Find Hope Here Podcast:
“If you’ve ever struggled to understand the story of Judah and Tamar from Genesis 38, I’ve got you!! In this episode, Carolyn Custis James shares a framework for understanding the stories of scripture. And why Tamar, who posed as a prostitute to seduce her father-in-law, is considered a hero…Wait, WHAT???”
—Host, Teresa Whiting
Topic: A Woman is a Warrior
Tamar’s story (Genesis 38) is one of the strongest ezer-warrior examples in the Old Testament, and I loved discussing this powerful ezer narrative with Teresa Whiting. Tamar story is one of the Bible’s most overlook stories because readers and interpreters lock onto the word “prostitute” and can’t get past it. It isn’t considered suitable subject matter for a mixed audience in a Sunday morning church service.
But the Tamar/Judah story is the hinge that holds Genesis together and a story that can make a difference for all of us. Without understanding Tamar’s story, we can’t make sense of the radical transformation in Judah when his half-brother and his father’s new favorite son Benjamin faces the threat of being enslaved (Genesis 44). The Tamar/Judah story reveals how God used the courage of a woman to ensure a family’s survival and to transform Judah—one of the Bible’s darkest characters and hopeless cases—into a version of masculinity that shed’s patriarchy’s demands and instead reflects Jesus and his gospel. The end result is the reconciliation of warring brothers.
The story turns on Judah’s statement—usually mistranslated “She is more righteous than I”—when the more accurate translation according to Hebrew scholars is “She is righteous; not I.”1 That was when Judah looked in the mirror and confronted the kind of depraved human being he’d become.
Judah’s redemption should open our eyes to the powerfully wide reach of Jesus’ gospel and the hope-filled fact that no one is beyond the gospel’s good news.
And that, my friends, will preach!
For further reading, see Judah’s story—”The Father Wound”—in Malestrom: How Jesus Dismantles Patriarchy and Redefines Manhood
1Bruce K. Waltke with Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), p. 513.