Genesis 35-38 Questions and Answers

Joseph Sold and Judah’s Illicit Affair –  Genesis Chapters 35-38

Genesis 35-38 introduces Joseph and tells about his brother Judah.

Is Bethel still a town today? No, Bethel disappeared from history after 300 AD.

What was the strange gods in their hands in Genesis 35? Why the earrings? These were idols that they had. Even though they acknowledged the true God they still adopted the gods of the surrounding peoples. As for the earrings, somehow theses seemed to be associated with idol worship at least at that time.

Jacob had a lot of kids. Yes, he had 12 sons and one daughter.

In Genesis 36 all it talks about was the offspring of Esau if I got it right. Yes, it was thought Jacob that all of the Jews came but Abraham was promised to be the father of many nations and since Esau was his grandson, he was the father of the Edomites which were a great people. Genesis 36 gives the genealogy of Esau.

Introducing Joseph

In Genesis 37:5 what was the dream about? Joseph dreamed that he, the one next to the youngest of the brothers, would rule over them. This was prophecy came true years later when Joseph was ruler in Egypt.

In Genesis 37:9 what was the dream about? Joseph dreamed again that he would rule not only over his brothers but also his dad and step mother (his biological mother had died) would bow before him.

Why did they sell Joseph’s brothers sell him? They were sick of his implying that he would be ruler over them. Also they were jealous of him since he was the favored son of their father. Joseph’s brothers really wanted to kill him but when the opportunity presented itself to make money, they decided instead of killing him themselves, to rather sell him and make a profit. Joseph’s brothers were sure that he would die in slavery and therefore they presumed him dead but not by their hand.

Judah’s Illicit Affair

Please explain Genesis 38. Judah and Shuah had three sons: Er, Onan and Shelah. Er married Tamar but God knew that Er was an evil man so God killed him. Er and Tamar did not have any children so Judah wanted his middle son Onan to have sex with Tamar so that their first born child would be consider Er’s child. Onan had no problems having sex with Tamar, this was pleasurable I am sure, but he was determined that he would not get her pregnant since he knew that if he did the child would be considered his brother’s not his. So in the sex act he pulled out of her right before he ejaculated, “that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.” (verse 9).

This selfish act on Onan’s part made God angry so that He killed Onan. Now Judah had lost two sons and both were connected with Tamar. Possibly Judah thought that Tamar had something to do with both of their deaths. Nevertheless he promised Tamar that she would be married to his youngest son Shelah when he was a bit older. I think that Judah didn’t want that marriage fearing that Shelah too would die if he got involved with Tamar.

In the meantime, Shuah, Judah’s wife passed away. Judah then went to visit his friend in another town. Tamar heard about that her father in law was coming there. Tamar knew that Shelah was grown but he was not given to her to be her husband. So Tamar pretended to be a prostitute. Judah wanted sex and he saw what he thought was a prostitute but it was really Tamar pretending to be one and Judah did not recognize who she was.

Instead of asking for money for the privilege of sleeping with her, she instead asked for his signet, staff and bracelets (this was like asking for someone’s identification card) until he could properly pay her with an animal. He gave her his signet, staff and bracelets intending to collect them when he showed up later with a kid of the goats.

This sex act with her father in law got her pregnant, which was what Tamar wanted. Judah meanwhile sent his friend with the payment of an animal to look for this prostitute but the friend could not find her. Tamar was not really a prostitute, she just wanted a child by her late husband’s family. Three months later, Judah finds out that his daughter-in-law Tamar is pregnant and she had no husband. Therefore  it was obvious that she was messing around with someone. Judah wanted her to be burnt! (this was double standards… he had an affair with a seemingly prostitute and that seemed to be fine.)

Tamar said that she was pregnant by the person whose staff, signet and bracelets she had… and she produced Judah’s – her father-in-law’s identification. Judah was exposed.Judah admitted that he did her wrong because he did not give her his last son to be her husband as he had promised her. Tamar gave birth to twin boys: Zarah and Pharez. Pharez was an ancestor  of Jesus.

What Judah did was wrong. But God still used him to be an ancestor of Jesus Christ. While what we may do is sometimes wrong and sinful, God can and does bring good things out of bad situations. Praise God for His mercy, His grace and for second chances.

Questions on Genesis Chapter 38

Did Judah marry Shuah in Genesis 38:2? I don’t think that he did. The Bible never mentions that they were legally married; rather it seems that they simply lived together.

What didn’t the LORD slay Judah for he said to Onan in Genesis 38:8? Onan was not married. Judah wanted Onan to marry Tamar and their first child would be considered Er’s child. Although the Law of Moses was not given at this time in history, this was exactly what God told the children of Israel later so that the dead man would not be forgotten. Deuteronomy 25:5 &6 “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

Finished with Genesis 35-38? Please leave any comments or questions below and continue reading in Genesis 39-50.

Mary Jane

I'm Mary Jane, child of God, wife of Joe, mom to furry little ones, writer and author of The Faith Series devotionals. Trying every day to be better this day than I was yesterday in every part of my life. Thank you for visiting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *