Tamar in the Bible shows God’s purpose and plans working out perfectly despite the injustice and unrighteousness of men.
The Bible is filled with many narratives. Beautiful tales fill our hearts with hope, but some stories are challenging to read; Tamar’s story is one of them. There are three stories of Tamar in the Bible, and two experienced injustices within the family. Both are unpleasant tales, yet Tamar was given the privilege of being Jesus’ ancestor. Let’s take a look at how their stories unfolded.
Who was Tamar in the Bible?
Tamar, Absalom’s Daughter
There are three people with the same name in the Old Testament. The first Tamar is Absalom’s daughter and was only mentioned in passing in 2 Samuel 14:27. It says in the verse that she became a beautiful woman and had three brothers. This Tamar also became Queen Maaacah’s mother. She married King Rehoboam.
Tamar, Judah’s Daughter-in-law
Tamar became Judah’s daughter-in-law when she married his son, Er. Unfortunately, she became a widow early when the Lord took Er’s life became he was evil in the sight of the Lord (Genesis 38:7).
Tamar was alone and childless, and her father-in-law showed no intention of marrying off another of his son. Judah believed that Tamar was the cause of his son’s death when that was far from the truth. He turned blind and neglected the sins of his children.
Later in the story, after Judah’s wife dies, Tamar impersonates a harlot and offers herself to her father-in-law. Judah did not recognize Tamar and slept with her. Fast forward three months, Judah insisted that Tamar be punished when he learned she was pregnant, thinking she had been unfaithful. However, Tamar countered Judah’s claims and brought out the staff, seal, and cord her father-in-law gave her that night.
Surprisingly, Judah confessed to neglecting his responsibilities and caring for his daughter-in-law (Genesis 38:26). His guilt caused Judah to confess his sin publicly and made him strive to be a better father-in-law for Tamar and care for the children she was carrying. Tamar gave birth to twins and named them Perez and Zerah. Later, we’ll find that King David and Jesus Christ came from the Perez bloodline.
Tamar, King David’s daughter
The second Tamar also had a tragic story. This Tamar was the beautiful daughter of King David. Tamar had a brother, Absalom, and Amnon, her half-brother. Amnon fell in love with Tamar. He also became obsessed with Tamar and consumed with lust for her. What’s worse is that Amnon had a cunning and manipulative adviser named Jonadab who told Amnon to pretend to be ill so that he could ask Tamar to care for him.
David did not know of Amnon’s obsession and sent Tamar to care for Amnon. Tamar was unaware of Amnon’s cruel intention; she prepared and served bread for him. He then sent everyone out of his room, grabbed Tamar, and proceeded to rape her. After he has done the deed, Amnon hates Tamar with great hatred and sends her out of his room.
Tamar wept loudly after she tore the ornate robe she wore, the kind of garment virgin daughters of the king wore. Absalom then found Tamar and brought her to his home, where she lived as a desolate woman. When Absalom and King David discovered what Amnon did, King David was furious but did not do anything. However, Absalom was consumed by hatred and rage that he plotted against Amnon and killed him two months later.
Does Tamar fit into Jesus’ Genealogy?
Yes, she does. Judah came from Abraham’s bloodline. So when she bore twins with Judah, she became part of Jesus’ genealogy. King David and Jesus Christ came from the Perez bloodline, and he was one of the twin sons of Tamar and Judah.
Story of Tamar in the Bible
Tamar’s marriage to Judah’s firstborn son Er
Tamar married Judah’s firstborn son, Er but was childless because she became a widow very early. After Er’s death, she then married Onan, Er’s brother. However, Onan did not give Tamar children out of spite for his brother, so she remained childless even during her second marriage. In Jewish cultural standards, being childless was a disgrace because the people back then thought it was a form of punishment from God.
Tamar’s plan to claim her rights
After God punished Onan, Tamar became a widow once again. By law, Tamar had the right to marry Judah’s third son. But because Judah was convinced that Tamar was the reason for his two sons’ death, he deprived Tamar of that right. So Tamar waited patiently for the perfect time to act and get what was rightfully hers. After Judah lost his wife, Tamar dressed in the unique clothing of prostitutes that concealed her face from Judah and deceived her father-in-law so that he could have sex with her. After, Tamar even asked for payment from Judah. He gave her his staff, seal, and cord.
Judah’s judgment on Tamar
When her pregnancy was made known, it was assumed that Tamar was promiscuous because she did not name the father of her child. Judah ordered Tamar to be burnt to death as punishment when he heard of this. As head of the tribe, Judah had the power to pass that judgment on Tamar. However, Tamar brought out the seal, cord, and staff Judah gave her that night in retaliation. Doing so proves that Judah was the father of her child. Confronted with the evidence, Judah was overcome with guilt, confessed his sins, and made it right with Tamar.
The birth of Tamar’s twin sons
Because of Tamar’s patience and insistence on her rights, God rewarded her with twin sons, Perez and Zerah. Later, it became known that Perez was the ancestor of Kind David, one of Israel’s great heroes, and also Jesus Christ. Through Perez, King David and Jesus Christ became the descendants of Tamar.
Lessons from Tamar in the Bible
Always be patient
Though she knew what her rights were, Tamar remained patient and waited for Judah’s third son to be of age to marry. Tamar did not act on her emotions and waited patiently despite being hurt. In doing so, Tamar could think of a plan that ultimately gave her the children she wanted.
So like Tamar, we should also be patient and wait for God’s instruction and guidance. Do not take matters into your own hands and act upon your emotions. Let the Lord take care of it, and trust His timing and leading.
There are many stories of courageous women in the Bible. Famous examples are Ruth, Deborah, and Esther, who were brave in the face of danger and took a stand during a problematic situation. Tamar is also of the same caliber as those women. For Tamar’s plan to succeed, she needed to take the courage to grab the opportunity. Though it was unconventional, Tamar knew what she needed to do.
The redemptive and compassionate heart of God
Tamar’s story shows that God doesn’t play favorites. Tamar wasn’t part of God’s chosen people; she was a Gentile and a woman. Yet despite all of this, God took care of Tamar and became part of Jesus’ genealogy. Though what she did was unconventional, the Lord did not deprive Tamar of her right to bear children.
Learn from the ugly stories in the Bible
All the tales in the Bible have lessons that are significant to us. Although the story of Tamar is unconventional, it still teaches us about patience and perseverance. Tamar was widowed twice, yet she did not act based on her emotions. Instead, she patiently waited for an opportunity and act on it. Tamar did what she had to secure her right to bear children and was rewarded with twin sons.
Tamar’s story deals with fathers’ neglect and men’s cruelty. Both stories aren’t easy to read due to the injustices towards Tamar, but we must accept that life isn’t always beautiful. However, our God is fair and looks out for all of us. Though it wasn’t mentioned in the verses, the Lord was looking out for Tamar. If He weren’t, then Tamar’s plan wouldn’t have worked so well. It was unconventional, yet God still used Tamar so that Judah could see his neglect which deprived Tamar of her right to have a family.
It shows that God will use you even if you think you aren’t worthy. Despite the unconventional route of her plan, God used Tamar and even included her in His bloodline. Just remain faithful and trust in God’s guidance. Surrender the pain and hatred you feel towards the people that have wronged you. Let God take care of that and focus on higher things. The Lord’s rewards and promises are worth more than getting back at the people who hurt you.
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