The Pledge (24)

Tonight’s post is more risque than the others, but that is the essence of Judah and Tamar’s story. No, not the essence, but the details, for the true substance of the tale is accountability and redemption. If you want to read the story from the beginning, you can click here. Otherwise, enjoy and thanks for stopping by my blog. 

* * *

Unlike Onan, Tamar argues not when Judah tells her she was being given to her brother-in-law. It was her duty, after all, and a tradition amongst her peoples. And because Er had died without children, it was especially important now that she make certain his name not be forgotten. She was well-aware Onan didn’t want to take her as his wife – he had mentioned that several times in her hearing – but neither of them had a choice. And so, before the time of grieving is complete, Tamar prepares to become Onan’s wife.

The celebration will not be as big and as lavish as it was when she married Er, but given the circumstances, this was hardly expected. In fact, it should have been a quiet affair, responsibility of her welfare passing from one brother to another, but again, this was the son of Judah, his heir now, and Onan would have nothing less than that.

On the day of her wedding, Tamar avoids the family, choosing only the company of Ofra. Like before, Alit’s words are few to her, but now they are accompanied with a look of scorn, leading Tamar to believe the woman blamed her for Er’s death. This was more than Tamar could handle. Unfortunately, she can’t hide from them forever, and as Ofra helps her adjust her beaded headdress, Tamar is reminded once again how different her life had turned out. The gods had taken Er, but they were giving her Onan. Maybe this time, she would get a child and find purpose for her life.

The ceremony begins, but Tamar hears not a word, nervously considering what would follow: she would join Onan in their bedchamber and they would have sex. She was by no means a virgin, but she was hesitant at the thought of being with Onan. And as the blessings of Ba’al Mot are read, Tamar can’t even look at Onan. He takes her hand, as his friends and guests begin celebrating, and leads her out of the courtyard to the bed they will share as husband and wife. Ofra has decorated the room with flowers, giving it a fresh feel; still, Tamar is reminded of Er. The marriage was wrong, but it was required, and more than that, it was too late.

Onan doesn’t kiss her, but looks down at her. She turns away, disgusted with what she sees in his eyes, scared by how he looks at her, like a predator his prey. Tamar reminds herself that she shouldn’t feel like so, that this man was her brother-in-law for the time she was married to Er. And it wasn’t as if Er had treated her as special. But as he begins to remove her gown she notes there is something in the way he touches her. His touch is cold, mechanical, lecherous. She understands Onan is only there because of his father, but she never expected it to feel like this. Even for the few times she was with Er, it never felt like this.

He directs her to the bed and climbs on top of her. Tamar shuts her eyes and cringes as he claims her as his. She is hardly a participant, wanting only for the moment to finish. But to her surprise, when the time comes for Onan to spill his seed inside her, he pulls out and lets the seed fall to the ground. With a smirk on his face, Onan gets up off of her and off their marriage bed. Tamar watches him in horror as he puts his robe back on and exits the room, his business with her apparently done.

Still shocked, Tamar sits up and looks down to the ground where his seed fell; it is no more than a spoonful, but enough to make the whole ordeal worthwhile – had he given it to her. Now it was wasted and she was left with nothing.

Tamar crawls back onto the blankets, feeling dirty, exposed. She lets one tear fall, then another, then another.

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