The troubling account of Judah’s relationship with Tamar, which interrupts the ongoing story of Joseph’s time in Egypt, fulfills an important role in Genesis. It focuses on the continuation of Judah’s family line (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah) and concludes with a birth account in which an about to be firstborn twin (Zerah) is pushed aside by his younger brother, Perez. In light of these preceding episodes, these details highlight the potential importance of Judah’s line through Perez. In Genesis chapter 49, kingship will be associated with Judah’s descendants, and Ruth 4:18–22 testifies that from Perez comes the Davidic dynasty. Although Genesis 38 shows Judah at his worst, it also accounts for a remarkable transformation in his life brought about by the righteousness of his daughter-in-law Tamar.
“Then Judah identified them and said, ‘She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.’ And he did not know her again.” (Genesis 38:26, ESV)
In what ways can you display God’s righteousness when you are mistreated?