Friday, March 18, 2011
by Francine Rivers
In the first of five novels on the women of the Bible, Rivers (Leota's Garden) draws on the Bible's brief mention of Tamar to create a tribute to hope. Tamar is sold as a child to be the bride of Judah's oldest son, Er. When Er dies, Tamar believes that he was struck down by God for pride and arrogance. According to custom, she is given Onan, one of Er's brothers, as husband to beget a son in Er's memory. When Onan refuses her rights, he too falls dead. The third brother, Shelah, is deemed too young to be a husband, but when Judah promises Tamar a child when the boy grows up, she lives on hope for years. When she realizes that Judah has no intention of keeping his promise, she dresses as a temple prostitute and seduces him. After being threatened with death because of her disgraceful pregnancy, Tamar forces Judah to honor his promise. In return, she bears twin sons, Zerah and Perez, a forefather of Jesus. The different mores and customs of Tamar's time take some adjustment for a modern mindset, but a glimpse into what might have happened is worth the effort.