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Of what significance, if any, is Leah's final surrender to God at the birth of Judah about Jacob not loving her, in that God chose Judah to be the tribe of ancestry for the Messiah?

And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing. [Genesis 29:35 KJV]

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  • No one can question Jehovah. He chose Judah notwithstanding his past. Jehovah still chooses men today. Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 10:43

4 Answers 4

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Judah was chosen mainly because the first three brothers had disqualified themselves before Jacob blessed his sons. Ruben by sleeping with Bilhah and Simeon together with Levi by killing the Shechemites.

Nevertheless, the only two sons of Israel with God's name as part of their own name are Judah ''Jehovah odeh – praise Jehovah'' and Joseph (Jehoseph in Psalm 81:5) ''Jehovah shall add''. The fact that both are a type of the messiah (messiah ben Judah and messiah ben Joseph) can not be a coincidence.

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  • Why then, according to your answer, did Judah not disqualify himself when He slept with Tamar? To me that chapter in Genesis is like a underlining of Judah's bad character.
    – user49416
    Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 17:19
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    The actions of Ruben, Simeon and Levi were all directly against Jacob's will and undermined his authority as the leader of the family. Not so much with Judah. Also, by offering his own life for Benjamin, Judah proved to be a changed man and the right candidate for the messiah's forefather. Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 22:27
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The answer to this involves the sequence of Leah's first four sons (as recorded in Gen 29) as follows:

  1. (V31, 32) Reuben = "Look: a son!", or, "He has seen my misery"
  2. (V33) Simeon = "one who hears"
  3. (V34) Levi = "being attached", or, feeling affection for"
  4. (V35) Judah = "praise", or, "praised"

The narrative in Gen 29 makes these names a reflection of the Leah's feelings in her family situation at the time of giving birth. There is no suggestion either in the narrative itself or with the benefit of hind-sight that Leah was prophetic or inspired to so name the children as she did.

Indeed, the fact that "Judah" (Yehudah in Hebrew) means praise does not say anything about whether or not Judah was to produce the future king of Israel. The name simply reflects the fact that Leah praised God for making her so productive and her rival (Rachel) so unproductive; in a culture where the value of a wife was measured in children, this was a great victory of Leah who correctly felt "unloved" (Gen 29:31, 32, 33.

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Judah was chosen more likely be established at time of Jacob's blessing. Genesis 49:10 (NIV) read

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

If it was established by name, the youngest son Benjamin means "son of my right hand", wasn't Benjamin more likely be the chosen one?

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Leah's words were certainly significant. However, in my opinion, any benefit to Judah at this point was preliminary, depending on how Judah lived and responded to providential challenges. In my opinion, God chose Judah because he protected two providential people: Joseph and Tamar.

Joseph

In Gen. 27, Judah, along with Reuben, spoke up to cleverly protect Joseph from his brothers' plot to murder him:

They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild beast has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” ...and they took him and cast him into a pit. The pit was empty, there was no water in it... Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ish′maelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers heeded him.

Tamar

Judah had unknowingly conceived two sons with Tamar after he refused to give her his third son as a husband. Judah's line would have been wiped out if he carried out his plan to execute her after she turned up pregnant.

About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; and moreover she is with child by harlotry.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.” And she said, “Mark, I pray you, whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” Then Judah acknowledged them and said, “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not lie with her again. (Gen. 38:24-26)

Judah was chosen in part because he helped to prevent Joseph's murder. But his true blessing came because he saved Tamar. However, "she is more righteous than I" is a hint that God's blessing was given to Judah's lineage not because anything he or his mother did, but because of the life-risking courage of Tamar, one of the greatest women in the Bible.

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