Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Judah and Tamar - Genesis: 38:1-30

This story cuts into Joseph's one, just before he meets Potiphar's Wife. Previously I had easily passed by this story, but after having read 'Feminine Mysteries in the Bible: The Soul Teachings of the daughter of the Goddess' by Ruth Rusca, I can now read this short story with more meaning. Through this book I learnt that the Divine Feminine makes herself known throughout the Bible, waiting for people to recognise Her. At times she is defeated by Patriarchy, as indeed did happen in the context of the time.
Rusca identifies Tamar as one of the four women who stand out in the genealogical tree of Jesus, and that all four stories include a red thread, linking us to the blood line of the Goddess. I feel like I need to share what I learnt from her book from my own notes about it and hope that this would be approved by the author.

To give some context, the story is as follows: Judah's firstborn son was originally married to Tamar but due to his wickedness was struck down by the Lord. Judah then asked his son Onan to lie with her so that she could conceive, but he did not want to in fear that the child would not be his, so he wasted his seed. This was considered a sin and so the Lord struck him down also. So Tamar was then made a widow. Then Judah's wife died and so he left for Timnath. In hearing of this Tamar removed her mourning clothes, disguised herself with a veil and went to Judah. He did not recognise her and propositioned her.

38:15 'When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face.'

She asked him for something in return and a pledge to prove his honesty. They consummated the deal and she left, removing her disguise. Judah went out and asked around if anyone had seen 'the shrine prostitute' but none had. Three months later Judah was told that Tamar was pregnant and in his anger at her dishonour he proclaimed that she should be burned to death! In response she announced:

38:25 'I am pregnant by the man who owns these...'

And she revealed the tokens that Judah had given her. Judah then says that she is more righteous than he and she is forgiven. She gives birth to twin boys. As the firstborn emerged from her womb the midwife tied a scarlet thread to his wrist, but he drew back and his brother emerged and was born first. Here the story ends and continues with Joseph's.

Now to analyse what this all means: Tamar means 'palm tree' and is given the title 'kadesha' meaning 'holy one' which was used for unwed women (also called virgins, regardless of physical virginity. Mary was also called a kadesha). The palm tree was sacred to the Babylonian Goddess Astarte, and was believed to be the Tree of Life. Rusca notes that Tamar is the first woman mentioned in the genealogical tree of Jesus, making her a symbolic tree of life in this respect, representing Jesus's divine roots.

Tamar plays the role of the sacred prostitute, who prior to and during Biblical times would take the place of the Goddess and be worshiped in her sexual-spiritual nature. The sons of Judah were unable to be fruitful with this Tamar-Priestess-Goddess, reflecting the male energy of the time abandoning Her, which ends in destruction (their death) rather than creativity (offspring).

Her veil signifies either hidden awareness or revelation and is common in a number of cultures for practical and spiritual reasons. Rusca argues that Tamar was not disguising herself, but revealing her true nature - the sexual-spiritual nature than she only reveals to Judah and that is not recognised by the other men. A woman's sexuality was a cause for fear within the primal male subconsciousness - with the threat of not knowing if their offspring was really theirs and thus, the fear of the independence that women naturally had. This fear is reflected in the Patriarchal religions and their insistence on the Virgin ideal. 

Judah's promised gifts to the 'shrine prostitute' are his sacrifice, and offering to the Divine Feminine. She bestows her Divine revelation to him and thus goes by unseen by the other men.

Her pregancy with two twins reflects duality in nature. Rusca suggests that the twin with the red thread, Zarach, is actually the feminine Zerah (of which my copy of the Bible supports). She has a scarlet thread on her hand representing the blood bond with the Goddess. These twins are the fruit of the Tamar-Palm-Tree-of-Life.

What I find the most interesting is this scarlet thread, as it occurs in the other three stories featuring the Divine Feminine, which I will discuss as they come (and sum up together when they have all been mentioned). Rusca concludes by stating that Tamar, the sacred prostitute is the Goddess of love.

So here we can see that this short story, appearing suddenly in the midst of Joseph's story holds a bounty of information. As I see it, the story goes almost unnoticed at first glance. But if you offer to the Goddess and speak with her, she will lift her veil (or maybe don the veil in this case!) and reveal the Divine Revelation of this story to you! This is a true Goddess gem to be found in Genesis (again a book of which acts as the roots of the Bible's own Tree of Life).

I give great thanks to Ruth Rusca for her book, and for my dear friend Bee who gave me this book and its Goddess gifts!

Feminine Mysteries of the Bible: Soul Teachings of the Daughters of the Goddess, Ruth Rusca.