Genesis – First, God
Sometimes we wonder why some stories are placed within the pages of God’s Word. But remember, the ultimate story is about God and His grace. With this thought in mind, read with wonder about God. Read, knowing God is in control and will work all things out for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28). Read knowing that Tamar is used by God to continue the genetic line to the birth of our Savior, His Son, Jesus Christ. God thinks higher thoughts, much higher than ours. He is working with very imperfect humans, (such as ourselves), to accomplish his will, purpose and mission for His glory and for our salvation.
The Bible is silent as to Tamar’s genealogy. All we know is that she was a Canaanite as her heathen name suggests, and that when widowed the second time, she returned to her father’s home, but who he was and where he lived we are not told. What we do know is that when she married into the family of Judah, heartache and tragedy were her lot.
Genesis 38, The Message
1-5 About that time, Judah separated from his brothers and hooked up with a man in Adullam named Hirah. While there, Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua. He married her, they went to bed, she became pregnant and had a son named Er. She got pregnant again and had a son named Onan. She had still another son; she named this one Shelah. They were living at Kezib when she had him.
6-7 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn. Her name was Tamar. But Judah’s firstborn, Er, grievously offended God and God took his life.
8-10 So Judah told Onan, “Go and sleep with your brother’s widow; it’s the duty of a brother-in-law to keep your brother’s line alive.” But Onan knew that the child wouldn’t be his, so whenever he slept with his brother’s widow he spilled his semen on the ground so he wouldn’t produce a child for his brother. God was much offended by what he did and also took his life.
11 So Judah stepped in and told his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow at home with your father until my son Shelah grows up.” He was worried that Shelah would also end up dead, just like his brothers. So Tamar went to live with her father.
12 Time passed. Judah’s wife, Shua’s daughter, died. When the time of mourning was over, Judah with his friend Hirah of Adullam went to Timnah for the sheep shearing.
13-14 Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law has gone to Timnah to shear his sheep.” She took off her widow’s clothes, put on a veil to disguise herself, and sat at the entrance to Enaim which is on the road to Timnah. She realized by now that even though Shelah was grown up, she wasn’t going to be married to him.
15 Judah saw her and assumed she was a prostitute since she had veiled her face. He left the road and went over to her. He said, “Let me sleep with you.” He had no idea that she was his daughter-in-law.
16 She said, “What will you pay me?”
17 “I’ll send you,” he said, “a kid goat from the flock.”
She said, “Not unless you give me a pledge until you send it.”
18 “So what would you want in the way of a pledge?”
She said, “Your personal seal-and-cord and the staff you carry.”
He handed them over to her and slept with her. And she got pregnant.
19 She then left and went home. She removed her veil and put her widow’s clothes back on.
20-21 Judah sent the kid goat by his friend from Adullam to recover the pledge from the woman. But he couldn’t find her. He asked the men of that place, “Where’s the prostitute that used to sit by the road here near Enaim?”
They said, “There’s never been a prostitute here.”
22 He went back to Judah and said, “I couldn’t find her. The men there said there never has been a prostitute there.”
23 Judah said, “Let her have it then. If we keep looking, everyone will be poking fun at us. I kept my part of the bargain—I sent the kid goat but you couldn’t find her.”
24 Three months or so later, Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law has been playing the whore—and now she’s a pregnant whore.”
Judah yelled, “Get her out here. Burn her up!”
25 As they brought her out, she sent a message to her father-in-law, “I’m pregnant by the man who owns these things. Identify them, please. Who’s the owner of the seal-and-cord and the staff?”
26 Judah saw they were his. He said, “She’s in the right; I’m in the wrong—I wouldn’t let her marry my son Shelah.” He never slept with her again.
27-30 When her time came to give birth, it turned out that there were twins in her womb. As she was giving birth, one put his hand out; the midwife tied a red thread on his hand, saying, “This one came first.” But then he pulled it back and his brother came out. She said, “Oh! A breakout!” So she named him Perez (Breakout). Then his brother came out with the red thread on his hand. They named him Zerah (Bright).
WHAT WE LEARN…( With help from “All the Women of the Bible”)
Learning that Tamar had been playing the harlot, he commanded, “Bring her forth and let her be burnt.” But when he learned that he was the cause of her guilt, Judah was compelled to vindicate Tamar and was forced to admit that she had been more righteous. Judah was motivated in his despicable conduct by sensual lust alone, but Tamar by nobler motives, namely, to become the mother of Judah’s tribal representative.
Twin sons were Lorn of that incestuous union, Pharez, or Perez, and Zerah. Through Pharez Judah and Tamar became ancestors of Jesus (Matthew 1:3).
Shocked as we are by the incestuous way Tamar sought to aid the perpetuation of Judah’s line, a fruitful race followed, “God not sanctioning but over-riding evil to His own good purpose” (Ruth 4:12, 18; Romans 3:5-8).
It shocks our inner, finer feelings to see Christ’s lineage interwoven with such abhorrent degradation as we have in this chapter (Genesis 38). We cannot but wonder how Judah and Tamar have the distinction of mention in that sacred genealogy of Jesus Christ, but as Bishop Hall expressed it, “God’s election is only by Grace, for otherwise Judah would never have been chosen.”
THINK ABOUT IT…
Judah was a Jew; Tamar, a Gentile, and thus their parentage of Pharez (Matthew 1:3) can be looked upon as a foreshadowing of the fact that both Jews and Gentiles were to share in the blessings of the Gospel.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16, NIV
God is for all, no matter what we’ve done, where we’ve been, God loves us. We can come to Him as we are, in the midst of our sin and be made clean. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8) is how God thinks, how God saves us and restores us to a right, holy relationship with Him.
So, it comes to this: there is nothing that you have done that God has not seen OR that will keep you from coming to him with a seeking sincere heart that longs for Him. When you turn around and set your face toward Him, He will RUN to meet you, forgive you and restore you to Himself.
There is nothing to lose but self degradation, evil’s hold on you and death. What we gain is Christ in us with a Holy intimate relationship with God, our Father, who created us and loves us beyond our wildest imaginations with eternal life as the bonus!
What are you waiting for? Say yes to life. Say yes to Jesus!
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are God and we are not. You are in control when chaos seems to run rampant. Evil tries to scare humans into situations that lead to death. You’re long suffering patience, mercy and grace because of your great love leads to life. There is no one like you God. The choice is clear. I want what you want. I love you, Lord with all that is in me. Thank you for saving my soul. We may not always understand the road to salvation and life, we only need to know You. And that is enough.
In Jesus Name, Amen