Clearing the Air by Christy Fay

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Clearing the Air
Series: Reclaimed - Uncovering Your Worth
Week 2: Peripeteia: Tamar - Day 2
Christy Fay
Genesis 38:7-10

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30 NIV).

Let’s start today with just a brief recap of what is happening in our story so far. Judah, brother of Joseph, has left his family and gone to stay with a friend named Hirah. Judah meets a woman, the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua, marries her, and then has three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah, with her. Genesis 24:3 says, ‘‘...and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell...’’ (Niv). This verse is straight to the point instructing Judah not to marry a Canaanite woman, and yet, Judah marries the first woman that catches his eye regardless of the fact that his God has specifically told him not to. Once his sons are of age, Judah chooses a wife for his firstborn, Er, and the name of this woman is Tamar. 

Let’s pick up with the text. Read Genesis 38:7-10. Are you feeling a bit unnerved by everything you just read? I have to admit, I was, when I first read these verses. Being as forthright as you can, what is your initial reaction to the following text: ‘‘But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death’’ (Genesis 38:7 ESV).

Not exactly settling is it? We aren’t told the details of Er’s sin, which ultimately resulted in his death. But several commentaries compare the phrase ‘‘wicked in the sight of the Lord’’ found in Genesis 38:7 to the phrase, ‘‘Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly’’ found in Genesis 13:13. Sodom was a city that was synonymous with sexual immorality, so it may be that Er’s sin was sexual in nature. Another commentary points out that it is entirely possible that God did not put him to death by ‘‘direct visitation’’ but instead may have allowed Er to ‘‘reap the first fruits of his youthful indulgence. 

Don’t we all know that sometimes the consequences that come as a result of a sin are much worse than the sin itself? In any event, let’s move to the heart of the lesson which lands us in verses 8-9. Verse 8 highlights an Israelite law and custom found in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. What does this law state?

This may seem strange in today’s culture. I can’t imagine any widow nowadays that would go for the idea of marrying her brother-in-law. However, I did attend a dear friend’s wedding in which the groom’s brother was the best man. As is customary in today’s weddings, the best man gave a speech or toast to the bride and groom. In his speech, he cited this law: the custom of Levirate ma ...

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