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  1. 26 Oct '09 09:19
    josephw asked me for a favorite Bible passage, since I do not have a favorite Bible verse. Here is one; but be forewared: I do not choose trite essays of Biblical scripture. I choose what is provocative and yet is clearly a story in the Bible with a clear context. This is such a text, for it is graphic and lurid, and yet it demonstrates what God would see as fit, rather than what men and religious authority would soundly ignore. It is in the Bible, however, and cannot be ignored. I give you Genesis 38:

    It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and settled near a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah. There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; he married her and went in to her. She conceived and bore a son; and he named him Er. Again she conceived and bore a son whom she named Onan. Yet again she bore a son, and she named him Shelah. She was in Chezib when she bore him. Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.’ But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother. What he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, ‘Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up’—for he feared that he too would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.
    In course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died; when Judah’s time of mourning was over, he went up to Timnah to his sheep-shearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. When Tamar was told, ‘Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep’, she put off her widow’s garments, put on a veil, wrapped herself up, and sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. She saw that Shelah was grown up, yet she had not been given to him in marriage. When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a prostitute, for she had covered her face. He went over to her at the roadside, and said, ‘Come, let me come in to you’, for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, ‘What will you give me, that you may come in to me?’ He answered, ‘I will send you a kid from the flock.’ And she said, ‘Only if you give me a pledge, until you send it.’ He said, ‘What pledge shall I give you?’ She replied, ‘Your signet and your cord, and the staff that is in your hand.’ So he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. Then she got up and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.
    When Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to recover the pledge from the woman, he could not find her. He asked the townspeople, ‘Where is the temple prostitute who was at Enaim by the wayside?’ But they said, ‘No prostitute has been here.’ So he returned to Judah, and said, ‘I have not found her; moreover, the townspeople said, “No prostitute has been here.” ’ Judah replied, ‘Let her keep the things as her own, otherwise we will be laughed at; you see, I sent this kid, and you could not find her.’
    About three months later Judah was told, ‘Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the whore; moreover she is pregnant as a result of whoredom.’ And Judah said, ‘Bring her out, and let her be burned.’ As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, ‘It was the owner of these who made me pregnant.’ And she said, ‘Take note, please, whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.’ Then Judah acknowledged them and said, ‘She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.’ And he did not lie with her again.
    When the time of her delivery came, there were twins in her womb. While she was in labour, one put out a hand; and the midwife took and bound on his hand a crimson thread, saying, ‘This one came out first.’ But just then he drew back his hand, and out came his brother; and she said, ‘What a breach you have made for yourself!’ Therefore he was named Perez. Afterwards his brother came out with the crimson thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah.
  2. 26 Oct '09 09:23
    Tamar is a personal hero of mine. She is roundly screwed, both literally and figuratively, by the men she is forced by law to be with. She should have recourse in Jewish law. The men should be following the decree of Deuteronomy, which is as follows (Deu 25: 5-10):

    "When brothers reside together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her, taking her in marriage, and performing the duty of a husband’s brother to her, and the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed to the name of the deceased brother, so that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. But if the man has no desire to marry his brother’s widow, then his brother’s widow shall go up to the elders at the gate and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ Then the elders of his town shall summon him and speak to him. If he persists, saying, ‘I have no desire to marry her’, then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, pull his sandal off his foot, spit in his face, and declare, ‘This is what is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ Throughout Israel his family shall be known as ‘the house of him whose sandal was pulled off.’ "

    But Tamar's relatives don't play by the rules. They break the rules. The problem here is that she's a woman and this is what you get when you're not circumcized - you have no rights. You have no covenant with God. You are completely at the mercy of these men who would willingly break the laws, because they KNOW there's no accountability in their actions.

    Our heroine, however, is quite clever - more so than the men in her life. She schemes wonderfully to get what is owed to her under Jewish law and is being denied, completely, in violation of that law, and in the process gets the justice that the law should provide, but does not. The great irony is that the law does bring her justice, and Judah is helpless in the face of it. Judah, in his great hypocrisy, would have Tamar burned, knowing full well he has not followed Jewish law. Isn't it just delicious that he's the one that gets burned instead?

    Men will poo-poo this story and focus on Tamar's being a prostitute, and say "that is wrong, that is against God". How is it against God, when the laws of God (for all of you who believe the OT is the word of God) are being circumvented and ignored? What recourse does Tamar really have? And if what Tamar does is so bad, WHY IS IT IN THE BIBLE AND WHY DOES SHE SUFFER NO RETIBUTIONS FOR HER ACTIONS? On the contrary, she lives, she procreates, she comes out ahead of the good ol' boys and their hypocritical ways.

    You're not about to hear this story in a church. You're not going to hear a sermon about this Bible passage. Christian ministers are 1)Men, and 2) Uncomfortable in bringing a great story of justice to their faithful, because they have no empathy for it and would not think it 'fits'. It deserves to be heard, however, because it is a story of true justice in the face of very long odds. It is fully a Biblical story and a favorite passage of mine. It is not my concern that 'Christians' are too cowardly to fully preach from, and learn from, the Bible.
  3. Subscriber karoly aczel
    Romans' yesman
    26 Oct '09 09:36
    Originally posted by Badwater
    Tamar is a personal hero of mine. She is roundly screwed, both literally and figuratively, by the men she is forced by law to be with. She should have recourse in Jewish law. The men should be following the decree of Deuteronomy, which is as follows (Deu 25: 5-10):

    "When brothers reside together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the decea ...[text shortened]... Christians' are too cowardly to fully preach from, and learn from, the Bible.
    Nice story-thnx for sharing it with us. Yes,I'm sure I wouldn't hear that one at my church on Sunday. Maybe if they did read from the whole bible it might become more interesting. Being a non-christian, non-bible scholar, I for one would definately be more interested in Christian sermons if they were more like that one. Rather than repeating the same ones adnausium.
    Yes I know JC is Gods only begotten son, that he died for our sins, was exempelary,etc,etc. Something new and refreshing coming from christians is what turns me on.