• Marilyn Franklin

A Search For Significance - First Episode

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

Sometimes we surface read the narratives in the Bible, and miss the treasures that we can glean from the stories. Genesis 38, the story of Tamar who married two brothers and was engaged to a third, but subsequently ended up with the father is such a narrative.

It sounds like a soap opera, so it is entitled, “A Search for Significance.”


In ancient times, and as it is in some cultures of today, a girl was marriageable when she reached reproductive age. This means that a girl who starts her menstrual cycle is ready to become a wife. Tamar most likely was such a bride. We know from the narrative that Er, her first husband was a “wicked” man whom God put to sleep (Genesis 38:6). Since Tamar was childless and still of childbearing age, Judah, her father-in-law said to his son, Onan, “ ‘Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother (Genesis 38:8).’ ” This is known as a levirate marriage and it was to ensure that the deceased person’s name would not be forgotten. Thus, we can see that her significance was in her ability to produce an heir.

The importance of producing children is also demonstrated by the stories of Rachel and Hannah. Rachel wished for death because she was barren and then decided to give her handmaiden as a surrogate to her husband, Jacob. Hannah’s husband told her that he was better to her than 10 sons, but had a second wife, who provided him with children. Both women were loved by their respective husbands, but notice that none of the husbands rejected the idea of having children by other wives. Tamar, like these women was a product of her time and believed her worth or significance was in being a wife and mother. It may not be so different today because women are often asked when are they getting married, or if they are married, when are they going to have children. The search for significance is real for all of us. Some of us find it in our accomplishments, talents, education or even our families. It has already been declared that “... [we] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that [we] may declare the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).” Therefore, our significance is not found in our professions or accomplishments, but in Whose we are.

To be continued…

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