Judah the Praised One
Judah the Praised One (literal meaning of his name in Hebrew) was the fourth, one of the twelve, son of Jacob from his original wife, Leah. He had five brothers on his mother’s side: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar and Zebulun; he also had six half-brothers on his father’s side. Judah played an important role in saving the life of his half-brother Joseph, when his brothers plotted to kill Joseph. Judah convinced them to sell him to the Ishmaelites merchants rather than to leave him to die in a pit.
Judah the Praised One married a Canaanite woman, daughter of Shua, with whom he had three sons: Er, Onan and Shelah. Judah’s son Er married Tamar, but God killed him because he was wicked in His eyes, leaving Tamar childless. As per tradition, Tamar became the wife of Judah’s son Onan, who was also killed by God because he refused to impregnate Tamar. Although Judah promised his youngest son Shelah to Tamar, Judah did not uphold his end of the bargain, resulting in Tamar pretending to be a prostitute and deceiving Judah into sleeping with her. She subsequently became pregnant with twins, Perez and Zerah.
The ancestry of both King David and Joseph, the husband of Mary, is traced back to Judah and Abraham. Judah the Praised One was also the head of the tribe of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of Israel and a region was named after him. Israel was divided into two kingdoms, Judah and Israel.
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