Snapshots: Day 170
The Snapshot: “may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.” (Ruth 4:12) What a blessing! Tamar’s story (Gen 38) is an uncomfortable one. She was the widow of one of the sons of Judah and when one of the other sons refused to continue the family line with her, a practice later to be enshrined in the Law (Deut 35:5 seen in Thought 161), she disguised herself and got Judah to make her pregnant to continue the family name (and earned herself a place in the Messiah’s family tree Mt 1:3) So this blessing says, “May you continue the family tree and gain honour.” We are not so good today at rejoicing in and honouring the family tree but it honours God’s blessing seen in continuity, something rare in these times of fragmented families. Sad.
Further Consideration: The details of Tamar’s story is, as we indicated above, both messy and uncomfortable. The fact of a widow having to disguise herself as a prostitute and catch her father-in-law when he was drunk, in order to get herself pregnant within this family that she had married into, is demeaning to her as a woman and shows the callous indifference of Judah and his sons. Then men of this family do not come out of it well. Boaz is a different sort of man!
But the point is that Tamar understood something of the cultural importance of carrying on the family name – and of her being properly cared for by the family. As we said above, so significant was this, that this principle was years later incorporated into the Law given to Moses on Mount Sinai.
We find that 1 Chron 2:4 declares, “Judah’s daughter-in-law Tamar bore Perez and Zerah to Judah.” The family tree that follows shows Perez bore Hezron, who bore Ram, who bore Amminadab, who bore Nahshon, who bore Salmon… the father of Boaz!!!!! Wow! Tamar’s son from Judah continued the family that ended with Boaz! No wonder Matthew includes her in Jesus’ genealogy in Mt 1:3 – and two verses later in this male-orientated family tree, Ruth! Awesome. Now the blessing seen in our starter verse was invoked over Boaz by the town elders, and started, “Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.” What a graceful way to describe a Moabite foreigner. They are imposing a respectability on her that had not been there when she first arrived with Naomi. Then she has just been a foreigner. Now she is seen as a bona-fide member of the chosen race, just like Rahab had become earlier, Rahab the prostitute/innkeeper who became the mother of … Boaz!!!! Oh my goodness! Doesn’t God have a sense of humour incorporating prostitutes, apparent prostitutes, and foreign women into the male family tree of His holy people! That is grace!