It happened at that time, that Judah went down from his brothers, and visited a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her, and went in to her. She conceived, and bore a son; and he named him Er. She conceived again, and bore a son; and she named him Onan. She yet again bore a son, and named him Shelah: and he was at Chezib, when she bore him. Judah took a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of Yahweh. Yahweh killed him. Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her, and raise up seed to your brother.” Onan knew that the seed wouldn’t be his; and it happened, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest he should give seed to his brother. The thing which he did was evil in the sight of Yahweh, and he killed him also. Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, until Shelah, my son, is grown up”; for he said, “Lest he also die, like his brothers.” Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.
It is very helpful to know as much of the entire Bible as you can when you read any part of the Bible. David Hocking says that it is an integrated software system. It’s much easier to understand scripture in the light of the rest of scripture. Since God never goes against Himself, everything He says must go together. If we read it in faith and do not doubt it, there is much we can learn from it.
Besides the fact that this story is so scandalous, and it gets worse, there is a deep evil in operation that you can see if you look at the rest of Biblical history. In that light it appears that all of humanity was as stake here. You see, Tamar was to be the one from whom Jesus would be born to mankind. Not only that, but Ruth’s husband, King David and King Solomon were to come from Tamar, not to mention Mary and Joseph. It kind of puts a different light on this passage doesn’t it?
God does love us, but He is a Good Judge too. Being a Good Judge, He could not allow Er or Onan to live. Don’t think that God is mean. We must not forget what was at stake here. You and I could not be saved from our sins if Jesus had not come, and Jesus was to come exactly as God had planned. No evil was allowed to come between God and His goal of having us. Isn’t that amazing? Jesus was to come from Judah and evidently, He was supposed to be from Tamar too. I get the picture that Satan himself was fighting God in this part of history. This story is embarrassing from an earthly perspective, but if we focus on God, it is an ongoing love story to us. God was not only protecting His righteousness, but our Salvation.