Notes: Genesis 38-39

Judah and Er’s wife; Joseph and Potiphar’s wife


Genesis 38

What would you do after you and your brothers had just sold your little brother into slavery, faked his death, and  lied about it to your father?

I. Judah’s wife and sons (1-5:)

1: Judah left town

2: He married a Canaanite. (Whatever happened to the principle that sent Abraham’s servant on a journey to find a suitable bride for Isaac?)

3-5. He had three sons


II. Judah’s wicked sons (6-10:)

7: Er, Judah’s firstborn, left a childless widow after the Lord slew him for his wickedness

8-10: When the middle son refused to father a child by the widow and to preserve the elder brother’s name, the Lord slew him for wickedness, too.


III. Judah’s wickedness (11-19:)

11: The younger son was too young to marry at the time; but his father promised the widow that when the boy was of age he would wed the widow.

12-19: Some time later, when the boy was of marriageable age, the widow Tamar consented to the sexual proposition of the then widowed Judah who mistook her for a harlot because she had covered her face.

16-18: The price of one kid from the flock was agreed upon; and Judah’s signet, bracelets and staff were accepted in pledge of later payment


IV. Judah’s wait (20-23:)

21-23: When Judah’s friend attempted to find the “harlot” and to pay her and to retrieve the collateral items, she could not be found.


V. Judah’s witness (24-30:)

24-26: Tamar became pregnant with Judah’s child (actually, twins). Judah would have her burned for bearing children out of wedlock; but when she presented him with his own signet, bracelets and staff there was no need for a paternity test.

28-30: Someone at the birth of the twins really wanted to be sure to identify which of the two actually came out first; for a scarlet thread was tied around the first out-stretched hand.


Meditation Points:

  1. Oh, no; we can’t let you marry our sister because you haven’t been circumcised. Esau’s Canaanite wives were a grief to his parents. And then Judah marries a Canaanite himself.
  2. God justly slays the wicked.
  3. What made Onan’s act so heinous?
  4. If you don’t intend to remember your promises, you intentionally plan not to keep them.
  5. What does a harlot look like?
  6. Be sure your sin will find you out.


Genesis 39


I. Joseph brings prosperity to his master (1-6:)

3: The Lord made all that he did to prosper. He can do that. He can overrule all of the decisions that we freely but wrongly make. Aren’t you glad that He can?

5: Sunshine falls on the just and the unjust. If the sun is falling on me and you stand near me, then the sun will fall on you, too. God’s common grace works that way.


II. Joseph brings out passion in his master’s wife (7-12:)

7-8: Joseph refused her advances.

8-9: His master’s trust and His Master’s trust must not be betrayed.

10: Like the sinful women of the book of Proverbs, she was relentless in her attempts to seduce Joseph.

12: To flee fornication, Joseph had to leave his coat.


III. Joseph brought to prison (13-20:)

14-16: Embarrassed by the rejection, she cried for other servants to come and witness Joseph’s garment, and to hear her claim that Joseph had attempted to rape her.

16-18: She repeated this lie to her husband upon his arrival.

19-20: Potiphar believed his wife and placed Joseph in prison.


IV. Joseph brings prosperity to his warden (21-23:)

21: But the Lord was with Joseph–even in prison

21-22: God caused the prison keeper to be favorable towards Joseph.

22: Joseph became a trustee in the prison, with great responsibilities; even as he had been in charge of Potiphar’s house.

23: The Lord was with Joseph in all that he did.


Meditation Points:

  1. God is able to make what you do prosper. Is there anything that God cannot do?
  2. Improper sexual advances are inappropriate at all times–at home, at work, at play.
  3. When the pressure to sin is too great, run away from those who are applying the pressure; even if it means losing some possessions along the way.
  4. False cries of rape are as damaging to the innocent today as they were back then.
  5. Who wouldn’t believe his wife in the same situation?
  6. God is with His people wherever they are.
  7. False imprisonment is nothing new.
  8. Yes, there may be believers in prison.