Don’t You Love When Someone Brings the Bible to Life?

It may happen when an author adds sensory descriptives so that you feel the story he/she tells. Or maybe the writer connects the narrative in a way that speaks into your life. However it happens, I love when someone can bring the Bible to life!

I took a class called The Artist’s Way. At the end of the semester, we held a tribal gathering where we each shared our creativity. One girl retold the story of Tamar in such a way that I wanted her to tell me about all of the women in the Bible.

Several years later, I was living in Jerusalem and we were having a Triclinium Banquet. I tried to track her down to borrow her notes. But I couldn’t find her. 

Then I remembered the story is right in the Bible . . . so here is my attempt to bring that story to life for you!

I want to tell you my story . . .

A picture of a Middle Eastern woman cooking to help bring the Bible story to life.

Thank you FreeBibleImages for sharing this picture to help bring the Bible to life.

There was a man whose name is Judah. You have heard of him?

Maybe you hear of his brother, Joseph, who have the coat of ma-a-any color. His brothers want to kill Joseph. They strip him of this coat and throw him into a pit.

Judah tole his brothers to sell Joseph instead of killing him. Now, Joseph work for Pharoah—very high position. But, that is another story.

This story begins with Joseph’s brother Judah.

he go to a town called Adullam, to the west and south of Jerusalem.

He stay with a man named Hirah and meet a woman, a Canaanite woman like myself. Judah, he do not obey the request of his G-d to marry another of his own peopleHe marry this Canaanite woman and they make babies.

The first son, they name Er. The second, Onan; and the last, his name is Shelah.

They give birth to these babies in Kezib. You know what Kezib means? In Judah’s language, in Hebrew, the root of this word, it mean deception.

Not by chance, I think.

That is the way we do. The mother and the father, they choose the wife for the son.

Remember I told you, I am Tamar? I am the wife Judah choose for Er.

But, Er was a wicked man in the eyes of his G-d. So, Er’s Jewish G-d, He kill my husband for being wicked.

we, as a family, must respect my dead husband by raising up Er’s name and continuing his line. That is part of the Hebrew law, the Levirite law.

Levir means husband’s brother, brother-in-law.

When Er die early, I am to lie with his brother to make babies to carry on my husband’s family line.

So, Judah told his second son, Onan to lie with me and make me pregnant. By doing this, the land will remain within Er’s household and not cause problem for the rest of the family.

It would be the baby of his dead brother even though it was Onan who made the baby. And, the older brother always gets two times as much as the other brothers.

You see the problem?

As the oldest son, Er and his household get half of the inheritance. If Onan do not make baby with me, he and Shelah will inherit more without having to divide it with Er’s household, i.e. me.

So, Onan does not want to make a baby with me.

Onan is also wicked in the eyes of his G-d.

Onan sleep with me. It look to everyone else like he is doing his duty because he spend the night in my tent. But he spill his semen on the ground to keep me from becoming pregnant.

Our people believe if a woman cannot make babies, it is her fault.

I cannot make baby by myself. Onan know that. And if I do not make a baby, it will be my shame. I need a family to care for me when I am old! I raise children and they provide for me later.

That is the way it is.

I cannot take Onan before the village assembly at the city gate—how can I prove this?

They will stone me!

So, Onan continue to enjoy sex with me, but he keep me from being able to make baby.

I try to save my husband’s household, but I cannot do it alone.

Onan do what is not right. 

I hear He make special provision for widows because He love them.

But, I am not sure.

I do not know Him. He is not my God.

“Go back to your father’s house,” Judah say, “Put on widow’s clothes until Shelah is older.” 

Going back to them brings many questions to my people. And it brings shame to me.

But, what else I can do?

I am not really a childless widow. I just have not had a chance to produce a child.

This makes me look like I have no legal guardian. Because only widows without legal guardians go back to their father’s households, but Shelah, Judah’s third son, is my legal guardian. 

That is the way we do things in our culture.

By sending me back to my father’s household,
Judah steals from me.

I would have the most powerful right, freedom of movement.

But if I go back to my father’s household, I give up those rights.

I did not want to go back, but I did not know what else to do. It is not easy for a woman to be alone in our culture. 

I go back.

And I wonder if Judah will arrange a marriage for me with Shelah. If he does not, how will I produce an heir? What will become of me?

I know Judah is afraid Shelah will die, too, if he marry me. Then, Judah would be left with no children either, but it is not my fault.

I hear that Hiram, Judah’s wife, she die. Judah mourn for her. And then I hear that he plans to go to Timnah to shear his sheep. And, I have an idea.

Maybe it is not the way we do things . . . but what else can I do?

I take off my black mourning clothes that tell the people I am a widow. I cover myself with a veil, so Judah might not know me when he pass by. I sit just outside Enaim, on the road to Timnah, and I wait. I was—how you say? My belly has butterflies.

As men come to the market to trade their goods and pay their debts, they negotiate contracts. This is the Canaanite way, not Judah’s way, not the way of the Israelites.

Judah borrows money from the shrine to pay his bills. He makes a covenant with our gods and notarizes the agreement by conjugal relations.

This is not sexual indiscretion. It is a ritual of fertility for the upcoming year.

It may be different from the way you do things, but this is the way we Canaanites do it. So, I dress as if I am one of these women.

I see Judah coming. He think I am one of these prostitutes that sit at the gate of the city and he tell me,

“Let me sleep with you!” 

He promise to send me a young goat. But, I am not stupid. I say,

“Give me something to keep until you send me the goat.”

This is the part of my plan I wonder if it will work. He wears a seal on a cord around his neck for when he needs to make his mark on important parchments. It is very important, like his signature.

He needs these things. Without them, what will he do?

I say,

“Give me your seal and its cord
and the staff in your hand.” 

I do not think he is stupid, but I am surprised how easily he parts with these very important things for sex.

He sleep with me and he go. 

A picture of the same Middle Eastern woman pregnant in order to bring the story to life.

Thank you FreeBibleImages for sharing this picture to help bring the Bible to life.

After I leave Enaim, I take my veil from my head and I put my clothes back on that show everyone that I am a widow.

Judah did send the young goat to get his pledge back, but think how he must be very surprised to find I am not there.

Now, he ask around. He call me a shrine prostitute. With higher status, maybe it make what he did sound more acceptable. I do not know.

He not want to get shame, so finally he say,

“Let her keep what she has . . . ” 

. . . but he is very mad I am not there with his seal, his cord, and his staff.

Sure, he stand by his promise this time,
but not when he tell me he will give me Shelah.

People see I am pregnant and they tell Judah. He say,

“Bring her to me so I can burn her to death!”

Because getting pregnant outside of marriage is not the way we do things in our culture.

I take his seal, his cord, and his staff and I send them to Judah with a letter at the city gate. That is where he rules over our court system with the other men.

My letter say,

“These belong to the man who make me pregnant!
Do you know them?” 

Of course, he know them.

But, what would he say in front of all the people?

You know what he say?

A picture of a Middle Eastern woman who looks like Tamar may have in order to bring the Bible to life.

Thank you FreeBibleImages for sharing this picture to help bring the Bible to life.

grateful to this God they call Yahweh. Grateful for all He do for me, this God I make my own. This God who I do know, but I believe, that my Yahweh has great plans for this baby I carry in my womb.

I do not know why, but I believe this child is important, not just to me.

I lift to You—Your prized possessions,
these people who listen to my story.

I ask, that as You
wash the feet of these precious ones,
who bring good news
in the unique way You ordain,
that You anoint them.

Thank You, my Lord.

More posts that bring the Bible to life:

What If We Could See Jesus?

Then He said, “Go now in peace!”

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