“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Hi and welcome to my first Bible study “Women in Jesus’ Genealogy”. While there are many women in the Bible of importance, I chose to do a series on genealogy since that is a passion of mine since I was very young. I hope you enjoy, learn and this blesses you. I pray that this will speak to each and every one of you in it’s own special way.
I wanted to take a moment to clear some confusion. There are two areas of the Bible where it addresses Jesus’ genealogy. One is in the book of Matthew and the second is in the book of Luke. I’ve researched the differences a few times and the best explanation I found was that Matthew is from Joseph’s lineage and Luke’s version is of Mary’s. You may argue that Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ biological father, however it was part of God’s plan that Joseph was Jesus’ earthly father. I know plenty of men and women that have been raised by a father or mother who are not blood but it’s the person that steps up and raises you that deserves that title. Luckily I was raised by both of my biological parents and owe them both a great deal of gratitude for the life they gave to me and my sisters. Joseph was part of the story that there was be a King of Kings who would save us all from sin.
There were also 2 other Tamar’s in the Bible. I will address them perhaps in another study, but for this lesson we’ll stick to the lineage of Jesus. I just didn’t want anyone to be confused that this was the same Tamar as another.
Tamar is where our study and Jesus’ story begins. You can find the story of Tamar in the book of Genesis chapter 38. Tamar was the wife of Judah’s son Er who was wicked and God put him to death. During these times, it was proper for a brother to marry another brothers wife to give the deceased brothers heirs. Onan, Er’s brother was asked to do this by Judah however anytime Onan had sex with Tamar he put his semen on the floor because he didn’t want to get her pregnant and not raise a child that he knew wouldn’t be viewed as his own.
Since then, ‘onanism’ has become the technical word used to describe uncompleted coition and masturbation. As I explained in my last blog, you can’t mess with God’s plan. His plan is his plan and nothing we do in life can change that plan. God’s plan was for Tamar to conceive, therefore what Onan was doing was also viewed as wicked so God put him to death as well.
The only son that Judah had remaining was Shelah, however being too young he sent Tamar away to live with her father until Shelah was old enough to marry her. Of course, Judah was frightened that his only son would die just like his older brothers if he married Tamar. I guess you can’t blame the guy for thinking something was a little sketchy right?
Time went on and Judah’s wife Shua passed away and after grieving her death he decided to take a trip to the town of Timnah to sheer his sheep. Tamar was told that her father in law was on his way so she devised a plan. Also, during this time it was looked down upon for a woman to have children and not be married even if her husband was deceased. Women back then were forced to wear clothing making them look like they were poor with no shoes basically called “widows clothing”. Tamar decided that she would remove her “widows clothing” and put on a beautiful scarf to cover her face and from there she pretended to be a prostitute. She decided to wait for Judah to pass through Timnah and saw that Shelah was grown up and not given to her to marry. Judah saw Tamar and because she covered her face, he thought she was a prostitute and asked to sleep with her. He didn’t know it was Tamar because of the veil that she wore.
Tamar knew exactly what she needed to do to get what was rightfully hers. I think we all can relate to a time when we made a decision for the greater good. Taking a chance that it would work out. Judah offered Tamar a goat from his herd in exchange for sleeping with her, but Tamar wanted guarantee before he was able to send the goat to her. Judah gave Tamar his seal, a cord and the staff he was carrying.
You have to give Tamar a lot of credit because this was pretty darned smart and risky! Of course, Judah slept with her and she got pregnant. Judah sent the young goat with his friend to retrieve his items from the Prostitute. The friend couldn’t find this woman so he started asking around and of course found out there was no prostitute in that town. Knowing they would end up being the laughing stock of the town, he decided to just let her keep what she had since they couldn’t find her.
Eventually, word was given to Judah that Tamar was pregnant because of being a prostitute. Judah asked she be burned to death for her crime. Of course, Tamar sent the items she kept and said, “I am pregnant by the man who owns these”. Go Tamar!!! I can almost hear the dramatic music playing here as I can see the look on his face. The look of, “OH CRAP”. Of course Judah knew he’d been had so he spoke up and admitted that Tamar had more guts & grace than he did since he wouldn’t even allow his last son to marry her like he was supposed to. He admitted defeat and accepted the outcome.
It’s ironic how Tamar’s story ends because she eventually had twin boys conceived by having sex with Judah. The midwive put a piece of red thread on the babies hand that put his arm out first stating, “this is the first baby out so we can keep them straight”. The first baby born would be the rightful heir. This baby drew his arm back in and instead the second baby ended up being born first and was named Perez. The midwive exclaimed, “this is how your broke out!”. I think this statement is ironic since it is part of the way that Tamar’s story emerged. “This was how she broke out of the situation that she was in”. The name PEREZ actually means, “breaking out”. Her other son’s name was Zerah, meaning “scarlet or brightness”.
So what did we learn from Tamar? Essentially you could say that she was the first woman who fought for her rights. Especially in a time when woman had none. Back in Bible days it was a crime to do what Onan did to Tamar by not conceiving a child with her to honor his brother’s heir to the tribal wealth. A woman could actually take this man to the public square and in front of everyone call him out on it, spit in his face and state what he did (or hasn’t done) to her. Tamar could have just quietly went back to her father’s house, did nothing.
“Vengeance is mine says the Lord”. This is why I believe that the battle is always God’s and not our own. Tamar took a bad situation and did what she felt she had to do, but we all know that God knew his son was going to born to save us from our sin. This meant that Tamar’s story had to happen in order for that prophecy to be fulfilled. We’ve all heard the saying, “never let anyone dull your sparkle”. Never let anyone tell you can’t overcome something. We are all God’s children, part of his plan. Do you know God as your personal savior? I would be happy to talk with anyone who wants to know God and be forgiven of their sins. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. Thank you for joining me on Bible Study #1-Women of Jesus’ Genealogy.