Unveiled: Tamar

Unveiled: Tamar

Unveiled: Tamar

A Lineage of Grace, Book 1

Betrayed by men who controlled her future, Tamar fought for the right to believe in a loving God.

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Betrayed by men who controlled her future, Tamar fought for the right to believe in a loving God.

An unlikely woman of the Bible who changed eternity. Tamar, betrayed by the men who controlled her future, she fought for her right to believe in a loving God and to do right in His eyes. Faced with extraordinary —even scandalous— challenges, Tamar took great personal risk to fulfill her calling, and was destined to play a key role in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Includes an in-depth Bible study, perfect for personal reflection or group discussion.

“Rivers (Leota’s Garden) draws on the Bible’s brief mention of Tamar to create a tribute to hope.”
Library Journal

“Ms. Rivers’ simple narrative shows that through loyalty, strength and faith one is rewarded…Unveiled is recommended as an enjoyably way to touch a little of mankind’s past.”
Historical Novels Review

“Francine Rivers utilizes her expertise as master storyteller to unveil Tamar’s saga, a tale of deception, betrayal, and ultimately hope.”
RT Book Reviews


When Tamar saw Judah leading a donkey burdened with sacks and a fine rug, she took her hoe and ran to the farthest border of her father’s land. Sick with dread, she worked with her back to the house, hoping he would pass by and seek some other girl for his son. When her nurse called her, Tamar pretended not to hear and hacked harder at the earth with her hoe. Tears blinded her.

“Tamar! Acsah puffed as she reached her. “Didn’t you see Judah? You must return to the house with me now. Your mother is about to send your brothers after you, and they’ll not take kindly to your delay. Acsah grimaced. “Don’t look at me like that, child. This isn’t of my doing. Would you prefer a marriage with one of those Ishmaelite traders on his way to Egypt?

You’ve heard about Judah’s son just as I have.”

“I’ve heard.” She held out her hand, and Tamar reluctantly relinquished the hoe. “Perhaps it will not be as bad as you think.

But Tamar saw in her nurse’s eyes that Acsah had her own grave doubts.

Tamar’s mother met them and grabbed Tamar by the arm. “If I had time, I would beat you for running off!” She pulled Tamar inside the house and into the women’s quarters.

No sooner was Tamar through the doorway than her sisters laid hands upon her and tugged at her clothing. Tamar gasped in pain as one yanked the cover carelessly from her head, pulling her hair as well. “Stop it!” She raised her hands to ward them off, but her mother stepped in.

“Stand still, Tamar! Since it took Acsah so long to fetch you, we must hurry.”

The girls were all talking at once, excited, eager.

“Mother, let me go just as I am!”

“Straight from the fields? You will not! You will be presented in the finest we have. Judah has brought gifts with him. And don’t you dare shame us with tears, Tamar.”

Swallowing convulsively, Tamar fought for self-control. She had no choice but to submit to her mother and sisters’ ministrations. They were using the best garments and perfume for her appearance before Judah, the Hebrew. The man had three sons. If she pleased him, it would be the firstborn, Er, who would become her husband. Last harvest, when Judah and his sons had brought their flocks to graze in the harvested fields, her father had commanded her to work nearby. She knew what he hoped to accomplish. Now, it seemed he had.

“Mother, please. I need another year or two before I’m ready to enter a household of my own.”

“Your father decides when you’re old enough.” Her mother wouldn’t look her in the eyes. “It’s not your right to question his judgment.” Tamar’s sisters chattered like magpies, making her want to scream. Her mother clapped her hands. “Enough! Help me get Tamar ready!”

Clenching her jaw, Tamar closed her eyes and decided she must resign herself to her fate. She had known that one day she would marry. She had also known her father would choose her husband. Her one solace was the ten-month betrothal period. At least she would have time to prepare her mind and heart for the life looming before her.

Acsah touched her shoulder. “Try to relax.” She untied Tamar’s hair and began to brush it with long, firm strokes. “Think soothing thoughts, dear one.”

She felt like an animal her father was preparing for sale. Ah, wasn’t she? Anger and despair filled her. Why did life have to be so cruel and unfair?

“Petra, bring the scented oil and rub her skin with it. She mustn’t smell like a field slave!”

“Better if she smelled of sheep and goats,” Acsah said. “The Hebrew would like that.”

The girls laughed in spite of their mother’s reprimand. “You’re not making things better, Acsah. Now, hush!”

Tamar grasped her mother’s skirt. “Please, Mother. Couldn’t you speak to Father for my sake? This boy is… is evil!” Tears came in a rush before she could stop them. “Please, I don’t want to marry Er.”

Her mother’s mouth jerked, but she did not weaken. She pried Tamar’s hand from the folds of her skirt and held it tightly between her own. “You know I can’t alter your father’s plans, Tamar. What good would come of my saying anything against this match now other than to bring shame upon us all? Judah is here.”

Tamar drew in a ragged sob, fear flooding her veins.

Her mother gripped her chin and forced her head up. “I’ve prepared you for this day. You’re of no use to us if you don’t marry Er. See this for what it is: good fortune for your father’s house. You will build a bridge between Zimran and Judah. We will have the assurance of peace.”

“There are more of us than there are of them, Mother.”

“Numbers don’t always matter. You’re no longer a child, Tamar. You have more courage than this.”

“More courage than Father?”

Her mother’s eyes darkened with anger. She released Tamar abruptly. “You will do as you’re told or bear the full consequences of your disobedience.”

Defeated, Tamar said no more. All she had done was to bring humiliation upon herself. She wanted to scream at her sisters to stop their silly prattling. How could they rejoice over her misfortune? What did it matter if Er was handsome? Hadn’t they heard of his cruelty? Didn’t they know of his arrogance? Er was said to cause trouble wherever he went!

“More kohl, Acsah. It will make her look older.”

Tamar could not calm the wild beating of her heart. The palms of her hands grew damp. If all went as her father hoped, her future would be settled today.

This is a good thing, Tamar told herself, a good thing. Her throat was hot and tight with tears.

“Stand, Tamar, her mother said. “Let me have a look at you.”

Tamar obeyed. Her mother sighed heavily and tugged at the folds of the red dress, redraping the front. “We must conceal her lack of curves, Acsah, or Zimran will be hard pressed to convince Judah she is old enough to conceive.”

