One short chapter tells Tamar’s bizarre story.
Tamar’s husband, Er, was the son of Judah. He was a man so awful that God did away with him. Likewise, his brother Onan who was supposed to give Tamar a child in his brother’s place. He did not want to give her a child for selfish reasons. I read that the firstborn’s heir would receive a double portion. Having a child—a son—provided for the widow, as women didn’t have many rights or avenues to care for their own financial needs at this time, so Onan was sleeping with her but refusing to provide for her. God got rid of him too.
Judah had one son left, and he didn’t want to take any chances on letting Tamar around this one, lest he lose him too. So he’s blaming Tamar instead of his wicked sons? What had happened to turn these early descendants of Abraham so evil already? Likely, the pagan culture nearby. God had warned them about hanging out with the Canaanites who practiced idolatry and the abhorrent practices that went along with their worship.
Judah sends Tamar home to her father’s house to wait until his son is old enough to provide a child. So for years, she’s dressed as a widow, unable to remarry—a childless woman with nothing.
Tamar takes matters into her own hands when she realizes that Judah is going to ignore his duty. Here we go again. We women do tend to go this way, don’t we? She might have asked God to intervene somehow, but instead, she dressed as a prostitute, face covered, and waited for Judah to pass. Her father-in-law was widowed, so he took the bait, leaving his calling cards—his seal, cord and staff—as a promise to send her back a kid (a goat). I had to laugh at the wording in English of the bargain, since he’s offering a kid goat, rather an actual kid son.
Ironically, when he hears Tamar is pregnant, having prostituted herself, he thinks she should be killed. Burned even. Double standard, for sure. Then she nails him with the truth. He was the man she’d been with. The child inside her was his. He finally admits he was the one in the wrong.
Wow, this is a gross story to me. How about you?
Yet, God doesn’t shy away from the nitty gritty of real life in his Word, making it much more believable. The Bible is not a fairytale. This is a story of a woman being done wrong and an early quest for social justice. Tamar ends up having twins, and this woman is also in the lineage of Jesus.
France Rivers has a wonderful historical fiction series about the women in Christ’s ancestry if you’re interested in reading more and putting yourselves in their place. Of course, I love reading biblical fiction and that may not be your thing.
What are your thoughts on this weird story?
I love hearing your take!
What would it be like to be the other sister? Not the pretty one with the lovely figure like Rachel. But Leah, the one with weak eyes. The one no one wants to marry. The one who was sent, veiled, into a dark tent to a man who did not desire her.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt unattractive and unwanted at different spaces in my life. I’ve felt awkward and out of the loop. Un-chosen. Not because of my sisters, but maybe there was that other girl or woman who seemed to have it all together. She didn’t have to watch everything she ate to have a flat stomach. She didn’t fight hair that frizzed in the Mississippi humidity. She seemed to sail through life with a perfect smile and with a perfect family and that gaggle of friends always there to support her.
Don’t we all know someone who appears that way? Especially now with social media!
Genesis 29:31 said that God saw Leah was not loved and enabled her to conceive. God saw her. He sees us too. Then Leah went and named her son Reuben and said “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”
Good grief, Leah!
Is it just me, or were Leah and Rachel totally trying to depend on their husband to find their worth?? My husband is a good man, but friends, I have to find my worth in the Lord or I’d drive myself nuts! Truth. And another thing I’ve found is that men and women communicate differently. When I want to spill my worries and guts for a good long talk, I call one of my women friends who will just listen. It’s so sad that Leah and Rachel weren’t there for each other.
Though never feeling loved, Leah ended up being the mother of Judah who was in the lineage of Christ. We don’t know who we could be influencing with our lives, despite believing we are unwanted or un-chosen. So, friends, let’s not dwell on what we don’t have. Instead, let’s praise God for what we do have and encourage each other along our journey.
What are your thoughts on Leah? Any guesses what is meant by weak or tender eyes?
I'm still slowly doing my study of Women in the Bible. If you want to receive all the posts I make about them, just leave a comment, and I'll add you to a special email group. This week, I'm taking a fresh look at Rachel.
Thoughts on Rachel
What would it be like to be forced to share a husband with your sister? I mean siblings can have enough squabbles over borrowed earrings and clothes, right? And to make matters worse, it had not been the sisters’ choice to share Jacob, but a trick perpetrated by their own father. Not a good start for a marriage.
