Judah, being one of Jacob’s children, participated in a conspiracy to get rid of his half-brother Joseph by selling him into slavery in Egypt. Given the 20-year life expectancy of Egyptian slaves, being sold into slavery in Egypt was not salvation from death. It was death, postponed by much suffering. When Judah matured and himself became the father of three sons (two of whom died after marrying Tamar) he learned what it means to love someone too much. Despite the law of levirate marriage which obligated Judah to have his third son marry Tamar, year after year he refused. His love for his son trumped his sense of justice towards Tamar.
This continued until Tamar orchestrated one of the greatest redemptive breakthroughs in the history of the world – getting Judah himself to restore his dead son’s seed. Tamar disgraced herself, pretending to be a local prostitute. Her truly unconventional (but incredibly courageous) plan worked brilliantly. When Tamar was found to be pregnant and the truth about Judah’s relationship to the child was proven, Judah repented and declared Tamar innocent of any wrongdoing. Judah recognized his own sin and owned his guilt, rather than condemn Tamar. (Gen.38:1-27).
The book of Ruth celebrates Perez, the child of Tamar and Judah, as a crucial part of God’s redemptive plan and establishes him as the ancestor of King David (Ruth 4:11-17). Even more important, the Gospels include Perez among the forefathers of Jesus the Messiah and the Book of Revelation refers to Jesus as the Lion from the tribe of Judah! Perez, regardless of the circumstances of his birth, is an essential link in the chain that connects Jesus the Messiah and Judah, the son of Jacob.