A Christian Journey

The Scarlet Thread

“And when she was in labor, one baby put out his hand and the midwife took his hand and bound upon it a scarlet thread, saying, This baby was born first.”   Genesis 38:28  Amplified

Our woman of the Bible for today is Tamar.  Now I’m sure you’ve never heard of her, and the only reason I bring her story up is because of the scarlet thread in today’s verse.

Tamar’s story falls just after the beginning of the story of Joseph.  We all know Joseph, the poor kid picked on by his brothers and sold into slavery, but who later saved their lives. 

A side story is told of Judah, one of Joseph’s brothers who withdrew from his brothers and went to live somewhere else.  He married a Canaanite (pagan) woman and had three sons.  The oldest, named Er, married Tamar, but the Bible says Er was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord slew him.  We don’t know what he did that was so wicked or how God killed him, but He did.   Judah wanted his second son, Onan, to marry Tamar, but Onan really didn’t want to so he prevented her from conceiving. God wasn’t happy with what son number two did so He killed him.   Judah’s third son was too young to marry, so he tells Tamar to remain a widow and go back to live with her family. When Judah’s third son was grown he forgot about Tamar.  When his wife passes away he travels to the area where Tamar is living.  She hears that he’s in the area and disguises herself, Judah thinks she’s a prostitute and has sex with her.  When it comes time to pay her the only thing he had was his signet seal and cord, signifying who he was, so he leaves that with her saying he would send payment later.  He tries to find her later but can’t and so he just forgets about it.  Three months later he’s told that Tamar is pregnant by pretending to be a whore and he says she should be burned.  She comes forward with his signet and seal and he confesses to being the father stating, “She has been more righteous and just than I, because I did not give her to my third son.”

When it came time for her to deliver, there were twins in her womb.  Our verse today states that one baby put his hand out and a scarlet thread was put on it.  The verse goes on to say that the baby drew its hand back and the other baby was born first.

The reason I included this story is because Judah, these two babies, Perez and Zerah, as well as Tamar are named in the lineage of Jesus found in Matthew.

This story has some similarities to Jesus, His story and even eternal life.  Scarlet, represents blood, here we see it runs from Genesis through the Bible to Revelation.  The first child born with the scarlet thread pulls back and allows the other child to be born first.  This could be symbolic of Adam and Jesus.  Tamar was going to be burned, symbolizing hell, but having Judah’s signet and seal she is saved.   Judah was an Israelite but yet he says Tamar, a pagan, was the righteous one.  This speaks to me that God doesn’t care where you came from, only that you come to Him.


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