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Judah, Son of Jacob 

In the Book of Genesis, Judah was considered the founder and leader of the Tribe of Judah of the Israelites and can be found on the Bible Timeline around 1704 BC. He was Jacob and Leah’s fourth son, whose name means “praise” or “thanksgiving”. As mentioned in Genesis 29:35, upon giving birth to Judah, Leah sang praises to the Lord for having been blessed with a son.

In the Scriptures, Judah had several brothers including Reuben, Levi, Simeon, Zebulun and Issachar. In the Bible, narrations on Judah’s birth was followed by stories about how he and his brothers were jealous of Joseph, who was the favorite son of their father. When they had the chance they took Joseph and threw him into a pit and debated about what should be done with him. In Genesis 37:26-28, it was Judah who saw an Ishmaelite caravan passing them at that moment. The said caravan was bound for Egypt, and Judah suggested that instead of killing Joseph, he should be sold as a slave to this group of people. He believed it was better to gain profit from selling Joseph, which the other brothers took as a wise suggestion.

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Judah and Tamar

Eventually, Judah was wed to a Canaanite, who was the daughter of Shua. He soon had three children named Er, Onan, and Shelah. When Er died after marrying Tamar, Onan took her in based on what was the custom that prevailed during that time. However, Onan died, and before his death, he refused to have any children with Tamar. Based on the custom, Tamar had a choice to marry Shelah, yet Judah was against it. However, Tamar decided to trick Judah by disguising herself as a prostitute. The two had intercourse, and this resulted in Tamar’s pregnancy. Upon discovering that he was tricked, Judah attempted to have Tamar killed, but what stopped him from doing so was the revelation that he was the father of the unborn child.

Joseph and Judah

Joseph and his family reunite.

After Joseph had been sold as a slave, he experienced great fortunes in the land of Egypt. In fact, he soon was awarded a high position, and he became successful about 20 years after his brothers’ betrayal.

When the brothers came to Egypt, they did not recognize at first that it was Joseph whom they were speaking with. An incident happened during their visit, and Simeon was told to remain as a hostage. And would only be released as soon as Benjamin another of Jacob’s sons was brought to the palace upon the brothers’ next visit.

Judah spoke to Jacob and assured his father that Benjamin would be kept safe during their return to Egypt. However, another incident occurred, and Joseph ordered for Benjamin to stay in Egypt as his slave. Judah, who was responsible for Benjamin, decided to plead by taking the place of their youngest brother instead, until Joseph finally revealed his real identity upon discovering that his brothers have changed for the better.

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14 thoughts on “Judah, Son of Jacob 

  1. I see Judah as a type of the believer. Joseph being a type of Christ, and his exhaltation a picture of the ascended Christ, yet unrevealed to Judah. Judah with his past sins, takes responsibility for them (for Tamar also earlier), and lays his own life down for Benjamin. It is then that Joseph reveals himself, as Christ does to the believer, as he or she lays her own life down for Christ!

  2. My question is I want to know how Judah was died

  3. I see him as being a rat, he took up with what he thought was a prostitute then found out she was pregnant and was going to have her killed for being immoral. Fortunately she had his personal possessions and he found out he was the father. He decided not to kill her since he was the father. I think it was a double standard and thankfully Tamar was smarter than him. Also he was not following Jewish law because he was suppose to give her to his third son. He also married outside his Jewish heritage ( against the laws) married a Shua, not within his heritage at the very start. I am at a loss to know how any of that looks Christ like as sited by some here.

    1. Yes he was not a good example of a believer in God. Actually many of those patriarchs had a real messy life. But thank God there is such thing as grace.

      1. He is the forefather of CHRIST, Judah was the first Jew ever on earth.

        1. Not so. Abraham was the First Jew.

          1. No Abraham wasn’t a Jew. He was a Hebrew, Jews came from Judah. JESUS CHRIST is the LION of the Tribe of Judah.
            Revelation 5:5
            Hebrews 7:14

    2. Its not a double standard. Its GOD’s law Judah was following.

  4. I think it is important that we remember the purpose behind the story of Judah. The sovereign God of Creation takes fallen men and women who have serious moral character failings and redeems them. He redeems them for good purposes that bring benefit to others. There is no need for me to repeat the failures of Judah. Many have already pointed out his failures. What is significant to see is how his life ended. God took Judah from being a man who had no problem selling his brother into slavery or fornicating with prostitutes or lying to and breaking covenant with his daughter-in-law, and changed him into a man who was willing to give up his own life for his brother (Benjamin). This change did not occur overnight. It took roughly 2 decades. The change that took place in Judah was entirely God’s work of grace. The story of Judah is not so much about Judah as it is about God’s sovereign purposes and plans. Even the failings and sinful acts of fallen men and women cannot thwart the purposes of the Lord to redeem all of Creation.
    In the end Judah and his brothers and their families were very blessed to live out their lives in relative peace and prosperity in the Land of Goshen in Egypt. It was only several generations later that that entire nation fell into slavery in Egypt. Why? Because there are two primary reasons for that situation. First, the people of Israel abandoned their faith in God and became corrupted by the sinful idolatries of the Egyptians. Second, there arose a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph, There arose a generation of Egyptians who had no memory of the great work that Joseph had accomplished on behalf of Egypt. This is another story in God’s great work of redemption of mankind.

    1. Amazing answer!!!!!

    2. Thank you! This makes his story so clear.

  5. Thank you, your explanation was beautiful. Thank our God for his mercy and grace. Judah simply represents all of us, sinners, that can only be truly made righteous through Christ.

  6. I truly enjoyed the comments about Juda and God’s grace.

  7. God uses imperfect people who make mistakes to accomplish His plans! Judah is the patriarch from whom comes the southern Kingdom of Judah, the line of David, and the line of Jesus Christ. God had this in His plan from the beginning!

    David also sinned against God by having an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, arranging the death of her husband and marrying her. God takes their first son, but later they have a son Solomon who is also in the line to Jesus!

    God’s Ways are not our ways.

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