The twin sons of Judah (Mt 1:3-1:3)

“Judah was

The father of Perez

By Tamar.

Judah was

The father of Zerah

By Tamar.”

 

Ἰούδας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Φαρὲς καὶ τὸν Ζαρὰ ἐκ τῆς Θάμαρ.

 

The story of the children for Judah (Ἰούδας) is a very interesting tale as portrayed in Genesis, chapter 38.  Judah married a Canaanite woman named Bathshuah in Adullam.  They had three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah.  Then the story got more complicated.  Judah found a lady named Tamar (Θάμαρ) to be a wife for his first-born wicked son Er, whom Yahweh put to death.  Then Judah sent Onan, his second son, to produce children for his brother from Tamar, Er’s wife.  However, Onan spilled his semen on the ground, so that he would not have any children.  Thus, Yahweh put him to death also.  Judah then told Tamar to live as a widow in her father’s house, until his youngest son Shelah was older and able to marry her.  Tamar, in the meantime, saw that Shelah had grown up, but was not being offered in marriage to her.  She decided to throw off her widow garments, put a veil on, and sit on the road from Adullam to Timnah.  Now Judah, whose wife Bathshuah had died, was on this same road and thought that she was a prostitute, because her face was covered.  He gave her his signature ring and the cord as a pledge that he would pay her later for her sexual favors.  They had sex and she conceived by him.  Three months later, Judah found out that his daughter-in-law Tamar was pregnant as a result of prostitution.  He wanted her immediately burned, but she told Judah that the owner of a ring and cord made her pregnant.  Judah admitted that she was right.  Tamar then had twins from this pregnancy, Perez (Φαρὲς) and Zerah (Ζαρὰ), who disputed about who was the first out of the womb.  The Greek text used the term ‘begat’ (ἐγέννησεν) to represent the relationships between Judah and his twin sons.  However, it seems perfectly acceptable to simply call them the father instead of saying “fathered them.”  Interesting enough, the line of Judah would have died out without this prostitute episode.  Thus, the sacred lineage of Judah goes through a father-in-law having paid sex with his daughter-in-law, Tamar, who was a Canaanite.