Summary of passage: After Joseph was sold to the Midianites, Judah left his family and went to Adullam. He married a Canaanite woman names Shua and had 3 sons with her–the last of which was born in Kezib. When Judah’s first-born son grew up (Er), he married a woman named Tamar. But Er was so wicked that the Lord put him to death.
Onan, the second-born of Judah, now was ordered to sleep with Tamar since it was law back then to produce heirs for the line. Onan refused and the Lord killed him too.
Tamar went to live in her father’s house until the third son, Shelah, was grown. However, Tamar was not given to Shelah when he had come of age so Tamar dresses up as a prostitute in order to trick Judah into sleeping with her. He does indeed sleep with her and she conceives twin boys. She keeps his seal, cord, and staff in order to prove he is the father to avoid being accused of prostitution and put to death. Judah admits he was wrong in not giving her Shelah so spares her life.
Their names are Perez and Zerah.
12) We see in Genesis 34:1 that Dinah apparently was a girl of the town who “visited the women of the land” frequently. We see the horrendous retribution by Simeon and Levi wiping the town of Shechem from the map. Joseph was sold to slavery by all the brothers in Genesis 37. And now Judah marries a Canaanite.
13) The whole family might have become pagans once again and the line to Jesus would have been tainted forever. Belief in the One, True God could have vanished all together and God would have had to start all over again. Remember, those who believed in God at this time were all from Abraham’s family. And not that many generations have passed since then. Perhaps hundreds? Maybe a thousand people believed in God.
It’s not hard to imagine how these people could be swallowed up by the corruption and unbelief around them.
14) No. Judah. Judah shouldn’t have married a Canaanite. Period. When God kills two of your three sons that should have been a hint that you made a mistake. However, like Rachel, Tamar resorted to trickery to get what should have been rightfully hers. This is not good in God’s eyes. But I can’t help but wonder in ancient times how women had little other means to do anything. Not that their behavior is justified. But it is understandable considering women were mere property back then.
Furthermore, Judah wasn’t following the law either by refusing to give Tamar to Shelah. Judah held all the power in his hands to do what was right and he refused.
15a) Personal Question. My answer: Perhaps she came to believe in the Lord and back then there wasn’t a lot of believers in the One, True God to choose from as husbands.
However, this question may be misguided and makes a lot of assumptions. How do we know she had her own friends and opportunities for marriage? Tamar was now a widow and she had no land or anything to go with that status. She had also married outside of her culture. Normally, this causes a rift between her and her “friends” and family so she may have been labeled as an outcast.
Furthermore, as a widow, it was Judah, NOT her father, who now decided whom she should marry. Only he could give her in marriage and provide a dowery. And from what Tamar was seeing, it appeared Judah’s intentions were to leave her with her father for the rest of her life.
Well, an unmarried woman and childless in that culture was an outcast period. She’d have no son to provide for her and would have no purpose outside of the marriage realm. She was facing a bleak future and hence took matters into her own hands. Can anyone blame her?
In conclusion, I don’t think she had any other opportunities to marry. I think this question is wrong in asserting that. I think she had no friends either. Her former friends were probably all married now with a family of their own. And as a mother we all know once you have kids it is difficult to maintain friendships with your single friends who have no kids simply because you have nothing in common any more with them. I think this is more likely the case.
Like I said, there weren’t a lot of other believers out there to marry at this time. I believe she was stuck between a rock and a hard place and didn’t like either one.
It was obvious the Lord was with her. If she was a believer, she could have been praying for a solution to her problem. She probably acted before He answered. But He never abandoned her and He blessed her in a way only we know (by being in Christ’s line). Amazing!
b) Ruth, who was a Gentile as well, accepted the Lord as her God after her marriage to Ruth’s son. She would not turn back to her people who were unbelievers and who worshipped other gods. Rahab has heard of God’s power and abilities and although it doesn’t say if she was a believer when at this time when she protected the two spies, she reveres God enough to get on his side and not the side of her people.
Tamar seems to be the same way. She probably was converted when she was married to Er and would not turn her back on God no matter what happened to her.
16) Judah sent Tamar back to her father to live because he thought “he may die too like his brothers” (verse 11) and then refused to give her Shelah, probably out of fear he would be stricken by the Lord as well (verse 14). Verse 26 is where Judah mentions she is more righteous than him for her actions.
17) Personal Question. My answer: First because her story takes up a whole chapter in Genesis. And her actions were righteous and because of them we have Jesus. Her story is an example of following the law. If it hadn’t of been for Tamar’s actions, there would have been no Jesus. She was responsible for conceiving, not Judah. Hence, I believe she is mentioned in recognition of that fact.
Conclusions: We look at some powerful women in this lesson that clung to God despite all the hardships involved. For supposedly a “weak” lot, women play a powerful role in God’s world even when in man’s she is nothing.
Onan was more than happy to have sex with Tamar but didn’t want her to have a child that would not be considered his. He was shirking the law and for that he is judged.
We must remember God caused Tamar to conceive. It was His will that she carry the line even if she used deception. Just like Rebekah and Jacob. God is in control despite all man’s doings.
Both Tamar and Judah are shining examples of God’s grace. Neither was worthy to be the heir of Jesus but they were both chosen by God to be so. Despite our sins, God loves us anyways and uses us in powerful ways.
End Note: I had never drawn the conclusion that Jacob and his family were meant to get out of Canaan for a bit in order to escape the pagans around them. I had always assumed that they only went to Egypt for food. Now I see God’s wisdom and purposes in a new light.
It is just absolutely amazing how God has everything planned and how we may only see one purpose (like the need for food); whereas, God has infinitely more (like getting them out of Canaan to protect them). Good to remember in my life as well.
Map of Timnah, Bethel, and Adullum: http://bibleatlas.org/full/timnah.htm
Adullum is beneath Timnah to the right a bit. Bethel is in the upper-right hand corner in the brown. So Judah left Bethel where his family had been staying, went to Adullum and got married, then went up to Timnah to shear his sheep. The place where Tamar waited for Judah, Enaim, is right outside of Timnah on maps I found.