At the crossroad of Enaim, Tamar beguiled Judah. Taking laws into her hands, she forced from him what he should have given willingly.
Abused by Er, used by Onan and disappointed by Judah, Tamar played the harlot and deceived Judah just like Judah’s own father deceived his grandfather to get the blessing of his brother Esau.
At the Olive Grove by the crossroad of Enaim, Judah fell for the ploy of a ‘prostitute’ and gave her his identity seal and cord in exchange for a momentary pleasure she offered him just like his uncle Esau offered his birthright to his father Jacob for a pot of porridge which quelled his hunger.
Still mourning two of his older sons which he lost in quick succession, Judah was afraid to give Shelah to Tamar as the custom of the day demanded to continue the lineage due to fear that he might lose him as well.
Er, Judah's oldest son grievously offended God and God took his life.
Onan was also evil. After he married Tamar to redeem her following the death of his brother, he knew that the first child Tamar would bear through him wouldn’t be his, so whenever he slept with his brother’s widow he spilled his semen on the ground so he wouldn’t produce a child for his brother.
God was much offended by what he did and also took his life.
Knowing the kind of sons his Canaanite wife has raised, Jadah was afraid Shelah would also act wickedly like his brothers and God might also take his life.
Tamar was considered the constant in the situation. To save his household from further grieve, Judah asked her to go live as a widow in her father’s house until Shelah grows up to fulfill his duty to her.
By implication, Judah probably had no intention of giving Tamar to Shelah because years down the line, Tamar realized that even though Shelah had grown up, she wasn’t going to be married to him.
Time passed. Judah’s wife died. Shelah grew into manhood. Tamar ebbed with age.
Realizing that her fate was already decided and except Judah fulfilled his promise of Shelah, she would live out the rest of her life putting on a widow’s clothing and may end up a destitute should her father who housed her pass on.
Tamar decided to take the bull by the horn. She took laws into her hands and did what seemed right in her own sight.
At the crossroad of Enaim, Judah fell face flat for it.
Judah made efforts to recover his personal seal-and-cord and the staff by sending the kid he promised the prostitute that he passed time with on his way to Timnath to shear his sheep. His friend Hirah of Adullam frantically searched for the ‘prostitute’ but could not find her. Life went on. Three months or so later, Judah was told;
When the news reached Judah, he was very distraught at Tamar and ordered that she be brought out and burnt up! She deserved nothing but a brutal death.
As they brought her out to be burnt alive, Tamar mustered the courage to tie up her plot in hope that Judah would own up. As they brought her out, she sent a message to her father-in-law;
In the heat of the turmoil, as they prepared the stakes and gathered the woods to burn her up, Tamar hoped…
She hoped that Judah would take back his words. She hoped that Judah would rise up to protect her as he should have done when Joseph was being taken away years before as a slave after being sold by his siblings on that fateful day at Dothan. She hoped that Judah would confront and resolve issues this time instead of leaving home and moving to Adullam where he dwells and mingles with the Canaanite.
Tamar hoped… And hoped…
Receiving the item just in time, Judah saw they were his, He said;
Oh! Judah repented! How Judah waited so long!
Should he have said these same words to his father Jacob decades earlier, maybe he would not have been driven away from home by guilt or whatever the emotions that gnawed at him after he and his brothers sold Joseph into slavery.
He probably might never have married a Canaanite woman who brought up his children in ways that displeased God. He might not have suffered the loss of two sons (like Elimelech) neither would he have put his daughter-in-law in a position to play the harlot on him just to preserve his lineage.
Hope maketh not ashamed. Tamar was preserved. He took her in but he never slept with her again.
How history repeats itself in the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
When Tamar's time came to give birth, it turned out that there were twins in her womb just like it was with her grandmother-in-law, Rebekah.
But then he pulled it back and his brother came out. They both knew the struggles of carrying two nations in their wombs.
As tears of joy streamed down her cheeks, Tamar looked down at her newly born twin sons and exclaimed, “Oh! A breakout!” So she named him Perez (Breakout) while her other son who came out with the red thread on his hand, they named him Zerah (Bright).
Just like Judah’s mum Leah became his dad’s wife veiled in deception (in place of his sister Rachael), Tamar also became Judah’s wife veiled in deception as a prostitute.
But irrespective of the path and the intent of how she was grafted into the lineage of Judah the bearer of the scepter, Tamar found favour with God.
She was enlisted into the hall of fame of the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ and a Canaanite girl was bequeathed the honour of being an ancestress of Jesus Christ as accounted by Matthew in his first book.
Judah found redemption as he confessed his sins and turned to God. He started a new home and dynasty with Tamar and their sons; Perez and Zerah even though it had to manifest after his 10th generation.
He went back home to his father-land a changed man. As the years wore on, he was faced with the situation of abandoning Benjamin when Joseph threatened them at Egypt during the famine, but Judah stood up for his brother.
Touched at how changed his brother had become, Joseph received his brothers and unveiled his identity. The entire lineage was spared dying from starvation because Judah was no more the coward he used to be.
When the time came for Jacob to bless his sons, Judah was granted the political power; the scepter was upon him and from his tribe, issued forth Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.