Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

The Structure of Genesis 38: A Thematic Reading*

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Vetus Testamentum

AbstractThe relationship of the Judah-Tamar story in Genesis 38 to the so-called Joseph story in Genesis 37-50 has been much discussed. In this article, I am attempting to suggest a new perspective on the structure of Genesis 38. Through a narrative approach, I argue that this chapter can be understood according to Binary Thematic-Symmetrical Patterns and posit what I call the Bucket-Shaped Structure of the Judah-Tamar Story. The story consists of two main episodes (Episode I, vv. 1-19; Episode II, vv. 20-30), which are divided into six smaller sections (vv. 1-5, 6-11, 12-19, 20-23, 24-26, 27-30). It presents two leading characters: Judah and Tamar. Together they experience three common themes; these are, building up a family, shame and deceit. To the reader, the first theme looks positive (+), but the second and the third appear negative (-). In both Episode I and Episode II, the character of Judah enters early in the scenes (vv. 1-5, 20-23) and Tamar’s character occupies the ends of the episodes (vv. 12-19, 27-30). The narrator presents Tamar’s shame in section two (vv. 6-11) and her deceit in section three (vv. 12-19). Judah’s character is also shown in the same way (deceit, vv. 20-23, shame, vv. 24-26). These two episodes can be read as reflecting a dialectic process and could be represented as: Thesis (Episode I) + Antithesis (Episode II) = Synthesis (Establishing a Family). This symmetrical structure in the story of Genesis 38 highlights the significance of childbirth to both Judah and Tamar for securing the next generation within the larger Primary Narrative (Genesis—2 Kings).

Affiliations: 1: Seoul Christian University,


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Vetus Testamentum — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation