Genesis Challenge | Chapter 38: Judah’s Trial of Faith

Judah’s trial of faith was a spectacular failure. His actions over a period of years as recorded in Genesis 38, show his faithlessness on many levels. We will see Judah change for the better in future chapters, but at this point he and his brothers seem to be far from any deep personal walk with God. Here are some important points to look for in this “soap opera” of Judah’s life:

  • In verse 1, Judah separates from his brothers. Although the Bible does not give any specific reason why he did this, it may be connected with the brothers’ actions against Joseph chapter 37, and particularly vs. 26ff. Remember it was Judah’s idea to spare Joseph’s life and sell him into slavery instead. Do you think he was disgusted with his brothers? Was he struggling with his own guilt? Did he feel he couldn’t face his father?
  • Judah does not seem to have bothered with a formal marriage to Shua’s daughter. There isn’t much information about this woman, and most likely the Bible is silent because there wasn’t much good to be said of her. Their sons seem to have been very disappointing to Judah (and to God).
  • Why did Judah fail to do the right thing by his daughter-in-law, Tamar (see Deuteronomy 25:5-10)?
  • Tamar responded to deceitfully to Judah in much the same way she herself had been treated. Why do you think she didn’t take advantage of the provisions of Deuteronomy 25?
  • From the scant evidence of the chapter, what kind of friend was Hirah the Adullamite?
  • If you look at the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:3 and Luke 3:33, you will see Judah, Tamar, and Perez listed as an ancestors. What insights do you gain from this about about how God uses people?


As you work your way through this chapter, use these four questions as guides for discovery and personal growth:

  • Find at least one new fact.
  • Discover at least one cultural difference between times in Genesis and our own culture.
  • Pinpoint any faith principles you see.
  • Select one attitude, behavior, or action that you want to apply in your own life.

You will find it helpful to keep a journal or log to record your thoughts, questions, and findings. Please feel free to share what you are learning on the Aspect Ministries Facebook page.