“I can show him the cloth, my lady.”

“Good. Have it ready in case it’s requested.”

Tamar felt the heat flood her face. Was nothing private? Did everyone have to discuss the most personal events in her life? Her first show of blood had proclaimed her womanhood and her usefulness as a bargaining tool for her father. She was a commodity to be sold, a tool to forge an alliance between two clans, a sacrifice for an assured peace. She had hoped to be overlooked for another year or two. Fourteen seemed too young to draw a man’s interest.

This is a good thing, Tamar told herself again. Even while other thoughts crowded in, tightening her stomach with fear, she repeated the words over and over, trying to convince herself. This is a good thing.

Perhaps if she hadn’t heard the stories . . .

For as long as Tamar could remember, her father had been afraid of Judah and his people. She’d heard the stories about the power of the God of the Hebrews, a god who had turned Sodom and Gomorrah to rubble beneath a storm of fire and brimstone, leaving a wasteland of white sands and a growing salten sea behind. No Canaanite god had ever shown such power!

And there were the stories of what the Hebrews had done to the town of Shechem, stories of mayhem . . .

“Why must it be this way, Mother? Have I no choice in what’s to become of me?”

“No more choice than any other girl. I know how you’re feeling. I was no older than you when I came into your father’s house. It is the way of things, Tamar. Haven’t I prepared you for this day from the time you were a little girl? I have told you what you were born to do. Struggling against your fate is like wrestling the wind. She gripped Tamar’s shoulders. “Be a good daughter and obey without quibbling. Be a good wife and bear many sons. Do these things, and you’ll bring honor upon yourself. And if you’re fortunate, your husband will come to love you. If not, your future will still be secure in the hands of sons. When you’re old, they’ll take care of you just as your brothers will take care of me. The only satisfaction a woman has in this life is knowing she has built up the household of her husband.”

“But this is Judah’s son, Mother. Judah’s son, Er.”

Her mother’s eyes flickered, but she remained firm. “Find a way to fulfill your duty and bear sons. You must be strong, Tamar. These people are fierce and unpredictable. And they are proud.”

Tamar turned her face away. “I don’t want to marry Er. I can’t marry him—”

Her mother grasped her hair and yanked her head back. “Would you destroy our family by humiliating such a man as this Hebrew? Do you think your father would let you live if you went into that room and begged to be spared marriage to Er? Do you think Judah would take such an insult lightly? I tell you this. I would join your father in stoning you if you dare risk the lives of my sons. Do you hear me? Your father decides whom and when you marry. Not you!” She let go of her roughly and stepped away, trembling. “Do not act like a fool!”

Tamar closed her eyes. The silence in the room was heavy. She felt her sisters and nurse staring at her. “I’m sorry.” Her lip quivered. “I’m sorry. I’ll do what I must.”

“As we all must.” Sighing, her mother took her hand and rubbed it with scented oil. “Be wise as a serpent, Tamar. Judah has shown wisdom in considering you. You are strong, stronger than these others. You have quick wits and strength you don’t even realize yet. This Hebrew has taken an interest in you. For all our sakes, you must please him. Be a good wife to his son. Build a bridge between our people. Keep the peace between us.”

The weight of responsibility being given her made her bow her head. “I will try.”

“You will do more than try. You will succeed.” Her mother leaned down and kissed her cheek briskly. “Now sit quietly and collect yourself while I send word to your father that you’re ready.”

Tamar tried to think calmly. Judah was one of the sons of Jacob who had annihilated the town of Shechem over the rape of their sister. Perhaps, had the son of Hamor known more about these men, he would have left the girl alone. When he realized his mistake, he made every attempt to placate Jacob’s sons. They wanted blood. The prince and his father had agreed to have every man in Shechem mutilated by the Hebrew rite of circumcision. They were desperate to bring about a marriage alliance and assurance of peace between the two tribes! They had done all the Hebrews required, and still, three days after the Shechemites were circumcised, while they were all sick with fevers, Judah and his brothers took vengeance. They hadn’t been content with the blood of the offender; they’d cut down every man by the sword. Not one survived, and the city was plundered.

Hebrews were a stench in Canaanite nostrils. Their presence invoked fear and distrust. Even though Judah had left his father’s tent and come to live among Tamar’s people, her father had never slept easily with Judah so close. Even Judah’s longtime friendship with Hirah the Adullamite didn’t reassure her father. Nor did it matter that Judah had taken a Canaanite wife, who had given him three sons and trained them up in Canaanite ways. Judah was Hebrew. Judah was a foreigner. Judah was a thorn in Zimran’s side.

Over the years, her father had made contracts with Judah to bring flocks to his harvested fields. The arrangement had proven beneficial to everyone and had brought about a tentative alliance. All through those years, Tamar had known her father sought a better and more lasting way to keep peace between himself and the Hebrews. A marriage between the two households might ensure that if she succeeded in blessing Judah’s household with sons.

Oh, Tamar understood her father’s determination to bring about her marriage to Er. She even understood his need for it. She understood her role in all of it. But understanding didn’t make it any easier. After all, she was the one being offered like a sacrificial lamb. She had no choice as to whether she married or not. She had no choice as to the man she would marry. Her only choice was in how she faced her fate.

Tamar was ready when her mother returned. Her feelings were hidden as she bowed down to her. When Tamar raised her head, her mother placed both hands upon her and murmured a blessing. Then she tipped Tamar’s chin. “Life is difficult, Tamar. I know that better than you do. Every girl dreams of love when she’s young, but this is life, not idle dreams. Had you been born first, we would have sent you to the temple of Timnah instead of your sister.”

“I would not have been happy there.” In fact, she would have preferred death by her own hand to the life her sister led.

“So this is the only life left to you, Tamar. Embrace it.”

Resolved to do so, Tamar rose. She tried to still the tremors as she followed her mother from the women’s chamber. Judah might still decide she was too young. He might say she was too skinny, too ugly. She might yet be spared from marrying Er. But it would change nothing in the end. The truth was hard to face. She had to marry, for a woman without a husband and sons might as well be dead.


