Monday, March 24, 2008

Tamar's Tale

Are you noticing how much men, marriage, sex, and babies play into all these women’s stories so far? We’re often surprised to read the lengths to which these ancient sisters would go to in order to have babies. Let’s talk about marriage and babies, as that’s what’s at the center of Tamar’s tale.

First, many of you asked where the marriage ceremony was for Leah and Jacob since Jacob expected to be marrying Rachel. Marriage in their day contained three main components:

1) The parents arranged it. Remember how Abraham sent his servant to his hometown in search of a bride for 40 year-old Isaac? The father of the bride was definitely in charge of who would marry his daughter and when. Laban decided to marry Leah off before Rachel - though in a very deceitful way that gave Jacob no say in the matter.

2) The next component is the bride price. Negotiated between the groom and the bride’s father, it could include money, livestock, clothing, jewelry, or an act of service performed. For Jacob, who came empty handed, it was seven years of work. The bride price does not mean the husband is purchasing the bride like property, but rather it shows the bride’s worth in the eyes of the father and the groom. Laban deemed the first 7 years of Jacob’s work as Leah’s bride price and then told Jacob he’d have to work another 7 years for Rachel’s bride price.

3) The third component is the feast or celebration night, in which the marriage is consummated sexually. The feast was typically given by the father of the bride, as Laban did. It’s unclear if there was a separate feast for Rachel once the next 7 years of work was complete, but by then Jacob and Rachel had already slept together anyway.

I hope that that helps our understanding of how Jacob came to be hitched to both Leah and Rachel. Now let’s talk about Tamar’s marriage situation. Hers is a case of what’s called “levirate marriage.”

Levirate marriage took place when a husband died before an heir-child was produced. In such cases, the deceased husband’s brother would marry the widow and give her children that would be considered the first husband’s heirs. This was done so that the first husband’s bloodline would continue, or as the Bible says, so that “his name not be put out of Israel” (Deut. 25:6). Notice that bloodlines were deemed extremely important. This practice became part of the law of Moses (Deut. 25:5-10). If a man refused to marry his widowed sister-in-law, he would be publicly disgraced.

Tamar married Judah’s son Er (remember Judah is Leah’s son). Er does something sinful in God’s eyes and is struck dead for his sin. Er’s brother Onan then must marry Tamar. Only Onan refused to give Tamar children. He used the levirate system by taking her as wife and sleeping with her - and avoiding public disgrace. But behind closed doors, Onan cheated Tamar and the levirate system by purposefully not completing the conjugal act.

Why didn’t Onan want Tamar to have a child? In a word: greed. If Tamar had a son, part of Judah’s estate would be left to him in Er’s name. Onan didn’t want to give up any of his inheritance. Guess what? Onan then suffered the same fate as his brother Er. Deeds done in the dark are always seen by God. There is one son left but he is still too young to consummate a marriage.

Here’s the deal. Levirate custom said if no brothers are over the age of 10, then the widow can be released and free to marry again. Judah could’ve released Tamar to marry into another family. Instead, he asks her to wait on his young son Shelah, and sends Tamar back to her parents’ house to do the waiting.

Can you imagine how Tamar felt? … widowed … cheated … used. Can you imagine how this affected her reputation? Picture the stares of the other women – Poor Tamar can’t bear children. Poor Tamar, all her husbands die an early death. Poor Tamar, she’s moved back in with her parents. Poor Tamar, she’s now engaged to a little boy.

Therefore, there sits Tamar, back at square one in life, waiting for a husband with her biological clock ticking really loud. The time comes when Shelah would be old enough, but Judah never sends for Tamar. She is trapped. If she could just have a son, she would receive some inheritance and would have someone to look out for her in her old age. Yet Judah and his family cost her every chance at that. Without children, her future looked bleak, and everyone knew it, including Judah.

Tamar’s future was frustratingly out of her hands… or was it? Tamar learns Judah is traveling nearby. She devises a way to get out from between this rock and hard place she’s been stuck in every since the death of her husband Er. She will gain an heir from Judah’s family – indeed from Judah himself. Tamar poses as a prostitute, Judah propositions her, and she gets his identifying possessions to later prove he was the father should any children be conceived.

Children were conceived, and Judah calls for Tamar’s death for turning up pregnant while still being betrothed to his son Shelah who she hadn’t slept with. He was quick to throw the first stone. In response, Tamar produces the identifying possessions, proving that Judah is the father of her unborn twins. Judah eventually admits, “She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah” (Gen. 38:26).

Tamar, like some of her relatives had, resorted to deceit to conceive her children when it looked like she would not have any. Also, like many of her relatives before her, God remembered her plight, and did for Tamar. God allowed Tamar's daring plan to result in conception, and she birthed Perez and Zerah. Perez would become a direct ancestor to King David and, much later, to Jesus of Nazareth.

Judah and his sons showed a penchant for sin and little concern for upholding the laws and continuing their holy (set apart for God’s purposes) bloodline. Meanwhile, Tamar was determined to continue that bloodline through her womb. God used her desperate act to ensure the tribe of Judah would in deed continue – and even one day lead to the birth of the world’s Messiah. Yes, men, marriage, sex and babies sure were important to our biblical sisters, and clearly to God as well.

I want to remind us once again as we read these women’s stories, that God uses the imperfect actions of imperfect people to advance His perfect plans for humanity and eternity. If we stop to consider that fact a moment, and how it applies in our own lives, I think we'll go through today feeling quite grateful that He does.

Post what you thought of Tamar’s brief but memorable story.

121 comments:

  1. At first I wanted to condemn Tamar for deceiving Judah, but after considering the circumstances, I might have done exactly that.

    I can't imagine the agony of waiting over and over again to bear a child, and then finally being told you have to wait for your husband to grow up!

    Thank goodness we have a God whose plans are perfect...even when our schemes are not : )

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  2. My first reaction was--

    "come on Tamar have a little respect for yourself" and then I read & realized that SHE is a piece of the bloodline of our Savior Jesus Christ. Hmmmmmmm...God really will use my bad choices for good too.

    Thanks Rachel

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  3. My first thought was how many years Tamar had to wait for the third husband to produce an heir which was of upmost importance in that culture. I don't think her motive was to avenge Judah, rather her desperate desire to have an heir that would be a part of the linage to the promise made to Abraham.
    Rachel, I noticed that you posted at 2:30am. When do you sleep?

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  4. This is my insight I thought that Judah was blaming Tamar for his first two sons death, that is why he didnt send the thrid one when he was suppose to. Also i thought that Tamar should have more respect for herself but then realized i probable would have done the same thing. We always want what is promised to us and we try to help God, when he doesnt need any help. In my heart i feel GOd is telling me to wait upon him and in his time things will turn out better.

    I have been writing anonyomous but i finally decided to show my name.

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  5. Oh didnt put my name it is cassandra. I'm from Virginia

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  6. I don't think Judah blamed Tamar for the death of his first two sons but I do believe he wanted to protect the only son he had left. I believe Judah had good intentions however, when his youngest was finally old enough he probably had a change of heart.

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  7. I hope all of you had a nice Easter Holiday. As far as Tamar, and her desperation to have a child, I feel nothing but compassion. Having went into considerable debt trying to concieve only to be disappointed, I definitely understand her desperation. And in that society, compared to today's, a woman was judged more by her ability to produce heirs than pretty much anything else.
    Beth Ann

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  8. God uses the least to make the most....

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  9. We just studied Tamar's story this week at Sunday school from the book bad girls of the bible. Considering that the women of the bible put their identity in having children. I understand why she did what she did. It certainly gives me hope that God can use all of our errors for good. Thanks Rachel. I Love reading about the women.

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  10. I agree with fullofgrace92, I would've done the same to Judah after knowing what Judah was doing to me. I am thankful for the Lord's omniscient ability and perfect plan for all of us. Thank you Lord for loving us so much as to stand by our sides no matter what!!

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  11. Yes, I am very grateful that God's perfect plan is still carried out, even if I mess up miserably. What an awesome, all-powerful God!

