Place of Origin: Canaan (Genesis 38:1-6)
Husband: Er (Genesis 38:6)
Children’s Father: Judah (Genesis 38:15-18)
The Death of Er
We are not told exactly what Er did to anger the Lord, but we are told that he was evil, and therefore the Lord slew him (Genesis 38:7). After the death of Er, Onan is expected to have children with Tamar, according to tradition, but he does not carry out his duty and spills his seed after having sex with her.
“And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.” – Genesis 38:8-10
The Brother’s Duty
It was customary for the widow to be impregnated by the brother of the deceased, in order to raise an heir.
“If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.” – Deuteronomy 25:5-6
Broken Promises To Tamar
After the death of his second son, Judah told Tamar to wait until his third son grew up, but he did not keep his word.
“Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at thy father’s house, till Shelah my son be grown: for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.” – Genesis 38:11
Tamar Plays The Harlot
“When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me? And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.” – Genesis 38:15-18
The Lineage of Christ
“And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez. And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.” – Genesis 38:29-30
The thread was tied around the arm to identify the oldest twin, but Pharez managed to be born first, even though his brother’s arm came out first. It is one of several examples in the Bible, where the younger brother ends up being first and the older brother is last.
What Happened To Tamar?
After the birth of Pharez and Zerah, the Bible does not mention Tamar again until the book of Ruth. We are not told whether or not her and Judah part ways or if they remained in contact. The assumption is that there was contact because the children were included among those that came to Egypt .
Featured Image: Tamar. 2015. Icons of The Bible. https://fineartamerica.com/featured/tamar-icons-of-the-bible.html
Note: Featured image may not be historically accurate and may not reflect the true skin color of the people depicted. It is a 21st century creation.