Judah watched Zimran’s daughter closely as she entered the room. She was tall and thin and very young. She was also poised and graceful. He liked the way she moved as she served the meal with her mother. He’d noticed her youth­ful elegance during his last visit after the harvest. Zimran had put the girl to work in the field next to the pasturage so Judah and his sons could see her. He had been fully aware of Zimran’s motives in displaying her this way. Now, on closer inspection, the girl looked too young to be a bride. She couldn’t be more than Shelah’s age, and Judah said so.

Zimran laughed. “Of course, she is young, but so much the better. A young girl is more moldable than an older one. Is that not so? Your son will be her baal. He will be her teacher.”

“What of children?”

Zimran laughed again; the sound grated Judah’s nerves. “I assure you, Judah my friend, Tamar is old enough to bear sons and has been old enough since last harvest, when Er noticed her. We have proof of it.”

The girl’s eyes flickered in her father’s direction. She was blushing and clearly embarrassed. Judah felt oddly touched by her modesty and studied her openly. “Come closer,
girl,” he said, beckoning. He wanted to look into her eyes. Perhaps he would glean better understanding of why he’d thought of her at all when the subject of marriage had come to mind.

“Don’t be shy, Tamar.” Zimran’s mouth flattened. “Let Judah see how pretty you are.” When she raised her head, Zimran nodded. “That’s it. Smile and show Judah what fine teeth you have.”

Judah didn’t care about her smile or her teeth, though both were good. He cared about her fertility. Of course, there was no way of knowing whether she could produce sons for his clan until she was wed to his son. Life held no guarantees. However, the girl came from good breeding stock. Her mother had produced six sons and five daugh­ters. She must also be strong, for he had watched her in the fields hoeing the hard ground and carrying rocks to the wall. A weak girl would have been kept inside the house, making pottery or weaving.

“Tamar.” Her father gestured. “Kneel before Judah. Let him have a closer look.”

She obeyed without hesitation. Her eyes were dark but not hard, her skin ruddy and glowing with health. Such a girl might stir his son’s hardened heart and make him repent of his wild ways. Judah wondered if she had the courage needed to gain Er’s respect. Her father was a coward. Was she? Er had brought nothing but grief since he’d been old enough to walk, and he was likely to bring this girl trouble as well. She would have to be strong and resilient.

Judah knew the blame for Er’s waywardness could be laid at his feet. He should never have given his wife a free hand in rearing his sons. He’d thought complete freedom would allow them to grow up happy and strong. Oh, they were happy as long as they got their way and were strong enough to abuse others if they didn’t. They were proud and arrogant for lack of discipline. They would have turned out better had the rod been used more often!

Would this girl soften Er? Or would he harden and break her?

When she looked into his eyes, he saw innocence and intelligence. He felt a disquieting despair. Er was his first­born, the first show of the strength of his loins. He’d felt such pride and joy when the boy was born, such hope. Ah, he’d thought, here is flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone! How he’d laughed when the young sprout had stood in red­faced fury, refusing to obey his mother. He’d been amused by his son’s passionate rebellion, foolishly proud of it. This boy will be a strong man, he’d said to himself. No woman would tell Er how to live.

Judah had never expected his son to defy him as well.

Onan, his second son, was becoming as difficult as Er. He’d grown up threatened by his older brother’s white­hot jealousy and had learned to protect himself by cunning and deception. Judah didn’t know which son was worse. Both were treacherous. Neither could be trusted.

The third son, Shelah, was following the ways of his brothers. Confronted with a wrong, Judah’s sons lied or blamed others. When pressed hard enough to get the truth, they appealed to their mother, who defended them no mat­ter how offensive their crimes. Her pride wouldn’t allow her to see their faults. They were her sons, after all, and they were Canaanite through and through.

Something had to be done, or Er would bring Judah’s head down to the ground in shame. Judah almost regretted having sons, for they wreaked havoc in his household and his life! There were moments when his rage was so intense, it was all he could do not to pick up a spear and hurl it at one of them.

Judah often thought about his father, Jacob, and the trou­ble he’d endured at the hands of his sons. Judah had caused his father as much trouble as the rest of them. Er and Onan reminded Judah of his brothers Simeon and Levi. Thinking of his brothers brought back the black memories of the grievous sin he himself had committed—the sin that haunted him, the sin that had driven him from his father’s household because he couldn’t bear to see the grief he’d caused or be in the company of the brothers who had shared in what he’d done.

His father, Jacob, didn’t even know the full truth of what had happened at Dothan.

Judah tried to console himself. He’d kept Simeon and Levi from murdering their brother Joseph, hadn’t he? But he also remembered that he was the one who’d led them into selling the boy to the Ishmaelite traders on their way to Egypt. He’d made a profit from the lad’s misery—profits shared by his brothers as well. Only God knew if Joseph had survived the long, hard journey to Egypt. It was more than possible he’d died in the desert. If not, he was now a slave for some Egyptian.

Sometimes in the darkest hour of night, Judah would lie awake upon his pallet, filled with an agony of remorse, thinking about Joseph. How many years would it be before he could put the past behind him and forget what he’d done? How many years before he could close his eyes and not see Joseph’s hands shackled, his neck noosed, as he was led forcefully away by the Ishmaelite traders? The boy’s screams for help still echoed in Judah’s mind.

He had the rest of his life to regret his sins, years to live with them. Sometimes Judah swore he could feel the hand of God squeezing the life from him for plotting the destruc­tion of his own brother.

Zimran cleared his throat. Judah reminded himself where he was and why he’d come to the home of this Canaanite. He mustn’t let his mind wander, mustn’t allow the past to intrude on what he had to do about the future. His son needed a wife—a young, comely, strong wife who might distract him from his wicked schemes and devices. Judah’s mouth tightened as he studied the Canaanite girl kneeling before him. Was he making another mistake? He’d married a Canaanite and lived to regret it. Now he was bringing another one into his household. Yet this Canaanite girl appealed to him. Why?

Judah tipped the girl’s chin. He knew she must be afraid, but she hid it well. That would be a useful skill where Er was concerned. She looked so young and guileless. Would his son destroy her innocence and corrupt her as he was so eager to do to others?

Hardening himself, Judah withdrew his hand and leaned back. He had no intention of allowing Er to make the same mistakes he had. Lust had driven him to marry the boy’s mother. Beauty was a snare that captured a man, while unrestrained passion burned away reason. A woman’s char­acter mattered greatly in a marriage. Judah would have done better to follow custom and allow his father to choose a wife for him. Instead, he’d been stubborn and hasty and now suffered for his folly.

