We understand that Christ was perfect, but His earthly ancestry was not. Look through his genealogy and you’ll see just how not perfect they were! Leading up to Christmas we’ll be taking a look at some of the women in Jesus’ earthy lineage. Today we’ll start with a name not too many people are familiar with, Tamar. If you are not familiar with her the account is found in Genesis 38. The short version of the story is that Judah has three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah. Tamar marries Er, Er dies and she marries, Onan. Onan dies and she is sent to her father’s house to wait for Shelah to be old enough to marry, but she is never sent for. Taking matters into her own hands she dresses as a prostitute and tricks Judah into impregnating her.
The Bible tells us that her first husband, Er, is wicked and God slews him. Judah does exactly what he is supposed to do at this point and sends Onan to marry Tamar and produce a child in his brothers name. Onan doesn’t seem to like that plan at all. He’d marry her, but giving her a child in his brothers name, nope, he wanted no part of that. The Bible tells us in Genesis 38:11 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also. With his first two sons now dead Judah sends Tamar back to her father’s house to wait for Shelah.
We know the Bible instructs us to trains up a child in the way he should go and from what we’re told the first two sons of Judah didn’t seem to have the best training. Up to this point though we don’t really see Judah do anything inappropriate. Spoiler alert, all that’s about to change. Judah’s wife has died and he is on his way to Timnath. Tamar learns where her father in law is and heads his way dressed as a prostitute. Can we take a moment for a side note? I am fully aware what I am about to say isn’t popular, especially in today’s culture. If you see me in a bridal store trying on wedding gowns you would make the assumption that I am going to be a bride. If you see me in a police uniform you would believe that I am a policewoman. If you see me in the middle of the week and I am in a button down shirt and a pencil skirt, you would believe be to be a career woman. I know that in today’s ‘wear what you want and no one should be able to tell you otherwise’ kind of world we live in that this thought isn’t popular, however, the truth is what you wear matters! How you present yourself matters. Your clothes matter. If all people can think about is my clothes then I’m probably not showing much of Christ. Climbing out of the rabbit hole and back to Tamar. She caught Judah’s attention and they slept together, but not before talking about payment. He has promised to send her a kid from the flock, but she wants more. She wants a guarantee that he’ll send it, but more importantly she needs something to prove that he is the father if she does get pregnant. She asked for his signet, bracelets, staff and he says ok!! She is bold in her request; she has basically asked for his identification and he gives it to her. I can understand her desire to have it, but I can’t wrap my head around him saying yes. Surely there are other prostitutes that wouldn’t ask for such a payment. Regardless of if I understand or not, he gave her what she asked for.
Three months go by and the gossip train is stopping at Judah’s house letting him know his daughter in law is pregnant after playing a harlot. Judah didn’t give her his youngest son as he had promised and was required to do by law. He isn’t innocent at all, but he is now calling for her to be burnt. Remember those things she held onto for payment? She remembers them too and pulls them out saying that the man that these belong to is the one that I got pregnant by. Ohhhh, Judah you just got caught. He owns up to what he did, saying Tamar was more righteous than he was and in the end she has twin boys, Pharez and Zarah. Is he any more righteous than her. She had no choice in the actions of her husbands, no choice in the actions of her brother in law that should have been her third husband, and no choice in what her father in law did. She was responsible for her choices though.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17
Wanna talk about a scandal? Here it is! Seriously, this is just one of the accounts in the line of Jesus. Christmas came wrapped in manager, in the least elegant, royal like way, possible. A gift from God to this sinful world. A gift that would die for our sins. A gift that allows us to turn from our scandalous and wicked past regardless of how sorted they may or may not be.
Below are a few questions for you as you read through Tamar’s story.