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Biblical Women: Tamar I
Posted In: Religion Articles  3/3/12
By: Yona Williams

From the loving mother to the deceitful lover, women in the Bible have been depicted as taking on many different roles of mother, sister, wife, daughter and pivotal figures in changing history. In this article, you will learn about Tamar – a woman who played an important role in the ancestry of King David.

As being a significant part of the ancestry of King David, she ultimately influenced the lineage of Jesus the Messiah. In Biblical times, she was known as being persevering and intelligent, which helped her outwit a big obstacle in her life – her father-in-law, Judah. Tamar is remembered for her material instincts fostered by her desire to continue the lineage that will lead to Christ. Along the way, she must make difficult choices that affect the continuation of the lineage. Her decisions, cunningness, and courage are what assist her in changing history. The first description of Tamar is found in Chapter 38 of the Book of Genesis. She marries the oldest son of Judah, Er. However, he was a wicked man and Er and is killed by Yahweh at a young age.

A Levirate union allowed Judah to ask his second son, Onan to provide children for Tamar so that the family line would continue. This type of marriage involves the brother of a deceased man marrying his brother's widow, and the widow marrying y her deceased husband's brother – obligations under both circumstances. The law is first mentioned in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, and states that if a man died, and his wife had not yet brought a child into the world by him, then she could go to his brother and demand that he marry her and give her a child. This way, the child would inherit the property of the dead husband.

The law was put into place to allow the woman's right to have children, and to keep property within the family. To learn more about this type of marriage and the different cultures and religions that followed it, read the article titled, "The Levirate Union."

However, Onan did not follow through with the process of creating a child with Tamer. He felt that any child born would not be his own to claim. Yahweh saw these actions as wicked and just like his older brother, he died before his time. Because of the death of both his sons, Judah believed that Tamar was cursed and he was not willing to give his youngest son Shelah to her, who was his youngest son. Even as Shelah grew older, Judah would not give Tamar a marriage to his son. The longer she waits to have a child, the less possible it will become. She is also destined to a bleak existence, as children grow up to take care of their parents when they get older. Tamar has known of this – being a two-time widow.


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