Monday, September 19, 2011

Genesis 38:12-30

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.

When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 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. (Gen 38:12-14)

Notice that a lot of time had passed since Tamar had been sent back to her father. When she hears that Judah has gone with his buddy, Hirah, to where the sheep were being sheared, she comes up with a plan to right the wrong done to her. For, by now, she realizes that Judah has no intention of giving her to his third son, Shelah. So she dresses up like a prostitute, with a veil on her face, and waits by the road. Sure enough, Judah hires her to meet his needs. But not before Tamar exacts a promise from him along with some of his possessions as insurance. Judah promises to pay her with a young goat, and as a pledge that he will indeed follow up on the promise, he leaves her his seal and its cord, along with his staff. These would be like leaving his credit cards, Driver’s license, and passport! They were the essentials needed to prove his identity and to do business.

When he later sends the goat back with his friend, Hirah, the prostitute is no longer there. This whole scene is like something out of a Shakespearean play (or today’s political headlines)!

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. 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.

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.’”

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.” (vs. 20-23)

Uh-oh! Judah realizes he has been had, but rather than involve the local authorities, he prefers to keep it quiet, because he wants to keep his reputation intact. He’s fairly certain he has dodged a bullet, even if the woman has taken his possessions. However, the Bible tells us that our sins will find us out (Num 32:23), and, eventually everything comes to light:

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!” (vs. 24)

I love what Jon Courson writes about this: “It’s amazing how my sin looks on someone else!” Judah in his self-righteous indignation is ready to have her executed for her sin, which is also HIS sin! This is just like when Nathan, the prophet, tells David the story of the rich man who takes the one lamb from the poor man (as David had taken Bathsheba from Uriah), and David insists that the man must be put to death. Then Nathan calmly says, “You are the man, David!” YIKES! Fortunately, Judah, just like David, immediately takes responsibility for his sin, and acknowledges that Tamar, “... is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son, Shelah.” (vs.26)

Okay - haven’t we ALL been like Judah at one time or another? We are horrified and offended by the sins of others that we, too, have also committed! I don’t know about you, but this has actually been an area of struggle for me recently, so this story is painful for me to read. How often I have been pointing the finger that comes right back to me!!! LORD, thank you for your Spirit, who catches me in the act and gently reminds me of my sin!!! Thank you, LORD, for your grace that not only points it out, but COVERS it! Amazing!

We’ll finish up with Tamar tomorrow, because we don’t want to miss the point of her being mentioned in this almost parenthetical chapter.

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