Jacob and Rachel met at a well, much like Rebecca had been found at a well by Abraham’s servant. Only this time was different in that the bride groom, Jacob, saw her for himself. Genesis 29 says he kissed Rachel and wept aloud. That is not how most men display their emotions these days. Jacob quickly fell in love with the shapely and beautiful Rachel and was willing to work seven years to gain her hand. A long time to be engaged. A long time to wait.
Then the deception came, when Laban sent a different veiled daughter into the dark wedding tent.
And the morning after, the bitterness began. A father had broken the hearts of both his daughters.
Rachel’s sister bore children quickly, and even better during those days, Leah bore sons. Barren, Rachel was so jealous of her sister, she demands to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” As if he could! There may be a bit of a drama queen coming out of the pretty girl, but again, infertility is a tough emotional journey for a woman.
Like Sarah, Rachel took matters into her own hand, rather than trusting God, and she forced her servant to become a surrogate. (Surely, she’d heard the sad story about Hagar and Ishmael?) Yet, more sibling competition ensued. Leah followed that lead, giving a servant too.
Finally, Rachel had a child, through God’s doing and not her own. Then Jacob began planning to take his family back home. Through fierce bargaining and God’s help, he finally gathers the large crew and his belonging and slips out of town. Only, Rachel decides to steal some of her father’s idols, bringing her father Laban hot on their trail. Then she lied and hid the things in a rather unsavory fashion. Of course, she’d learned trickery from from the best.
Rachel’s last act in life was delivering another son, and the birth process literally killed her. I feel sorry for Rachel. She never seemed to be truly happy, despite her husband’s great love for her.
One of the phrases I’ve tried to teach my kids and myself is: Joy should not be dependent on our circumstance. It’s not always so simple as it sounds, but life is much more tolerable when we allow God to be our source of Joy.
What are your thoughts on Rachel?
This week I'm highlighting my fellow Mississippi author and friend Stephenia H. McGee's free book! Check it out! Amazon
Here's Stephenia and I at one of our brainstorming sessions. Always plotting, ha!
I hope the month of August is a good one for you! Don't plant any strange seeds from the mail, LOL!
As always, if you have a prayer request, send me a message on my contact form.
Virtual hugs and blessings,
Hi friends! Sorry I've been out of touch. I finished work at the Mississippi Capitol for a while, then I went to visit family. I'm back on track with my little Bible study.
Thoughts on Rebekah
Their love story starts in Genesis 24
Willing to dip water for a stranger and his camels, Rebekah’s journey started out so well. She wouldn’t even allow her tricky brother Laban keep her from leaving the next day with Abraham’s servant to marry a man she’d never met. (She accepted a nose ring too. Apparently, those things have been around a long time.) The Bible says Rebekah comforted Isaac over the death of his mother Sarah. Such a beautiful story of love.
But then life’s problems set in. Famine again. Isaac asked Rebekah to pretend to be his sister, just as his father had, when they traveled. Infertility struggle came for this couple also--for twenty years. At least Rebekah didn’t make Sarah’s mistake of using a surrogate. Isaac prayed for Rebekah, and she finally conceived. But the children were warring twins even in her womb. They would continue to battle for most of their lives.
Okay, my kids have had their share of sibling rivalry, but it’s nothing compared to these two. Part of the problem seems to be that Isaac and Rebekah played favorites, each preferring one twin over the other.
Rebekah didn’t trust God or Isaac to put Jacob in the place of leadership, so she planned a huge deception on her dying husband. Sadly, because of her deception, she had to send Jacob off, and she likely never got to see him again before her death.
Rebekah's story is another reminder for me to trust God, be honest with my husband, and be fair with my family.
What are your thoughts?
Lot’s wife (Genesis 19)
Her husband had chosen to live in a wealthy fertile land, but a land filled with evil, so wicked that the Lord couldn’t find any righteous men other than Lot. What a place to raise their two daughters. Especially in that city. Had Lot and his family grown accustomed to the sin around them? I think about what’s streamed into our homes on our screens. Day after day we are bombarded by some pretty sinful messages through the media. Have I also become jaded over sin that should turn my stomach?
Lot invited strangers into his home without consulting Mrs. Lot (since we don’t have her name), so she must have been accustomed to being a hostess on the spot—something I’m terrible at! I wonder what horror Mrs. Lot felt as raucous men surrounded her house demanding to have their way with their guests who were actually angels sent from God. The crowd became such a riot that Lot offered their daughters to pacify them, although the men did not accept the offer. Can’t say I would have gone along with the husband on that one either.
