Good evening, and welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the book of Genesis. Tonight is study #1 in Genesis 38, and we will be reading Genesis 38:1-7:
And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her. And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er. And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan. And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah: and he was at Chezib, when she bare him. And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of JEHOVAH; and JEHOVAH slew him.
I will stop reading there. The first thing we are told at the start of Genesis 38 is, “And it came to pass at that time,” and this is following what we studied in Genesis 37 when Judah and his brethren sold their brother Joseph to Midianite slave traders for twenty pieces of silver, and they brought Joseph down into Egypt. God is letting us know that this is after that happened, and we can gather that not too much time had elapsed since that took place.
Could that have had anything to do with the reason Judah “went down from his brethren?” Why would God word it that way? It may have been difficult for Judah. We will take a look at what the Bible has to say about Judah, one of the sons of Jacob, a little later.
First, at this point in Judah’s life he was a very sinful man. If you remember, it was Judah who came up with the idea to sell Joseph in Genesis 37:26-27:
And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.
He came up with the big idea to sell Joseph, which was a very cruel thing to do. He was among them when they conspired together to slay him. He was also among the brethren that envied Joseph because of his relationship with their father, and because of Joseph’s dreams. So there was much sin in the life of Judah, as well as all the conspiring sons of Israel, but Judah stands out here. And now God is going to focus on him in chapter 38.
As a quick summary of this chapter, we are going to find that most of chapter 38 will deal with the idea of a “kinsman redeemer,” in an unwitting way. That is, Judah does not realize that he is doing this at the time, but he would be that “kinsman redeemer,” and he will be the one who raises up seed to his own dead son Er. So this chapter will bring our attention to the Lord Jesus Christ because He is who the “kinsman redeemer” points to, as He is the “relation” to mankind who delivers His elect when no one else could.
So here at this point at the beginning of the chapter, it is said that “Judah went down from his brethren.” Maybe he could not bear the reminder of being around his brethren, and maybe his conscience was activated as he would recall their conspiracy to kill their own brother. Not only that, but when they finally sold him, it was Judah’s idea. Can you imagine this? You know, a lot of times when we sin, there were circumstances that led us to a situation, and we could not handle it because we were servants to sin and Satan, and sin got the better of us, but afterwards we had regrets. We may have been drinking too much, and we said something we should not have said. In the case of Judas who betrayed the Lord…and keep in mind that the name “Judas” is the name “Judah,” which is of Hebrew origin. Actually, in the New Testament it is the same Greek word that is translated as either “Judas” or “Juda.” So Judas of the New Testament was one of the twelve (apostles), just as Judah of the Old Testament was one of the sons of the twelve tribes of Israel. And what did Judas do? He betrayed Jesus for silver. He sold the Lord by making a deal with the chief priests and scribes, and he would find a convenient time to betray Him. And after Judas betrayed the Lord, he repented himself. He felt awful about it, and he went and hanged himself, the Bible tells us. That indicated that Judas was not a saved man. He was not one of God’s elect because the Bible does tell us about sorrow, and there is “godly sorrow,” and “ungodly sorrow.” Godly sorrow leads us to repentance, and we are sorry for our sin and sorry we have betrayed the Lord. When we sin, we are betraying the Lord. We become broken before God, like David, and we cry out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” So godly sorrow leads us to repentance. But the sorrow of the world leads to death. In Judas’ case, he did sorrow, but it was the sorrow of the world, and he had no remedy for his sin, so he took his own life. He hung himself and died.
So Judah was a young man, and he had a conscience, so when he was around his brethren his conscience was more than likely stirred up, and he was troubled. Just consider the testimony of Joseph during the brief seventeen years that he lived among his brethren. He was a faithful young man, and his brethren would have known that he had done nothing worthy of being treated the way he was, so the conscience of Judah was probably at work. He was feeling a great amount of guilt, in all likelihood, especially when he would see his poor father. We are not told that he went “down from his father,” but it would also mean that Judah had gone away from the whole family, including his father.
Where it says, “Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah,” the Hebrew word translated as “turned in” is also translated in a few other places as “pitched,” as in “pitching” a tent. So it would be better understood to say, “Judah went down from his brethren, and pitched near a certain Adullamite.” The word “certain” is “eesh” for “man,” and this Adullamite’s name was Hirah. So Judah had gone there and set up his tent. He had left his brethren. He had left his family, and now did not have to see his father’s grief. Remember, that is how the last chapter ended in Genesis 37:35:
And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
He wept many days. I do not know if Judah became one of God’s elect. There are some indicators in what we can read that point that way, but there are other indicators that would point to it not being the case. And that is God’s business, but Judah had a relationship with God just due to the family he was part of, and he had heard about God, and he heard the Word of God. And the Word of God works in the conscience that the Lord has placed in the spiritual part of man. Judah would have had love for his father, and he was seeing his father grieving and weeping, and it was going on for day, weeks, or even months. Even though later he may not have been giving these kinds of outward indicators of grieving for his son, he was not the same. The sorrow has impacted him, and he was just not the same happy father he had once been, and this would have troubled Judah. His brothers would have also been a reminder, as well as his remembrance of Joseph’s faithfulness. All of this may have been too much for Judah. “Let me get out of here.” And he went down and pitched his tent near this man Hirah, who was an Adullamite.
There is a reference to him being an Adullamite. There is a land called “Adullam” that we read about in the book of Joshua, which describes the conquest of the land of Canaan. In Joshua 12, there is a list of all the kings that were conquered, in Joshua 12:15:
The king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one;
That tells us that Adullam was within the land of Canaan, and they had a king, and they were conquered by the Israelites. The conquering of the land of Canaan was still over five hundred years or more from the time of this account in Genesis 38. So the land of Adullam was under their own authority and power at the time that Judah went down there. When we look up the word “Adullam,” we find this place almost always linked to Judah. Just to get the context, it says in Joshua 15:20:
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families.
Then it says in Joshua 15:33-35:
And in the valley, Eshtaol, and Zoreah, and Ashnah, And Zanoah, and Engannim, Tappuah, and Enam, Jarmuth, and Adullam, Socoh, and Azekah,
So Adullam became part of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah.
Then in 1Samuel 22 David fled to a cave, and it says in 1Samuel 22:1:
David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.
So they were also going “down to Adullam.” There may be some kind of spiritual significance to going down to Adullam that I am not seeing, but one thing we can see is that David was of the tribe of Judah, and he had escaped to this cave called Adullam.
There are a few more verses, but I will read one more. In 2Chronicles 11, Rehoboam was king of Judah, and we read in 2Chronicles 11:6-7:
He built even Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa, And Bethzur, and Shoco, and Adullam,
These were cities built for defence in Judah. So Adullam was a city of defence that Rehoboam built when he was king over Judah.
So one thing for sure is that this relationship between Judah and Adullam would go on for many centuries. I am not referring to the personal relationship of Judah and this Adullamite, but the tribe of Judah and the land of Adullam.
And the name “Hirah” could mean one of two things: 1) waxed pale; or 2) “hole, or cave.” When we look up the Strong’s number, one of the related words is “hole” or “cave,” and that may tie in with the cave Adullam.
We will stop here. Lord willing, when we get together in our next Bible study, we will continue to look at the names of these people mentioned in the first few verses, and how God is setting the context of the chapter when He slays Judah’s two sons, Er and Onan, which will set the stage for the “kinsman redeemer,” which is very important throughout this chapter.