Women Of The Bible
Read - Genesis 38:1-6
*Here we read that Judah, one of Jacob’s 12 sons, leaves his Hebrew/Israelite family community to marry a Canaanite woman. They had 3 sons together and it’s here that we are introduced to Tamar. Tamar was chosen to marry Judah’s oldest son Er.
Read – Genesis 38:7-8 and Deuteronomy 25:5-10
*So, Er died and Tamar was given to her brother in law to marry as per Deuteronomy 25:5.
Read – Genesis 38:9-11
*The whole reason Tamar had to marry Onan was to carry on her first husbands name. Onan refused to comply with this and he also died. Tamar is now twice widowed by no fault of her own. Her father in law reluctant to give her his third son sends Tamar back to her family telling her, Shelah was not old enough yet. Judah also charged her to remain a widow. Being sent back to her family would have created a stigma for Tamar. By law she was considered Shelah’s wife but she was a wife with no husband. Her future at this point did not look positive.
Read – Genesis 38:12-15
“Tamar wickedly prostituted herself as a harlot to Judah, that, if the son might not, the father might raise up seed to the deceased. Some excuse this by suggesting that, though she was a Canaanite, yet she had embraced the true religion, and believed the promise made to Abraham and his seed, particularly that of the Messiah, who was to descend from the loins of Judah, and that she was therefore thus earnestly desirous to have a child by one of that family that she might have the honour, or at least stand fair for the honour, of being the mother of the Messiah. And, if this was indeed her desire, it had its success; she is one of the four women particularly named in the genealogy of Christ. Her sinful practice was pardoned, and her good intention was accepted, which magnifies the grace of God, but can by no means be admitted to justify or encourage the like.” Matthew Henry Commentary Gen 38:12
Read – Genesis 38:16-19
*Here Judah is ignorantly committing incest with his daughter – in -law. Tamar was desperate to have her status reinstated and was willing to do what she did. If Judah had been faithful to the law and allowed Tamar to have his son Shelah perhaps this would not have happened.
Read – Genesis 38:20-23
*Judah had given away his identity as a pledge to Tamar or (harlot as Judah thought she was), for payment for her services. Judah tried to redeem his articles with a kid goat from his flock, but of course, they could not find her. Judah is then left without his staff, signet and bracelets that identify him. His identity was now in the hands of a harlot, who we know of course to be Tamar.
Read – Genesis 38:24
*It’s interesting that Judah was so quick to judge and condemn Tamar yet he himself was not leading a life that was fitting for a spiritual Israelite leader. Judah was next in line for the birthright from his father Jacob.
“Judah’s rigour against Tamar, when he heard she was an adulteress. She was, in the eye of the law, Shelah’s wife, and therefore her being with child by another was looked upon as an injury and reproach to Judah’s family: Bring her forth therefore, says Judah, the master of the family, and let her be burnt; not burnt to death, but burnt in the cheek or forehead, stigmatized for a harlot.” Matthew Henry Commentary Gen 38:24
Read – Genesis 38:25-26
*Judah admitted that he had wronged Tamar by withholding his 3rd son from her. The Bible tells us that they did not have any more intimate relations.
Read – Genesis 38:27-30
*Here the Bible tells us that Tamar had twin boys named Perez and Zerah.
Read Ruth 4:12, 18-22 and Matthew 1:1-3
A Woman’s life was hard and complex during this time as a woman’s survival and status was totally dependent on the male figures in her life. Tamar was not an Israelite yet she happened to get caught up with an Israelite/Canaanite blended family through marriage. Her life was complicated by being widowed twice and her rightful 3rd husband not given to her. Our study of Tamar is an amazing study of God’s grace as Tamar’s status in the family was eventually secured and restored through the birth of her twin boys which came through rather unconventional means. But through all of this her son Perez became part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. How has the story of Tamar changed your view on the grace of God?
Power Text – Nehemiah 9:31
“..For thou art a gracious and merciful God”.