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  12. My first thought was shame on Tamar, how could she be so deceitful. I’m learning more and more not to judge a person because I don’t know what I would have done if I were in her situation. I think Judah knew what he was doing by not sending his son, after the death of two sons I’m sure he didn’t want to lose his youngest son also. My question is how did Tamar know that Judah would sleep with a prostitute? However she knew; her plan worked or should I say really in the end it was God’s plan that worked. I thank God that I’m learning that I need to wait on Him, but even if I get ahead of him sometimes He can turn my mistakes around for good.

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  13. I have had Tamar on my mind a lot for the past couple of days. I want to say that I wouldn't have schemed to get what I wanted, but I feel that I might have in that situation. However, I also feel that I might have just sat around feeling hopeless, wishing I could die instead of taking matters into my own hands.

    I never gave Tamar much thought before. She always seemed like such a "little" piece of the whole story. I can see now that she was much bigger and grander that I thought she was: Great ancestor of Christ.

    Reading this in the past, I always felt that Judah was acting very deceitfully. I wish I knew what was in his heart. Did he intentionally not send his youngest due to a change of heart? Did he not send him due to dishonesty? I wish I knew. That would help me process the rest of the story.

    However, I know that God uses everyone in their own way. I also know that He loves me and I love Him.

    His-
    Emily in Ohio

    PS. Bass_gal, I am so glad you decided to reveal yourself. I think this bunch of women is very kind and we are all glad you feel comfortable to let us know who you are.

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  14. My first thought is yuck! Sleeping with your father-in-law?! I wonder how old he was compared to her? I always wonder what is going through their heads during the act? Did she feel vengeful, was she smiling at what she had done, was her heart pounding because she was so hoping she would get pregnant? What do you tell your children when they are older? Did they ever know their father. I'm sure they found out what their mother did because it was recorded. Obviously the story was passed down from generation to generation. I wonder how her children were treated because of what their mother had done?

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  15. Debbie in SCMarch 24, 2008

    Good Morning!! Again--different time...different culture. We choose our mate, we marry for love, we want kids to complete our family--not add to a bloodline. OT women had so much frustration that could never match with things we complain about...clean the garage, turn off that TV, help me in the yard, don't track in the mud, sit and talk with me. Aren't you glad you live in the great USA in 2008? :o)
    For heavier issues we pray and certainly do our share of tricks/deceit to get our own way when "God doesn't seem to be hurrying". Tamar felt STUCK. Maybe that's where we get the saying, "look out for #1 because noone else will."

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  16. Tamar was like a lost puppy dog. She was told by her father that she had to marry Er, then he dies. Judah gave Onan too her, and he died because of his deceit. By this point, you know she was confused, angry, and upset. She goes back home, hoping that her father-in-law had not lied to her, and waits for Shelah. She knows her time is short, but she trusts Judah's word.

    How many times do we do that to our families? We trust the word of people without consulting God. We make choices based on our selfish desires, and like Kim said, God uses those decisions for good. Judah may not have made the first bad choice ... that blame appears to be on Er, then Onan, then Judah.

    Did Judah walk into Tamar's trap blindly? I know in that day, it was not unusual for "temple prostitutes" to be present, and lure men into their beds. Perez and Zerah were born out of the union between Tamar and Judah. Why? Tamar's need to bear children. She felt wronged by Judah, and this was her payback.

    Was Judah blinded by his need for companionship? Was he blinded by Tamar's beauty? These are all questions that have been asked about prostitution since, well, the beginning of it. Men and women need companionship (thank you, Eve). When men do not receive it from the women they love, or lack thereof, they look for it in other arenas. Tamar played that card to bear children.

    Both Judah and Tamar are in the wrong here. But God used two wrongs to make a right. Perez' descendants included the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

    What does this say to me? Scheming for the betterment of my own desires may not be in my best interest, but God may still use those plans for good.

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  17. Our God is an awesome God. His plans for us transcend any that we have! Though Tamar's situation looked bleak and dark, the Light of the World was to be the result. As women we try to take matters into our own hands, you know, help God along (smile) but thank goodness He always has a better plan and more patience than we could ever have. We must trust Him and wait. Be blessed...grace and peace.

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  18. I still have such a hard time with the whole "Two wrongs and God made it right" concept. I am really struggling with this story and it's historical/ faith significance. I will have to read everyone's comments to see if one can strike a chord with me and I can get some clarity.

    I am so very lost and confused with this one.

    His-
    Emily in Ohio

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  19. I admit I was confused with Tamar's story. Now I see that God wants I to see other's flaws. Other people who were loved by Him still screwed up, and He still blessed them in the end. What an unbelievably amazing God we have.

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  20. I thank God for you women because I am learning so much, it is helping me to expand how I read my Bible, it truly is amazing! I agree with what Emily said about Tamar being a "little" piece of the grand scheme of things. It reminded me how what we may consider as little things may actually be major things to God. Nothing is to small or little or less important to God. He looks at the whole picture and even the things we consider to be small matter to Him. I'm truly amazed by Him. His love for His children, His thoughts, His Word! I'm amazed and without much to say but WOW and amazed as I stated about three to four times in this post! Smile!

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  21. Another example how we are not patient to wait for Gods plan or timing but rather take things into our own hands making a big mess. However, our merciful God once again takes our ashes and will change it into beauty. Yes, I am speaking from experience.
    I am learning so much from these women. Thanks.
    Margaret

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  22. When I first read the scripture, I agreed with tefferk's response. After reading the other comments, I know that I need to ask God for wisdom, and then reread the story. Rachel and girls, thanks so much for your insights. Have a great day!

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  23. It's so easy to judge what choices some make, and, so hard to see way down the line into the future to know what God will do with our situations, and how He brings about good. We probably don't see His plan a lot of times because it happens so far down the road like in this story. Trust God period. That's what this tells me, even when we don't get to see. Trust God!

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  24. Thanks to all of you for the comments. It is such a blessing to read what you feel about this story. My life is full of God taking bad things and using them for His purposes. I thank Him for His amazing Grace and Mercy. Can't wait to read about the next women. God Bless you all.

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  25. At first when I read this story, I was eager to judge Tamar, but after I read Rachel's comments I started to think. A lot of times I judge quickly. I have to think before I look at other's faults, I need to look at myself. We all sin, some of us more secretive than others but sin is sin. I am so glad that we have a gracious God, who through his son, Jesus, we don't have to fear his judgement of our sins but we have forgiveness.

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  26. I read it - in Batson Tx

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  27. I love how God used these women to continue His divne plan, especially when it came to the blood line of Judah and eventually Jesus! These historical facts just continue to increase my faith!

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  28. Wow this one was truly interesting, I too thought that Tamar should have had more respect for herself, and that I probably would of done the same. God uses us and now i know, IIIII finally know i must stop wait have just alittle more patience. I do understand why she did what she did though. He always has a better plan and alot more patience than I could ever have/but I hope oneday I will have. :)
    WELCOME Cassandra/Bass Gal
    Thank You Rachel :)
    have a blessed day e-1

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  29. So many of us posted that our first thought was "Shame on Tamar." It's natural for us to make judgements about people and their actions, without ever really stopping to look at why someone behaved the way they did. Maybe God is trying to show us that we should look deeper before making judgments about situations. Maybe it is when we look deeper that we will see that God is at work in all situations.

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  30. I too am learning to not judge so quickly..
    Having children seems to be most of their worth in this time era..it is tough enough to wait on God...but to wait on man to act is a biggy!
    The Word is coming so alive..Thanks to Rachel and all my new found sisters!!
    Nann - Batson, Tx

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  31. It really is very hard to know what they were truly thinking and why they did what they did. That's where I'm working at hearing from God to explain it. I believe it is important for us to see these stories so that we do know that God loves us even when we mess things up. We should not get a complacent attitude about how we live our life, but we don't need to let the devils condemnations destroy us. God gently convicts us so we can make it right, the Devil is who tries to condem us.