The night must have been terrifying. Imagine the raucous noise as the angels dragged them from the city after blinding the men who were beating down the door.
“Flee for your lives. Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain.” These were the angels’ instructions before God rained burning sulfur down on Lot's former home.
If I imagine a volcano spewing down on the city where I live and running for my life, my heart thumps a little harder. What would I feel in Mrs. Lot’s place? Did she remember something she really wanted to bring along? Some treasured possession? Was she just wanting to see what was happening? Would I have looked back? Oh how curious I can be, like a rubbernecker at an accident. I’m afraid I might have been like Lot’s wife, but I’m praying now that I follow His instructions instead!
Whether from curiosity or sadness for losing everything in her home, Lot’s wife chose to look back, and in the end, lost her life because of it.
Jesus mentioned Lot in the New Testament book of Luke, Chapter 17. He’s talking about the coming kingdom.
Verse 30-32 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife!
Maybe she did want to go back for some possession after all? I don’t know, but I ask God now, please don’t let me be like Lot’s wife! Let me keep my focus ahead, not behind, and keep my mind on what’s truly important.
What are your thoughts?
Genesis 16, Genesis 21, Galatians 4:22-31
Honestly, I never liked Hagar.
But then I never put myself in her sandals.
She was a slave. She never had any choice about how her life would go. Although, sometimes we feel like we have no choice, I don’t think in the modern U.S. we can quite imagine her predicament fully.
She was an Egyptian. She may have been given to Sarah by the king of Egypt when he asked them to leave after the debacle of taking Sarah into his harem. Then she was given to become Abraham’s secondary wife when Sarah could not conceive.
I don’t want to imagine that! But Hagar obeyed her master.
Once Sarah had taken matters of providing an heir into her own hands (instead of God’s) and insisted Abraham take Hagar as a wife and Hagar conceived, the servant Hagar despised her mistress Sarah.
Note, Abraham like Adam went along with his wife’s plan. It’s interesting how much influence wives can wield over their husbands.
How did Hagar act when it says she despised Sarah? Perhaps proudly with boasts or insultingly with cruel remarks to Sarah. Or maybe with just snide looks and ugly smirks. As women, we’ve seen or possibly given those. Somehow though, Hagar thinks herself in a higher position now than Sarah, and she lets Sarah know it.
And pride goes before Hagar’s fall.
Sarah complained to Abraham, and he left Hagar out to dry, telling Sarah to do whatever she thought best. So Hagar had been wrong in her assumptions of her place, no matter her intimacy with Abraham. That probably hurt.
Sarah mistreated Hagar so badly (I’m not sure how, beatings, maybe?) that she ran away into the dry wilderness. Perhaps back toward Egypt. Alone and pregnant, she must have been pretty desperate to do so. She doesn’t seem to stop until she’s out of water, probably weary and parched. Hopeless. Pregnancy and desert running are not a good mix.
Then God shows up.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to dislike Hagar. Because I’ve committed the sin of pride. And in the past, I’ve found myself running until I can run no more. I was at the end of my own strength. Then I finally listened for God’s truth. Sadly, because I had nowhere else to turn.
So God sent an angel to Hagar. He tells her to go back and serve her mistress and submit. Interesting— God sends a messenger for an Egyptian servant. He still cares for her, no matter her race or background.
And Hagar obeyed God.
Occasionally God may have to send some sort of messenger to remind me to submit when I become prideful. Whether it’s a friend or a health problem or a sermon. Ever happen to you?
Hagar makes this testimony. “You are the God who sees me.”
He sees us too. And I’m so blessed by that.
What are your thoughts?
Several of you indicated interest in continuing with updates on my study of women in the Bible. This week, my notes are on Sarah. Please, feel free to leave your comments and thoughts.
By the time in ancient history when Sarah lived, most people worshiped idols. Possibly Abraham and Sarah did as well. But God chose Abraham and called him out of the place he lived to follow Him. Sarah followed too. She was sixty-five when she left everything and everyone she knew. Only my opinion, I believe that took faith, not just for Abraham, but for Sarah too.
