Summary: HER BRAND OF JUSTICE

HER BRAND OF JUSTICE (GENESIS 38:6-26)

I walked a mile with Pleasure;

She chatted all the way;

But left me none the wiser

For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,

And ne'er a word said she;

But, oh! The things I learned from her,

When sorrow walked with me.

While Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David (Rev 5:5), His grand ancestor was Tamar (Matt 1:3), the widowed daughter-in-law of Judah who became the legitimate bearer of Judah’s child! According to Deuteronomy 25:5-10 a surviving brother must seed his deceased brother’s wife so that the widow could have a child to continue the family name, but the surviving second brother of Judah’s sons and the superstitious father-in-law thwarted her hopes of motherhood and the birth of the Messiah.

,

How does the Lord want us to treat women without husbands, children or parents? What strength and support are available from the Lord for His people? Why is it best and wise for society honor them instead of hiding them?

Be Unafraid: Be Respectable and Be Reassured

6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also. 11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.

One day some elders came to see Father Anthony. In the midst of them was Father Joseph. Wanting to test them, Father Anthony suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant. Each gave his opinion as he was able. But to each one the old man said, “You have not understood it.”

Last of all he said to Father Joseph, “How would you explain this saying?” and he replied, “I do not know.” Then Father Anthony said, “Indeed, Father Joseph has found the way, for he has said: ‘I do not know.’”

Tamar was married to Er, the firstborn of Judah (v 6), so she held a very high and honored position in the family, but tragedy struck her family and relatives. The phrase “wicked in the Lord’s sight” (v 7) occurs for the first time in the Bible. Mostly the phrase has to do with idolatry (Deut 4:25, Judg 2:11, 2 Kings 3:2). The widow’s father-in-law Judah ordered the second son to fulfill the Mosaic law obligations by seeding his deceased brother’s child to carry the firstborn brother’s name, but the second son Onan did not refuse but sabotaged the deed. Why did Onan do that? My guess is that he could get more with the deceased firstborn brother out of the way. The verb “spill” is in the “piel” intensive stem, so it was with purpose and plan. Verse 7 and verse 10 “wicked in the Lord’s sight” are similar except verse 10’s “wicked” is in the verb. My theory is that the second son had the fun without the fatherhood, because the phrase “slept/went in” in the Bible refers to sex, as in the case of Abraham and Hagar (Gen 16:4), Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:23), and even Judah with his wife (Gen 38:2).

Two of Judah’s sons were evil and dead, so things did not bode well for Tamar, but she waited patiently for the youngest son to grow up to father her child because her father-in-law ordered her with an imperative to “live/remain” as a widow till his son grow up. Judah, however, was tricky in that he did not promise his son to father her child. Instead, he feared the worst that his last son might die marrying the so called “black widow” in the family. In a sense he blamed her and not his sons their death.

The imperative “live/remain” was unfair to Tamar because Judah did not release her from marrying others nor guarantee his last son’s duty. Judah not only washed himself of any emotional support from his daughter-in-law by ordering her home, he wanted her out of mind, out of sight for fear she would prey on his youngest son, jinxed on the family further and invite the neighbors’ sympathy for her. Most commentators think Tamar was a Gentile, so dreading, discriminating, denying, dumping and damning her were convenient, calculated and cold, not courageous, caring or classy.

Be Unamused: Be Revitalized and Be Resolved

12 After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him. 13 When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.” “And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked. 17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said. “Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked. 18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?” “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. 19 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again.

A young job applicant was being interviewed for an entry level position. His prospective boss asked, “Are you a smoker?” “Not even a little,” said the young man.

“How about alcoholic beverages?” “Never touch ‘em,” he replied.

The boss smiled and asked, “So you spend a lot of time with girls?” The applicant said “No, not really.”

“So you don’t have any vices?” “Well, I do have one,” he admitted.

“And what would that be?” the boss asked. “I tell lies.”