It wasn’t enough that a woman stirred a man’s passion. She also had to be strong, yet willing to bend. A stubborn woman was a curse upon a man. He’d been laughable in his youthful confidence, so certain he could bend a woman
to his ways. Instead, he’d bent to Bathshua’s. He’d fooled himself into thinking there was no harm in giving his wife freedom to worship as she wished. Now, he found himself reaping a whirlwind with his idol­worshiping sons!

Tamar was of calmer disposition than Bathshua. Tamar had courage. She appeared intelligent. He knew she was strong, for he’d watched how hard she worked. His wife, Bathshua, would be happy about that. No doubt she would dump her chores upon the girl as soon as possible. The quality that mattered most was her fertility, and only time would tell about that. The qualities he could see were more than enough. Yet there was something more about this girl that Judah couldn’t define—something rare and wonderful that made him determined to have her in his family. It was as though a quiet voice was telling him to choose her.

“She pleases me.”

Zimran exhaled. “You are a wise man!” He nodded to his daughter. Thus dismissed, Tamar rose. The Canaanite was clearly eager to begin negotiations. Judah watched the girl leave the room with her mother. Zimran clapped his hands; two servants hurried in, one with a tray of pomegranates and grapes, another with roasted lamb. “Eat, my brother, and then we will talk.”

Judah would not be so easily manipulated. Before touch­ing the food, he made an offer for the girl. Eyes glowing, Zimran plunged in and began haggling over the bride­price.

Judah decided to be generous. Marriage, though far from bringing happiness to him, had brought some stability and direction. Perhaps Er would be similarly diverted from riot­ous living. Besides, Judah wanted to spend as little time with Zimran as possible. The man’s ingratiating manner irri­tated him.

Tamar. Her name meant “date palm.” It was a name given to one who would become beautiful and graceful. A date palm survives the desert and bears sweet, nourishing fruit, and the girl came from a fertile family. A date palm sways in the desert winds without breaking or being uprooted, and this girl would have to face Er’s quick, irascible temper. A date palm could survive a hostile environment, and Judah knew Bathshua would see this young girl as her rival. Judah knew his wife would pit herself against this young bride because Bathshua was vain and jealous of her son’s affections.


Judah hoped the girl held all the promise her name implied.


Tamar waited while her fate was settled. When her mother stood in the doorway, she knew the matter of her future was decided. “Come, Tamar. Judah has gifts for you.”

She rose, numb inside. It was a time for rejoicing, not tears. Her father need not fear any longer.

“Ah, Daughter.” Her father smiled broadly. Obviously, he’d fetched a high bride­-price for her, for he had never before embraced her with so much affection. He even kissed her cheek! She lifted her chin and looked into his eyes, wanting him to know what he’d done to her in giving her to such a man as Er. Perhaps he would feel some shame for using her to protect himself.

He didn’t. “Greet your father-­in-­law.”

Resigned to her fate, Tamar prostrated herself before Judah. The Hebrew put his hand upon her head and blessed her and bid her rise. As she did so, he took gold earrings and bracelets from a pouch at his waist and placed them upon her. Her father’s eyes glowed, but her heart sank.

“Be ready to leave in the morning,” Judah told her.

Shocked, she spoke without thinking. “In the morning?” She looked at her father. “What of the betrothal—?”

Her father’s expression warned her to silence. “Judah and I celebrate tonight, my daughter. Acsah will pack your things and go with you tomorrow. Everything is settled. Your husband is eager for you.”

Was her father so afraid that he didn’t require the customary ten­month betrothal period to prepare for the wedding? She would not even have a week to adjust to her impending marriage!

“You may go, Tamar. Make ready to leave in the morning.”

When she entered the women’s chamber, she found her mother and sisters already packing for her. Unable to contain her feelings any longer, Tamar burst into tears. Inconsolable, she wept all night, even after her sisters whined and pleaded for her to stop. “You will have your day,” she told them angrily. “Someday you will understand!”

Acsah held and rocked her, and Tamar clung to her child­hood for one last night.

When the sun rose, she washed her face and donned her bridal veils.

Her mother came to her. “Be content, beloved one. Judah paid dearly for you.” Her voice was tear­-choked and faintly bitter. “That Hebrew came with a donkey laden with gifts. He returns home with only his seal ring and staff.”

“And me,” Tamar said softly.

Her mother’s eyes filled with tears. “Take good care of her, Acsah.”

“I will, my lady.”

Her mother took Tamar in her arms and kissed her. “May your husband love you and give you many sons,” she whis­pered against her hair. Tamar clung to her tightly, pressing herself close, soaking in the warmth and softness of her mother one last time. “It’s time,” her mother said softly, and Tamar drew back. Her mother touched her cheek before turning away.

Tamar went out into the morning sunlight. Acsah walked with her as she headed toward her father and Judah, who were standing some distance away. She had cried herself out last night. She would shed no more childish tears, though

it was hard not to do so with Acsah weeping softly behind her.

“Perhaps all we’ve heard isn’t true,” Acsah said. “Perhaps Er is not as bad as some say he is.”

“What does it matter now?”

“You must try to make him love you, Tamar. A man in love is clay in a woman’s hands. May the gods have mercy on us!”

“Have mercy upon me and be quiet!”

When she reached the two men, her father kissed her. “Be fruitful and multiply the household of Judah.” He was eager for their departure.

Judah walked ahead, Tamar and Acsah following. He was a tall man with long strides, and Tamar had to walk quickly to keep up with him. Acsah muttered complaints under
her breath, but Tamar paid her no attention. Instead, she set her mind on what lay ahead. She would work hard. She would be a good wife. She would do everything within her power to bring honor to her husband. She knew how to plant a garden, tend a herd, cook, weave, and make pottery. She could read and write enough to keep proper lists and records of household goods. She knew how to conserve food and water when times were bad and how to be gen­erous when times were good. She knew how to make soap, baskets, cloth, and tools, as well as how to organize servants. But children would be the greatest blessing she could give her husband—children to build the household.

It was Judah’s second son, Onan, who came out to meet them. “Er is gone,” he said to his father while staring at her.

Judah slammed the end of his staff into the ground. “Gone where?”

