Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is for a bible study that I'm leading on Monday nights at my church. I think the women in the bible have remarkable stories. We're studying the women in the Gospels and we're starting with the women of Matthew's annotated geneology.

Tamar and Rahab, Righteous Women

Looking for the similarities in the stories of Tamar and Rahab, the most surprising I found is that they are referred to as “righteous women”. Tamar and Rahab would probably not be high on my list or there at all if I were asked name some righteous women in the bible. I don’t think I’m alone there either. Matthew Henry’s commentary says about Tamar, “And let that state of humbleness to which Jesus submitted, when he came to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, in appointing such characters as those here recorded, to be his ancestors, endear the Redeemer to our hearts.” He is right to point out that although Christ lived a sinless life, his ancestors definitely did not, but in his commentary he misses something and that is the redemption of Tamar. In Genesis 38:26 Judah declares that Tamar “is more righteous than I…” After reading a story filled with deception, Judah’s declaration baffled my mind. Tamar took things into her own hands. Tamar tricked and seduced her Father In Law. Then not only did Judah declare that she was more righteous than him, generations remembered their blessed family and used their story in wedding ceremonies (read about the marriage between Boaz and Ruth).

Likewise, Matthew Henry had an interesting commentary on Rahab. He, like many preachers believed Rahab to be, not a prostitute, but an innkeeper. He is firm about her having no known sin in her life at the time in which her story takes place. I have to disagree though; the word used for Rahab is definitely the word for harlot, not innkeeper. So, where is Rahab’s redemption? What about her encourages the spies to keep their promise and spare not only her life, but the lives of her family as well? What about Rahab allows her to be grafted into the blood tight Israelite family? What about her legacy has her remembered in the book of Hebrews in the “hall of faith”?

In Tamar’s story she had watched two husbands die and I think that in our reading we don’t really consider what that must have been like for her. Not only did they die but they were considered wicked. What could they have done to incur the wrath of God? What of that did Tamar see and how did they die? There are some pretty horrific ways to die when you displease the Lord in Old Testament times. You could be swallowed whole by the earth, rained on by fire and brimstone or possibly be turned into a pillar of salt. Whatever happened had Judah afraid of Tamar and Tamar, knowing herself better, afraid of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” says Proverbs 1:7.

Likewise, Rahab exclaimed that she fears the Lord because they have heard of the terrible things that the Israelites have done with the help of their God.

Neither Tamar or Rahab stops at the point of fear. They each take action. Tamar takes it into her own hands to conceive an heir for her husband and tries on her own to put the bloodline of Judah back on track. Rahab lies to the king and protects the spies and then she pleads for her life and the lives of her family.

To fear the Lord means to be afraid, have reverence for or stand in awe of. Do we fear the Lord? I know there are definite points where I stand in awe, usually after I've witnessed something that's bigger than myself, unexpectedly good or unexpectedly terrible, but what about on a day to day basis?

Lord, let me always remember your marvelous works. Let me stand in awe of you today and forever.

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