Like Father, Like Son
And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD put him to death.
Hebrew scholar Robert Alter pointed out a significant parallel in Genesis 37-38 that aided my reflection on this scene. Remember that it was Judah who talked his brothers into selling Joseph to the Midianites in Genesis 37, before they dipped Joseph’s cloak in goat’s blood and lied to their father about his demise. And remember that upon hearing of the tragedy, Jacob mourned in sackcloth for days on end. So there might be divine retribution taking place toward Judah in Genesis 38 with the loss of his son, Er. Judah deprived Jacob of a son, and now God deprives him of his. But, more than that, while chapter 37 gives us an in-depth look into Jacob’s mourning, chapter 38 says nothing about Judah’s. Which makes me wonder: did Judah even bat an eye over Er’s wickedness? Did he drape himself in sackcloth for even a minute? Did he recognize that he’d failed as a father just as he’d failed as a brother?
Friend, remember: unconfessed sin is a grim reaper. And it takes our souls long before our bodies.