Trafficked People of the Bible & God’s Response
By Susanna Thorn
These Stories are only Biblically Based and should not be read as Biblical themselves. I have only looked deep into the Biblical stories of these people and made connections that logically make sense in my mind to flush out the character and struggles of each of these people. My hope is that you will see yourself or those around you in these stories and the God that shows His love to them will become real to you and become your God.
Dedicated to Jesus for His Glory and to my daughter Gloria that she would know Him Deeper
“Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So, Tamar went to live in her father’s household. After a long time…
Genesis 38:11-12a – The Bible, NIV
“HOW DARE HE!!!!!!”
Tamar’s thought screamed into her mind as if she has spoken it aloud. If she had let it out it could have carried though her father’s whole land. Even back to the place that was now supposed to be her home, but she did not dare. It was dangerous for her to let her voice free, thoughts or feelings out at this time of night, or at any time. If she woke the family, she would pay dearly for it, for she lost that privilege when she was given in marriage to the household of Judah. Her childhood home was now her prison, the prison Judah had sent her back to. To be grudgingly given house room and treated like a servant instead of a daughter of the house. Ever since Judah had come for her many years ago to become wife of his firstborn Er, disaster has seemed to fall upon her and all around her.
Er had been proud and cruel. She had suffered mightily under his tutelage, learned not to show her fear, and had worked hard to be a good wife despite the inability to ever please her husband. He thrived on the fear, pain and suffering of those under him. Her mother-in-law Shua was worse, belittling and scorning her every moment she could get, seeing her as a rival for her son’s affections. Not that she needed to worry, Tamar was only the plaything and punching bag for Er, she had no influence on him. Even then Judah had done nothing, and it was she that suffered. Her only hope was to have a child, hopefully a son, for maybe this would soften Er blows. Yet when the mysterious God of Judah delivered her by cutting Er down it made her life more precarious, for there was no child to carry on his name, and no child to care for her when she was old.
When Judah finally chose to follow tradition and give her to his second son Onan, she was relieved, but not for long. For Onan did not want to produce children in his brother’s name, for without children the double portion would fall to him. Therefore, Onan used her as a harlot and spilled his seed on the ground, seed that would have produced children and would have given her a place in the family.
A few days later Onan was found dead in their wedding chamber throwing the whole household into an uproar. Shua called for retribution upon Tamar, saying she was the one who killed her sons. Yet what did she have to gain with two husbands dead in less than a year? Without children she was nothing, without sons she had no future. Why would she do anything to jeopardize that? Yet this was not a household that lived on reason, but emotion.
Judah, indecisive Judah then decided to send her back to her father’s house, with the promise that when his third son Shelah was a man he would send for her. How her face burned on that day. The shame of going back to her childhood home, husbandless and childless was a great disgrace. Especially since a son still lived in Judah’s household. It was un-presentient! If another Canaanite man
had treated her this way her whole family would have been up in arms at the offence. It was only because of the fear Judah as a Hebrew and his mysterious God. The fear of what he and his brothers had done in their youth because of the rape of their only sister to a great city of Canaan that kept her father and brother in their homes. Yet what could she do? So, she submitted to this, as she had submitted to the blows of Er, the scorn of Shua, and the deceit of Onan.
Now she seethed under her widows’ garb. Her beloved sister had heard from the marketplace that Judah’s wife had died and yet none had told her or asked her to come to the burial. Now Judah was going up to Timnah for the shearing festival with his friend Hirah the Adullamite. Everyone knew what men did when they went up to Timnah. Shelah was now a man and was probably going up with them, to spread their seed among the prostitutes and temple women. Seed that was rightfully hers! Seed that would produce children. Seed that would give her a place that she had prepared for all her life, what her purpose should be, rearing up a family and bringing up the next generation.
How dare he do this!!! He promised her! Yet Judah had never defended her since he chose her as the bride of his firstborn son, even when it was to his benefit. Without children his name would die out, his land would become fallow, and another would take it. She had been grafted into this family through marriage, her responsibility was to the future, and she would not allow it to die off. This was her responsibility, her purpose. She must find a way to fulfill it.
There had only been one person who had looked out for her this whole time, one who had seen her trouble and had done something about it, and that was Judah mysterious God. It was He who had freed her from Er clutches. It was He who had disciplined Onan for his deceit and use of her. It was He who had blessed her father’s house the moment she has stepped back across the threshold. The moment Er had died she had thought, prayed, and seeked this God. Only He had shown her true power that a God would have, and yet had acted justly toward her. Only He had acted in justice while all around her great injustice was done.
Her heart once again winged its way in a prayer toward this unseen God. What to do? Timnah! how she hated that city! Timnah! Timnah….
Her mind grasped at an idea. An idea that might work, that might help fulfill her purpose, to help her find her place, and to make sure that the name of Judah did not end.
“Justice.” She prayed under her breath. “All I ask is for is Justice.”
Have you ever been treated unjustly? Have others belittled you and used you? Have they treated you like nothing? If so, Tamar understands.
She had been married to two men, two men that God deemed to be so evil that He killed them Himself. In all this no one cared for her, no one helped her, except the Lord God of Israel. We do not know her thoughts regarding all of this, for it seems that she submitted and suffered silently this whole time, until the time that Judah went to Timnah.
It is there that we see Tamar take the greatest risk, and tricks Judah to sleep with her by pretending to be a temple prostitute. In that moment she was able to take from him his seal and his staff. These things were like the signet ring of a king when he made decrees, and a king’s scepter. These things could not be duplicated and were a legitimate way of identifying someone.
We see in this moment God was with her, for a man would never give these things up willingly. It would be like giving up your pin number at the bank machine to a stranger.