    As for Tamar, I can totally see how she could get to such a point. That was a much different time. Women were not allowed to venture out on their own so to speak. They had to follow the men. And sins against the laws meant could easily mean death. How would she survive with out someone to provide for her? She was under the law of waitiung for Shelah, she couldn't go off and marry someone else. She had nothing to loose. As for her wanting to be in Judah's bloodline, did she know it would lead to Jesus, and to her who was Jesus...???? Or did she just feel betrayed, hurt, or perhaps majorly ticked off. I think I would have been. She had plenty of time to sit around and stew over it, and it did say "she saw that Shelah was grown up but had not been given to him as his wife" (vs 14) I think that she realized she had one weapon (her body) and win loose or draw she was going to take a chance at getting a child, or getting revenge or both, even if it possibly could have caused her death. What life did she have at that point anyway, stuck in her fathers home waiting for a husband that was never to come.

    Now as with all the other Womens stories that we have read, God had a plan. Imagine that if only we could wait for His answers... But they didn't. (Not unlike us today) And even though she charged ahead, God is an awesome God and worked it out for good. He protected her, by having her get the ID from Judah and the bloodline did continue.

    It's so nice to give these people a human quality instead of some "Story" in the Bible. It has really helped me more to see Gods love for us.
    Have a Blessed day ladies and new sisters and friends

    Oh and Rachel you're awesome thanks for your time. And I agree 2:30 am, that's either really early or very late.

    In His Love,
    Lynn, Oregon

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  32. I missed last week, but got caught up today. It really does amaze me how all of these woman have the same struggles and they all go about getting what THEY want because they don't want to wait, when if they would just wait patiently (as we should also), everthing will happen in God's time.

    I really am enjoying this study.

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  33. Poor Tamar; widowed twice, childless and sent home to Dad. And she didn't have a Bible to read or online friends to help keep her strong in the Lord. I can't even imagine the aloneness and frustration she must have felt. How much religous training did she have? Was she, as a woman, even allowed to go to "church?" If she was still living with her father, what was she allowed to do? Everyone needs companionship; did Tamar have this? No wonder she was so desperate for a child.

    God loves us so much that it is beyond my comprehension. Yet he gives each one of us the ability to make choices each day. I'm sure I don't decide the way He wants me too, but hopefully He will use my actions to the betterment of His kingdom.

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  34. The Word tells us to throw the first stone if we are without sin. Ouch. We all can see the error in Tamar's actions but the result was wondrous. Our God is so good.

    Please pray for my five week old grandaughter Selena. She is a twin to grandson Taivian. They were born nine weeks early. Selena is on a heart and breathing monitor. She stopped breathing last evening and the monitor did not work. They got her breathing started again and she is now at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. We are waiting for word on her. Please pray for her healing and stength. Taivian is doing well. Taivian just came home last Thursday and Selena on Good Friday. Thank you for all your prayers.

    Janet

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  35. I can certainly see how Tamar made her decisions as she did. I know what desperation can do to a person. I have hit "bottom" with depression and made the wrong choice. It was then that God stepped into my life and got my attention. He then sent others who brought me back to church and growing closer to him. One of those people he sent is my fiancee. He himself has made desperate choices. He too had hit his bottom. As a result of that, we each have grown as people and grown closer to God. We have put God at the center of our relationship. So out of desperate choices, has come a lot of good and I know God has more plans to us us individually and as a couple in the future. He redeemed Tamar, he is redeeming me and will always do so for anyone who follows him. How awesome is our God.

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  36. My thoughts turned to the injustices toward Tamar. The death of her first husband (because he was wicked in the sight of the Lord), he had failed to produce any children for her, then her second husband failed to fulfill his obligation (through the "spilling" of his seed, which was wicked in the sight of the Lord) according to the custom of the time, thus producing no children for her and finally, Judah's promise of the third son, which was never fulfilled. It's no wonder she took matters into her own hands. She may have felt that she would have what was hers, even if she had to get it from Judah who had denied her his third son.

    I find it interesting, she also required a pledge to assure her of payment. The young goat was really not what she wanted. She wanted the signet... the identifying seal, the cord and the walking stick, all of which would guarantee her child's inheritance should she become pregnant. She learns fast, since Judah had broken his promise to her once before when it came to his youngest son!

    Even with all the drama, God rights injustice. He is faithful to fulfill all His promises!

    Plant Lady

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  37. This is so interesting reading about the biblical ladies. I am so happy that I found Rachel through the P31 Ministries - I have been yearing to get into a bible study and this is a perfect start.

    Michelle - Houston, Tx

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  38. I don't know about you other ladies but I continually find myself guilty of judging these womem, thinking how shameful they have acted, until I read Rachel's postings. Then I have a complete shift in my mindset and my heart goes out to these women. God, please forgive my ignorance in judging others when I do not have the complete truth. And given my own sin I have no right to judge even then.

    "Em"

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  39. Hi Ladies,
    I just want you to know I look forward to reading the Word and then the insights from Rachel and everyone else each day. I thank the Lord for this opportunity.
    What I thought of first when reading Tamar this time was "what would have happened if she did wait upon the Lord and had not acted for herself?" and then I think I was more irritated at Judah for propositioning her for sex. Do we know if Judah, after finding out, then treated her as a wife and took care of his sons?
    I am thankful for God's love in that he can use our worst mistakes for good, and for the eye opener on not judging so quickly and trying to see and love others with compassion the way our God does for us. There are so many times I can look at teens, some friends of my kids, and feel like not giving them a chance because of bad choices they've made or the way they look and behave, but instead needing to see them with compassion and love. Then realizing how many times God has given me chances to turn to turn to him, and his goodness in forgiving me and doing for me the desires of my heart.
    PS. My son's take on why the second brother would not fully consumate was so that he could continue to have sex with Tamar because he would have to stop if she became pregnant.
    Thanks, Kim

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  40. What a story! This is like an Old Testament soap opera.

    "God uses the imperfect actions of imperfect people to advance His perfect plans for humanity and eternity. If we stop to consider that fact a moment, and how it applies in our own lives, I think we'll go through today feeling quite grateful that He does."
    --Thank you, Lord!!

    Michele in Texas

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  41. In Tamars place I would have thought what is wrong with me, what have I done that these men keep dying? I would have placed blame on myself. Did she know that their deaths were the result of their own sins? Not sure how this fits in with the whole story, but just a thought I had.

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  42. What a hopeful comment. I am grateful for your insightful commentaries. Thank you for sharing.

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  43. Well I have to be honest, I thought Tamar to be deceitful....in a way she was, but when you stop and look at her story...she was trying to claim what was promised to her. At least she had sense enough to ask for something that belonged to Judah, that way she could prove to him that the children that she was carring were his and not somebody elses. God has everything under control even when we think that He doesn't

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  44. As someone already said - different times - different culture. Widow's needed children to have someone to provide for them in their old age. They had laws about how widows were to be taken care of. One was for the brother to marry or get her pregnant so that she will have her family to take care of her. I think that Judah did blame her for the loss of his first 2 sons and did not want to risk losing his last son.

    I do not think that Judah was blinded by her beauty since it mentions she covered her face so that he would not know that it was her. He was now a widower and lonely.

    Personally, I think she prayed about it - which is how she knew where he would be and at what time. The place that he found her was not a typical place for prostitutes to hang out. I think it was intended she be part of the bloodline.

    It does not mention what family she is from. It seemed pretty important not to marry a Canaanite - which he did. Chances are, it was not destined for his sons to be part of the line up due to their mothers bloodline.

    Just a thought.

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  45. Wow, I learned something new from you! God uses these plans to achieve the perfect plan for Jesus! Praise God that his plans is perfect and will always deliever us!

    Valencia.

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  46. Thank you again Rachel and to all the other ladies, for your thoughts on Tamar. It's hard to imagine how the women were treated in the OT. I am very blessed to be where I am today and to know a loving, forgiving God that continues to love me when I majorly mess up. It also makes me realize how bless I am with a husband that loves me. I love sharing these studies with him and discussing God's word as a couple. It draws us closer as a couple and a closer walk with God.
    Thank you again Rachel, you are a blessing to me.

    Also I'm blessed to be sending this from central Louisiana, with all of the spring flowers in full bloom. God is sooo good!

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  47. What if Tamar thought this was God's plan for her when Judah just happened to come to her home town. Techanically, she was part of the family and someone from that family had to give her a child, right? Why not let Judah do what the other two were unable or unwilling to do? My question is why did Tamar not tell Judah what Onan was doing? Why let him think she was the reason his sons had died, because that is why he did not want his younger son to be with her. Anyway, that is just some thoughts.

