• Messianic Daily News

When Out of Order Is Really In Order

Featured Blog by Eric Tokajer

There are times when we are reading the Bible that we come to a place where in the

middle of an event, it seems as if an unrelated story or series of verses appears 

within the text. We know that every word in the Holy Scriptures was written by 

G-D’s design, so that means that these seemingly unrelated verses must, in some way, be related to the text found both before and after them. 

One such text is found in Genesis 38, which is the story of Judah and Tamar. This 

chapter is found folded between chapter 37, which tells of Joseph being sold into 

slavery by his brothers and chapter 39, which continues the narrative of Joseph’s life in slavery. Basically, if you read chapter 37, then turn past chapter 38 to chapter 39, 

we find a seamless continuity of the narrative of Joseph’s life. 

So, we must ask why the story of Judah and Tamar is placed in-between chapters 37 and 39 in such a way that it breaks up the story. When reading the text, it almost 

feels as if we turn the page and find that someone has bound a page from another 

book in the wrong location. Or, to put it into more modern terms, it seems as if for a 

few minutes, the channel gets changed and we begin to view a completely different 


Yet, because we know that the Bible is perfectly constructed, we know that chapter 

39 was placed where it is in the text because it belongs there. Knowing this, we, as 

the intended audience, must take the time to read the text to find the connection 

between these two seemingly disjointed events. Then we can find how these 

chapters become part of the Torah (instructions) for our lives. 

So, let’s take a look. In chapter 37, we read that Joseph’s brothers hate him enough 

to kill him. Judah convinces his brothers that instead of killing Joseph, it would be 

better for them to sell him into slavery. After selling Joseph into slavery, his brothers 

inform their father, Jacob, that an animal has killed Joseph. Then, we read that Jacob 

mourns the death of his son.

As we enter chapter 38, we find that Judah experiences the loss of two of his sons. 

Judah learns first-hand what his father went through when he and his brothers lied 

to Jacob about the death of Joseph. Judah feels the deep loss and pain of losing not 

just one, but two of his sons. It is this experience in Judah’s life that causes such 

repentance in him when later he is willing to become a slave in the place of 

Benjamin to keep his father from experiencing the pain of losing a second son.