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The courage to risk it all
In a powerless situation she went to the core of her being to regain her identity, her self worth and her life
Scripture reference: Genesis 38
1. In Tamar’s patriarchal culture, women were property. Their only identity came from producing male heirs.
2. Tamar was a widow with no sons. She was trapped and powerless. Her first husband died. Her father-in-law, Judah, the king of Jericho gave her to her brother-in-law to conceive, which was the law of the land. Her brother-in-law hated her so he humiliated and demeaned her and the Lord struck him down and killed him. She now legally deserved to marry the third son to help her conceive but when he was of age Judah would not give him to her. He feared this son would die too, thus blaming Tamar for the other deaths.
3. In the meantime Tamar was living in her father-in-law’s home perhaps in a slave-like situation. Her only hope for her identity, in her culture, was in her legal right to the third son of Judah and time was running out.
4. As a last resort she dug deep, went to the core of who she was and put everything on the line. She deliberately attracted her father-in-law by dressing beautifully, covering her face, and standing by the side of the road where he was herding cattle. He invited her into his tent and used her as a prostitute saying he would give her a gift in return for her favors. She asked for a pledge from him and he gave her his ring and staff. She got pregnant by him and when the household found out they threatened her with death by burning–because they found out she had acted as a prostitute. When they took her to her father-in-law who was the magistrate, to accuse her, she showed him his ring and staff.
5. Judah was dumbstruck. He realized at once what she had done to secure her legal heir in his family. He praised her for her courage and told her he should have given her his third son. He said, “She has been more righteous than I.” She had gained back her identity and self worth and even taught Judah an ethical lesson.
6. They forgave each other–perhaps because she had shown him her power within her powerlessness. She became the mother of twins and she and Judah became the great, great, great, great grandparents of Boaz who was Ruth’s husband. Ruth and Boaz were the grandparents of King David.
Quiet time reflecting on the story with the following questions.
How would you imagine Tamar using her shawl in her story?
When have you felt trapped in a scary situation in which you feared you had no options? How did it feel to you?
When have you taken a risk for yourself that you felt was overwhelming but you knew you had to do it? How did you manage your emotions?
Has anyone ever apologized or acted in an apologetic way to you after finding out you took a stand for the right reasons? What was it like for you to receive this from another?
How has God turned your life story around and helped you through a dark time into more light?
What did Tamar do, in summary, to keep the genealogy of Jesus going?