Onan shrugged. “Off with his friends. He was angry when he heard where you’d gone. I stayed out of his way. You know how he gets.”

“Bathshua!” Judah strode toward his stone house.

A buxom woman with heavily painted eyes appeared in the doorway. “What are you yelling about this time?”

“Did you tell Er I was bringing his bride home today?”

“I told him.” She leaned indolently in the doorway.

“Then where is he?”

She lifted her chin. “I’m his mother, Judah, not his keeper. Er will be along when he’s ready and not before. You know how he is.”

Judah’s face darkened. “Yes, I know how he is.” He gripped his staff so tightly his knuckles turned white. “That’s why he needs a wife!”

“That may be, Judah, but you said the girl was pretty.” She gave Tamar a cursory glance. “Do you really think this skinny girl will turn Er’s head?”

“Tamar is more than she seems. Show her to Er’s cham­ber.” Judah walked off, leaving Tamar and Acsah standing before the house.

Mouth tight, Bathshua looked Tamar over from head to foot. She shook her head in disgust. “I wonder what Judah was thinking when he chose you?” Turning her back, she went into the house and left Tamar and Acsah to fend for themselves.


Er returned late in the afternoon, accompanied by several Canaanite friends. They were drunk and laughing loudly. Tamar remained out of sight, knowing what men were like in this condition. Her father and brothers had often imbibed freely and argued violently because of it. She knew the wis­dom of staying out of the way until the effects of the wine wore off.

Knowing she would be summoned, Tamar had Acsah array her in wedding finery. While waiting, Tamar willed herself to set aside every terrible thing she’d ever heard about Er. Perhaps those who had spoken against him had hidden motives. She would give him the respect due a husband and adapt herself to his demands. If the god of
his father smiled upon her, she would give Er sons, and quickly. If she were so blessed, she would bring them up to be strong and honest. She would teach them to be depend­able and loyal. And if Er so wished, she would learn about the God of Judah and bring up her sons to worship him rather than bow down to the gods of her father. Still, her heart trembled and her fears increased with each passing hour.

When Tamar was finally summoned and saw her husband, she felt a flicker of admiration. Er was tall like his father and held the promise of great physical strength. He had his mother’s thick curling mass of black hair, which he had drawn back in Canaanite fashion. The brass band he wore around his forehead made him look like a young Canaanite prince. Tamar was awed by her husband’s hand­some appearance but filled quickly with misgivings when she looked into his eyes. They were cold and dark and devoid of mercy. There was pride in the tilt of his head, cruelty in the curve of his lips, and indifference in his manner. He didn’t reach out to take her hand.

“So this is the wife you chose for me, Father.”

Tamar shivered at his tone.

Judah put his hand firmly on his son’s shoulder. “Take good care of what belongs to you, and may the God of Abraham give you many sons by this girl.”

Er stood unblinking, his face an inscrutable mask.

All through the evening, Er’s friends made crude jests about marriage. They teased Er unmercifully, and though he laughed, Tamar knew he wasn’t amused. Her father­-in­-law, lost in his own thoughts, drank freely while Bathshua lounged nearby, eating the best tidbits of the wedding feast and ignoring her. Tamar was hurt and confused and embar­rassed by such rudeness. What had she done to offend her mother­-in­-law? It was as though the woman was deter­mined not to show her the least consideration.

As the night wore on, her fear gave way to depression. She felt abandoned and lost in the midst of the gathering. She had married the heir of Judah’s household, and yet no one spoke to her, not even the young husband who sat beside her. The hours passed slowly. She was bone weary from lack of sleep the previous night and the long walk to her new home. The tensions of the wedding feast further sapped her. She fought to keep her eyes open. She fought even harder to keep the tears from welling up and spilling over.

Er pinched her. Tamar gasped and jerked away from him. Heat flooded her cheeks as she realized she had unwittingly dozed against his side. His friends were laughing and making jokes about her youth and the impending wedding night. Er laughed with them. “Your nurse has prepared the chamber for us.” He took her hand and pulled her up to her feet.

As soon as Acsah closed the door of the bedchamber behind them, Er stepped away from Tamar. Acsah took her place outside the door and began singing and beating her small drum. Tamar’s skin prickled. “I’m sorry I fell asleep, my lord.”

Er said nothing. She waited, her nerves stretching taut. He was enjoying her tension, plucking her nerve endings with his silence. Folding her hands, she decided to wait him out. He removed his belt sardonically. “I noticed you last year when we brought the sheep to your father’s fields. I suppose that’s why my father thought you might do as my wife.” His gaze moved down over her. “He doesn’t know me very well.”

She did not fault Er for the hurtful words. She felt he was justified. After all, her heart had not leapt with joy when Judah came and offered a bride­-price for her.

“You’re afraid of me, aren’t you?”

If she said no, it would be a lie. To say yes would be unwise.

His brow rose. “You should be afraid. I’m angry, or can’t you tell?”

She could, indeed, and couldn’t guess what he would do about it. She remained silent, acquiescent. She’d seen her father in rages often enough to know that it was better to say nothing. Words were like oil on a fiery temper. Her mother had told her long ago that men were unpredictable and given to fits of violence when provoked. She would not provoke Er.

“Cautious little thing, aren’t you?” He smiled slowly. “At least you keep your wits about you.” He came toward her. “You’ve heard things about me, I’ll bet.” He brushed his fingers against her cheek. She tried not to flinch. “Have your brothers carried stories home?”

Her heart beat faster and faster.

“As my father said, you’re mine now. My own little mouse to do with as I wish. Remind me to thank him.” He tipped her chin. His eyes glittered coldly, reminding her of a jackal in the moonlight. When he leaned down and kissed her mouth, the hair on the back of her neck rose. He drew back, assessing her. “Believe the rumors, every one of them!”

“I will try to please you, my husband.” Heat poured into her cheeks at the quaver in her voice.

“Oh, no doubt you will try, my sweet, but you won’t succeed.” His mouth curved, showing the edge of his teeth. “You can’t.”

It took only a day of the weeklong wedding celebration for Tamar to understand what he meant.

Leading Home


Go back and read the Bible passage quoted in “Setting the Scene” on pages 3– 5.