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  48. I don't really have alot to add to Tamar's story, just to say God's sovreign plan will be accomplished regardless of what we do and taking matters into our own hands without seeking God first will never be good for us. (that said I'm not perfect, God still has alot of work to do on me).

    Someone had ask if there was another Tamar, yes in 2 Samuel 13 she is in David's line and is avenged by her brother Absalom.

    God Bless all of you, and I enjoy all the comments, we all have much to learn from these women.
    Josie

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  49. Tamar was deceitful and quite cunning in tricking her father in law to sleep with her. I also, at first, judged her for this, but I can understand why she did what she did. I am grateful that GOD is merciful and full of grace. HE shows that he in spite of, he will still get the glory even out of a bad situation.

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  50. I really apprecieted Rachel's comments - it helped to get a better grasp of Tamar's circumstances.

    I didn't see Tamar as a prostitute, she wasn't giving her body to just any man. Her actions were deliberate, and she understood the consequences of her actions could mean death (hence the requirement of the seal.)

    I viewed Tamar as a victim of the culture, and she was pro-active in righting a wrong. I don't think she was concerned with lineage as she much as security. She could have enticed Shelah (he was of age), who was a descendant of Judah, if she wanted to be in line for the Messiah. Yet she chose Judah, why? Maybe because he was now a widower, free to take a wife - he could offer her the security she desired, for herself and her children. It seems he may have done just that, married her - but never laid with her again because of his remorse. Doesn't Tamar remind you a bit of Leah? Never truly loved and appreciated.

    I feel more sorry for Judah. He had a repentent heart, yet he continued to live like a self-martyr. Didn't he claim/believe the promises given to his father and ancestors?

    What does that say about your faith? Do you believe the promises in God's word? When you make a mistake do you claim the promise of 1 John 1:9? Jesus gave us victory on the cross so that we would no longer have to live as victims!

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  51. I have a comment for Emily who says she is struggling with the concept of God using 2 wrongs to make a right. I wonder, Emily, if it's more that God already knows what we will choose to do before we do it and already knew how he would fix that situation. As a mom I had a strong inkling by the time my second daughter was 2 years old she would get into some real pickels in her life. It was her nature. Sure enough, she has; much more than her sisters have. But she is turning out to be a wonderful woman any way. The situations she's gotten herself into have made her stronger. Although we have free choice, it seems God knows what we'll do before we are even born. Is that right Rachael?

    Jeri in Holland, MI

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  52. Reading through everyone's comments is such a blessing! Most everyone seems to agree that God's plan continues to play out no matter how bad we mess with it. Maybe what we rate important, maybe does not have the same "value" to God as it does to us? and that makes it all that more important to spend time with Him, so we can follow out his plan for our lives.

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  53. Great reading and encouragment

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  54. it's reassuring to me that GOD can make anything good. posing as a prostitute sounds kind of extreme, but tamar did what she believed was going to actually produce heirs for her. i wonder how much time she spent crying and feeling hopeless??? it's interesting that this is such a short story and yet she produces an heir that will be to kind david and then JESUS!! i wonder if she prayed about all of this. i wonder if she had anyone to confide in about her frustration. it's nice to know i have people in my life that are willing to understand whatever my situation is and offer compassion.
    thanks, rachel, for this! i need some fellowship with other Christian women!!! this blog is most certainly a blessing. :-D

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  55. Thank you for this study! Although I have nothing to add, I am learning a lot.

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  56. I don't understand this part of the bible. But the twins are in the genealogy of Jesus recorded in Matthew 1. So good came out of a bad situation.

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  57. Hey Rachel... The Tamar I have also heard people talk about is the one found in 2 Samuel 13 in which she is raped by her brother, but this Tamar must have been the great great grandmother...LOl... At first, I was like, "Oh, my, she did what?" but now I realize that God's word will never become void and if he says he is going to bless you, despite the obstacles you may deem "unimportant" and circumstantial, he will do that... Thanks for the update :)

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  58. I found this one hard to understand, but knew there was more to the story than what my mind could see. I couldn't wait to hear what Rachel had to say and the comments from all you gals. It helped with the history lessons on "marriage components" and especially the "levirate marriage". I'm now beginning to understand just how relevant and important the bloodlines were. I knew this would help me understand better.
    By better understanding these stories, of all these women of the bible, something came to my mind. When I hear things about people (otherwise known as gossip) I really don't know the whole story. Who am I to judge? I have always tried to offer non judgment, yet recently I personally had to go through a situation that became good ol' gossip. It has changed who I am and challenged everything I knew to be true. I have suffered terribly with a victim attitude. But, now these truths I've been learning from these bible stories has made me realize that my God is so much bigger than all this and He will have the final word. And until that day comes, I don't have to walk as a victim either. God's word is truly setting me free - I have been walking with a cloud over my head for far too long. I know much prayer must be going into this bible study, because I never expected to receive ministry like this from reading about other women from so long ago. Who knew?
    Jo Beth

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  59. This study of the OT has been an eye opener for me. I guess I never spent much time in the OT. I'm very thankful that the laws then are not the laws today. I know I would not want to be with my husband's 7 brothers just to have a child or for any other reason. According to the Bible God has a plan for each of us even before we were conceived and through His son Jesus gave us a free will. I'm very thankful that He loves us enough to take our mistakes and make something good out of them. I see Tamar as a very intelligent woman. She made sure she had the evidence to prove who the father of her babies were.
    Don't you wonder how God would have worked out His Son's lineage had it been left in His control?
    Just a thought.

    I've enjoyed reading all the comments and Rachel you have a way of making these women come alive for us. You have a wonderful gift from God. Thanks for this study.

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  60. I've read this part of scripture many times. But, I've never realized what an important part Tamar played. God had great things in mind for her, just as he does for us.

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  61. First...what a glorious Easter it was in Atlanta..I go to Dr. Stanley's church, First Baptist of Atlanta and the message was outstanding, in order for us to share with one another we have to believe in the resurrection or there is nothing..I just want to stand on the rooftops and shout that "Jesus is alive"..

    Okay, now to Tamar. That certainly was a brief story. I can understand the why God allowed her to sleep with Judah because He is in control and this is how it had to be in order for Jesus Christ. This is a perfect example of how God uses bad things in order for his glory to be used. I think she should of had more respect for herself but if you have to relate this to events that take place in our lives it kind of is the same.

    We all make bad choices. From my testimony you've noticed that I certainly did. But God used my events in my life to bring around good things. I certainly didn't carry the bloodline of any King or important teacher..but if I hadn't made a bad choice in my life I wouldn't of been the person I am today. I have reached so many woman through my past decisions, I have been able to talk to single moms when they've felt like its over, I've been able to reach woman who have been abused because I also did, etc. I used the expression "opening windows" when they weren't supposed to. Well Tamar also tried to help God along the way too. Like we've all said HE DOESN'T need our help..He knows our hurt like I said. So just like Tamar needed to trust about her future so do we. Even when we choose to do it ourselves he always takes control and doesn't throw it in our faces when we don't live our lives according to the ways we should be. What an awesome God!

    "Thank you Love for allowing us to mess up once and a while without feeling like we've been beaten down. You have never abandoned us nor will you ever..I Love You so much"

    God Bless you all!
    Donna

    p.s. I have pictures on my blog of my dress and the twins
    donnamcguinness.blog.com

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  62. God is good all the time...The bloodline of Jesus, how awesome.

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  63. Now I see that Judah didn't treat Tamar right at all. It's so refreshing to hear that God will still use you when we mess up!

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  64. The stories of all these ladies gives me comfort. I sometimes have a tendency to agonize over certain decisions, wondering what God wants me to do. While I will still try to wait on God and do his will, it's so reassuring that even if I make a mistake, I can't mess up God's ultimate plan.

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  65. How reassuring, humbling and peaceful it is to know God uses our imperfections and weaknesses for His good and purposes! For His glory!

