#7 Women of God: Tamar
Updated: Jul 31
“The greatest illusion,” said the mole, “is that life should be perfect”. (Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, the Mole, The Fox and the Horse).
If ever there was an imperfect life in the Bible, it was Tamar’s (Genesis 38). Judah, the 4th son of Jacob, had gone to Canaan, and, contrary to family values (Gen. 28:8), married a Canaanite woman who gave him 3 sons. Judah took Tamar to be the wife of his firstborn. Tamar now came under the headship of Judah and her future and well-being was under his sole control.
The firstborn son was wicked so God killed him. As was the custom, Tamar was then given to the 2nd son to have a son to be an heir for the deceased firstborn. The 2nd son refused to give Tamar a son for his deceased brother (even though he didn’t refuse the gratuitous sex) so God killed him, too.
Judah thought Tamar was cursed so he sent her back to her parents’ home, telling her to wait for the 3rd son to grow up but he deceptively withheld him from her. This is where things got really bizarre.
This strong and obedient woman had endured the sins of not only 2 husbands but now a father in law.
With no hope of seeing the vision of God for Judah’s lineage, and working within the laws and customs of her people, Tamar promptly dressed up as a prostitute and waylaid her now widowed father in law and got herself pregnant.
Judah was outraged and wanted Tamar burnt, but quickly changed his mind when Tamar publicly and irrefutably revealed that he was the father. Judah admitted Tamar was more righteous than he was (Gen. 38:26) and Tamar went on to have twin sons.
Just before Jacob died he blessed his 12 sons and in faith proclaimed that the “sceptre shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes” (Gen 49:10). Indeed, King David came through the line of one of Tamar’s sons with Judah.
Tamar had a most imperfect life, but she took an inordinate risk in doing whatever was necessary to see God’s plans outworked. This was a woman of faith and so proudly stands in the record as a forebear of the Messiah (Matt. 1:3).