Decisions we make when hormones rise can become permanent.
The story of Judah in Genesis chapter 38 is one that has so many interesting takeaways. In fact, the story is so shameful that one might wonder why Jesus had to come from the tribe of Judah and not that of Joseph. More troubling is also that the Messiah came from the lineage of Pharez – one of the twins that were the products of Judah’s sexual escapade (Genesis 38:29; Matthew 1:3.)
Well, it is known that God doesn’t see us just as we are but as we can be if we turn to him (2 Cor. 3:16; Hebrews 10:17).
Judah leaves Home
Judah who was 15 or 16 years at the time, left his brethren and went to stay with a Canaanite friend called Hirah. So active was his testosterone at that age that he decided to get a wife, and it would seem, without the consent of his godly father, Jacob. He saw the daughter of Shuah, a Canaanite, asked her hand in marriage and immediately went in to satisfy his urge and make babies.
His rash hormonal decision wasn’t tamed after his marriage because we also see that before his first son, Er could mature physically, emotionally and in grace, he got a wife for him named Tamar. This wrong decision gave rise to the series of events that would shake his family.
Er was an evil man and God killed him. Judah asked his second son, Onan to take Tamar as his wife. Onan displeased God by his resentful actions and God slew him also.
Please note that it was customary, and lawful afterwards, for siblings to marry the widow of their elder brother to raise seeds for the deceased (Deuteronomy 25:5; Matthew 22:24).
Now, after the death of Onan, Judah was wary of marrying off his youngest son Shelah to Tamar. He may have thought that Tamar was responsible for the death of his two sons Er and Onan. He may also have learnt his lessons and didn’t want Shelah to marry young. Hence the promise to Tamar that Shelah be allowed to grow up a bit.
Judah goes to Timnath
Well, that lasted for a while because Judah’s hormones again kicked in after the death of his wife. One day he was on his way to Timnath together with that same friend Hirah. He went to feast with his sheep-shearers and be jolly. Shelah was now grown but by design or negligence Judah refused to marry him off to Tamar, who at this time had returned to her father’s house at Judah’s command.
Tamar had a prior notice of this occasion and imitated the harlots that consecrated themselves to the worship of Astarte – she covered herself with a veil. She sat in an open place strategic enough to capture the wanton eyes of Judah and sensual enough to elicit testosteronic responses.
Spending the night with her was simply inevitable – her speech was comely; her eyes like those of the dove; her ivory neck though covered with a veil looked like the tower of David; with lips that dropped as the honeycomb and her two breasts were like two young roes that are twins, which feed among lilies.
But his inability to recognise her face during the intercourse nor her voice during the bargain is unexplainable except she was covered through the entire process and her voice mute. Or his heart was ravished by her perfume.
Permanent hormonal decision
These sensual stimuli were so powerful that Judah’s common sense and logic were inhibited. No wonder he parted with his signet, bracelet and most importantly, his staff.
A signet is a seal with one’s name on it or an emblem that is worn around the neck of wealthy men or those in position because it was used to certify all legal documents. So, documents could be falsified and your reputation destroyed if you misplaced or lost it. Wealthy men and those in position also wore bracelets. Sometimes signets were a part of the bracelets.
And how about the staff that had the name of the wealthy men that carried it inscribed on it? Tamar knew this and specifically asked for them.
And Judah released them without blinking. He was very sure that his back-friend Hirah would be able to redeem his pawn with a kid. Passion and pleasure had overcome reason and prudence!
After his escapade, Judah went home, and sent his canaanite friend to Timnath. Shame couldn’t allow the son of Jacob to go in search of a harlot; to knock on doors, stop by the wayside to inquire of a prostitute that lurked for a precious soul. Tamar was nowhere to be found and Judah, thinking to protect his ‘reputation’ withdrew from searching for her.
Your sins will find you out.
But our sins will always find us out (Numbers 32:23). As the writer in gotquestions.org puts it “The nature of sin is such that, whether or not others discover your sin, your sin will “discover you.” You cannot run from the consequences. Sin carries within itself the power to pay the sinner back, and sin’s payback is hell. Don’t even think about toying with sin. It cannot be tamed, outrun, or shaken off. No matter how safe you think you are, if you are a sinner, your sin will find you out.”
After about three months, Judah learnt that Tamar, his daughter in-law was pregnant. And as the case with some men is – the hypocritical men who judge others that are more righteous than themselves; who see the moth in the eyes of others but are unable to see the beam in their own eyes – Judah thundered “BURN HER ALIVE” according to the code of the Hammurabi that was in force in Canaan.
On learning about Judah’s self-righteous verdict, Tamar unearthed her design – to prove that Judah was guilty of worse sins than her and I’d add, that he has serious issues with controlling the chemical substance produced in his testes. Judah craftily withdrew the punishment because he was a partner in crime and would have suffered the same punishment.
You see, the production and release of these hormones might well be out of your control but your response to sensual stimuli is to some extent within your territorial dominance. Don’t take hormonal decisions that you’ll live to regret.
My father will always tell me “Chibi, no matter how powerful your teachings and prayers may be, always remember that you are still a man.”
Hormones rise, reach a plateau, and decline but the decisions we make during these phases may remain permanent and never phase out. You can ask Amnon (2 Samuel 13).