transfiguration of Christ

Judah and Tamar – The Kinsman Redeemer

Bible Study Lessons — Genesis 38:1-30

Judah and Tamar


A triangle of a different type. This lesson for study covers many aspects of how sin and deception affects the lives of Judah, Tamar and his whole family.

It is also about the duties of the kinsman redeemer during times when widows had nothing else.


Judah and Tamar – A Story about the Tangled Web of Deception

Now after a considerable time Shua’s daughter, the wife of Judah, died; and when the time of mourning was ended, Judah went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.

It was told to Tamar, “Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.”

So she removed her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife.

When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, for she had covered her face.

So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, “Here now, let me come in to you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.

And she said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?”

He said, therefore, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” She said, moreover, “Will you give a pledge until you send it?”

He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” And she said, “Your seal and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand.”

So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him.

Then she arose and departed, and removed her veil and put on her widow’s garments.

When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her.

He asked the men of her place, saying, “Where is the temple prostitute who was by the road at Enaim?”

But they said, “There has been no temple prostitute here.”

So he returned to Judah, and said, “I did not find her; and furthermore, the men of the place said, ‘There has been no temple prostitute here.’”

Then Judah said, “Let her keep them, otherwise we will become a laughingstock. After all, I sent this young goat, but you did not find her.”

Now it was about three months later that Judah was informed, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the harlot, and behold, she is also with child by harlotry.”

Then Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”

It was while she was being brought out that she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “I am with child by the man to whom these things belong.”

And she said, “Please examine and see, whose signet ring and cords and staff are these?”

Judah recognized them, and said, “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.”

And he did not have relations with her again. – Genesis 38:1-30 NASB

Judah, Tamar, and the Kinsman Redeemer

Judah – a vivid contrast to his brother, Joseph.

While Joseph was pure at heart and was strong in his obedience to God (Genesis chapter 39) Judah seemed to be a weak man morally – and it cost him and his family.

On the other hand, this is one reason I like reading the Bible – it doesn’t hide the character flaws of people God has used.

What is a Kinsman Redeemer?

Although there are many twists and turns in this study we could uncover (Why was prostitution no big deal?) I’d like to go over a subject which is mentioned matter-of-factly here – the kinsman redeemer.

This is a formal term for the law about marrying a widow in the family.

Normally a close relative, like a brother-in-law would be required to make sure the woman had a son to inherit the property of the deceased husband.

Since the husband obviously can’t produce an heir, the brother-in-law becomes the substitute – the kinsman redeemer to take the husband’s place.

The Irony

We would most likely condemn Tamar for posing as a prostitute and tricking Judah into sleeping with her.

But, the ironic outcome is that she forced an heir to her husband’s property which was promised when she was told to wait for Shelah and he was withheld from her.

Don’t Judge Too Harshly

In Tamar’s defense, she may have acted out of pure desperation.

Women of this time who did not have a husband or son to take care of them only had a couple of options – beg in the streets or turn to prostitution.

She made a choice, and Judah was at the very center. He had covered up his sin and was quick to want Tamar killed because of her sin.

Admit – The First Step to Salvation

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”160″ identifier=”0785289607″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”bobpardphot-20″ width=”104″]What about our sin?

When we point fingers and say; “Look at them.” it might be partially so no one will look at us.

Let’s keep this point in mind when we find ourselves pointing out the sins of others.

The Good News for Us?

Jesus is our kinsman redeemer – He steps in to save us from sin as we cannot save ourselves.

Love in Christ

– Bob

If you would like to learn more about how to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to go here for more information.

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