Tamar, Judah’s Daughter-in-Law

In Study the Women of the Bible by revealadmin1 Comment

Genesis chapter 8 unravels a sordid tale of a family drama.  In the linage of Jesus Christ, is a man who has a questionable past.  A man who threw his brother away as jealousy circumvented his soul, a man who cared not for other’s but his own selfish desires, and a father-in-law who cast out a daughter-in-law is the very man God uses to glorify His son.  Judah is a man who is going to be humbled by God.  Judah is man who is going to be used by God and Judah is a man who has met his match by a woman set on vindication.

Tamar is a young gentile woman married to God’s people.  Her father-in-law Judah as three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah.  The Lord, Himself, considered Er and Onan wicked men whom died before any heirs could receive their blessing.  In the days of Judah, if the elder son died,  the wife would be given to the next son to produce an heir for the first-born rights and privileges. When Er died, Tamar married Onan, but the man never wanted to give his “seed” for another to receive the birth right. Oh, he slept with Tamar, used her for his own pleasure,  but never allowed his seed to grow in her womb.  His death brought Tamar and Judah to a very delicate place. Does Judah give Tamar his last son?

In a plight to deceive, cunning and manipulative Judah sends Tamar away and when the youngest son his older, the bride will be beckoned to marry. Judah, a man already proved to be no man of his word, let alone a caring man; we see his true character with brother Joseph thrown in the pit, careless, thoughtless, selfish, and lackluster.

Time passes slowly for Tamar, but she does see an opportunity once she realizes the deception Judah pulled over her eyes. Oh no! Tamar would not be cast aside and she would receive what was promised to her. Covering her own eyes and portraying herself to be a prostitute, uncontrolled, widowed Judah seizes the opportunity to release some tension from daily sheep-shearing season with a soft body, and warm embrace. His actions are so disgraceful, Judah gives Tamar a pledge as payment. His signet ring, cord, and staff are handed over for quick payment, never realizing his lack of self-control would change history forever.

Tamar,  unrecognizable in her disguise,  sleeps with her father-in-law and receives her family’s well-deserved seed.  Slipping away from Judah,  Tamar holds tight to the pledge knowing she would need them when the time came to reveal her pregnancy.  R. Kent Hughes depicts wonderfully in his book, Genesis,  Judah’s degenerate reaction to Tamar’s pregnancy,  “Infidelity during a betrothal period was counted as adultery and called for the death penalty.  So when Tamar neared the end of her first trimester,  the suspense and internal pressure must have been unbearable. About three months later Judah was told,  ‘Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral.  Moreover she is pregnant by immorality.’  And Judah said,  ‘Bring her out, and let her be burned.’  Judah’s violent declaration suggests that he may have leapt at the opportunity to have her out of the way once and for all.

But now the moment of Tamar’s triumph came because as she was being let out to judgment, she sent to Judah the symbols of his legal persona saying, ‘By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.’ And she said, ‘Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.’ What a breathless moment as Judah was forced to own that each of the items was his!

And then came his declaration,  ‘She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah. Judah admitted that Tamar was justified in taking matters into her own hands. In doing so, he likewise admitted that his conduct had not been righteous.  Tamar was exalted. Judah was humbled.”  Hughes, Genesis.

I have read and written in regards to women who were used, betrayed, vindicated, and redeemed by the very hand of God.  Whether through the Bible or a woman’s testimony,  Yahweh is the God of redemption, Truth, and vindication.  I have had my own experiences with God’s Truth.  He has opened my eyes to those who intended harm, to those who were using my family, to those whose character was questionable, to those who gossiped about myself or my family.  My heart is at peace knowing my God sees everything!

If you are in a season of believing God will bring Truth to a situation, if you are in a season of waiting for God to move in regard to a person who has wronged you or if you are in a season of desiring vindication, please hear my own heart.  During my own desire for wrongs to be made right, I prayed for God’s Truth.  I prayed He would open my eyes to regards to my behavior, words, or actions to the situation.  Was I honest?  Was I glorifying you?  Could I have responded better in love?  Did I remove my self for the right reasons or did I act out in or through emotions?  Do I have your peace?