  • What part did Judah play in this sibling rivalry story?
  • What did he and his brothers tell their father?
  • Based on this passage, list some possible reasons that Judah chose to leave his family at “about this time.”
  • Have you ever felt ashamed of some careless act you did that affected others? Were you fearful of being found out? What choices did you make?
  • Judah had choices. What could he have done differently?

Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy.”

Had Judah confessed to God and to his father, the story would have ended there. However, he did not. Instead, he got married! It would seem that Judah was on a pathway of separation from truth. He chose to run and hide rather than confront the real issues. He chose to handle things for himself rather than let God direct his path.


  • What have you learned about Judah so far? Would you consider him confrontational or passive? Why?
  • In what ways do you identify with Judah?
  • How do you deal with jealousy? with conflict?
  • Where do you turn with life’s struggles—to yourself? to family and friends? to comfortable patterns? to God?


People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy.

Take a moment to ask God to search your heart. Be quiet before Him. Reflect on what He offers here.

Family Ties


Read the following passages:

About this time, Judah left home and moved to Adullam, where he visited a man named Hirah. There he met a Canaanite woman, the daughter of Shua, and he married her. She became pregnant and had a son, and Judah named the boy Er. Then Judah’s wife had another son, and she named him Onan. And when she had a third son, she named him Shelah. At the time of Shelah’s birth, they were living at Kezib.

When his oldest son, Er, grew up, Judah arranged his marriage to a young woman named Tamar. But Er was a wicked man in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord took his life. Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “You must marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. Her first son from you will be your brother’s heir.”

But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with Tamar, he spilled the semen on the ground to keep her from having a baby who would belong to his brother. But the Lord considered it a wicked thing for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the Lord took Onan’s life, too.

Then Judah told Tamar, his daughter-in-law, not to marry again at that time but to return to her parents’ home. She was to remain a widow until his youngest son, Shelah, was old enough to marry her. (But Judah didn’t -really intend to do this because he was afraid Shelah would also die, like his two brothers.) So Tamar went home to her parents.

GENESIS 38:1-11

Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the three sons of Noah, survived the Flood with their father. (Ham is the ancestor of the Canaanites.) From these three sons of Noah came all the people now scattered across the earth.

After the Flood, Noah became a farmer and planted a vineyard. One day he became drunk on some wine he had made and lay naked in his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers. Shem and Japheth took a robe, held it over their shoulders, walked backward into the tent, and covered their father’s naked body. As they did this, they looked the other way so they wouldn’t see him naked. When Noah woke up from his drunken stupor, he learned what Ham, his youngest son, had done. Then he cursed the descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham:

“A curse on the Canaanites! May they be the lowest of servants to the descendants of Shem and Japheth.” Then Noah said, “May Shem be blessed by the Lord my God; and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge the territory of Japheth, and may he share the prosperity of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.”

GENESIS 9:18-27

  • According to the second passage, who was the father of the Canaanites?

Abraham found a wife for his son Isaac from afar—not a Canaanite. Esau displeased his father, Isaac, by marrying not one, but two, Canaanite women. Isaac sent his son Jacob far away to get a wife who was not a Canaanite.

  • How did Jacob’s son Judah acquire a wife?
  • Who helped him? Who were her people?
  • Their firstborn child was a son. Judah named him Er. Who named Onan and Shelah?
  • What kind of son was Er?
  • According to the following passage, what does God hate?

There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord among brothers.

PROVERBS 6:16-19

We read above that “Er was a wicked man.” The Hebrew word here translated as wicked is also used in numerous other Bible passages. In Genesis 13, Sodom and Gomorrah were called wicked for their practice of sodomy; in the book of Esther, Haman is called wicked for plotting to exterminate the Jews; in Deuteronomy, anyone leading God’s people to worship false gods was called wicked.

  • What did God do to Er?
  • What might be the reason for Er’s death?
  • What kind of man does God declare Onan to be?
  • How did Onan displease God? What did God do to him?
  • Judah’s remaining son, Shelah, should have been given to Tamar, according to marriage customs of the times. What reason did Judah give Tamar for delaying the marriage?
  • What was the real reason?


  • Judah was grieving over the past as well as the present, and he was gripped with fear of the future. What fears grip you?
  • How do you deal with fear?

Er and Onan did their own thing, and it led to death. As the book of Proverbs tells us, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death” (Proverbs 14:12). In contrast, Jesus said, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10).

  • Do you know the One who gives life in all its fullness?


Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”; “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.”


  • Will you accept His invitation?

The Bride


Read the following passage:

But Er was a wicked man in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord took his life. Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “You must marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. Her first son from you will be your brother’s heir.”

But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with Tamar, he spilled the semen on the ground to keep her from having a baby who would belong to his brother. But the Lord considered it a wicked thing for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the Lord took Onan’s life, too.

Then Judah told Tamar, his daughter-in-law, not to marry again at that time but to return to her parents’ home. She was to remain a widow until his youngest son, Shelah, was old enough to marry her. (But Judah didn’t -really intend to do this because he was afraid Shelah would also die, like his two brothers.) So Tamar went home to her parents.

In the course of time Judah’s wife died. After the time of mourning was over, Judah and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went to Timnah to supervise the shearing of his sheep. Someone told Tamar that her father-in-law had left for the sheep-shearing at Timnah. Tamar was aware that Shelah had grown up, but they had not called her to come and marry him. So she changed out of her widow’s clothing and covered herself with a veil to disguise herself. Then she sat beside the road at the entrance to the village of Enaim, which is on the way to Timnah. Judah noticed her as he went by and thought she was a prostitute, since her face was veiled. So he stopped and propositioned her to sleep with him, not realizing that she was his own daughter-in-law.

“How much will you pay me?” Tamar asked.

“I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” Judah promised.

“What pledge will you give me so I can be sure you will send it?” she asked. “Well, what do you want?” he inquired.

She replied, “I want your identification seal, your cord, and the walking stick you are carrying.” So Judah gave these items to her. She then let him sleep with her, and she became pregnant. Afterward she went home, took off her veil, and put on her widow’s clothing as usual.

GENESIS 38:7-19

We learned in our previous lesson that Judah chose to marry a forbidden Canaanite girl. He also chose a Canaanite bride for his son. This young bride’s name was Tamar.

Tamar means “date palm.” Date palms were highly valued trees, not only for their delicious fruit but also for their stately beauty and ability to thrive in the desert climate. This teenage bride was not named so by coincidence.

