Joseph is sold into slavery and Israel is morning for his son. Judah, one of the older sons, leaves the family and marries a Canaanite woman and has sons of his own. When we join this story, many years have passed since Joseph was sold and this takes place while Joseph is a slave in Egypt. I can’t help but wonder if Judah left because of tselling Joseph and seeing his father’s distress?
Anyway, Judah oldest son, Er, marries Tamar. Er “was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life.” It was not fault Tamar’s fault, but she still gets blamed for it.
First, Judah’s second son, Onan, blames her and refuses to give her a child. “What he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also.“ Tamar loses again, gets blamed again.
Judah, now believing it must be Tamar’s fault, refuses to give her his third son, lest he die also. In disgrace, she has to leave Judah’s family, the only family she has known as an adult, and is sent home to her home in disgrace.
What could she do?
She did not grow up in this culture. She does’t know the ways of God. But she did have a conscience and knew right from wrong.
So she took matters into her own hands. She tricked Judah into having sex with her, playing the role of a pagan prostitute, gaining proof that she would use later to prove her pregnancy.
What was Judah doing messing around with a pagan prostitute?
He was the child of Jacob/Israel. He had every opportunity to know God. But Tamar had probably seen how he was running from the Lord since selling Joseph. She knew his track record of betrayal.
Can you imagine his surprise at being outwitted by a Canaanite woman? He was in the midst of his anger at her getting pregnant only to find out it was his own sin.
God met Judah in midst of the deceit, as he says, “She is more righteous than I.” He knew his own sin, and how clear it was even to someone who knew right from wrong. It’s a lesson we see later as Judah deals with Joseph.
She is one of the few women mentioned in Jesus’ lineage in Matthew 1:3 – the Canaanite woman who knew more about right and wrong than Judah who was raised in a household that was supposed to be following God.
Hmm…I wonder what my witness looks like to others who know I am a Christian when I don’t choose right?