I have experienced situations in which were extremely painful. A “Judas Kiss” from a trusted friend. Hurtful family situations where I laid my heart and prayers at Christ’s feet seeking peace and restoration. I have confronted individual’s for questionable “jokes” and actions, but was called a liar; as if I made the whole circumstance up. I have been shocked in regards to individuals who were caught lying or hiding truths from our family. But, there was thing that always gave me peace during these trials. God see everything! He will reveal Truth!

His Truth is worth waiting for. God’s redemption to any situation is worth the wait for all parties will be able to receive Truth in love, prayer, fellowship and mercy.  Even though I may have felt rejected, Jesus felt the same from those He loved most.  Even though I had felt jokes and gossip were made in poor taste, Jesus experienced the same mocking from His own.  Even though I felt alone at times during this season of standing for righteousness, I knew Jesus spent many times alone with His Father. He truly is the God of all Comfort.

During these tests, I prayed for peace.  I prayed for the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7);  the peace that we are to pursue and crave after (Psalm 34:14).  The peace which strengthens are inner man,  “O man greatly, beloved, fear not!  Peace be to you!  Be strong, yes be strong. And when he had spoken to me, I was strengthen and said, ‘Let my Lord speak, for you have strengthen me.’” (Daniel 10:19) I prayed to receive the peace Christ left us,  “Peace I leave you; My peace I now give and bequeath to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

 I prayed to hear the soft whisper of the Holy Spirit (1 Kings 19:12-13). My heart asked for Truth from the Spirit of Truth, the Counselor to speak to my heart in regards to my own behavior  (John 14:15-17).  I never want to grieve the Holy Spirit or cause bitterness, frustration, anger, sadness, vindication, strife, or deception to enter my spirit.

When confronted with a situation where a wrong has been committed,  unless there is life and death at stake,  I would take 3 days to pray. Esther set a wonderful example to Christians when she asked her people to fast and pray for God’s response, help, and vindication.  Pray with a trusted prayer partner to intercede for you, especially your spouse to pray for Truth as well. Ask God, “Did I over react? Was I too easily offended? Did I response gently and in love or in anger and hurt?”

These three days are wise, where emotions usually subside from anger and hostility to an even keel.  Please do not sent emails, texts, postings on social media, tweets, or any electronically available sending methods. When you need to confront a delicate situation, always remember Matthew 18,  “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won you brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-20)

I have had several instances where a person feels free to express themselves openly in an email addressing delicate offenses or feelings hurt. I immediately responded to speak face to face with them or female leader. I will not send emails to address problems with others. I can not see their emotions, their actions, and their heart. Seeing another’s sentiments, their response, and their feelings can never be conveyed over type written messages. If the person refuses to admit their fault, friends refuse to admit their response, then as hard as it may seem, walk away. Standing for Truth and righteousness is not an easy task. You may lose friends, not be included in groups, or even your church, but God will never close one door and not open another. When I chose to walk away quietly, God opened another door for me. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Remember, His timing is perfect. The consequences of Truth may not come to the surface as quickly as you want it, but the Truth will show itself eventually. Trust the Lord and lean not on your own understanding and He will make your paths straight!

One note before I close, you will have to pray for forgiveness as the single most important element in restoring what the enemy has tried to destroy. The action and act of forgiveness does not make the other person right, it sets you free from torment in your mind and heart.  I have a prayer for forgiveness. I encourage you to read and pray to the Lord for Truth, restoration, and forgiveness.


  1. catherine lichtenberger

    Yes. There is something so Holy and revealing when you pray and wait on God instead of responding in the flesh and feelings. He reveals much when you’re quiet and listening for His wisdom and direction. He’s done that many times for me through wrongs and lies against me. Even though it was very humbling and pride swallowing it is better to obey God than trust in your own understanding. He sees and knows all. He will right the wrongs. It may take days, weeks , months or years but He will have justice.

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