How to Study the Bible

How to Study the Bible

Nicole Unice

Tamar: You Are Not Defined by Your Past (God of Our Mothers, Part 1)

November 28, 2022   ●   20 min

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We are kicking off a new Advent series! We are going to be looking at the women in Jesus’ lineage in a ‘God of Our Mothers’ series. In Matthew 1, we get a genealogy of Jesus’ family. Genealogies are put in place because the people matter to the story, and there are several women named in his family line. Over the next few weeks, we’ll look closely at the women in Jesus’ lineage and what they have to teach us about the God who loves us and came to rescue us.

This week, we’re looking at the story of Tamar.

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Matthew 1:1-3:

“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar…”

Genesis 38 – Who Is Tamar?

1. She is not an Israelite
2. She is unwanted
3. She is mistreated
4. She is seeking justice
5. She is shrewd

(Don’t forget how Judah’s mom came to have him--also veiled and in disguise)

Genesis 38:26 is the turning point in the story. Judah confesses his unrighteousness, and we see that Tamar is brought into his family and one of her twin sons becomes part of the lineage that leads to Jesus (Perez).


After Joseph is sold into slavery, we get this graphic story in Genesis 38. We see the wickedness of Judah as a foil to Joseph’s righteousness. But eventually, we’ll see Judah take a righteous turn. First, though, he marries a Canaanite, and they have three sons. One of these sons marries Tamar.


1. God colors outside the lines.
2. We are never defined by our past.
3. God sees the marginalized.


How do we define ourselves? Are we righteous on our own, or sinners on our own? Can we relate to Tamar? If we can relate, we can receive. “I have come for the sick, for the sinners.

Matthew 9:10-12:
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”


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