Mothers in the Bible: Tamar, Determined to be a Mother

Have you ever wanted something so much that you went after it, regardless of the consequences?

Tamar later had two sons with Judah and became one of the women listed in the genealogy of Jesus

That is the lengths to which Tamar was willing to go.

Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah, who was the fourth son of Jacob and Leah.

Judah marries the daughter of Shua, a Canaanite.  The couple have three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah.

Er marries a woman named Tamar.   But Er “was wicked in the sight of Jehovah; and Jehovah slew him.”   {Genesis 38:7}

We are not told how he is wicked or what he did.

Onan is told by Judah to “Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother unto her, and raise up seed to thy brother.”    {Genesis 38:8}

Tamar veiled herself when she went to Judah

Apparently, Onan has other ideas.   “Onan knew that the seed would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest he should give seed to his brother.  And the thing which he did was evil in the sight of Jehovah: and he slew him also.”   {Genesis 38:9-10}

Judah sends Tamar home to her father’s house, where she is to remain a widow.  It is expected that when Shelah grows up she will become his wife.   We are not told hold old either Shelah or Tamar are at this point.

Tamar lost both husbands because of their disobedience to God

During the passage of time, Judah’s wife dies and Shelah grows up, but does not united Tamar and Shelah as husband and wife.

So, Tamar becomes desperate and decides to take matters into her own hands.  She seizes the opportunity when it arises to have the child she desires and keep alive the line of Judah, which was her responsibility upon her marriage to Er.

Tamar discovers that Judah was going to Timnah to shear his sheep.  Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute and goes to Enaim, which is on Judah’s route.  Not realizing who she is because of the veil over her face, Judah request her services.

But Tamar is shrewd.   She ask for his signet ring, cord and staff in the hand.  {Genesis 38:18}

Tamar took it upon herself to have a child

When Judah later tries to send her goats, but cannot find her.

Three months later, someone tells Judah that “Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath played the harlot; and moreover, behold, she is with child by whoredom.”   {Genesis 38:24}

We don’t know how much time has passed since Tamar was widowed, but considering Shelah has now grown up it seems that several years have passed, but we don’t know if that is 5 years, 10 years or more.  We also do not know if Judah has seen his daughter-in-law during this time, but it seems unlikely or that if they did, it was in passing while in town for example.

Tamar took Judah’s staff and chord to prove the parentage of her child

So, how does Judah reply?

“Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.”   {Genesis 38:24}

Tamar is brought forth to face her father-in-law.   She sends her mementos with her accusers and says, “By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and the cords, and the staff.”  {Genesis 38:25}

This has to be a humiliating moment for both Judah and Tamar.

Tamar had Perez and Zerpah

However, he acknowledges the items and says,  “She is more righteous than I, forasmuch as I gave her not to Shelah my son.”  {Genesis 38:26}

Judah acknowledges his part in this act and saves the lives of Tamar and her child{ren}.

We are told at the end of verse 26, “And he knew her again no more”.    In other words, the two had no more sexual relations.

We do not know if Tamar and the children stay with her father or move to the home of Judah.  What is clear, is that Tamar has secured her place in the family, as well as Judah’s posterity.

With the passage of time, it is discovered that Tamar is carrying twins.

Tamar gives birth to two sons, Perez and Zerah.   A birth that is very reminiscent to that of the birth of Rebekah’s twins.

Tamar had twins, Perez and Zilpah

Nothing more is mentioned about the lives of Tamar or her sons, but we know that Perez was an ancestor in the Davidic line of Jesus.

The Women of the Bible Devotional says, “Judah had shown little concern regarding the continuance of his line.  Instead, God used a woman, shamed by her own barrenness and determined to overcome it, to ensure that the tribe of Judah would not only survive but that it would one day bear the world’s Messiah.”

What have you been ashamed of?  How have you overcome your shamefulness?

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