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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:55 pm 
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I have to admit that I read the story in Genesis 38 just now.

It appears that because Judah did not provide a third son to marry his first and second sons' widow (Tamar), even though he said he would, Tamar changed out of her widow's clothes and disguised her face with a veil. From her appearance Judah assumed she was a prostitute and proceeded to broker a deal with her for such services.

When he went back to pay what he had pledged he asked about the "temple prostitute" (ie the prostitute who was in that vicinity) and the people said there was not one.

When it turned out that Tamar was pregnant with no husband to speak of, she was accused of prostitution and sentenced to death by Judah (perhaps seeing a way to get out of his oath that Tamar and his third son would be married?)

When Tamar showed the items Judah had given her in pledge of payment, he realized that he was at fault all along and reversed his judgement. So though he erred -- and being concerned with losing a third son would temper his guilt somewhat -- he not only reverted to mercy but counted Tamar as more righteous than he.

What was the question again?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:09 pm 
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Fiiiiiiine. <deep sigh>


;)

ETA: Cross-posted with SirD

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Last edited by Lalaith on Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:21 pm 
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So - are there two different Tamars in the Bible?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:30 pm 
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Lali Beag Bídeach
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Yes. I was confused a bit at first, too, thinking that Frelga was going to talk about David's daughter, Tamar.


ETA: I didn't want to skip over Impy's response here to ax's question:

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It depends on whether the faith to which one cleaves considers one's thoughts in and of themselves sinful and worthy of punishment.

Personally, I don't think so. Only if one acts upon them of one's own volition. But that's my opinion.


I still haven't parsed that out, but I'm quoting you here, Impy, so that I remember to address it.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:38 pm 
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Well I think it is significant that although Tamar, like Bathsheba and Hagar, were subject to rules that were not altogether fair to women (especially women who were also servants), God or Providence (esp. as in the story of Esther) provides a way for them to protect themselves and/or be vindicated.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:55 pm 
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Sir D, that's exactly what I meant. Most people, including yours truly, Lali and whoever wrote the Wiki article, say that Tamar dressed as a prostitute. My Rabbi pointed out that the text does not say that. It just says that she put on a veil, and Judah assumed that she was a prostitute. Pretty much what SirD said.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:12 pm 
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Well, I did think of this after I read the text, but there must have been something about the way that she was dressed that made Judah think "prostitute." From the text, we see that is was the fact that she had a veil on. I don't know enough about customs of the time to know if there were any other instances where that would have been acceptable. If that's the case, then you could argue that maybe Tamar was not trying to look like a prostitute; however, if the only people who wore veils were prostitutes, then it's a little harder to think that she wasn't trying to look like a prostitute.

I think it says quite a bit about Judah's character here, and I do feel sympathy for Tamar who has been getting brushed aside by her f-i-l. But I'm not sure that Tamar wasn't trying to make Judah think she was a prostitute. Would there be another reason that she'd be waiting by the side of the road? Why wouldn't she reveal who she was if she just wanted to talk to Judah?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:53 pm 
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I think we are in the midst of a new era when it comes to bible based religions. Perhaps it is in recognition that people who are motivated to read the text are also well educated enough to understand it, perhaps moreso than the average person was in the past? My pastor said to the congregation last Sunday, "the era of the church telling people how to live their lives [by guilt-ing them into submission] is over."

Not all traditions (sects, congregations, denominations etc) are on line with this new reality; certainly extremists, bigots and those who would twist scripture to their own (for example paternal) ends are out there. However, in general, the trend seems favourable (to me) as long as the baby isn't thrown out with the bath water.

It is surprising still to uncover the many instances where a story was twisted (for instance teaching that Tamar was a prostitute or Bathsheba an adulterer) even when the scriptures do not say so...

ETA Lali I see where you are coming from. It appears that she was trying to turn the tables on the situation (as we have seen in other stories). However the idea that she intended to pass herself off as a prostitute is pure conjecture on the part of some teachers. To what end? is the question I'm interested in (as if history doesn't already tell us).


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:27 pm 
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Quote:
It just says that she put on a veil, and Judah assumed that she was a prostitute


But then she went along with it and did not reveal herself to Judah, even when he made this assumption. My take on it is that she wanted to trick him, to show him his error.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:28 pm 
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We never actually learn what Tamar intended, only what eventually transpired. It may have all gone according to her plan. Or maybe she meant to talk to him, and was shocked to be accosted as a prostitute. We don't know.

My guess is that the veil was not particular to the profession, since Tamar had it readily available in her closet.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:32 pm 
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Quote:
Or maybe she meant to talk to him, and was shocked to be accosted as a prostitute.


But...didn't they then have sex? And she became pregnant (with Judah's child, I assume?) Isn't that why he gave her the tokens, until he could pay her? If she was shocked to to assumed as a prostitute why didn't she whip off the veil and show Judah who she was? (Since he was he father-in-law, you'd think he would know!)

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:37 pm 
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There are several examples of shrewd behaviour (trickery) in OT stories. What seems to matter is a) what was the person up against; b) what was the end result; c) were the motives that lead to that end pure?

There is a principle stated in Psalms 18 that seems to address the story of Tamar and Judah:

The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.

Since Tamar was vindicated, we can assume that whatever her method, that her hands were clean, as were her motives.

