Judah’s place in Israel’s history

by Narelle Atkins

Judah may not be as well known as his younger brother, Joseph, but he plays an important role in Israel’s history and God’s plan of salvation through Jesus. Judah is Jacob’s fourth son and his mother is Leah, Jacob’s first wife.

Jacob wrestles with God in Genesis 32:22-32 before he faces his estranged brother, Esau. In Genesis 27 we learn how Jacob, the younger son, had tricked his father Isaac into giving him the blessing intended for his elder brother, Esau. Jacob does not give in and wrestles with God until dawn. God blesses Jacob by giving him a new name, Israel, and Jacob’s twelve sons are the forefathers of the twelve tribes of Israel.

In Genesis 12:1-3 God made a covenant with Abraham, Judah’s great grandfather. Part of the covenant included God blessing all nations through Abraham and his descendents. When Jacob is old and knows his days on earth are numbered, he gathers his sons around him and blesses them.

Genesis 49:8-12 explains how Jacob blessed Judah and his descendents. Jacob tells Judah that his brothers will praise his name and bow down to him, and verse 10 includes references attributed to Judah’s descendents, King David and Jesus. Judah’s three older brothers were wicked and lost their birthright of leadership, which Jacob ultimately gave to Judah.

Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:21-38 outline the genealogy of Jesus and Judah’s place as a forefather of Jesus.