After a while Tamar was used to her father-in-law’s antics and character. The death of Judah’s wife did not prompt him to visit a harlot; it was another occasion and excuse to visit one. Readers were not told how far was Timnath from where she was, but it was significant since her father-in-law did not bother to revisit (v 20). Note that she did not lure him or seduce him. Give credit to her for thinking of the possibility of her father-in-law instead to father his child rather than her young brother-in-law. She was the one propositioned, not the other way. She did not seduce him since her body and face were covered. Tamar was faithful like no other. She was still dressed in her widow’s garments, sitting in her home while his father-in-law had overcome his wife’s death and was frisky outdoors with friends. Ungodly things happened when Judah was with friend Hirah, including marrying a Canaanite woman (vv 1-2).

The verb “took off” (v 14) is translated as remove (Gen 30:35), put off (Gen 38:14), turn aside (Josh 23:6) and withdraw (Job 33:17). Clothes are plural, so she did her best, the whole nine yards. She put them on again (v 19) after that act, an act of faithfulness to her husband as she covered (v 14), concealed (Gen 37:26), clad (1 Kings 11:29) and clothed (1 Chron 21:16) her body modestly, as I imagined widows were supposed to do in the past. Can you imagine how heavily dressed she was throughout the act to protect her identity? Harlot (vv 21, 22) she was not. She was surely aware by this time that she was the black sheep of the family, exiled to her home, confined to her death and oblivion since there were no plans for the youngest grown son to seed her with child and continue the family name. The last thing the father-in-law wanted to do was to visit her.

The verb “thought” (v 15) can be translated as counted (Gen 15:6), devise (Ex 31:4), reckon (Lev 25:50), esteem (Job 41:27), imagine (Ps 10:2), regard (Isa 33:8) and purposed (Jer 49:20). He had concluded and decided she was a harlot without asking– that was that. The verb “went over” meant it was his choice and character. Knowing his father-in-law was not a giving man, she asked him for guarantees. He used an imperative (v 16, “come”) but without benefits. The noun “pledge” (v 17, 18, 20) was crucial because she was not given a pledge previously by her deceptive father-in-law.

Be Unashamed: Be Righteous and Reliable

20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21 He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?” “There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said. 22 So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’” 23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.” 24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.” 26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

When a brother committed a fault and the desert father Moses was invited to a meeting to discuss an appropriate penance, Moses refused to attend. When he was again called to the meeting, Moses took a leaking jug filled with water and carried it on his shoulder. Another version of the story has him carrying a basket filled with sand. When he arrived at the meeting place, the others asked why he was carrying the jug. He replied, “My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, but today I am coming to judge the errors of another.” On hearing this, the assembled brothers forgave the erring monk.

Judah was disgraced in more ways than one. First, he designated Tamar as a harlot in a place where no harlot pried their business. It was an insult to the men of the place (v 21). Second, it was an insult to any widow outdoors. Third, the personal pronoun “we” (v 23) implicated his friends for doing the dirty business for him. The noun “laughingstock” could not be lighter. The original is translated as shamed (Gen 38:23) more than merely shock, despised (Job 12:5) more than just disrespect, and contempt (Job 12:21) more than clownish.

When Judah discovered her daughter-in-law was pregnant he was livid, commanding her with an imperative to be burnt, never giving her an opportunity to defend herself, meet him or . Judah was hypocritical in that he could visit a prostitute but his daughter-in-law could must remain a widow forever.

Tamar fired her only imperative – recognize (v 25), her only voice and fightback in the narrative. Recognize is more than just awareness but acknowledgement, as is the KJV translation. That’s why her name and story was in the Bible. She was given her due recognition, rightful place and family rights.

The verb “righteous” (v 26) occurs the first time in the Bible. It is a verb more than a noun. It refers to her actions, attitude and even aspiration, not for acceptance, affluence or annoyance. The noun “righteousness” would not appear till Leviticus (Lev 19:15), so she was the model of righteousness and justice. Judah could have said, “She is righteous,” but chose to say “She is more righteous than I” to implicate his own hypocrisy, and that she did nothing shameful. His plans to blame her, banish her and now burn her were all abnormal, atrocious and avoidable (stoning was the regular practice), but Tamar was ready, rational and resolved.

Conclusion: Have you been wronged, excluded or victimized? Do you feel helpless, hopeless and hurt? Have you felt picked on, put down and pushed away by society, neighbors and even relatives? Is our status and significance grounded in the Lord and gifted by the Lord? What care and commitment have you shown to the outcast and oppressed? James 1:27 says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” We are not to mistreat any widow or fatherless child (Ex 22:22) because the Lord

executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing (Deut 10:18).