A similar passage from 2 Sam seems to apply as well:

The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to my cleanness in his sight.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
You save the humble,
but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.

If Judah was being shrewd when he accused Tamar of prostitution -- as he might have done anyway had she revealed her identity to him on the road to town -- God or Providence insured that he was dealt with shrewdly as well. Though Tamar's trickery was done to achieve justice, Judah's deviousness would have been to relieve himself of giving up his son to her. (I think that is why the story goes to the length to show that he intended to pay "the prostitute" ie he didn't generally try to get out of his agreements.)


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:46 pm 
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She wanted to get pregnant, IMHO. AND to provide Judah with a child of his line, AND to trick him and shame him.

IF only prostitutes wore veils (which seems odd on the face of it), then why did Tamar have one in her closet?

Maybe "decent" women went veiled, as is common in Islam. Maybe she put on the veil in order to leave the house on an ordinary errand, and then took it off.

But that makes no sense, because Judah would have recognized her without the veil. :scratch:

So maybe only prostitutes went veiled, to spare their kinfolk the shame of seeing them on the street?

Or maybe the word isn't "prostitute", maybe it is some other word meaning, "not perfectly decent woman"?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:31 am 
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The term used is "temple" or "ritual"'prostitute,'although I heard it is anachronistic.

The entire set of circumstances that governs the actions of the participants of the story is so inexplicable to us. The balance of power is not as distorted as with Bathsheba but it is certainly tilted in Judah's favor. I would speculate that had Tamar announced herself, she would have been at his mercy. Presumably that's why she secures his seal, ring and staff - as my Rabbi said, the equivalent of handing over the passport and all credit cards. That way, it wasn't her word against his anymore.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:37 am 
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Tamar was one smart cookie, in my opinion.

And Judah was kind of an idiot.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:47 am 
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There is another question... if Tamar was trying to pass herself off as a prostitute what of it? She is the one that was counted as righteous in the end. However from the text it appears it was Judah's idea and she saw an opportunity to get what was owed her. Interestingly Judah did not try to hide what he thought was his visit to a prostitute, only that he would be shamed if he did not follow through on his promise to her.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:02 am 
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Traditionally, the Church has loved to paint women as prostitutes. Mary Magdalen, for example, is never referred to in Scripture as a prostitute, but that's the story that was pushed for centuries.

Apparently it was considered more important that Tamar have a child from the line of her husband than that she tricked her father-in-law into fathering it.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:18 am 
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WampusCat wrote:
Traditionally, the Church has loved to paint women as prostitutes.


That seems a little ... sweeping, Wampus. ;) I'm not denying that some Bible passages on women are problematic. But there are also many strong women in the Bible who counteract the more difficult aspects. Same goes for church history: some of the Church Fathers were misogynist (and anti-Semitic, although that's another issue). But not all of them.

Quote:
Mary Magdalen, for example, is never referred to in Scripture as a prostitute, but that's the story that was pushed for centuries.


Yes, that is true. However, that is the only example of a particular woman from Scripture I can actually think of, i.e. where the Church has embellished her image in an unhelpful way.

To return to Bathsheba ... I would have a big problem with anyone ignoring David's adultery whilst concentrating purely on Bathsheba's part in the affair. *frowns*

David (a Biblical character I like very much) is very much the bigger sinner here. Not only does he commit adultery, he commits murder. (And out of his terrible sin and its tragic consequences, he gifts us with the powerful Psalm 51.)

Yes, it takes two to tango. However: Lali makes the crucial point that even if Bathsheba was a willing partner, she really was in no position to refuse the King, whatever her own emotions might have been. There is a clear power imbalance: if the King summons you to his bed, honey, you don't refuse! Not in that place and time. (It was just the same situation for pretty young titled lasses in the courts of English kings during the Middle Ages.)

It is therefore David, as God's anointed leader, who is held primarily responsible for the affair, especially as he now has Uriah's blood on his hands: it is David who is judged by the prophet Nathan, God's mouthpiece, not Bathsheba. Arguably Bathsheba is even seen as a victim of David's lustful machinations: that could be one way to interpret Nathan's effective parable about the ruthless man who stole his neighbour's lamb (2 Samuel 12: 1-14). David is forgiven by God, but his affair did have grim consequences for his family. (The child he conceived with Bathsheba died, but that wasn't the only tragic fallout.)

And I agree with everyone that Deborah rocks. :) She's the main judge, not Barak. ;)

I hope I'm not being too controversial by pointing out that two women mentioned in this thread are also mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus, Matthew 1:

-- Tamar, that very clever and resourceful lady who outwitted the father-in-law who had done her wrong, (Matthew 1: 3)
-- and Bathsheba, called 'Uriah's wife', in Matthew 1:6

I'm not an expert on ancient genealogies, including that of Jesus, but I do find that very interesting, since Tamar and Bathsheba are not exactly models of respectable womanhood. ;) (Heh.) (Also notable in Jesus' genealogy is Ruth, mentioned in Mtt 1: 5, as she was not Jewish but a Moabitess.)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:51 pm 
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Di, you are right. My comment was far too sweeping.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:12 pm 
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Bathsheba is a beautiful beach in Barbados with large interesting rocks. I never knew the name was biblical in origin.

How disappointing. I assumed it had something to do with the beach being a good bathing place.


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