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  66. Thank You Again Rachel For The Study On Tamar, It Made Me Realize That Even though I mess Up I Cant Spoil Gods Perfect Plan For Me .God Is So Good!!! And He Loves Even Me. Lubbock,Texas

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  67. I don't really have much to add to the story of Tamar.

    I guess I'm really struggling with the concept that God's Will will prevail. We've seen through these stories that all the women took things into their own hands and didn't wait upon God's plan or His timing.

    Many women have commented how God is in control, His timing is perfect, His Will will be done, His Will will prevail.

    I know this to be true, I guess, BUT...I have a hard time with that. We know that He gives of free choice or free will. So, we know that He will not force things on us because that is contrary to His character. So, when you have multiple people involved, how do you know His Will will prevail?

    I mean take my situation for instance. We know God's desires for marriage as it is very clear in His word. Especially, when He brings two people so clearly destined for each other. However, one of those makes a very wrong and unbiblical choice that is not God's desire/plan/will as noted in His Word...that is to divorce and break the covenant that God still views in tact.

    So, since He won't force His Hand on my husband (rather ex), yet we know how He feels about marriage, divorce, forgiveness, etc. How do we know His Will will prevail? I believe His will would be for my husband to forgive my wrongs, to see that God divinely placed us together, and He wants to use this separation and hardship to bring Him glory by reuniting two Christians were who vowed to God till death do us part.

    I just can't grasp that it is God's will for us to remain apart, IF that's what will happen. Yet, His will and plan will prevail. Does anyone else follow me and understand how I can be confused? I know all the basics...that is I know God is most concerned with His relationship with me and us individually...He's more concerned with me as His child than me as Chris' wife. I know He will/can make good out of this. I just can't get past that I know that I know just as Christ is Lord, that Chris and I were meant to be together and that this "bump" or as he sees it mountain is part of God's plan to bring us to be the man and woman He wants and then to reunite us to further His Kingdom in a glorious marriage that is fully focused on Him this time.

    Well, that's where I'm at and that seems to be the ever-present thing on my mind that I can't let loose.

    In Him,
    Paula

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  68. I am not sure why I always thought Tamar was in the right doing what she did--maybe because she was widowed AND everyone knew she was entitled to an heir. I say "everyone" because it was the known way of the Jewish law and Judah fully admits that he didn't give her to his son Shelah as he should have. Also--who was the person who told her Judah was going to be passing by and why do you think this person thought she should know it? I always felt that people understood what she did
    and agreed that she did the right thing. However, Judah, in not having relations with her again was like proving that he knew that he was the one that had done wrong.

    I feel that some of these Biblical stories are so so different from our culture that we can't expect to understand fully all the details, the whys and hows of their actions. But, I like how so many of us agree that God is God in working things out His way even when the humans involved fail so much. It doesn't depend on us understanding everything! He is still God and will be God.

    Mommtoes asked some very good questions and I echo them. How much did Tamar really know about the bloodline that would bring their Messiah? I think I have heard(???) that Jewish women weren't given any schooling--were they even allowed in the synagogue? Of course, that does NOT say they didn't know anything! But I tend to think that Tamar was acting more out of preserving her future security and God was the one that used the results of her actions (Perez) to fulfill the bloodline as He wanted. I may be seeing some things into this that aren't there...

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  69. I think the focus of this story is that Tamar showed herself more rightous than Judah, and that she held him accountable for what she rightfully deserved, even if it was done in a deceitful way.
    This story helps to strengthen my belief that God can take what was not meant for his glory and turn it around to be used to glorify Him.

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  70. Tamar's story is a short one, but packs quite a punch! I looked up Levirate Marriageand came to Deuteronomy 25:5-10. Here is where the Law is made that a brother should marry his dead brother's wife if no children are produced from the first marriage. It goes on with an appeal process to the elders if the brother refuses. If he still refuses, the wife can take off one of his sandles in the presence of the elders, and spit in his face. This man's line shall be known in Isreal as "The Family of the Unsandaled."... ;)

    I thought "how clever" Tamar was to take Judah's identification items when he had propositioned her and I smiled when she turned them back over to him after he had ordered her death. I didn't think she was in need of more respect for herself; I thought she acted with great courage. Judah was the one who was not acting honorably by keeping Tamar bound to his family, but outcast and not able to bear an heir.

    I wonder about Judah. He was a rebel in his early years. He sold his brother Jospeh to the Ishmaelites; he married a Canaanite; he didn't bring his first sons up to honor and fear the god of his father (Jacob); but it seems after his incident with Tamar, he changes his ways. He doesn't defile her by sleeping with her again. He is the central figure when they all go down to Egypt and encounter Joseph and receive his forgiveness and protection. In Chapter 49, he even receives the greatest blessing from Jacob (not Reuben, the first born).

    God's forgiveness and grace are apparent even in these old stories. Human nature is still the same and His mercy overcomes all our transgressions! Thank you God for being so merciful to us!

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  71. It seemed unfair for Judah to expect Tamar to wait for the son. I cant imagine what I would have done in Tamar's situation.

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  72. It is comforting to read the stories of these women in the Bible. I become so frustrated with my many imperfections but obviously the women of the Bible were not perfect either (except for Mary, the mother of Jesus). Even though we make poor decisions, God's plan continues to be at work. His purpose and ultimate plan will always win out. Thank you God for being so forgiving and merciful.

    Thank you, Rachel, for shedding light on these women of the Bible. I can see how easy it would be to judge these women harshly. However, with your insight, it has helped me to truly understand their individual circumstances and why they made the decisions they did. What a lesson for me on waiting for God to do his work instead of me always wanting to be in control of the situation.

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  73. Sweetpea, I'd like to share some thoughts with you personaly concerning your obvious struggle to fulfil your marriage vows. I've been there, I understand what you're saying, I struggled, I can prayfully say, this Friday I'm celebrating 38 years of marriage. I'm available.
    slcrac@ameritech.net

    Sorry to everyone else..I know this area is for sharing our comments. Hope you all will understand that we need to reach out to each other if we can. I always said, that God didn't bring me through the fires if it weren't to help others as well.

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  74. I praise and thank God for leading me to this site. I have been struggling with trying to get closer to God and to understand what He wants from me, and through reading the "Women of the OT" (wonder if one of the t.v. stations would opt that show??), and through reading the postings, I am starting to learn about forgiveness and God's awesome love. I, too, have taken matters into my own hands and done things that are not "good choices". It is truly great to have testimony to the fact that God will take my imperfect choices and somehow change them into His perfect plan. It is hard to fathom this concept..but I'm learning..
    Thank you all for your insights..
    J

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  75. I praise and thank God for leading me to this site. I have been struggling with trying to get closer to God and to understand what He wants from me, and through reading the "Women of the OT" (wonder if one of the t.v. stations would opt that show??), and through reading the postings, I am starting to learn about forgiveness and God's awesome love. I, too, have taken matters into my own hands and done things that are not "good choices". It is truly great to have testimony to the fact that God will take my imperfect choices and somehow change them into His perfect plan. It is hard to fathom this concept..but I'm learning..
    Thank you all for your insights..
    J

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  76. It's really neat to see that God can take sinful circumstances like these and have the unblemished Christ come from the most sinful of them. It goes to show that no sin is to hard for God to clean up. He makes perfect what the enemy had set out to destroy. We are made in God's image, and He will not let the enemy have the final word over us. As many of you have said, we make our mistakes, and we have to bear the consequences of many of them, but God is faithful despite them. It's when we turn our hearts back to Him and are obedient to Him that He makes things beautiful again.

    I still have some "strong things" to overcome, but have overcome many already, totally by God's mercy. The hardest thing has been to forgive myself for having an affair with a man about 15 years ago while I was a Sunday school teacher. The enemy so blinded me that I hardly saw what was happening until it was to late. Then I really thought it was to late and stayed in the relationship for a few years even though I didn't want it. It came to the point that if I left him I would have been in danger. I don't know how I got out safely except that God somehow intervened. I'm forgiven and love God and know I am special to Him, but somehow still feel unworthy to be fully receive from Him or worthy enough to really be used of Him. My peace is that God is taking all of this, and one by one is turning it to something for His glory -in His timing! Thanks Rachel and sisters for sharing your thoughts, I learn so much from them! I know this is probably not suppose to be a place to share our long testimonies, but I'm finding that I relate to a lot in these stories and it's just pouring out of me! Thanks for your time.
    Connie - Canada

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  77. Sweetpea - My heart goes out to you. Right now you are walking a difficult road and my prayer for you is that you will not take your off off Jesus. Satan is out to destroy marriages and families. Rarely are we able to see God's "perfect will". We are human and do things according to the flesh. For you I pray that God will make a way and that you will be able to be in peace and walk in joy as He continues to work out the details of your life.

