“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (Genesis 49: 10).
After Judah recognized that he had wronged Tamar (Gen. 38:26), his role in Jacob’s household became more and more prominent. We see him convincing his father to let Benjamin travel to Egypt (something that Ruben, the firstborn had already tried unsuccessfully). He acts as the main negotiator before the Egyptian governor when he [Joseph] says that Benjamin cannot return home. He utters a convincing and humble speech, offering himself as a slave in Benjamin’s place (Gen. 44). He serves as the family leader when his father sends him to Joseph to announce his arrival at Goshen (Gen. 46:28).
The peak of Judah’s success story and that of his tribe can be found in Genesis 49. There, we can find Jacob’s prophetic words for each of his sons as he lies on his deathbed. For some, he utters blessings; for others, curses. He associates some with victories in battles; he exalts the character traits of others. To some he dedicates one paragraph; to others, one single line. The longest utterances are for Judah and Joseph. Both are filled with blessings. It is precisely Judah who receives the primogeniture. It is Judah who is honored to have authority over his brothers, who obtains e greatest victories and rules the land of Judea. The members of his tribe (yehudim) gave the name that is used today to identify his nation throughout the world: the Jews.
Of course, for the Christian, the meaning of that name is even more powerful, because as we can see in today’s verse, the authority will not be taken away from Judah until the coming of the Messiah (Shiloh), who will defeat death and sin to eternally save mankind. From a genealogical point of view, Jesus of Nazareth was to be born from the linage of Judah, through his son Pharez, his nephew Esron, and so on, all the way to Joseph and Mary, the Messiah’s earthly parents.
What an inspiring lesson we can learn from Judah’s life; a man who ran away from his family to live a lifestyle contrary to God’s plans! However, when he confessed his mistake, God took control of his life and used him to do much good. This Spanish proverb is indeed true: «God writes straight with crooked lines.»
Remember that even if you have made serious mistakes, God can rewrite your story and make right what was wrong, as long as you confess your mistakes.