Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Advent: Hope for Tamar

Hope for Tamar

Big Idea: The story of Tamar in Genesis 38 shows us patience, resilience and hope in the midst of a hopeless situation.

I Blackmailed my Father-in-law to have my Baby

You’ve had double-whammy disappointments. The door is now closed. How long do you wait till you give up hope? Tamar’s bizarre story in Genesis 38 models patience, resilience and hope. All that was lost was redeemed, even well into the future.

From the Beginning  

Genesis is about beginnings. After Adam and Eve’s choice of their way instead of God’s way, humanity followed suit and spiraled out of control with broken relationships, selfishness and hatred.

But God had a plan to pull us out of chaos and re-establish Eden-worthy friendship with mankind. God called Abraham as the father of Israel. Jesus, Son of God, born of a Jewish woman, was sent to be our rescuer.

Who is Judah?

The term “Jews” comes from the name Judah, of which became the predominate tribe in Israel.

Judah is where Tamar’s story began. Abraham’s grandson Jacob had 12 sons, one named Judah. Judah left the family homestead, married a Canaanite woman and had 3 sons.

Judah chose Tamar a Canaanite for Er, his first son. Son #1 was such a cruel man God took his life.

The Levirate Law

According to ancient law, if a man died without an heir, his brother had to marry the widow and the offspring was considered his brother’s child.

Son #2, Onan, was a very cruel man too. He even made sure Tamar would not get pregnant. God took his life too.

Tamar, the Return Gift

Since son #3 Shelah, was still a child, Judah sent Tamar back to her father. That’s like giving back a gift you don’t like. Tamar had no say in any matter. Even when son #3 was grown Judah never sent for Tamar.

She remained a widow, likely considered no good, thrown away. She kept waiting. Hoping.

Trickery and Blackmail

One day she heard Judah was coming. She dressed like a prostitute and sat by the road. Judah saw her and propositioned her!

He never knew it was Tamar! She wanted a pledge of his identification till he sent payment. Later when he sent payment people said there was no prostitute there.

Three months later, he heard Tamar acted like a prostitute and became pregnant. Incensed, he asked she be burned for this! Tamar then pulled out his identification.

“Recognize these items?” she asked.

Sheepishly he stated, “She is more righteous than I.”

An amazing ancestry

Tamar birthed twins. One of them, Perez, was an ancestor of both King David, and later, Jesus.

Jewish genealogy never includes women except Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus mentioning 4 women, 3 of them non-Jews, all of scandalous reputation.

Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar). Matthew 1:6

Three things to learn from Tamar

1. Be patient.

Women had little say in domestic issues in ancient Middle Eastern culture. She was powerless to change her situation. She waited, and waited a long time. Years! God saw her pain. Not only did she have twins, she ended up in a genealogy of honor.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

2. Be resilient.

Resilience is important for mental health and well being. We keep going on, pressing forward. There needs to be an ability to endure, and bounce back from difficulties. Tamar, when she saw an occasion to resolve what she had been promised, executed a plan flawlessly. We are not informed whether she prayed or not. However, her sons were clearly connected with the faith of their father and God was honored.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 NLT

3. Have Hope

In a hopeless situation where Tamar was victimized and probably the butt of many rumors, she kept hoping for a child and hoping to be rescued from her impoverished state. We do not sense bitterness in her. We only see her move forward. She was rewarded with twins!

Judah’s brother-in-law, Joseph, noted:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20 NLT

God is always working. The answer from God is not often immediate. But in the big picture, God is in control. He is always waiting for us to come to Him and eager to help us even before we ask.

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65: 24 NLT

The earthly heritage of Jesus

Being listed in the genealogy of an important person was an honor. How amazing that a Canaanite woman posing as a prostitute to trick her father-in-law to have his baby was in Jesus’ lineage.

Truly the emphasis on these scandalous people in Jesus’ lineage points to the fact that Jesus came for Jews and non-Jews alike. He came for victims and beggars. He came for the broken mistreated people. He took on our sin. And He came to restore us to Eden-worthy friendship with God.


Up next: Advent: Peace for Rahab
Previous post: Advent: 5 Scandalized Women


1. Can you relate to Tamar on some level? Perhaps in waiting? Perhaps in disappointment?

2. Look over the Bible verses in this blogpost. Is there one that resonates with you today? Sit with it a bit. Chew on the words. Talk with God about it.

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