Read Genesis 38:1-30 & Matthew 1:3
1. Onan was supposed to father children through Tamar for his brother Er. This is the same act as that of the “kinsman-redeemer” found in the book of Ruth. The closest of kin was to father a child to carry on the line of the deceased husband. None of the men in Tamar’s life fulfilled their responsibilities to her, including her father-in-law, Judah. Describe what you think Tamar was feeling throughout the course of these events.
I am sure that Tamar was feeling disappointment and anger, each time that one of Judah’s sons failed to give her a child. I believe that she was, also, feeling determined…she came up with a plan to get the children she must have desperately wanted, she went to an elaborate ruse to get those children.
2. In that culture, a woman’s whole worth was in bearing sons to carry on the family line. A woman who failed in that was nothing. What makes you feel you’re worth a lot or not much?
My children have always been how I measured my worth. I have always used a scale that had happy, fulfilled children on one end…unhappy, unfulfilled children on the other end. If my children are doing well then I am worthy as a mother…not so well then I failed as a mother. There are legitimate reasons for me to feel that I failed my children as their mom, but I have acknowledged those to both God and them. I know that I must leave my failings in this area at the foot of the cross and move forward by praying for them and sowing whatever seeds God provides to me into their lives. I do understand that I am worthy now, only, because Jesus is worthy.
3. When you consider what Tamar did in offering herself disguised as a prostitute to her father-in-law, do his words in verse 26 surprise you? Why or why not? Explain what Judah meant by those words.
26 “Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.”
His words in verse 26 did not surprise me. She sent Judah a message, along with the items that he had given her as a promise for payment, and asked him to identify who she had slept with. She did not make a big announcement or shout it from the rooftops…she allowed Judah to do right by her, on his own. When Judah made that statement he was acknowledging the wrongs that had been done to her by both of his deceased sons and then by Judah himself when he did not marry his third son to her.
4. The story of Tamar is tough to digest. There is simply no way to assimilate what she did with our current way of thinking. Yet Matthew makes a point of mentioning her in Christ’s lineage. What do you think God is saying by including her story in the inspired scriptures and her place in Jesus human heritage?
God included her story because she is exactly the type of person that Jesus came to this earth to save. There are many women on this earth who have gone the way of Tamar and in one way or another prostituted themselves for something that they wanted or for what they felt was the greater good. God wanted us to be able to see that in the direct lineage of Jesus there were women just like us…women in need of a Savior, no matter our sin.
5. How has God worked good out of the bad things that have happened to you or the bad things you have done?