I’ve been reading through Genesis recently and this morning’s chapter was 38. The first few verses are included below. New Internation Version translates,

Genesis 38

Judah and Tamar

 1 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. 2 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and lay with her; 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. 4 She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. 5 She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.

 6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.”

As I was reading through the narrative, I was instantly struck by the utter contrast of verse 7. My initial thoughts were, “Wow, God does not tolerate evil!” One commentator advises that Genesis 38 might be pulled from different sources, but exhorts his readers to evaluate this chapter within the context of the whole book. He states,

“It seems more appropriate to consider the meaning of the passage in its present canonical context since it is there that the tradition is fixed in its final and authoritative form. In the context of the canon, though, there are sometimes a number of smaller contexts that influence and even determine the meaning of an individual pericope. A major task of exegesis involves the identification of the relevant contexts in order to determine how they affect the meaning of the passage. There are several different contexts that are appropriate for understanding the Judah-Tamar story.”


The importance of reading through all  of the Bible is to grasp a full portait of God’s character as displayed through both easy and difficult passages. I have a tendency to gravitate towards the comforting and familiar passages of scripture, as they quickly enable a pleasurable application and response. However, all of God’s word is inspired (given by God) and inerrant (without error) and is useful to us! 2 Timothy 3:16 affirms, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

So, I will continue to plunge through! I have often found it helpful to have a commentary on hand for difficult passages. My husband and I both enjoy the Expositor’s Bible Commentaries. When selecting a commentary, try to ask your pastor about the author to discern whether or not the commentary affirms the foundational doctrines of your church.

What passage are you working through?

Thanks for reading!