    Karen - Thanks for the further insight that you gave. And yes, thank God for His mercy toward us.
    Jo Beth

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  78. Rachel and ladies, thanks for really great insight on the story of Tamar.

    I have to confess I had one prevailing and silly thought throughout the reading of this passage and that was, "Thank You, Lord, that were something to happen to my husband that I would not be forced to be betrothed and bear children by one of my brothers-in-laws!" As much as I love and admire each one I don't want to be married to any of them or have their children! I felt so sorry for Tamar and how she must have felt a bit of resistance to the idea also but at the same time helpless to do anything else considering the time and culture.

    I don't think her actions were right but neither were Judah's, they both acted dishonorably, she, by using trickery and he by not honoring his word to give her to Shelah to be his wife.

    It also bothered me that he sought out what he thought was a shrine prostitute. I think I am correct in that seeking these women out he hoped for a blessing upon his flocks. One of the beliefs was that the harvest or flocks were increased by ritual intercourse with the prostitutes of certain goddesses such as Asherah, Astarte, and Anath. Judah and Tamar both must have known this as she played the part and he propositioned her.

    It is a sad story in which thankfully God intervened leading to the lineage of Christ as Rachel pointed out.

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  79. I am reading a lot of pain and confusion by the women here. I haven't been in anyone else's shoes but my own, so I don't know exactly what others are going through. I do know that forgiveness from God is first and foremost in terms of making mistakes and going in the wrong direction. I also know that the second, but no less important step, is forgiveness of SELF.

    God forgives us when we ask, but do WE forgive ourselves when we ask? Not usually.

    Sisters, look at yourself from GOD's perspective. He forgives you, what right do you have to not forgive yourself?! "Forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of others". WE ARE THE OTHERS, too, sometimes!

    I pray peace, love, and joy to all my new sisters. I have come to admire you all as Sisters in Christ.

    If you get the chance to read 1 Corinthians (the love passage) replace the word "love" with your personal name to remember that you must love yourself as well.

    Love is patient (Emily is patient)
    Love is kind (Emily is kind)
    Love does not keep record of wrongdoings. (Emily does not keep record of wrongdoings)
    And so on...

    Psalms 18:19 "...he rescued me because he delighted in me".

    In His loving arms-
    Emily

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  80. Tamar's story seems to echo those we've already read about trying to hurry God along and get what we think we need. I wish I could just see 10 years down the road to what God will do in my life, but I guess I wouldn't need God if I could do that. You know, trusting God can be such a hard thing to do everyday when nothing seems to be happening. But, thankfully, we get the priviledge of relying on God everyday for his grace and supply of every need. I'm so glad God works out everything for his glory and our good.

    -- Andrea

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  81. I've been reading about the women, and can't tell you all how much I enjoy everyone's thoughts. Thanks to you all for sharing.
    Tommie

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  82. Whoever thinks the Bible is boring had obviously never read it. No soap opera can ever touch any of these stories. :)

    But on a more serious note, though I don't have very much to add to the story of Tamar, I just want to express how very blessed I feel to be a part of this study. I'm overwhelmed by by my newfound sisters in Christ -- by our love for the Lord and for the apparent love and concern for each other that seems to grow day by day. God bless you all, my sisters, and especially you, Rachel, for following the Lord's leading and heading up this Bible study.

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  83. I don't think I realized just how judgmental I can be until I've been reading all about these women of the Bible. I think in most every case my first thoughts have been negative instead of positive. Shouldn't I be looking for the good in everyone instead of always seeing their faults first??

    I fell kind of bad for Tamar, I can't imagine having married someone only to have them die shortly afterwards only to be married off to my brother-in-law, who clearly doesn't want to do right by me and then to have him die too. I can't think that she would have any romantic attachments for Onon but she still had to have been saddened by both deaths and knowing that she was still childless.

    We see the reoccurring theme of taking matters into ones own hands instead of waiting for God, but by now I've realized I can't fault ANYONE for that one.

    Thank you Rachel, I can't wait to see who we learn about next. I'm glad we studied Tamar, I really enjoyed learning about her.

    ^_^

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  84. I think these studies have been wonderful. We need to remember this is history. We should learn from it.

    We should not be so judgemental as we do not know all of the details of the situation. We should not say that she took matters into her own hands and she should have waited for God to make things right. This might have been Gods timing. We really do not know. We can certainly ask God if this was his plan, but I think there will be so many other things that we will want to ask that this will not even be a thought.

    I do not know if Tamar knew the full impact of what she was creating, bloodline for Jesus. But I think she did know that Judah's family was creating the Jewish nation.

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  85. This story reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures: Isaiah 55:8-9

    8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.

    9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    I like what "debbie in sc" said. CULTURE... we [in America] find it hard to understand the ways of other cultures thus making these stories seem so twisted.

    I thank God for folks like Rachael who have the gift of expounding which helps those like me to understand the meaning behind the Word.

    Just wish I could retain it all...

    --MRT-- Baton Rouge, LA

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  86. Isn't it wounderful to see how God uses the bad choices we make in His perfect plan? So this pregnacy, out of wedlock, is the bloodline of Jesus? Amazing! Our God is Amazing! Thank you Jesus!

    PS - Please know that I am praying for all of the requests that are being mentioned, the twin babies, marriages healed, forgivness. God's grace is suffecient.

    ~ Christi in Leander, TX

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  87. God's will is that we always do the right thing-that we make choices according to His word. God knows what each and everyone of us is going to do. Just as He knew when He created man that Adam and Eve would bring sin into the world that is why He had a plan for Jesus to come and reconcile us back to Him from the very beginning. I say this to say that He knew Judah wouldn't raise his sons to love and fear Him and would die in their sins early. He already had a plan for Perez to be born to Tamar and that Jesus would come through them and not Judah's oldest sons. does this mean He approved of her methods no but He used them to His glory and to carry out His plan. He does the same for us, does He always approve of our methods no= but He uses them to carry our His plans. Yes this shows us that He is always in control and His will, will always be done in spite of how we sabatoge by taking matters into our own hands. That is why we can call Him awesome. That's why we can put our trust in Him to heal our children, fix our marriages and help us with whatever we are going through.
    Tamar had some choices to make and she became creative and independent to ensure that she would be taken care of. As a result of her actions Jesus came through the line of Judah. I believe that if Tamar had made a different choice God would have used someone else to carry out His plan. Just as He does when we don't follow when He calls us. Our in action does not stop the plan. My lesson to be more intune to hear His voice so that He does not have to use another when He desires to use me to carry out His plan. To stop judging others without knowing their story or circumstances. More deeper is not to judge even when we know. Who am I to judge anyone? Glory to God for all that He is teaching through these OT women.

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  88. God's will is that we always do the right thing-that we make choices according to His word. God knows what each and everyone of us is going to do. Just as He knew when He created man that Adam and Eve would bring sin into the world that is why He had a plan for Jesus to come and reconcile us back to Him from the very beginning. I say this to say that He knew Judah wouldn't raise his sons to love and fear Him and would die in their sins early. He already had a plan for Perez to be born to Tamar and that Jesus would come through them and not Judah's oldest sons. does this mean He approved of her methods no but He used them to His glory and to carry out His plan. He does the same for us, does He always approve of our methods no= but He uses them to carry our His plans. Yes this shows us that He is always in control and His will, will always be done in spite of how we sabatoge by taking matters into our own hands. That is why we can call Him awesome. That's why we can put our trust in Him to heal our children, fix our marriages and help us with whatever we are going through.
    Tamar had some choices to make and she became creative and independent to ensure that she would be taken care of. As a result of her actions Jesus came through the line of Judah. I believe that if Tamar had made a different choice God would have used someone else to carry out His plan. Just as He does when we don't follow when He calls us. Our in action does not stop the plan. My lesson to be more intune to hear His voice so that He does not have to use another when He desires to use me to carry out His plan. To stop judging others without knowing their story or circumstances. More deeper is not to judge even when we know. Who am I to judge anyone. Glory to God for all that He is teaching through these OT women.

