Perez was an underdog (in more ways than one), who rose to prominence among the descendants of Jacob.
To begin with, Perez (“breach”, “burst forth”) was the child of a union that should never have been.
His mother was Tamar, who had been married to Judah’s oldest son, Er. But, Er was killed by God because of an unnamed sin. Judah ordered his younger son, Onan, to father a child with Tamar so she would have a son who would be considered Er’s heir. Onan refused… and was struck dead by God. Judah then promised his 3rd son to Tamar, but changed his mind… afraid his younger son would die, too. Having no other way to ensure the survival of her family line, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and convinced Judah to sleep with her. The plan succeeded – Tamar conceived a child, and Judah, who initially planned to have Tamar burned to death, was shamed into silence when he realized the prostitute was his own daughter-in-law. Tamar and her unborn child had overcome the odds and triumphed.
Months later, as Tamar was about to give birth, it became obvious she was carrying not 1… but 2 children!
According to the Bible, one of the children’s arms appeared… and the mid-wife tied a string around it to indicate he was the firstborn… the rightful recipient of the double portion inheritance. But, that baby withdrew back into the womb, and the other twin came out first; this child was named Perez.
His story, though brief, echoes a recurring theme in the Bible… especially in Genesis: the weaker overcoming the stronger, and the second-born triumphing over the firstborn.
Perez would be an ancestor of Boaz, David, and- eventually – Jesus.
The story of Perez shows how God loves to bring beauty out of the messes we make. Make no mistake, God hates our sinful choices, but He allows us to make them and to suffer the consequences while promising to use those experiences for our eternal good.
What sinful choices have you made that you grieve over whenever you think about them? What stupid things have you said or done that you would love to take back if you could?
Take heart. Jesus came to take back those things. Like a sponge that cleans up a mess we’ve made, Jesus soaked up our sins with His death on the cross. We can be forgiven.
The birth of Jesus, our Savior, from Perez’s family line, is evidence of this truth.
You can read the story of Perez in Genesis 38:27-30.