Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Widow's Story That I Wish Wasn't In The Bible!

Tamar

I wish Genesis 38 could melt away and vanish as if it had never happend. But it did happen, and it all happened to Tamar, a woman as unsuspecting and undeserving of such tragedy as you or me. For details, go to Genesis 38, but here's a quick summary and cast of characters.

Judah: head of the tribe of Judah, one of the twelve tribes of Israel; father of three sons.
Tamar: his daughter-in-law

In an arranged marriage, Tamar was wed to Judah's oldest son, Er. The Bible says Er was wicked in God's sight (oh, I'll bet he was a real gem to live with, wasn't he!--a little sarcasm there), so the Lord ended his life.

According to the custom of the day, it was then time for Judah's second son, Onan, to take over the marital duties of his deceased brother and provide Tamar with some offspring. Onan was willing to be sexual with Tamar, but to actually impregnate her? Never! He wouldn't do that. Scripture says, "whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground . . ." He clearly did this on purpose because he didn't want to get her pregant! And he did it more than once! Way to go, Onan, king of the jerks! God didn't think much of Onan, either. Exit Onan, through death's door.

How my heart cries for Tamar! The abuse she suffered! Plus, in that time and culture, if a woman wasn't married she was at the mercy of --well, hardly anyone. It's not like she could get a career or survive on her own with Er's and Onan's social security checks; that's why it was so important for her to have children and a stand-in husband.

Judah was now in a predicament. He didn't come right out and blame Tamar for his sons' dying. But he did hesitate to give her his third son. "The boy's too young," he told Tamar. "Go back to your dad's house and wait a bit for him to grow up." Tamar was probably less than twenty years old at this time, so she went to live with her father.

Time passed. Scripture says, "After a long time" Tamar didn't hear a word from Judah. In fact, it was such a long time that Judah's own wife died and he recovered from his grief. Judah started looking after his business again, which was sheep herding. He and his buddy, Hirah the Adullamite, took a little business trip to get their sheep sheered.

This trip took Judah into Tamar's neighborhood. By now she knew that Judah had no intention of wedding his youngest son to her, or of taking her as his own wife like he ought. But she did know Judah's weakness. So she disguised herself as a prostitute and waited along the road where he would pass.

Just as she had hoped, Judah saw her and propositioned for her service. He must not have had any money on him, because Tamar took his personal seal and staff as a pledge for payment. Afterwards Judah went to get her the money. And Tamar hid; when Judah tried to pay her he couldn't find her. He didn't seem too worried about it though, not knowing the "prostitute" was his own daughter-in-law.

Months later, Judah found out Tamar was pregnant. Upright man that he was, (yes, a little sarcasm again), he decided it was high time for him to uphold the family honor. "Burn her to death!" he ordered.

As Tamar was dragged to the stake where kindling, dried branches and firewood were being piled high, she sent word to Judah, along with his seal and staff. "Maybe Judah could identify the man who did this to her," was her message.

In shame, Judah admitted his guilt, declaring Tamar's righteousness. He took her into his home, but never slept with her again. Twins were born to Tamar, and from one of these twins, Perez, came the lineage of Christ. Tamar was honored as one of only five women in Matthew 1, the geneology of our Savior.

In spite of all Tamar went through, I have a feeling that today she would agree with the apostle Paul, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

Oh Lord, this world heaves with pain and sin. Women are victimized, sexually abused, down-trodden and condemned. Yet, You keep this little wisp of hope alive: You see, You know, You protect and preserve. You provide us, like Tamar, with the wits for survival, and the day our righteousness will be declared. In the meantime, Lord, help us to reach out to women who, like Tamar, are in impossible circumstances. Amen.

ferree

2 comments:

  1. Powerful story. Talk about abuse and lack of fulfillment. Good reminder that God does not waste our sorrows.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very enlightening and beneficial to someone whose been out of the circuit for a long time.

    - Lora

    ReplyDelete

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