Her name was Tamar.

Her name means “palm-tree.” Palms and palm trees symbolize victory.

Her story: Genesis 38:6-24; Ruth 4:12; 1 Chronicles 2:9; Matthew 1:3

Tamar was chosen by Judah as a wife for his firstborn, but Er was wicked and God took his life. According to birthright law, Judah’s second son was to provide a child for Tamar. Onan also did evil in God’s sight and God took his life. Judah sent Tamar back to her father’s home and promised to send for her when his youngest son, Shelah, was old enough to have a wife. Tamar lived as a widow well past the time when Shelah could fulfill his duty as a brother. It seemed Judah never intended to bring Tamar back. After Judah’s wife died, Tamar received word that Judah planned a trip. She removed her widow’s garments, covered her face and went to a place where Judah would be. Judah didn’t recognize her and thought she was a prostitute. He offered to give her a goat for services, but she negotiated for more personal collateral. Judah gave her his signet ring, his cords and his staff. About three months later, Judah learned Tamar was pregnant. He became angry and threatened to carry out the punishment for prostitution. She sent the signet ring, cords and staff to him and told him she was pregnant by the owner of those things. He recognized them and understood clearly that he hadn’t fulfilled his duty to her and he let her live. Tamar gave birth to twin sons but not without a battle in the birth canal.

Judah himself had a history filled with bad choices and bad friends. He was the brother who suggested selling Joseph to the slave traders going to Egypt. He left his family and married a Cannannite and his sons were wild. After this incident with Rahab, Scripture reflects a wiser, more righteous man. He took care of his family and became a son his father, Jacob, could trust to do the right thing. While we have no Scriptural evidence, perhaps Tamar had a positive influence on Judah himself.

Her legacy for us: Her actions (although ones we would not take) not only corrected a wrong, but they seem to have influenced a man who had forsaken his family and God.

Our response to Him: When You direct me, how often do I act to correct wrongs according to Your plan? Am I setting a godly example and encouraging others to follow You?

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