Genesis 38:6-30 (note: I do not recommend reading this passage with young children)
Judah was one of the 12 sons of Israel. He had 3 sons, Er, Onan and Shelah. Judah selected Tamar to be the wife of Er. However, Genesis 38:7 tells us that Er was evil and God killed him because of it. Er died before he and Tamar had children so custom dictated that Tamar would be the wife of the next son, Onan, so that there would be a child to remember the older son by. Now we think that is pretty strange! But you have to remember that in this time women were taken care of by their husbands and sons, so if she didn’t have either she might die. This custom gave her protection in her younger years by her new husband and later in life by her son.
Onan, however, didn’t really like this idea so he was mean to Tamar and didn’t really provide for her. So, God killed him too! When this happened, Judah was really sad! Two of his sons are dead! So he asked Tamar to go back to her parents until Shelah was old enough to marry. Judah was afraid that Shelah would also die if he married Tamar so he never sent for her.
After a while Tamar realized that Judah was not going to keep his promise. She decided to trick him into giving her a child. When Judah found out she was having a child he was going to have her punished. But Tamar had proof to protect her. Judah realized that all she had done was trick him and he was just as wrong not to have taken care of her to begin with. He brought her back to his home and she raised her twin sons there. One of those sons went on to be the ancestor of King David and later Jesus.
Now Tamar should not have tricked Judah. And Judah should have provided for Tamar. So both sinned. However, because both of them had hearts that truly loved God, He forgave their sins and brought good from them. God is never pleased when we sin; but if we truly love Him and try to live for Him, He will forgive us when we make mistakes and bring good from our mistakes in the end.
- If Judah hadn’t ever done his duty and provided for Tamar, do you think God would have let her go uncared for?
- Do you think God would have eventually pushed Judah to care for Tamar if she had been patient?
- Do you think trickery is ever part of God’s best plan?