  • What do we learn about Tamar from the preceding passage?
  • What kind of choices (if any) did Tamar have?
  • When she went back to her father’s house, do you think she expected to ever return to Judah’s household? Why or why not?
  • At what point do you think Tamar realized there would not be another wedding?

Tamar decided to take things into her own hands. She may have thought, Judah is a widower and free to take another wife. Certainly his own seed would secure his promise to me of offspring. Or, I’ll take only what is promised to me!

  • When Tamar set her plans in motion, she changed out of her widow’s clothing. What did she do at the end of the passage? What is significant about this? (If you need a hint, consider the following: Did she stop any other men who were on their way to the sheep-shearing? Did she stay on with Judah? Did she continue to play the harlot? Did she brag about her actions?)

This woman of action now waits. She waits to see if Judah will accept her solution to their dilemma. She waits to see if she will be the one to build Judah’s household. She waits to see the God of Judah judge between Judah and herself!

Read the following passage:

People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.


  • What does Proverbs 16:2 say about people’s opinion of themselves?


  • Up to this point in Tamar’s life she had been abused, used, abandoned, and forgotten. Have you ever been treated unfairly? How have you handled broken promises?
  • In what ways do you identify with Tamar?
  • Have you ever run ahead of God and tried to fix things yourself? If so, what was the outcome?


Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

MATTHEW 11:28-30

Pause to consider the burden you are carrying. Will you do as Tamar did and try to handle it yourself? Or will you let Jesus take your grief, disillusionment, unfair treatment, and disappointments? Take on Jesus’ “yoke.” Allow Him to give you a hope and a future.



Read the following passage:

About three months later, word reached Judah that Tamar, his daughter-in-law, was pregnant as a result of prostitution. “Bring her out and burn her!” Judah shouted.

But as they were taking her out to kill her, she sent this message to her father-in- law: “The man who owns this identification seal and walking stick is the father of my child. Do you recognize them?”

Judah admitted that they were his and said, “She is more in the right than I am, because I didn’t keep my promise to let her marry my son Shelah.” But Judah never slept with Tamar again.

GENESIS 38:24-26

  • When Judah heard that Tamar was with child, what was his response? Was this a private proclamation or a public one?
  • Judah may have thought, This will let me off the hook with my promise to her of Shelah! He may also have thought, Who will blame me for getting rid of Tamar? What was Tamar’s response to the death sentence her father-in-law demanded?
  • Why do you think Tamar asked Judah a question rather than making a proclamation? What does this reveal about her character?
  • A choice was now laid before Judah. He could once again run and hide, ignoring the truth; or he could, at last, do what was right. According to the passage we just read, what was Judah’s response?
  • What does Judah’s response reveal about his character?

Read the following passage:

People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy.


A heart that has confessed and forsaken sin will be declared righteous by God through Christ Jesus. Both Tamar and Judah found God’s forgiveness and saw Him work out His good purposes through their lives. Only God can bring blessing from disaster, deceit, and disillusionment. Only God knows the heart of a person.

Read the following passages:

In due season the time of Tamar’s delivery arrived, and she had twin sons. As they were being born, one of them reached out his hand, and the midwife tied a scarlet thread around the wrist of the child who appeared first, saying, “This one came out first.” But then he drew back his hand, and the other baby was actually the first to be born. “What!” the midwife exclaimed. “How did you break out first?” And ever after, he was called Perez. Then the baby with the scarlet thread on his wrist was born, and he was named Zerah.

GENESIS 38:27-30

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”


Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar). Perez was the father of Hezron. Hezron was the father of Ram.


  • Tamar had hoped for a son. What did God do for her?
  • Judah had hoped for an heir. What did God do for him?


  • Have you ever been privately confronted about something you did or said that was wrong? If so, how did it make you feel?
  • Have you ever been openly rebuked, embarrassed, or corrected? How did you respond?
  • When Tamar was openly confronted, she presented the truth (as she knew it). When Judah was confronted with the truth, he repented. He had run away from both his family and his faith. God used the consequences of his choices to bring about repentance and restoration. In your experiences of being confronted with something you did wrong, what were the consequences? If you had it to do over again, how might you respond differently?


Let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.


God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.


  • How is God drawing you?

Seasons for Change


From our brief study, we have seen how circumstances offer choices to be made in life. Those choices can lead to destruction and disillusionment or to restoration and a productive life. In review, look back at the Bible passage in “Setting the Scene” on pages 3–5. What kind of man was Judah then?

The following passage is lengthy, but it’s important for learning the end of Judah’s story. It took place many years after the incident with Tamar, when Judah and his brothers appeared before their long-lost brother Joseph. Joseph had risen to a position of great authority in Egypt. He recognized his evil brothers and decided to put them to a test to see whether they had changed. The brothers did not know that the man wielding the power of life or death over them was, in fact, Joseph.

When his brothers were ready to leave, Joseph gave these instructions to the man in charge of his household: “Fill each of their sacks with as much grain as they can carry, and put each man’s money back into his sack. Then put my personal silver cup at the top of the youngest brother’s sack, along with his grain money.” So the household manager did as he was told.

The brothers were up at dawn and set out on their journey with their loaded donkeys. But when they were barely out of the city, Joseph said to his household manager, “Chase after them and stop them. Ask them, ‘Why have you repaid an act of kindness with such evil? What do you mean by stealing my master’s personal silver drinking cup, which he uses to predict the future? What a wicked thing you have done!’”

So the man caught up with them and spoke to them in the way he had been instructed. “What are you talking about?” the brothers responded. “What kind of people do you think we are, that you accuse us of such a terrible thing? Didn’t we bring back the money we found in our sacks? Why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If you find his cup with any one of us, let that one die. And all the rest of us will be your master’s slaves forever.”

“Fair enough,” the man replied, “except that only the one who stole it will be a slave. The rest of you may go free.”

They quickly took their sacks from the backs of their donkeys and opened them. Joseph’s servant began searching the oldest brother’s sack, going on down the line to the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! At this, they tore their clothing in despair, loaded the donkeys again, and returned to the city. Joseph was still at home when Judah and his brothers arrived, and they fell to the ground before him.

“What were you trying to do?” Joseph demanded. “Didn’t you know that a man such as I would know who stole it?”