I walked a mile with Pleasure;

She chatted all the way;

But left me none the wiser

For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,

And ne'er a word said she;

But, oh! The things I learned from her,

When sorrow walked with me.

While Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David (Rev 5:5), His grand ancestor was Tamar (Matt 1:3), the widowed daughter-in-law of Judah who became the legitimate bearer of Judah’s child! According to Deuteronomy 25:5-10 a surviving brother must seed his deceased brother’s wife so that the widow could have a child to continue the family name, but the surviving second brother of Judah’s sons and the superstitious father-in-law thwarted her hopes of motherhood and the birth of the Messiah.

,

How does the Lord want us to treat women without husbands, children or parents? What strength and support are available from the Lord for His people? Why is it best and wise for society honor them instead of hiding them?

Be Unafraid: Be Respectable and Be Reassured

6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also. 11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.

One day some elders came to see Father Anthony. In the midst of them was Father Joseph. Wanting to test them, Father Anthony suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant. Each gave his opinion as he was able. But to each one the old man said, “You have not understood it.”

Last of all he said to Father Joseph, “How would you explain this saying?” and he replied, “I do not know.” Then Father Anthony said, “Indeed, Father Joseph has found the way, for he has said: ‘I do not know.’”

Tamar was married to Er, the firstborn of Judah (v 6), so she held a very high and honored position in the family, but tragedy struck her family and relatives. The phrase “wicked in the Lord’s sight” (v 7) occurs for the first time in the Bible. Mostly the phrase has to do with idolatry (Deut 4:25, Judg 2:11, 2 Kings 3:2). The widow’s father-in-law Judah ordered the second son to fulfill the Mosaic law obligations by seeding his deceased brother’s child to carry the firstborn brother’s name, but the second son Onan did not refuse but sabotaged the deed. Why did Onan do that? My guess is that he could get more with the deceased firstborn brother out of the way. The verb “spill” is in the “piel” intensive stem, so it was with purpose and plan. Verse 7 and verse 10 “wicked in the Lord’s sight” are similar except verse 10’s “wicked” is in the verb. My theory is that the second son had the fun without the fatherhood, because the phrase “slept/went in” in the Bible refers to sex, as in the case of Abraham and Hagar (Gen 16:4), Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:23), and even Judah with his wife (Gen 38:2).

Two of Judah’s sons were evil and dead, so things did not bode well for Tamar, but she waited patiently for the youngest son to grow up to father her child because her father-in-law ordered her with an imperative to “live/remain” as a widow till his son grow up. Judah, however, was tricky in that he did not promise his son to father her child. Instead, he feared the worst that his last son might die marrying the so called “black widow” in the family. In a sense he blamed her and not his sons their death.

The imperative “live/remain” was unfair to Tamar because Judah did not release her from marrying others nor guarantee his last son’s duty. Judah not only washed himself of any emotional support from his daughter-in-law by ordering her home, he wanted her out of mind, out of sight for fear she would prey on his youngest son, jinxed on the family further and invite the neighbors’ sympathy for her. Most commentators think Tamar was a Gentile, so dreading, discriminating, denying, dumping and damning her were convenient, calculated and cold, not courageous, caring or classy.

Be Unamused: Be Revitalized and Be Resolved

12 After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him. 13 When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.” “And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked. 17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said. “Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked. 18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?” “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. 19 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again.

A young job applicant was being interviewed for an entry level position. His prospective boss asked, “Are you a smoker?” “Not even a little,” said the young man.

“How about alcoholic beverages?” “Never touch ‘em,” he replied.

The boss smiled and asked, “So you spend a lot of time with girls?” The applicant said “No, not really.”

“So you don’t have any vices?” “Well, I do have one,” he admitted.

“And what would that be?” the boss asked. “I tell lies.”

After a while Tamar was used to her father-in-law’s antics and character. The death of Judah’s wife did not prompt him to visit a harlot; it was another occasion and excuse to visit one. Readers were not told how far was Timnath from where she was, but it was significant since her father-in-law did not bother to revisit (v 20). Note that she did not lure him or seduce him. Give credit to her for thinking of the possibility of her father-in-law instead to father his child rather than her young brother-in-law. She was the one propositioned, not the other way. She did not seduce him since her body and face were covered. Tamar was faithful like no other. She was still dressed in her widow’s garments, sitting in her home while his father-in-law had overcome his wife’s death and was frisky outdoors with friends. Ungodly things happened when Judah was with friend Hirah, including marrying a Canaanite woman (vv 1-2).