Sarah’s name, originally Saria, meant princess. Apparently this princess of a woman was extremely beautiful. So beautiful that twice, when Abraham had to go into foreign lands for food, he asked her to pretend to be his sister, so men wouldn’t kill him to get to her. These ruling men from other lands did indeed find her amazingly lovely, and they took her into their harem. The commentary I read assumes they didn’t defile her because God sent sickness onto those households until they returned her to Abraham. Either way, I can’t imagine how scary and creepy it would be to have my husband allow other men to take me to their homes.
Sarah suffered from the disappointment of infertility. I haven’t been there myself, but I’ve heard from other women how emotionally painful that is. Each month hopeful, only to be disappointed again—watching other women have child after child with no problem, feeling like a failure, and possibly angry with their body.
When Sarah still didn’t have a child for Abraham, she decided to take matters into her own hands and offer her servant as a surrogate for her husband. Isn’t it like us women to try to solve problems for God? We can be so impatient that we just can’t wait for His timing. I’ve often found myself in this state of trying to fix things ahead of God’s plan. This usually does not go well!
Things didn’t go well Sarah either when she took over for God. Genesis says Sarah’s servant Hagar began to despise Sarah, so Sarah treated her cruelly. I don’t know what Hagar did, but I believe Sarah suffered from the green-eyed monster of jealousy. Been there and done that. It’s easy to fall into that trap, even with much less cause than what Sarah had. We can look at what we believe to be other women’s nice houses, their well-behaved children, or their in-shape figures, then compare and find ourselves lacking. Comparison never goes well either. J
Finally, God came and announced to Abraham that Sarah would have a child. Meanwhile, Sarah was eavesdropping in the tent and laughed at the idea because she was so old by this time. When confronted about it, she lied to save face. Um, eavesdropping…I’m guilty. Lying to save face…sadly, ditto.
God kept his promise to Sarah because He always keeps his promises. She had her son. Can you imagine her joy in her old age to have that little boy? I can envision her smile with each milestone—that first step, the first word.
Despite her mistakes, Sarah was commended in the New Testament for her faith in God and also for being a good wife to Abraham. Whew. I’m so thankful to know that despite our failures, trying to take things into our own hands, and bouts of jealousy, God is graceful with us.
I hope you have a great week!
I pray you are well during these strange times. I wanted to share a bit of news. :)
My latest novel Star Rising is being advertised on Bookbub so it's on sale for only 99 cents on Amazon this week! You can get a copy by clicking here: Star Rising
Also, two more of my novels have been made into Audio books! Blown Together and Falling for Grace! Find them on Audible or Amazon. Here's a link to Blown Together. I have a few codes left I can give out, if you comment on my blog here, I'll let you know if there are any available.
On another note, I've been doing a study on women in the Bible. I'll share a few notes I made below if you're interested. No worries, if not! Let me know if I can pray for you :)
My thoughts about Eve
Eve was in the most beautiful, perfect place ever with her husband. God walked with them in the evening. All of her needs were met. Yet, she wanted just one more thing. I think many women can relate to that. I shop when I have a closet full of clothes and a house full of things. Am I the only one?
About walking in the evening with God--
Most days, I walk in my wooded neighborhood, and I often try to imagine Him walking with me. (Authors have big imaginations.) I feel the wind in my hair and hear the sound of birds in the trees, and I thank Him for not giving up on me, despite my many blunders.
Scripture identifies that Satan was the one acting through the serpent who tempted Eve. (2 Cor. 11:3 Rev 12:9) The strategy is to drive a wedge between man and God. Sin always drives wedges. Satan questions God’s Word and motives and love. Satan doesn’t mind lying or twisting the truth. Eve gave up her confidence in God’s provision of her needs. At times, I have done this as well, and I went my own way. I went searching for the wrong things to provide happiness. Those choices did not provide true joy, and they often led to disaster.
Once Eve and Adam (who was standing right beside her!) took the fruit and sinned, they hid from God, crushed with guilt and shame. They blamed others for their choices. I’ve been there, done that—played the blame-game. Sin kills our relationships with each other and God.
God sacrificed to cover Adam and Eve with clothing, as He sacrificed His son to cover our sins years later.
Eve was the first mother, and she went through the pain of losing a child too soon. She went through the horror of having a murderer for a son. She knew heartache over her children. I know many can relate to that as well, yet God can comfort.
I was surprisingly encouraged studying Eve. What are your thoughts on her?
If you’re interested in receiving weekly thoughts on women in the Bible, just reply to this blog post and let me know.
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Under the Southern Sun
Janet W. Ferguson