Who was Judah?


Genesis 29:1 - 35

ESV - 1 Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. 2 As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well's mouth was large.

Clarify Share Report Asked March 06 2021 Mini King Ace

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
As indicated in the passage cited in the question, Judah was the fourth of Jacob's twelve sons, and the progenitor of the Israelite tribe that bears his name.

His mother was Jacob's wife Leah (who was also Jacob's cousin, since she was the daughter of Laban, who was the brother of Jacob's mother Rebekah).

Judah's name means "praise", since, when he was born, his mother Leah said (in Genesis 29:35) that she would praise the Lord because of his birth.

Years later, when Jacob's sons had grown to adulthood, they became jealous of their brother/half-brother Joseph because of the favoritism that Jacob showed to Joseph. They initially plotted to kill Joseph, but Judah persuaded them to sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt, rather than being guilty of shedding his blood (Genesis 37:12-28). However, they falsely told their father Jacob that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.

Judah is then extensively discussed in Genesis 38. He married a Canaanite woman (not an Israelite), and she gave birth to three sons (Er, Onan, and Shelah). God slew Er because of his wickedness. According to custom, Onan should have then married Er's widow (named Tamar) and had children with her on Er's behalf. However, Onan did not want to have children with her that would not be considered his heirs. He therefore refused to impregnate her, whereupon God slew him also. Jacob was then afraid to have Shelah marry Tamar because of fear that God would kill Shelah, also.

Tamar therefore disguised herself as a harlot, and tricked Judah into having sexual relations with her and making her pregnant. When it was discovered that she was pregnant, Judah wanted to have her burned to death for what was apparently her fornication. However, she was able to prove that Judah was the father of her baby, whereupon Judah admitted his paternity, and said that the blame was his for having refused to allow Tamar to marry Shelah. Tamar then gave birth to twins for Judah, who were named Perez and Zerah.

Several years later, when there was a famine in the land, and Jacob sent his sons (except for Benjamin, his youngest son and Joseph's full brother) down to Egypt to get grain for the family, Joseph (who by that time had risen to be second only to the Egyptian Pharaoh as the ruler of Egypt) told his brothers (who did not recognize him) to get Benjamin and bring him down also as a condition of helping them. Jacob was extremely reluctant to let Benjamin go down, but Judah said that he would personally guarantee Benjamin's safety.

Joseph gave his brothers grain, but then placed a silver goblet in Benjamin's sack, and accused Benjamin of having stolen it. Joseph said that Benjamin must remain in Egypt, but Judah pleaded with Joseph, and offered to remain in Egypt in place of Benjamin, so that Jacob would not die from grief as a result of thinking that he had lost both Joseph and Benjamin, whereupon Joseph finally revealed his true identity to his brothers/half-brothers.

That is the last specific mention of Judah during his lifetime. However, much later, David (who was descended from Judah through his son Perez) became Israel's king, and thus Jesus (who was descended from David through both His mother and his earthly father) was also a member of the tribe that Judah founded. (The descent of the Messiah (that is, Jesus) from Judah is first mentioned in Genesis 49:10, in a prophecy made by Jacob on his deathbed.) (Judah is also specifically mentioned in the genealogies of Jesus contained in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.) 

Many generations after David, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were the only two of Israel's twelve tribes to escape being taken into captivity by the Assyrians, and thus "lost" to subsequent history. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin instead went into exile in Babylon, and did not return to Palestine until seventy years later.

Judah also lent his name (through the word "Jew") to a designation applying to all the adherents of the Jewish faith

March 07 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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