The brutal honesty of the Torah

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Judah and Tamar by Horace Vernet (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Torah of Moses is a brutally honest book. It paints no pretty pictures. It cares nothing for political correctness. It is full of stories where dysfunctional families and tragic events end up playing important roles in God’s redemptive plan.

Judah being one of Jacob’s children, participates in a conspiracy to get rid of his half-brother Joseph by selling him to Egypt. Given the 20 year life expectancy of Egyptian slaves, being sold to Egypt was not salvation from death, it was death postponed by much suffering. When Judah matures and himself becomes a father of three sons, two of whom die after marrying Tamar, he learns what it means to love someone too much. Despite the law of levirate marriage that obligates Judah to have his third son marry Tamar, year after year he refuses. His love for his son trumps his sense of justice towards Tamar.

This happens until Tamar orchestrates one of the greatest redemptive breakthroughs in the history of the world by getting Judah himself to restore his dead son’s seed. Tamar disgraces herself, pretending to be a local prostitute. Her truly unconventional, but incredibly courageous plan works. Judah repents and declares Tamar not guilty of any wrong doing, owning his guilt instead (Gen.38:1-27).

The book of Ruth celebrates Perez – the child of Tamar and Judah, as a crucial part of God’s redemptive plan and establishes him as ancestor of King David (Ruth 4:11-17). What is even more important is that the Gospels include Perez among the forefathers of Jesus, the Messiah.

This article originally appeared on Israel Study Center and is reposted with permission.