The Creation Wiki is made available by the NW Creation Network
Watch monthly live webcast - Like us on Facebook - Subscribe on YouTube


From CreationWiki, the encyclopedia of creation science
Jump to: navigation, search
Judah and Tamar, by Aert de Gelder

Tamar (Hebrew: תמר, Tāmār; "Name means::date palm") was an Aramaean woman who was the daughter-in-law of Judah, through two of his sons Er and Onan. After their deaths, she bore the two sons of Judah from whom the tribe of Judah descends.


On or about Married::2281 AM, Tamar married the first of the sons of Judah, named Er. Er was fifteen years old at the time; the Bible does not say how old Tamar was (Genesis 38:6 ). Er was a wicked man in God's sight, and died at the hand of God (Genesis 38:7 ). The Bible does not say what his wickedness was, but the Book of Jubilees suggests that his wickedness consisted of refusing all intercourse with his wife.

Judah then instructed his next younger son Onan to marry Tamar next and to sire a son that would be Er's son, according to the levirate custom. But Onan did not wish to honor this obligation, and so whenever he was intimate with Tamar he made sure that he would not impregnate her (Genesis 38:8-9 ).

God found this act displeasing, and so Onan died as well. Judah, in fear that Shelah also would not survive, told Tamar to wait until Shelah was "grown up" and wear widow's garments until then. In fact, Judah did not summon Tamar, and Tamar heard nothing from him (Genesis 38:10-11 ).

In the springtime of the next year (Married::Abib 2282 AM), Judah and his friend Hirah went to Timnath to supervise the annual sheep-shearing. (This is usually done in the springtime, so that the sheep will not overheat in summer.[1]) Tamar heard about it, and also heard that by now Shelah had attained his maturity—and Judah had not summoned her to marry Shelah.

Tamar then traveled to Timnath, but instead of her widow's clothes, she wore the veil of a harlot. She then sat openly on the road, so that Judah would see her—but Judah did not realize whom he was talking to. He asked her price for her services, and she asked him to make her an offer. He offerred a young goat from his flock, and she then demanded a pledge. That pledge was his signet ring, his bracelets, and his staff, or rod (Genesis 38:14-18 ).

Judah agreed to give the pledge, and he was intimate with her and made her pregnant. Tamar did not stay in Timnath; instead she returned to her father's house and resumed her widow's clothes. Judah sent his friend Hirah with the goat, but by then Tamar was gone, and the villagers said that they never had a prostitute in that place (Genesis 38:19-23 ).

Three months later, Judah's neighbors discovered Tamar's pregnancy and informed Judah. Judah ordered her brought before him to be burned at the stake. But when she appeared, she had Judah's signet ring, bracelets, and staff. Judah acknowledged them as his, and even acknowledged his own faults in the affair, including his own failure to let her marry Shelah when the time had come. He never was intimate with Tamar again (Genesis 38:24-26 ).

The time for Tamar's delivery was probably the winter of 2283 AM. Tamar was found to be pregnant with twins. As one boy thrust his arm out, the midwife attending Tamar tied a bright red cord around it. But the other boy still was born first, and the midwife said, "How did you break out first?" And so this boy was named Pharez, whose name means "a breach" or "breaking out." The other boy was born next, and he was given the name Zerah, which means "bright red" (Genesis 38:27-30 ).


Some commentators assert that Tamar's conduct was excusable or even justified, because Judah and his first two sons had acted in violation of applicable law and had left Tamar in a disgrace that she did not merit.[2] The Bible states the specific offense of Onan: a form of birth control in which the man withdraws from the woman to prevent fertilization. Some commentators suggest that Er did the same thing. The Bible does not so declare, and the Book of Jubilees declares that Er's fault was refusing to have relations with Tamar at all.

Judah's fault was in failure to notify Tamar when Shelah came of age. The Bible says that Judah was afraid that Shelah would die young, as his two brothers had done. Ironically, the Bible does not name any of the sons of Shelah; all the named descendants of Judah are also descendants of Judah's twin sons by Tamar, Pharez and Zerah.

Singer and Lauterbach[3] cite rabbinical literature of questionable historic value that suggests that Tamar was a daughter of Shem and a priestess. This is not very likely, because Shem died in 2158 AM ({{#show:Shem|?Died}}), and Tamar's activities took place one hundred twenty-four years later.


concubine of::Judah
wife of::Er
wife of::Onan
mother of::Pharez
mother of::Zerah
grandmother of::Hezron
grandmother of::Hamul

Tamar was an Aramaean by ancestry. Two apocryphal books, the Testament of Judah and the Book of Jubilees, suggest that she was the daughter of Aram who was the son of Kemuel who was the son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham (Genesis 22:21 ).

"And after these things my son Er took to wife Tamar, from Mesopotamia, a daughter of Aram." - Testament of Judah 2:10
"And in the forty-fifth jubilee, in the second week, (and) in the second year, Judah took for his first-born Er, a wife from the daughters of Aram, named Tamar. But he hated, and did not lie with her, because his mother was of the daughters of Canaan, and he wished to take him a wife of the kinsfolk of his mother, but Judah, his father, would not permit him." - Book of Jubilees 41:1-2


Tamar appears in many classical and modern paintings from about 1550 AD to the present.[4] One of these paintings depicts a solitary Tamar striking a triumphal attitude. Other painters depicted her interaction with Judah as that of a combatant laying an ambush to achieve her objective. More modern paintings emphasize the "adult" nature of the transaction and also the vulnerability of her position.

See Also

Creationwiki bible portal.png


  1. Schoenian, Susan. "Sheep 101: Shearing." Sheep 101, November 15, 2006. Accessed November 11, 2008.
  2. "Tamar," Women in the Bible, n.d. Accessed January 9, 2009.
  3. Singer I and Lauterbach JZ, "Tamar," The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906. Accessed January 9, 2009.
  4. "Tamar," Bible Paintings, n.d. Accessed January 9, 2009.