The literal meaning
I wanted to examine Tamar through the use of PRDS
She was a woman of unknown background…she might have been Canaanite, she might have been Jewish. The text is silent on her lineage.
She is chosen by Judah as a wife for his firstborn son, Er.
“But Er….was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him.”
Judah told his second son, Onan, to “Go in to your brother’s wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother.”
Onan did not wish to have an heir for his brother, and refused to impregnant Tamar.
“And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; therefore He killed him also.”
Tamar is then told by Judah to go back to her father’s house until a third son, Shela, is old enough to marry her.
Tamar obeyed, and spent years in her father’s house, waitng for the husband promised to her.
In the course of time, Judah’s wife dies. Judah visits again his friend at Timnah, Hirah the Adullamite.
Tamar is told this, that her father in law was coming to the area. She also was aware that Shela was grown by this time, and still hadn’t been given to her as husband.
“So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah”
The aligorical meaning
I’d like to focus on her widowhood for a moment.
The Hebrew word for widowhood used in this Scripture occurs only three places in Scripture….twice in this story, once referring to David putting away his unfaithful concubines, and once in Isaiah 54:4
The context of Isaiah 54 is very interesting, and may give us some deeper understanding of Tamar and her widowhood…who she perhaps forshadows in the story….
Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud. You who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord. Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes, for you shall expand to teh right and to the left, and your descendants will in herit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited. Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused;” says your God, “for a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. with a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.”
It seems that these two portions of Scripture are related…..Tamar certainly was a youthful wife refused; she was disgraced, shamed even, forsaken in the house of her father, waiting for the promise of a redeemer?
Next I would like to focus on Tamar putting on her veil and covering herself.
This portion of Scripture, again, has a parallel to another well known woman in Jesus’ lineage….Rebekkah.
She…”covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself”…
Genesis 24:64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. 65 For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.
I believe the hint in Scripture is not that Tamar was disguising as a whore, but was taking Judah as husband…..her legal right.
She sits in an “open place”.
This term for “open” only occurs in the Tamar passage, and is a primitive Hebrew term, ayin, meaning eye or sight. It’s Greek counterpart is Ainen meaning springs…a place in the New Testament associated with where John baptized.
Place means open doorway….a derivative of another Hebrew word which means to be freed, to be loosed.
I believe that taking all the parallel verses together and considering the meaning of the Hebrew words used in describing Tamar’s actions, we see that Tamar is a type of Israel.