The verb “took off” (v 14) is translated as remove (Gen 30:35), put off (Gen 38:14), turn aside (Josh 23:6) and withdraw (Job 33:17). Clothes are plural, so she did her best, the whole nine yards. She put them on again (v 19) after that act, an act of faithfulness to her husband as she covered (v 14), concealed (Gen 37:26), clad (1 Kings 11:29) and clothed (1 Chron 21:16) her body modestly, as I imagined widows were supposed to do in the past. Can you imagine how heavily dressed she was throughout the act to protect her identity? Harlot (vv 21, 22) she was not. She was surely aware by this time that she was the black sheep of the family, exiled to her home, confined to her death and oblivion since there were no plans for the youngest grown son to seed her with child and continue the family name. The last thing the father-in-law wanted to do was to visit her.

The verb “thought” (v 15) can be translated as counted (Gen 15:6), devise (Ex 31:4), reckon (Lev 25:50), esteem (Job 41:27), imagine (Ps 10:2), regard (Isa 33:8) and purposed (Jer 49:20). He had concluded and decided she was a harlot without asking– that was that. The verb “went over” meant it was his choice and character. Knowing his father-in-law was not a giving man, she asked him for guarantees. He used an imperative (v 16, “come”) but without benefits. The noun “pledge” (v 17, 18, 20) was crucial because she was not given a pledge previously by her deceptive father-in-law.

Be Unashamed: Be Righteous and Reliable

20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21 He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?” “There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said. 22 So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’” 23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.” 24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.” 26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

When a brother committed a fault and the desert father Moses was invited to a meeting to discuss an appropriate penance, Moses refused to attend. When he was again called to the meeting, Moses took a leaking jug filled with water and carried it on his shoulder. Another version of the story has him carrying a basket filled with sand. When he arrived at the meeting place, the others asked why he was carrying the jug. He replied, “My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, but today I am coming to judge the errors of another.” On hearing this, the assembled brothers forgave the erring monk.

Judah was disgraced in more ways than one. First, he designated Tamar as a harlot in a place where no harlot pried their business. It was an insult to the men of the place (v 21). Second, it was an insult to any widow outdoors. Third, the personal pronoun “we” (v 23) implicated his friends for doing the dirty business for him. The noun “laughingstock” could not be lighter. The original is translated as shamed (Gen 38:23) more than merely shock, despised (Job 12:5) more than just disrespect, and contempt (Job 12:21) more than clownish.

When Judah discovered her daughter-in-law was pregnant he was livid, commanding her with an imperative to be burnt, never giving her an opportunity to defend herself, meet him or . Judah was hypocritical in that he could visit a prostitute but his daughter-in-law could must remain a widow forever.

Tamar fired her only imperative – recognize (v 25), her only voice and fightback in the narrative. Recognize is more than just awareness but acknowledgement, as is the KJV translation. That’s why her name and story was in the Bible. She was given her due recognition, rightful place and family rights.

The verb “righteous” (v 26) occurs the first time in the Bible. It is a verb more than a noun. It refers to her actions, attitude and even aspiration, not for acceptance, affluence or annoyance. The noun “righteousness” would not appear till Leviticus (Lev 19:15), so she was the model of righteousness and justice. Judah could have said, “She is righteous,” but chose to say “She is more righteous than I” to implicate his own hypocrisy, and that she did nothing shameful. His plans to blame her, banish her and now burn her were all abnormal, atrocious and avoidable (stoning was the regular practice), but Tamar was ready, rational and resolved.

Conclusion: Have you been wronged, excluded or victimized? Do you feel helpless, hopeless and hurt? Have you felt picked on, put down and pushed away by society, neighbors and even relatives? Is our status and significance grounded in the Lord and gifted by the Lord? What care and commitment have you shown to the outcast and oppressed? James 1:27 says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” We are not to mistreat any widow or fatherless child (Ex 22:22) because the Lord

executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing (Deut 10:18).