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Tamar Facts for 9-13 Year Olds

Categories: Women in the Bible

  • Tamar’s name means “date palm, or food or life.”
  • Her story can be found in Genesis 38.
  • She marries the eldest son of Judah.
  • His name is Er.
  • Er’s name means “evil in the sight of the Lord.”
  • He lives up to his name and is “wicked in the sight of the Lord.”
  • The Lord “puts him to death.”
  • Judah tells his second son, Onan, to have a Levirate marriage with Tamar.
  • Levirate marriage is derived from the word levir meaning “husband’s brother.”
  • If a man dies without children, his wife must have a child with his brother to continue his family line.
  • It also allows Tamar to have a child and keep her place in the family.
  • The second son, however, does not gain anything from doing this.
  • The resulting child will be the heir of the dead brother and will be entitled to his share of any inheritance.
  • So Onan is not agreeable to this arrangement.
  • He says nothing to Judah, but he spills his seed, and Tamar cannot get pregnant.
  • This is “displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also.”
  • Judah thinks that Tamar has had something to do with their deaths, and he suddenly becomes very concerned about his third and last son, Shelah.
  • He sends Tamar back to her father’s house, saying his third son is too young to marry her.
  • Tamar is not free to marry anyone else.
  • When Shelah is old enough, Judah makes no effort to keep his word to Tamar.
  • So Tamar takes matters into her own hands.
  • Her plan is to trick Judah into sleeping with her.
  • She hides her face with a veil so Judah will not recognize her.
  • Judah sees her along the road.
  • He offers to pay her with a goat, but she asks for his “seal and cord and staff” as a pledge until the goat arrives.
  • He agrees, and she gets pregnant.
  • Judah sends his friend to pay her and retrieve his pledge items, but she is nowhere to be found.
  • Soon after, people say that Tamar is pregnant.
  • Judah’s honor is at stake, and he commands that she be burned to death because it looks like Tamar has committed adultery.
  • But Tamar still has Judah’s pledge items.
  • She presents them to Judah, saying that they belong to the father of her child.
  • Judah realizes she’s the one he met alongside the road, and the child she is carrying is really his child.
  • Judah is sorry.
  • He says she is innocent.
  • She gives birth to twin sons, Perez and Zerah.
  • Perez will be the founder of Judah’s kings, including King David and the Messiah.
  • Tamar is one of the four women mentioned in Matthew’s official genealogy of Jesus. Since the other three are non-Israelites, it is likely that Tamar is, too.