I am writing this half-drunk, because I just got back from a year-end party at my workplace. About the only time I ever do any considerable drinking is when I’m at Japanese parties and the booze is free and find it rude to tell people I’ve had too much.
And i get back from this party and have to write about a guy sleeping with his daughter-in-law. Yeesh. The Bible really knows how to cover the wide range of people acting horrible spectrum, doesn’t it?
So what you’re going to get, because I am not skipping this, darnit! are ideas formed while I am having serious trouble typing. Deal with it. Tipsy thoughts on scripture are valid thoughts, too.
Ok, so the English says that Er was “wicked in the sight of the Lord,” (v 7), while the Japaneses said “he was contrary to God’s will.” What the heck did this guy do? I mean, God seems able to forgive this family when they let their wives get stolen, or steal goods from their father-in-law, or plunder a town, or sleep with their sister-in-law, so really, what did Er do? And how many puppies were involved?
While I don’t know what Er did to deserve a smiting, Onan’s is pretty obvious: he tries to get the benefits of a levirate marriage (sex with Tamar) without the responsibility (giving her a son). But apparently Judah must’ve not been aware of what was going on with his sons, since he treats instead Tamar like she’s been cursed, sending her back to her father and promising he’ll let her marry his third son while having no such intention.
After which, Judah’s wife dies. For some reason the Japanese includes the detail that he fell in love with her before marrying her, which the English doesn’t. But once he’s done morning her he picks up a prostitute.
Not just any prostitute though -a temple prostitute (v 21). Which totally means he was partaking in a foreign religious ritual, one which later texts really disapprove of. So was Judah a particularly devout guy? Or was did he not care about religion when getting laid was involved?
Tamar doesn’t get to speak in this, which is sodding typical of the Bible, being written by men and all that. But we can infer a lot of her intentions: she doesn’t want to live as a twice-widowed woman in her father’s house, she wants to have a kid, she wants to have some independence, and she had the guts to do whatever it would take. And Judah straight-up admits at the end that she was in the right and he was wrong. What’s more, the scripture assures us he never slept with her again, which means she got spared from any more humiliation.
But wow, that’s weird, when you think about it – they’re his kids, but because of the levirate marriage issue, they’re going to be treated like his grandkids? Do people really know what they’re talking about when they say they wants “Biblical marriage”? A lot of marriage in the Bible is not only messed up by modern standards, it’s messed up by its own standards and given as a warning not an example.
Then there’s the birth scene, with the twins. I’m no gynecologist, but I’m pretty sure a baby can’t push it’s hand out of the birth canal and then pull it back in and let the next baby pass by. Unless Tamar’s vagina functioned on Tardis rules. Just thinking about it hurts.
Sorry, this was sort of incoherent. I’ll have something more cogent for the next chapter. I might add, though – Tamar is one of the three women explicitly listed as Jesus’ ancestors in Matthew. A lot of people interpret that – probably rightly – to be Matthew showing how scandalous births (as in Jesus extra-marital conception) can be used for greater good, but I prefer to think that Tamar went through so much to become Jesus’ ancestor that she just plain deserved it.
The Japanese: misomeru “to fall in love” (v 1), yamome “widow” (v 11), shuuto “father-in-law” (v 13), robou “roadside” (v 16), samonai to “otherwise” (v 23), kan’in “adultery” (v 24).
And oh, how I love that it’s “adultery” even though Tamar is widowed! I guess because she’s technically “betrothed” to Shura (who Judah never intends to let marry her) she’s being “unfaithful.” The English says she “played the whore,” which she did, literally. She pretended to be a prostitute. Never wait for men to do what you need to do for yourself.