Saturday, December 9, 2017

About that odd Chapter, Genesis 38

In this week’s Torah portion about the Yosef saga, did you wonder about the odd insertion of Judah’s life into the text which stops abruptly in Chapter 37 and resumes in Chapter 39? How strange to suddenly dump Joseph by the wayside and begin discussing the life of Judah! (See Genesis 37:38 - 38:30). Was it accidental, or just “shoe-horned” in because the story didn’t fit anywhere else?

Nope! You see, this is the beginning of Y’shua’s genealogy!

Everett J. Fox, author of “The Schocken Bible, Volume I, The Five Books of Moses” concludes the following:

“The other function of this story seems to be to carry out the major theme of Genesis as we have presented it: continuity and discontinuity between generations. What is at stake here is not merely the line of one of the brothers, but the line which (as the biblical audience must have been fully aware) will lead to royalty – King David was a descendant of Peretz of v.29.

“This should not be surprising in a book of origins; we noted the possible mention of Jerusalem in 14:18. Apparently, a popular early theme, connected as we have noted to the power of God in history, continuity/discontinuity is repeated in somewhat similar circumstances in the Book of Ruth (which contains the only other mention of ‘begettings’ outside of Genesis and Numbers 3:1.”

Torah contains many messages – overt, covert, easy or hard to understand, repetitions, redundancies … you name it! Torah is perfect, concise and deliberate, containing NO mistakes! Every word is there for a reason. And the bottom line is, it makes perfect sense for the Yehuda story to have been inserted exactly where it was because of his importance in Bible history … especially in view of the fact that his line would one day produce our divine Messiah!

Please note, one of the keys to the Judah/Tamar/Peretz insertion is found within the short Book of Ruth which took place hundreds of years later, leading us straight to the “hidden” meaning of the Judah/Tamar/Peretz story.

Here’s a quick synopsis gleaned from the mind author Avigdor Bonchek, from his book, “Studying the Torah, A Guide to In-Depth Interpretation”:

The book of Ruth discusses the marriage of Ruth to Boaz and the birth of their son, Oved who is the father of Yeshai, the father of David (Ruth 4:17). The generations of Peretz includes his son Hezron father of Ram, father of Amminadab, father of Nahshon, father of Salmah, father of Boaz, father of Obed,father of Jesse, father of David the King of Israel, “the Messiah” (Ruth 4:18–22).

Bonchek questioned why David’s predecessors are mentioned through Boaz all the way back to Peretz; but not back to Judah, especially in view of the fact that David was of the tribe of Judah! He said, “it suggests that the reason the Book of Ruth highlights Peretz is the same reason that the Book of Genesis ends the Judah/Tamar affair with Peretz’s birth. The point is to lead us to free-associate—Peretz . . .

When we read of David’s genealogy and hear Peretz’s name, we think back to the last significant time Peretz was mentioned, at the conclusion of the Judah/Tamar story. And when we think forward to the Book of Ruth, Peretz’s name becomes associated with the birth of David, and the Messiah! Thus, our midrashic message of God creating the light of the Messiah is clarified.

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