And Judah said, “Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we plead? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves—we and our brother who had your cup in his sack.”

“No,” Joseph said. “Only the man who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go home to your father.”

Then Judah stepped forward and said, “My lord, let me say just this one word to you. Be patient with me for a moment, for I know you could have me killed in an instant, as though you were Pharaoh himself.

“You asked us, my lord, if we had a father or a brother. We said, ‘Yes, we have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, his youngest son. His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him very much.’ And you said to us, ‘Bring him here so I can see him.’ But we said to you, ‘My lord, the boy cannot leave his father, for his father would die.’ But you told us, ‘You may not see me again unless your youngest brother is with you.’ So we returned to our father and told him what you had said. And when he said, ‘Go back again and buy us a little food,’ we replied, ‘We can’t unless you let our youngest brother go with us. We won’t be allowed to see the man in charge of the grain unless our youngest brother is with us.’ Then my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife had two sons, and that one of them went away and never returned—doubtless torn to pieces by some wild animal. I have never seen him since. If you take away his brother from me, too, and any harm comes to him, you would bring my gray head down to the grave in deep sorrow.’

“And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. When he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We will be responsible for bringing his gray head down to the grave in sorrow. My lord, I made a pledge to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’ Please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I cannot bear to see what this would do to him.”

GENESIS 44:1-34

  • What do we learn about Judah from this account?
  • In what ways had Judah changed?

Read the following Bible passage, which tells the end of the story:

Joseph could stand it no longer. “Out, all of you!” he cried out to his attendants. He wanted to be alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept aloud. His sobs could be heard throughout the palace, and the news was quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.

“I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Come over here,” he said. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. These two years of famine will grow to seven, during which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God has sent me here to keep you and your families alive so that you will become a great nation. Yes, it was God who sent me here, not you! And he has made me a counselor to Pharaoh— manager of his entire household and ruler over all Egypt.

“Hurry, return to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. Come down to me right away! You will live in the land of Goshen so you can be near me with all your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all that you have. I will take care of you there, for there are still five years of famine ahead of us. Otherwise you and your household will come to utter poverty.’”

Then Joseph said, “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that I really am Joseph! Tell my father how I am honored here in Egypt. Tell him about everything you have seen, and bring him to me quickly.” Weeping with joy, he embraced Benjamin, and Benjamin also began to weep. Then Joseph kissed each of his brothers and wept over them, and then they began talking freely with him.

GENESIS 45:1-15

  • Clearly, Joseph was deeply moved by Judah’s plea. What was Joseph’s response to Judah and the rest of his brothers?

God had made provision for the entire family. He had spared Joseph’s life and given him a position of great authority. He had brought restoration to Judah and his brothers.

Reread the following passage about Tamar:

Then Judah told Tamar, his daughter-in-law, not to marry again at that time but to return to her parents’ home. She was to remain a widow until his youngest son, Shelah, was old enough to marry her. (But Judah didn’t really intend to do this because he was afraid Shelah would also die, like his two brothers.) So Tamar went home to her parents.


  • At that point, what kind of future did Tamar have to look forward to?

Now read the following Bible passage, written many years later:

And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.

RUTH 4:12

  • How was Tamar remembered by her descendants?

Tamar had her hopes and plans, but God had bigger plans. He gave her twin sons, who became the forebears of the tribe of Judah. Ultimately, the Messiah— the promised Savior of the world—came from that tribe.


  • Just as God worked in the lives of Judah and Tamar, He works in our lives today. In what ways is God revealing Himself to you?
  • As you have worked through these lessons, what changes do you sense you may need to make in your life?
  • Who holds your future? According to Jeremiah 29:11 (see page 89), who is offering you a future?


For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.

There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.

JOHN 3:16-18

Are you ready for the future? If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, you can do so right now. All you need to do is say a simple prayer. Confess that you are a sinner and that you desire to turn around, and invite Jesus Christ to come into your heart as your Lord and Savior. When you belong to Jesus, you can be assured of an eternal future and hope for today.

Choose life!

Blessings and Songs


As we’ve already seen, the story of Tamar does not end with the birth of her twin sons. We can trace Judah and Tamar throughout the Bible. The following passages are a few examples of the future God had in store for them:

“I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Come over here,” he said. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. These two years of famine will grow to seven, during which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God has sent me here to keep you and your families alive so that you will become a great nation. Yes, it was God who sent me here, not you! And he has made me a counselor to Pharaoh— manager of his entire household and ruler over all Egypt.

“Hurry, return to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. Come down to me right away! You will live in the land of Goshen so you can be near me with all your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all that you have.’”

GENESIS 45:3-10

  • How did Joseph feel about Judah?
  • In the following passage, Judah receives a blessing from his father, Jacob (also known as Israel). What are the key elements of this blessings?

Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will defeat your enemies. All your relatives will bow before you. Judah is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness—who will dare to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will obey. He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine because his harvest is so plentiful. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk.

GENESIS 49:8-12

  • Read the following passage. How was Moses’ blessing different from Jacob’s blessing?

Moses said this about the tribe of Judah: “O Lord, hear the cry of Judah and bring them again to their people. Give them strength to defend their cause; help them against their enemies!”


In the following passage, who chooses Judah?

Then the Lord rose up as though waking from sleep, like a mighty man aroused from a drunken stupor. He routed his enemies and sent them to eternal shame. But he rejected Joseph’s descendants; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim. He chose instead the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loved.

PSALM 78:65- 68

Genesis 38—the story of Tamar and Judah, upon which Unveiled is based—can be seen as a celebration of the father and mother of a tribe. Tamar was held in great respect. Her actions were carried out with the sole intention of having a child to carry on the family. God saw her heart and gave her children. God also knew Judah’s heart and provided a way for him to be restored to his family, as well as his descendants, to carry on his name. Ultimately, God used the line of Judah to give the world the Messiah. The Messiah is often referred to as the Lion of Judah. Jesus is Messiah!


  • Is there someone with whom you need to make amends, as Judah did?
  • Like Tamar, we all have hopes and dreams for the future. What kinds of things do you hope for?
  • How do you want to be remembered?


“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; it will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

ISAIAH 55:8-13

May God’s Word always produce the fruit of obedience and accomplish much in you.