Judah, Abraham’s great-grandson, was a prince in the growing Israelite community. Fourth son of the patriarch Jacob, he had wealth and standing. But his wife had passed away, as had two of his three sons. His widowed Canaanite daughter-in-law Tamar was terrified that she would have no spouse or children.
She cooked up a plan to masquerade as a prostitute and seduce her father-in-law! Their one hookup miraculously generated the pregnancy she was so desperately hoping for. Then, “about three months later Judah was told, ‘Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.’ Judah said, ‘Bring her out and have her burned to death!’” (Genesis 38:24). What an egregious example of the male double standard! Judah actually intended to compound his adultery with judicial murder.
Thankfully Tamar was allowed to testify: “As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. ‘I am pregnant by the man who owns these,’ she said. And she added, ‘See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are’” (verse 25).
The royal line of the Israelite kings would run through Judah and his “illegitimate” son, Perez, and thus so would the bloodline of Jesus Christ. Judah gave his name to tribal land, a kingdom, and ultimately to the entire Israelite people (Jew is derived from Judah). You know, if God could use adulterers like Judah and Tamar in his royal agenda, perhaps he can use you too.