a. Judah walks away. This story begins as many of these stories do by saying that Judah left his brothers, Jacob’s household, and made friends with an Adullamite named Hirah. This is an important point in the story. This is where his sin begins. Remember, that since the beginning, there was a separation between Seth and Cain, between Shem, Ham, and Japheth, between Abraham, Haran, and Lot, between Abraham and the Canaanites. There was a God-created separation between Ishmael and Isaac and between Jacob and Esau. What Judah does by leaving his family and going to stay with Hirah puts the promise of God to Adam and Eve in jeopardy again. Judah has chosen not to remain separate but to lock arms with the world. Let us not be tempted in thinking that this was just for the patriarchs. God reminded the Israelites in Leviticus 20:24, “I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples.” Jesus would speak of being in the world and not of the world. Paul after him goes back to the Old Testament to say that Christians are, “to go out of their midst, and be separate from them.” Therefore, Judah has violated this command and desire of God. b. Judah marries a Canaanite. Judah, now being friends with the Canaanites allows his affections to be drawn to a Canaanite woman. You can see the downward spiral beginning. Judah goes against the command of God and the tradition of the three generations of men before him and marries outside the family and the faith. He has unequally yoked himself which only leads to walking in circles. He should have nothing in common with this woman, and perhaps he had little, but she was attractive to him and that is what drove his choice of wife. c. Judah’s sons. We are told in verses 3-5 that his wife had three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah. Moses mentions the place name Chezib here. Judah was at and Shelah was probably born at Chezib. Chezib means false or deception and so we can see the wordplay here as we read the story. Judah and Shelah will act according to the name of this place. They are literally and figuratively in Chezib. Well, some time passes, and Judah took a wife for Er named Tamar. We are not told what Er does but he is notoriously wicked and God puts him to death for his sin. There are some sins, as John says, that lead to death. Er dies without having any heirs and so Judah commands Onan, his younger brother, to marry his sister-in-law and to have children for his brother. This duty, as Jacob calls it, would later be written into the Mosaic law in Deuteronomy 25:5. “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go into her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.” Onan obeys his father and marries Tamar. But he does not like the idea of having children for his brother and therefore he uses birth control methods to prevent Tamar from having a child. What Onan did was wicked in the sight of the Lord and so God put Onan to death. Judah then goes to Tamar and tells her to live as a widow in her father’s house until Shelah gets older and then they would be married. Jacob told her this because he was afraid that Shelah would die like his brothers. This is an interesting thought because Judah’s sons died because of their wickedness. It was not Tamar’s fault. So delaying the marriage would not spare Shelah but Judah came to that conclusion and therefore acted accordingly. Tamar, in obedience to her father-in-law, goes back to her father’s house.