first we read about.
    • And yet for all her sorrow, she learned to love the Lord. God blessed her as the mother of Judah, from whom the nation will grow and the Messiah will come.
  • Tamar is the second.
    • Poor thing, this family is so mean to her. Judah never touches her again and it does not appear that he ever marries her. Yet, hundreds of years later her passion for the Lord and righteousness is so renowned that the apostle Matthew remembered her. And listed Tamar in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1.
    • She is the first of only 5 women to be listed!
  • They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.
    • And here is another cool fact, 4 of the 5 were outsiders with shadowed pasts.
    • Three of the five, Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba were adulterers or prostitutes!
    • Four of the five, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba were not even Jewish, they were grafted in because of their faith!

Point: It is clear from an analysis of the people God uses for good, that their past does not predict their future.

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