In time Tamar found that she was indeed pregnant, and she had the proof of who the father was, yet she stayed silent. She could have cried out for justice long ago at the city gate, and yet she stayed silent. When it was found out that she was pregnant she sent her servant to Judah with the seal and staff asking, “The man who owns these things is the father of my child, do you recognize them?” She gave them back to Judah in secret. She waited for Judah to do what was right, in silence, and through her example Judah took responsibility over her and brought her back into his home.
Her longing was not for vengeance but justice. For her to be a blessing onto the family that she was brought into, not a curse. She knew that she had been chosen to be in a family that was special and blessed, for this unseen God showed Himself strong in this family.
So, she humbled herself. She stayed silent. She did everything that she could to bless Judah and his household, and the Lord blessed her in return. Justice is what she longed for, and she waited on the Lord to give it to her, and He did.
Through her Judah received twins, justice for the two sons that had died and were husbands to Tamar. Through her Judah went home and Tamar was brought up under the love and tutelage of her mother-in-law Leah, one who would understand her predicament more than most. Tamar might also had found a bosom friend and confidant in Dinah as well. Through her Judah was reconciled with the God of his father Israel. How do we know this? We are told right after the selling of Joseph which was Judah idea and the grief of his father Jacob over the loss of Joseph that Judah came to Canaan. Yet when the famine hits all ten brothers including Judah go get grain in Egypt. What happens between those times? The story of Tamar.
Without Tamar Judah would not have returned to his father tent. Without Tamar Judah would have not gone to Egypt for the first time to buy grain. Without Tamar Judah would not have been there to promises his father Israel that he will take care of his youngest brother Benjamin. Without Tamar Judah would not have asked Joseph to take him as a slave and let Benjamin go back home for the sake of Israel. Without Judah being there we do not know what Joseph response would have been, for since Judah was their Joseph saw the
change in his brothers and reveals himself to them, which saved the whole family from the famine by bringing them to Egypt. All this happened because Tamar followed the Lord and trusted Him to cover her when she went out on a limb, and through that the whole family was blessed.
It is the family of Judah that we see in the story of Ruth, for when she is brought to Boaz to be wed the elder blesses them saying that may the children that they have be like the twin son’s Tamar bore for Judah. Tamar is spoken first, not Judah, for they acknowledge it is because of her act that their ancestors were born. Tamar changed Judah into the man he became before Joseph, a man acting like a king sacrificing himself for those he protects. It is from this family line of Ruth and Boaz comes three generations later King David, and from his line came our Lord Jesus Christ.
Things can go badly in our lives, so that you are used, abused, and treated wrongly. Sometimes the Lord allows us to go through those times to build great character traits in us. Tamar name means date palm. A date palm sways in the wind, stays upright, and produces delicious fruit despite humid conditions or storms. Through all Tamar went through she lived up to her name. The struggles she went through made her strong and supple, exactly what the Lord needed her to be for her hour on this earth to influence the world stage.
There are times to humble yourself, but there are times when the only person you should do this is to Jesus our Lord and Savior. Following Him sometimes means to go do something drastic, something dangerous, something that puts your life on a razors edge. He is constantly asking us to get out of the boat, to go out onto the tree limb. This is what Tamar did, this is what Mary the Mother of Jesus did, this is what Joseph the adopted father of Jesus did.
Jesus has promised that whenever we are tempted that He will always give us a way out. That way out may mean to leave all you know and to take a journey that you do not know the end to, like Abraham. That may mean to stand up and speak the truth to those who will not take it well, like many prophets of old did. That may mean dressing up like a prostitute so that you can join into the line of Israel. When God shows us a way out, sometimes it is a way that is so dangerous, so out there, so obnoxious that all around you may think you are mad and crazy and have lost your mind. In those moments, its better for you to follow that still small voice. For Jesus knows what is best for you, knows what will take you into the destiny He has for you, and knows the way out for you.
If Tamar did not take that great risk all these blessings would not have fallen upon her. Without her trusting that still small voice guiding her on this dangerous path we would have never heard of the story of Tamar. She would have faded as all the other women of her day
have in history. The story of Judah could have been changed, the same for Joseph, the same for Israel, the same for the Israelites Kings, the same for the lineage of Jesus. Yet the Lord does not leave His prodigal sheep to wander. He is also the God of the impossible and the unexpected to bring His lost children home, for then He gets the Glory.
Our God is not a God who is late or early but on time. This freeing of Tamar did not happen overnight. Think about the time it took for Tamar to find out she was pregnant, and what state of mind she could have been in when she found out she was. Her greatest hope put her in the greatest predicament, one that could cost her everything. How many fears and confusion did she battle each day and night as she waited to be discovered? What was playing in her mind the whole time? The act she had done she knew could be her salvation, but also her destruction. So, she threw herself at the mercy of the God of Judah, for only He could get her out in one piece, and He did.
It is because of her boldness and trust in the Unforeseen God that she was protected, even doing this most dangerous thing. It was in this act of trust of the Unforeseen God of Judah and His Justice that led her to green pastures for her feet. She trusted in the knowledge that the God of Judah is a God of Justice, and He will repay. In her humility and surrender she lay herself at His feet and He made her way smooth. So, when the Lord calls you, obey, for that is your way out. When the choice before you causes you to throw yourself at the mercy of the Living God, you are at the right place. For as the Lord did justice for Tamar He will do justice for you, and it will be a good and fair judgement on your behalf, because you trusted in Him, and He will receive the Glory through your obedience.
To read the story of Tamar for yourself you can find it in Genesis 38 of the Bible