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  89. Crissi in WashingtonMarch 25, 2008

    I like what you wrote at the end, "God uses the imperfect actions of imperfect people to advance His perfect plans for humanity and eternity". It's a good reminder. I didn't connect Tamar's place in the line of Jesus before. Thanks again Rachel for opening my eyes.

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  90. I, too, like the thought that God can use imperfect actions for HIS WILL and PLAN- that gives me hope that God will continue to use me in His plan as well.
    I did also feel a certain sadness for Tamar, seeing the great desperation she obviously must have been feeling to make her resort to such desperate actions. Rachel, your comments help to put that in perspective for me- and leads me to believe that God almost expects us to act imperfectly- and accomodates his perfect plan to include such humanly actions. It helps me to conclude that even I can be used by the Lord!
    Thanks again, Rachel- for making the ladies of the Bible seem more "human" and personal to me, allowing me to gain gems of knowledge and guidance from His Word!
    Your are such a blessing to me!

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  91. Emily I loved what you said about forgiving ourselves. Funny how hard that is to do, yet if we really think about it, it is truly an insult to God. Jesus died on the cross so that we could be forgiven and yet we can't seem to accept His grace and forgive ourselves.

    What a beautiful thought to fill in our name in the place of the word Love in 1st Corinthians! Well done dear sister!

    And many, many thanks to Rachel for all your incredible effort and insights! Truly a gift that we are all the fortunate recipients of...blessings to you and all the amazing women participating in this delightful gift! RL

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  92. Thanks, one and all, for your comments. Each one speaks to me, and brings hope that the Lord does love us and will bring about His good and perfect will through us in spite of our own and others’ sin, failures, and poor choices. In Tamar’s story once again there’s so much deception, and then judging without love or justice, but God does intervene and provide a way out if we’re ready to listen and obey. Thank you, Lord!

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  93. Thank you all for your comments. It sounds like we all are understanding more of Tamar's plight. I pray that we will all continued to be blessed and we walk through this study.

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  94. Read it in McFarland. Thank you for the reminder that God can still use the poor choices of women to bring about His plans. This study is really good!! Thanks for taking the time to do this.

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  95. Sweetpea, I'm sorry to hear about your marriage. But,I can truly relate to your situation. However, until you let go of (you and Chris )and focus more on Christ, you will never have the marriage which you say is destined to be between you and Chris.

    May God abundantly bless you for His ministry.

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  96. Thanks so much for explaining the whole marriage thing! But I am still at a loss as to why some men have one wife and some have more than one. Don't quite get it. Please explain! :)

    Tamar's story is very interesting indeed. Especially since her actions caused the bloodline of Judah to continue. That's something I'll have to ponder for a while.

    I hope you all had a great Easter!

    Rebecca

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  97. I agree with Emily- having a hard time with two wrongs making a right.
    I struggle with the times I don't hear from God concerning things such as...waiting on Him to start a weekly prayer meeting...something that seems like it would be something God would bless. I don't understand how you take something in your own hands by being deceitful etc. But perhaps anything outside of God's will is sin is what I am to understand. Also these woman did take action they were neither Hot nor Cold...with the information they had they did not sit in fatalism...
    Waiting on the Lord is difficult - the times of silence-it is hard not to fall into hopelessness-to remain faithful-
    If God blessed these woman who took things into their own hands...how much more those who remain faithful?
    Thank you Rachel for this study...
    I still have so much to understand about these women but what I do see is that we serve a Loving, Merciful and all Knowing God.
    Debrah

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  98. A special message for Janet [agape3c]

    All praise to God for your twin grandchildren. My twins were born 9 weeks early 37 years ago! They are wonderfully healthy and working for His kingdom. I am praying for health and strength for them, their parents, grandparents and caregivers.

    Linda, in Columbus....grace and peace.

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  99. Christi in Texas - amen to your prayers. I have been praying also.

    Connie in Canada - I pray you read this. You are forgiven. I forgive. I admire your strength for admitting your sin. Adultery was my wrong choice also. I just didn't have the strength to admit.

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  100. As I was reading one of the comments it dawned on me that there is no mention of Tamar's parents other than she was in their home. I wonder what role her mother played in all of this. Tamar was probably young when she married the first time as the custom of the time, and so she couldn't have been very old when she did get pregnant, I wonder if her mother told her what she could do. I know growing up that mothers (not mine) told girls how to "catch" a man, and get pregnant. I just don't think this was all her own thinking. Her mother may have said "girl if you want to get out of this house you better....." Or "you can't stay here for the rest of your days you need to..." We as women must watch what we tell our children not just girls but boys as well. We must make sure that they know that it doesn't make them less of a person if they don't have children or don't marry at some particular age. We must tell them to be lead of the Lord for their mate, to truly seek God for who they marry, because they could end up in a mess and back in our house just like Tamar. Of course they would be welcome but it would be better if it never comes to that. Just making sure we are guiding our children in the way of the Lord.

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  101. I want to Thank you Rachel for doing this bible study with us. Thank you to everyone for your comments, I cannot believe how much I am learning.

    This study has gotten me to read the bible from the beginning and I am trying to figure out the geneolgy of everyone, for instance, I did not know that Jesus was from the lineage of Tamar. Does anyone know a good source with a chart to help me with the names and who goes with who? I have tried reading and making my own chart.

    The biggest thing I learned from Tamar just like everyone else is that I judged her before I finished reading the story. Thanks for giving us more information on her Rachel. I wonder if I would have done the same thing.

    Connie

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  102. To almae:
    I guess I'm at a loss as to how to do that. I don't know how to erase this pain that burdens my heart and my attention. I've gone on with my life and am active in church, studies, my walk with Christ, but I don't know how to let go of the dream and hope.

    I am more than willing to accept and listen to practical ways to focus more on Christ and let go of Chris and me. You tell me how to do it and I'll do my very best.
    thanks!!

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  103. I can only say that God's will, will be done, and this proves it.

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  104. It never ceases to amaze me how God uses the deceit and the schemes of these women for good. He has his hand in each and every situation and He has a perfect plan to be carried out. I am so glad that God uses imperfect people like myself to further his kingdom. Praise God!

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  105. Wow! I'm amazed at how Christ can bring all of us together in one place to study His word. I'm learning so much from all of your comments and just from re-reading these stories that I've heard/read my whole life. It's amazing how God gives you new understanding when you pray for it before reading. I love coming here to learn with all of you and can't wait to read about the next woman we need to learn from.

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  106. I forget to sometimes put myself in the correct historical time zone. I was thinking it was awful to even think about going to bed with your father-in-law. I mean, haven't I explained to my own teens that sex is not just an act but it is also a union of two people who love each other emotionally. I certainly understand it better now.
    Thanks!

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  107. I can't imagine having to wait so many years to finally bear a child, and then have to do it deceitfully, but it showed me that we have a very merciful god, that hears our cries in every circumstance.

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  108. At first, I couldn't empathize with Tamar and thought her to be a deceitful woman. After reading the breakdown, it occured to me that I could never truly understand the pressure Tamar was under to produce an heir. Although Christ Himself was of a virgin birth, it amazed me again how Christ's lineage had sex out of wedlock on more than one occasion and God still found them worthy to carry the bloodline of Christ. Reading this story does give great hope to a sinful world.

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  109. THANKS FOR THE INSITE INTO TAMAR'S LIFE. JUST TO READ ABOUT HER AS A STORY WE AT FIRST CONDEMN HER BUT WHEN YOU KNOW THE BACKGROUND OF HER LIFE YOU CAN UNDERSTAND CLEARER HER REASON BEHIND HER ACTIONS........

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  110. Debbie in SC, I agree with you. It was so important for women to have children back then. Now days there are women who can have children but don't want them because of their careers.
    It may have been for selfish reasons why Tamar slept with Judah but don't we do things for selfish reasons?

