READ GENESIS THIRTY-EIGHT
verses one through thirty-eight
Tamar is a shrewd woman. She knows the Law of God and that His commands provide for widows, but she is also facing a father-in-law who is anything but willing to follow that Law. And so, she devises a plan.
Looking back at today’s passage, take note of the timeline of events. Make a mental note of what occurs in each of the following passages:
Whenever we think about the messiness of our own family histories, we would do well to remember that stories like this are not just included in the Scriptures — but in the family line of Christ!
Judah, having lost his wife, hires a woman he believes to be a prostitute. Judah is so eager to hire her that he gives her his signet, chord, and staff as a promise that he will send her payment. This deposit may not seem like much to us, but in ancient Near Eastern culture, a signet and chord were terms of identification. Judah has just effectively turned over his social security card and driver’s license to a woman he believes to be a prostitute – a gross lack of discernment and wisdom.
Tamar, on the other hand, could not have been more calculated. She knew that she was owed protection, provision, and children from this family line. It was her right by law, and so she plans a cunning way to obtain what is rightfully hers. By way of shrewd deception, she weaves herself right back into the family line that dismissively cut her out.
Tamar returns to her father’s house, and in time her pregnancy shows. With no obvious father in the picture, it is assumed that she has acted immorally.
How does Judah respond? (verse twenty-four)
Judah is suddenly very concerned that the morality of God’s Law be kept. Though he did not care to keep the Law that commanded him to care for Tamar, nor to keep himself from prostitutes, he is indignant at the apparent immorality of a woman he removed from his home.
Tamar’s whole plan comes together. When accused of immorality, she presents the items that Judah left with her when she was dressed as a prostitute. Judah is glaringly identified as the father of her child. By God’s grace, Judah humbly recognizes his fault and Tamar’s just desire for a family from his line. In time, Tamar bears two sons – sons that will continue the family line, leading us one generation closer to the coming of the Messiah.
Why do you think Tamar and Judah were included in the family tree of Christ? Pull out your printable and fill in what you’ve learned about them on Christ’s family tree.
PRAY & REFLECT