I find yours a fascinating story which has much to say about sex and sexual ethics. In a world where we struggle with the way in which society seems to be misusing sex and families often appear dysfunctional so much I think it is really interesting to examine.
Firstly, I want to go back a step to your suggestion that you sell Joseph into slavery rather than kill him because he was your flesh and blood. It seems that you had an understanding of what was happening was wrong.
I wonder when you went away whether it was because of resources and managing scarcity or because of guilt. I am sure you must have chatted to Reuben and realised that in your trying to save Joseph’s life you actually stopped him being rescued and increased your fathers distress.
I wonder what wickedness Er was guilty of which led to his death. We don’t know but as it was mentioned straight after you getting Tamar as his wife I do wonder if it was domestic violence or adultery which he was guilty of. The sin does implicitly appear to relate to his treatment of Tamar in some way.
You seem to understand the duties you had towards Tamar or was it you were concerned about the continuation of your bloodline?
Did you know the feelings that Onan had towards getting Tamar pregnant? He seems very concerned with the idea of any biological son of his being acknowledged as such. This passage has been used to condemn masturbation in my own culture at points. However, it is clear reading it that it is not the wasting of the seed which is the problem but rather his treatment of Tamar who in your culture he had a responsibility towards.
How did you feel about telling your son he had to go and sleep with this woman he may not have wanted to sleep with? It seems that you had a lax attitude towards sex and the use of women, yet also sharp moral codes. Yet you also have a fear of what you don’t understand. This latter is shown by your reluctance to let Tamar sleep with Shelah because you were scared of the death of another child.
You were happy to go and sleep with a prostitute, that is something I find interesting and a sign of double standards – something I think applies to a lot of people who use sex workers today. You went and slept with this woman yet you were willing to burn Tamar when you thought she had had promiscuous sex.
How did you feel when you discovered that it was you she had slept with? Your reputation was clearly important to you and you did not want to be laughed at by others or shamed her apparent actions.
That encounter when she identified you as the father of her children, because you had not given her Shelah obviously had a great impact on you because you knew why in her desperation she had acted in this way. It is like you have your eyes opened to some of the effects of patriarchy and what you had been doing to her through your abuse of power.
Did you get to spend much time with the twins before you passed away? I ask because you were obviously in older years when they were born.
I wonder what your relationship was afterwards with Tamar. Did you treat her, and indeed the other women around you with more respect?
It is interesting yours is a story I had caught in passing before but not really taken on board. Yet, it is one of the ones which has caught my attention most so far through this project.