Let’s start this post by asking a question. How do you think God uses you, personally? Why does He use you this way? Even right now, with the story you have lived in the past, and are currently living, whether smooth or bumpy?
This post starts a series on 5 women in scripture who are connected to each other even though living in different biblical time periods. So, start by thinking of what you know about being a woman in the middle eastern ancient world. What challenges did they have? How would you navigate life if you had lived there in that time frame?
Let’s take a look at Tamar first. What do you know about this woman? Feel free to read Genesis 38 to find out some details about her.
Her father-in-law was Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, and the leader of one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Judah was the brother who saved Joseph when he was in danger of being killed by his other jealous brothers (a story for another time!)
Tamar married Judah’s oldest son Er whom the Lord put to death because he was evil. Following ancient custom, Judah ordered Onan, second oldest, to sleep with her and have a son who would serve as Er’s son. But, he “spilled his semen” so she wouldn’t get pregnant, because then he would have to share his inheritance with her! So the Lord put evil Onan to death as well. Judah told her to remain in his home till the youngest son, Shelah, grew up. But because Judah was afraid this son too would die, he never fulfilled his promise for this son to marry Tamar.
This left Tamar with no support in that day and time, therefore she devised a scheme to get her rightful inheritance from Judah’s family. She disguised herself as a prostitute, and widower Judah fell for it. Read Genesis 38 for all the details, but she tricked him into giving her his one of a kind signet ring so there is no question who she slept with that ended in her pregnancy with twins. Now she had financial security with her rightful inheritance.
So much deceit in this family that can actually be traced back to dishonest-at-times Abraham. And many others in between him and his offspring Judah. We see the obvious reality of human sinfulness back then that still exists today.
So, let me ask another question. Do you think Tamar did wrong, or was she justified?
And if you had power to remove this story from scripture would you? God included this in the Bible for us to read and see as a part of His story. What do you think we can learn from this story?
As you continue to read this series, I will add 4 other women and eventually reveal their connection in God’s story…if you don’t figure it out before #5!