    I'm just glad that the Lord used Tamar's situation for the good of mankind. Without that, there wouldn't have been a reason to celebrate Easter.

    Rena in Keller

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  111. A thought for Connie in Canada: God is using you now by having you share a bit of yourself thru this study! He will continue to use you as you allow Him to. He is ready and waiting for you.

    Jo Beth you just keep praising the Lord and walking with the Lord and you will never have to have a cloud over your head again! Doesn't mean it won't rain occasionally --you just won't have a little cloud following you around! God will use your testimony just like He is now.

    In fact that is the beauty of this study--getting to glimpse how other women are 'walking the walk'--thank you, thank you for sharing because as you share you give us a way to pray for you and prayer is what knits all of us together and it is what God uses to pour out His blessings and favor!

    In Joy, Gwendolyn in Arizona

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  112. I got a little behind, but just read the scripture and commentary on Tamar. I love your insight! I never understood why Tamar couldn't "get on with her life" and marry someone else, but I now realize that she couldn't because of Judah. God is so awesome.

    Thank you for this study! I am blessed by it.

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  113. tigerdaisy, you asked why some men in the bible had more than one wife. I went to "bible.org" and this is and excerpt on what they had to say regarding men having more than one wife in the bible. "It seems to me that the Old Testament describes those marriages with multiple wives in such a way that we see the problems this creates. This is especially true of Jacob’s two wives and two concubines, and the “family” that results. It was certainly true of Elkanah’s two wives. Paul’s words in Ephesians chapter 5 make it clear that marriage was intended as a picture of the relationship of Christ to His church, and a multiple wives certainly don't seem consistent with that!"

    Seldom did a man or woman marry for love. The bride was usually around 12 and the groom around 13. Their marriage was usually arranged by parents, and their consent was neither requested nor required. I also read that it gave a man prestige by having two or more wives and thus an increased capacity for children. A man might have a concubine simply as an economical form of marriage, since no dowry or bride-price was required.

    My own thoughts on this are that we all have free will to choose what we do. Which means that it was an individuals choice as to how many wives he had. Maybe some men were not satisfied with just one wife. I am wondering if the men that had more than one wife did so because that was God's way of accomplishing his ultimate plans. Look at Jacob's two wives. It was Rachel's son Joseph that preserved God's people during a famine and it is through Leah's son Judah that we have King David and Jesus.

    Jean in New Mexico

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  114. I am so impressed with the courage some of you women have to express and tell us of your struggles. I want to do my part in praying for you. I hope the grandmother of the twins will keep us informed how the little Selena is doing.
    Something came to my mind as I reread what Connie from Canada said about feeling unworthy... and not being worthy enough. Remember that our righteouness (what we would say IS worthy) is as filthy rags to God. He does not want that, he wants you. He wants you just the way you are; he wants to work in you and make of you what He wants, in His time.
    I so often let satan cloud my way of thinking. He makes me feel that so much depends on ME. Jesus says the opposite. Really the only thing I can do is be available, to want to, and God will do the rest. Keep your eyes on Jesus--it's the only way. Re-focus and reposition your sight every day or even several times a day to keep looking to Him. It is only Him living in us that makes us worthy.

    I also want to tell Sweetpea I am praying for her. And Karen--I loved your comments, especially your thoughts on Judah.

    Sometimes I feel I am getting too much information too fast--especially reading all the comments and insights people share. I am loving this and bless you, Rachel, for your part in it! My prayers will be with you as you share with others this week.

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  115. Sweapea, It is good that you are now focused on Christ. Speaking from my own situation, we continue to relive the past and at the same time focus on the future. We have to really consentrate only on the now.

    Failed marriages, forgiveness, mistakes, or whatever, we just have to continue ot pray and seek God for His will.

    What about other christian woman who may have gone through similar situations? If you need peace in your situation, commit Phil 4:6-7 to memory and trust God at His Word.

    Hope this help.

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  116. Hi..I am traveling to CO to visit my litle granddaughter, so I am a day behind. Rachel, if we have comments after the day's study, should we use the posting coresponding to the study or on the most current posting??

    My thoughts on Tamar...

    God's plan was to use the Jews for His purposes - namely to produce a savior. Each person played a role in that either by modeling obedience or in this case through the bloodline. I think the way he used the bloodline shows us that it is God's intention that all people come to salvation. Different people bad and good are part of his bloodline.

    We tend to look at all of these women and their sins as pretty terrible and manipulative...and they weren't pretty...but as Deb noted earlier...sin is sin.
    God looks at these sins the same as he does my little white lie. Romans 6:23 tells us that all fall short of the glory of God.
    He wants us all to have that and through his plans we all have a role in helping him..and we Christians today through the great commission have the priviledge of partaking in this task.

    As I get older and more mature in my faith I am more evangelistic minded. I realize that my life is not my own and not just about my own little world and family. Just like these women we get caught up in our daily lives and are extememly influenced by our culture. We forget which one is the most important...God's ways or our culture. The decisions we make have consequences...good and bad. It is amazing thAT God looks into the future and has seen everyone of our situations...knows we are sinners and knows we cannot makeit without his intervention and His son.
    I must pray daily to God that he will help me make the decisions and give me the guidance on how to live for Him and others and not just myself

    I will continue to mess up, but because of his love and grace he uses both of my good and bad consequences for his good.

    The beauty of Christianity is that we choose to be obedient, but when we fail he uses those circumstances to reveal his glory...we see his power and not ours. Oh how he deserves It!!

    Sweetpea..you keep your eyes on Jesus...God is working all of the time....the results might not be what we think it should be but he will prevail and you will be strenghtened! We might never know fully until we reach heaven...but wont that be interesting all of the information we will be priviy to then!!!

    Love to all of you out there!

    Julie from Ohio

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  117. I hope others are still reading these comments from past lessons.

    Thanks almae. Yes, it is a struggle to continually focus on the now and what I do have versus what/who I miss and want. I am very committed to Christ but I believe He understands that I cannot rid my heart and mind of my feelings/pain/hurt/thoughts of Chris over night. I do the best I can and try to live a full life focus on godly things but it does feel like I just go through the motion many times for now.

    I'm always so amazed when people suggest or quote scripture that is dear to my heart. I have for so long had Phil 4:4-7 close to my heart. I plan to memorize and add to it verse 8. I know verse 13 so I thought I should just memorize the whole sha-bang vs 4-13.

    I suggest others seek out this verse in addition to: Jer. 29:11, Rom. 8:28, and Prov. 3:5-6.

    Powerful verses from which to draw focus and strength.

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  118. I am always amazed at the deceit that happened. Thanks so much for making this story 'real' to me!

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  119. Hello everyone, I read Tamar's Tale and it just reconfirms how God turned circumstances that others meant for evil into good. No matter what century we as a people live/lived in, life definitely always seems to repeat itself. This story of Tamar was very thought provoking. Rachel O., once again you explain the story through your own interpretation and it makes so much more sense. Thank you again..and all my Sisters in Christ. I am thrilled to be a part of this group. God Bless All..Jo Ann here in Denver, Co..........

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  120. I finally am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as catching up with you gals!

    Tamar certainly had a bum steer! To lose two husbands in such an untimely manner, and then to have to wait for a child to mature to become your husband! I can't even conceive of that notion!! And, yes Rachel, I can imagine the stares the other women must have given her!

    She turned out to be pretty ingenius with her
    scenario to produce a child from Judah's bloodline, especially with her foresight to procure evidence of paternity.
    I can't really consider what she did as deceitful: it was more a case of following the cultural obligations of that time.
    It must have been God's Will, as Jesus was a produced from that lineage many generations later.

    I must get on to the rest of the readings.

    Blessings to all. And, again Rachel, thank you so very much.

    <*////><

    Karyl in Bonners Ferry, ID USA

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  121. i can sympathize with Tamar, it is easy to make a mess of our lives and be soooooooooo thankful that God can turn the mess we make into good. Kids are a total blessing from God and sometimes us woman go to the extreme to get a child, hard to wait for Gods timing.
    Sylvia from Louisiana

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