This is the third chapter of six of the series. Those of you that like soap operas and intrigue, this chapter is for you.
As we pointed out last time, it was forbidden for any of the children of Israel (Jacob) to marry any of the Canaanites. The Messianic bloodline was to flow from Abraham to the mother of the Messiah (Yeshua). Yehovah, the Supreme Spirit, was not going to have His human blood contaminated with Canaanite DNA, as you will later see.
I’m guessing from the text, that Dinah, the only named daughter of Jacob, was born about a year before Joseph, who was the eleventh son, and he was born in 2068 BC. Therefore, the year of 2051 BC was a year of tribulation for Jacob. First, Reuben got “tired of waiting”, and laid with Bilhah, one of his father’s concubines. Moses does not speak of the aftermath, but he clearly avoids explaining the history of Tamar, whom I believe was the daughter of Reuben and Bilhah. Tamar was not a Canaanite, and also was not Jacob’s daughter, but a Hebrew of Jacob’s family. It’s clear that the sons of Jacob had to wait to marry their half-sisters, or nieces…, if and when they became available. Reuben later ended up marrying a half-sister, and had four sons, and perhaps two other daughters.
Simeon, Jacob’s second son, also got “tired”, and had a son named Shaul of a Canaanite woman. He later married a half-sister and had five more sons and perhaps three daughters. Levi was “late”, and finally married a niece after they moved to Goshen. Judah was “early”, and married a Canaanite whose name was Shuah, who already had a daughter. This caused certain problems, especially for Shuah, and the resultant events let the (Tamar) “cat out of the bag”. But more on that later.
After learning that Bilhah was pregnant with Reuben’s child, Jacob learns that Rachel, the wife he loved, was pregnant. Next, the story of “the coat of many colors” occurs, when Joseph is sold into slavery by his ten older brothers. Judah can’t stand to be around the family because of the acute grieving of Jacob concerning the apparent loss of Joseph, so he leaves and ends up marring Shuah. Then, a couple of months before Dinah was eighteen, when she would be given to an uncle in marriage (not to a son of Leah), she “went out to see the daughters of the land”, not escorted.
A prince named Shechem, of a nearby city saw her, raped her, and took her to his home. He wanted to marry her and make her his princess. All of that was a big “no no”. The heathens would have to convert to (pre) Judaism. The king and his son pleaded with Jacob for their people to intermarry. For the city to convert to being Hebrews, all the males had to be circumcised. But on the third day after, when all the males “were in pain”, Simeon and Levi took swords, went into the city, and killed all of the males, and took back their sister. You can read the whole story in Genesis chapter 34. It’s unknown which family member Dinah ended up marrying. Maybe it was Naphtali or Dan, the sons of Bilhah.
News of the slaughter spread around the countryside. Judah retuned home with his pregnant wife and his stepdaughter, and the house of Jacob soon left the area after Bilhah gave birth to Tamar. They traveled to Bethel, and then to Ephrath, where Rachel had difficult labor. She died within hours of giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth son. All of this happened in the time period of 2051 BC to 2050 BC.
When Judah’s firstborn son named Er was of age in 2031 BC, Judah got Tamar to be his son’s wife. But Er was evil, and God killed him. Two years later, Judah gave Tamar to his second son named Onan, but God struck him down also, after he spilled his sperm on the ground, in order to not make Tamar pregnant.
Judah then tells Tamar to wait (four years?) “in her father’s house” for his third son (Shelah) to come of age. But Onan died in 2029 BC, and Judah’s stepdaughter died soon after, unmarried, one year after the household of Israel moved to Goshen in 2028 BC. In 2025 BC, while yet living with her father (Reuben) in Goshen, Tamar saw that Shelah was of age, and Judah had not given her to be his son’s wife, in order to give offspring in the name of Er, the deceased.
So, when Tamar is told that Judah was going up to Timnath (outside of Goshen) to shear his sheep, she goes there and pretends to be a harlot, and gets pregnant by Judah, her father-in-law. But Tamar married Er and later Onan while the family was yet in Canaan, therefore her father had to be an unnamed older Hebrew whom Moses fails to identify, trying to hide this “skeleton”. Reuben was her father, and Bilhah her mother. Tamar gave birth to Pharez (an ancestor of Yeshua), and his twin brother Zarah, in 2024 BC, four years after moving to Goshen. Only about forty-six people were in the family when they arrived in Goshen. The rest (of the seventy), Jacob saw during his lifetime while he lived in Egypt.
In the next chapter, the death of Jacob and the enslavement of Israel.