Genesis 38 & 39
The placement of the story of Judah & Tamar (Genesis 38) feels strange. You’re in the middle of the story of Joseph being sold into slavery and suddenly we get a “Meanwhile, back at the Ranch” story about Joseph’s older brother. Nevermind that the story is just weird.
Of course, I’m not sure where else the story should be placed in the grand scheme of things. The story of Judah and Tamar does tell what Judah’s life was like after selling his brother into slavery (and before reuniting with him, I assume). And Judah’s reaction to sexual temptation (he thought Tamar was a prostitute) stands in stark contrast to the younger brother that he and his other brothers hated so much (as seen in today’s reading). Judah was found to be the father of Tamar’s child because of the items he left with her. Interestingly enough, Joseph was thrown into prison for evidence that was planted by his accuser.
Like I said before, the placement of the Judah and Tamar story feels like an abrupt shift in the story. But the more I think about it, it makes a great deal of sense for this story to be told here within the larger context of the account of the sons of Jacob.
Genesis 39:21 But the LORD was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love.
In the midst of life’s most difficult circumstances (e.g. imprisonment for a crime you didn’t commit), we cannot forget that God continues to remain faithful – even when “friends” forget you (like the cup-bearer did).
And Now, a Musical Interlude
Of course, I can’t read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh without thinking of this musical…