Gen 38:1 “And it came about at that time,…” What time was it? Why would Scripture just say “about that time?” Let’s look at what Strong’s concordance has to say about time:
“and it came to pass at that time”: 6256: from 5703; time, especially (adverb with preposition) now, when, etc.:–+after, (al-)ways, X certain, + continually, + evening, long, (due) season, so (long) as, (even-, evening-, noon-)tide, ((meal-)), what) time, when
5703: from 5710; properly, a (peremptory) terminus, i.e. (by implication) duration, in the sense of advance or perpetuity (substantially as a noun, either with or without a preposition):–eternity, ever (-lasting, -more), old, perpetually, + world without end
5710: a primitive root; to advance, i.e. pass on or continue; causatively, to remove, specifically, to bedeck (i.e. bring an ornament upon):–adorn, deck (self), pass by, take away.
Many times we can tell what time it is by the Scripture itself…words such as firstfruits, firstlings, etc…indicate to us the season of festival present. We do not have any of those wordings here. What we do know is that just before this time, Joseph was sold and taken to Egypt, and Jacob thought he was dead. Let’s look now at what the sages teach about this:
38:1 Seeing their father’s inconsolable grief, the brothers turned on Judah. They told him, “We went along with your idea to sell him. Had you suggested that we return him to our father, we would have also listened to you.” At their insistence, Judah stepped down from his position of leadership over his brothers at that time.39 He moved away from them and entered into a business partnership witha man from Adulam by the name of Chirah.~The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Genesis 38:2-5 Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; and he took her and went in to her. So she conceived and bore a son and he named him Er. Then she conceived again and bore a son and named him Onan. She bore still another son and named him Shelah; and it was at Chezib that she bore him.
In the first five verses of chapter 38 we learn that Judah stepped down as leader of his brothers. While they were mourning, he went looking for a wife. He found one, a Canaanite woman named Shua.
Shua:7770: Shuwa` shoo’-ah the same as 7769; Shua, a Canaanite:–Shua, Shuah.
7769:shuwa` shoo’-ah from 7768; a halloo:–cry, riches.
7768:shava` shaw-vah’ a primitive root; properly, to be free; but used only causatively and reflexively, to halloo (for help, i.e. freedom from some trouble):–cry (aloud, out), shout.
Shua, for help, i.e. freedom from some trouble. Judah had some trouble he was trying to escape, and he found some freedom in his wife who then blessed him with three sons.
The Levirate Marriage
Let’s look at a little more symbolism:
“Parents” symbolize intellect and awareness.
“Children/Siblings” symbolize emotions and feelings.
When the Bible describes a situation of “brothers living together,” it is also referring to two forms of human emotions represented by the two siblings.
The first category of emotions, symbolized by one of the “brothers,” is described as conscious emotions born from man’s awareness and cognition…in other words, our physical conscious that we use to rationalize things daily.
The second category of emotions, symbolized by the second of the “brothers,” is described as super-conscious (subconscious) feelings, stemming from the primal formations of the human psyche, transcending our conscious awareness and cognition.
The emotions experienced in our conscious personality often originate within the super-conscious, but are contracted and filtered by our brain prior to their emerging in our conscious heart. There is, however, a much deeper and primal level in which each of us professes incredibly profound, paradoxical, and rich yearnings, cravings, and experiences that may never make their way to the fore of conscious emotional landscape. So a situation of “brothers living together,” one of them marrying and having children, metaphorically represents the healthy and functional individual whose super-conscious emotions fuel and give birth to his more structured conscious experiences and interactions. These in turn allow this person to form relationship with people outside of himself, represented by marriage, and together create fruits that can impact the world and its future, represented by children and grandchildren. (Yosef Y Jacobson)
A Heart Dies
But sometimes a situation occurs “when brothers live together, and one of them dies childless.” The Scripture is referring to the death of the conscious heart of man, describing the tragedy of a human being whose blaze of love, inspiration, enthusiasm, and caring has been extinguished. In lieu of a vibrant, passionate, sparkling spirit who knows how to cry and laugh, how to embrace and let go, this person turns into a numb and frozen creature, paralyzed and shut off. The first “brother,” the feelings and emotions that give life its twinkly and passion, is dead.
During such moments we often succumb to emptiness and despair, and the first victims of our depression are those with whom we built relationships. When our flow of inspiration dries up, we tend to withdraw into a cocoon, isolating ourselves from the world, from our loved ones, and from ourselves. We feel depressed and “childless,” unmotivated to have an impact that might outlast our physical lives. (Yosef Y Jacobson)
Accessing Higher Emotions
The Scripture declares, “The wife of the deceased man shall not marry outside to a strange man; her brother-in-law shall come to her, and take her to himself as a wife, and perform levirate marriage.”
“The wife of the deceased man” alludes to the soul of the human being whose emotions (the first “brother”) have died. In such an instance, the Scripture instructs you not to sell your destiny to the devil of depression, allowing for the death of your marriage and your dreams. Now that all of your conscious passions are lost, it is time to call in the “second brother” – your higher, super-conscious, infinite powers – to fill the shoes of the first brother and perpetuate the relationships that the first brother began.
What this means on a practical level is that when you are standing at an emotional abyss, ready to fall into oblivion, you must know that deeply embedded within your spirit lies an incredibly profound and heroic spark. You may not be able to fully comprehend it, but if you believe in it and embrace it, it will carry you through the times of desolation. (Yosef Y Jacobson)
The Lowest and Highest Moment
Once you have truly fallen, you are capable of accessing the most profound part of your soul, that super-conscious spark of infinity that embodies the endless light of God implanted within the human condition. Until the fall, you rely on the more external dynamics of your personality, since they are functioning nicely. But when these parts of your identity go “out of commission,” you are compelled to dig deeper and touch the depth of depths, the quantum level of your conscious. So, your lowest moment is essentially your highest moment.
And when you do embrace this level of self and allow it to emerge in the time of crisis, “the first born son who she bears will then perpetuate the name of the dead brother, so that his name will not be obliterated from Israel.” This means that as time goes on, you will regain “the name of the dead brother.” In other words, your conscious passions and emotions will be resurrected.
It is precisely during the time of the fall that the intimacy between God and us reaches its most profound point. (Yosef Y Jacobson)
Luke 18:7 “Don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
Dear Father, you birth in us dreams, divine missions, and a path for us to follow. Sometimes this life throws us curves which steer us away from our path, which make us lose our focus. Thank you for implementing the levirate marriage, to pull us up from the depths that we fall. Thank you for the insights you have provided to us in this post. Thank you for the revelation of Your word. As I see many being ensnared in the judgment trap, see them dying as the first brother, I ask you to restore them to their true first love, You! Father, restore us so that we will bless You and bring glory and honor to You. Restore us so that others will not see a dead and decaying body, but a functional and loving body. Lord, restore us so that others will see YOU alive in us. This, Lord, is my intercession day and night! Thank you for opening our eyes, unplugging our ears, and showing us where we err so that we, with your help, can rise up and be the bride Christ is looking for. In Jesus name. Amen.
- Daily bread from the life of Y´shua (ivarfjeld.com)
- The Place of Prayer (prayercommunicationwithgod.wordpress.com)
- United Intercession (prayercommunicationwithgod.wordpress.com)
- Dealing with Emotions (resteam.wordpress.com)