Read His Words Before Ours!
“Judah has chosen you to marry his son, Er!”
“Papa!” my disgust was as thick as the outrage in my voice.
I’d always been too outspoken, and Mama’s quick glare reminded me I’d spoken out of turn, again.
“Tamar!” My mother clicked her tongue and added reprovingly, “Judah is one of the twelve sons of Jacob; you should be honored! Covenant promises with Yahweh surround his family.”
I whirled to face her. My family was well-accustomed to my vigorous debates, and this was one I would not lose. “You know Judah’s reputation! I don’t care a whit whether he’s Jacob’s son, that man has a wandering eye for any woman with a pulse!”
“Well, Tamar, you’re marrying Er, not Judah. That’s final!”
“Papa! No! It’s not fair!” My shrill voice drew the glances of passersby.
Papa responded with tender grace, “Tamar, I love you. You are important and precious, and Yahweh will use you for His work.” He reached out to touch my cheek. “My fiery girl, I adore you. Er has no idea what he’s in for.” He winked and took his seat to bless our meal.
I smiled at the memory. I loved Papa dearly, and he had loved me for who I was. I grieved every day he was gone, but also breathed a prayer of thanks he never had to witness the obscenity that was my marriage to Er.
Er was spiteful and addicted to many things: alcohol, women, and anger . . . but mostly, himself. Whatever Er wanted, he got, until finally, the Lord mercifully answered my pleas for safety. Er was killed by the Lord’s hand.
Truly, the Lord is a God of justice.
In accordance with the Lord’s law, Judah gave me to his next son, Onan.
“Onan.” I spat out his name like a curse. Onan was devious, passive aggressive, and manipulative. Where Er had beaten me with his fists, Onan cut my heart with his words and insidious deception. The death trap of marriage to Judah’s sons was stifling.
My only hope was to bear a child. Even one son would bring purpose to my suffering. Please, Lord, please, I whispered all day and through the watches of the night, grant your daughter redemption.
My situation felt hopeless. Onan only had sex with me for his own pleasure, pulling out at the last moment so I couldn’t conceive. Yet, I knew Yahweh saw all. I clung to my God of justice, waiting.
Mercifully, the Lord did see Onan’s treachery, and He hated it. By Yahweh’s hand, Onan was also put to death. Two dead husbands, a heart damaged enough for a lifetime, and all hope was dashed.
Still, Yahweh was and always would be just, even if I couldn’t see it. There remained Judah’s youngest son, Shelah. I would be close to the end of my child-bearing years by the time Shelah was old enough to marry, but Judah, with some semblance of honor, promised me Shelah if I returned home and waited for him.
Mama. Sweet mama. I nestled my head against her aging shoulder, wrapping my arms around her. “Tamar, my girl, I love you. You are important and precious. Yahweh will use you for His work.” Despite my pride, tears flowed down my cheeks into my mother’s silvery hair. Such faith! Lord, look upon Your daughter! Extend Your just arm!
Shelah’s coming of age came and went. Weeks turned to months as I waited, sure the Lord heard my pleas, but Judah never fulfilled his promise. Word had it, he blamed me for the deaths of his other two sons.
Angry, I cried out to the Lord. Where is your justice, Yahweh?! Have you not seen me waiting, oppressed, and broken all these years?! I have trusted You, haven’t I?!
“Tamar, Judah is heading to Timnah to shear his sheep.” My friend’s bit of information lit a match within me and hope sparked to life. My plan was devious, yes, but I was too angry to care. Yahweh had given Judah the responsibility of protecting and caring for me, yet he shirked his duties. Now was the time for action.
My heart raced as I removed my widow’s clothing, and hurried to the outskirts of Timnah where Judah would pass. Dressed as a prostitute, I was counting on old Judah to be as scandalous as always. I was not disappointed, for moments later, he asked for my services.
I would not be taken advantage of this time. “Give me your signet, your cord, and your staff from your hand as pledge of your payment.” Greedy Judah readily agreed and the deed was done. We both went on our way, Judah to shear his sheep, and me to plead with Yahweh for mercy.
Three months later, Judah’s baby was 12 weeks along.
The Lord had heard! Evidence of His justice fluttered in my womb.
Proof of His abundant kindness washed over me when I safely delivered two sons a few months later. As I held their tiny bodies close, tears streamed from my eyes. The Lord was righteous! Perez and Zerah were proof!
But when the community heard of my sons’ birth, they cried out for my death as an adulteress. As they dragged me to the place of judgement, I clenched Judah’s signet, cord, and staff, calling out for their owner to claim his items, and his sons.
The blood drained from Judah’s face as he put the fragmented pieces together.
I held my breath.
Would the Lord bring justice?
Judah stepped forward, raising a shaking voice,
“She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her my son, Shelah.”
I trembled, in shock at Judah’s confession and in awe of the Lord’s justice.
I would live and raise my boys in peace!
Hundreds of years later, Yahweh further unfolded a plan Tamar wouldn’t know until she reached Heaven: Perez and Zerah are listed in the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord is faithful and just; His righteousness knows no limits. God used a woman of fierce bravery, fighting through difficult circumstances, to usher in the One who would bring justice and righteousness to all people through His death and resurrection. Never doubt, dear sister, the Lord sees, and knows, and fights for you!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!