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In the bible recordings, the name and the figure Thamar or Tamar is first seen in the book of Genesis 38: 1-30 (Hamilton 432). Judah, the son of Jacob, departed from his brothers and met an adullamite named Hirah. While he was there, he saw a certain Canaanite who was named Shua, and he married her. Afterwards, Judah went into her, and she conceived. She bore a son whom they named Er. She conceived again and bore Judah another child named Onan, and after Onan, she bore another son whom they named Sheah. She delivered Sheah when they were at Chezib, and there Judah took a wife for his son, and her name was Tamar.
Er, who was Judah’s first born son, was a very wicked man before the eyes of the Lord, and so God slew him. Seeing that Er had died, Judah gave Tamar to his son Onan to lay with her so that he could bear a son for his brother. On seeing that he would bear a son for his brother and not for himself, he opted to lay with her and pour semen on the ground. The Lord was angered by his action. Therefore, He slew him too.
Judah, seeing that both his sons had died, told Tamar to live in his house and wait until Shelah was old enough. This was because he feared that his son would have the same fate as his other two sons. In the time of the wife of Judah, his daughter died, and he went up to be comforted. He went up to Timmah and his sheep shearers. When Tamar was told this news, she removed her widow garments, and went and wrapped herself in a veil that covered her face. She went and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is, on the road to Timmah. This was because she had been promised Sheah, who was now of age, but he was not given to her yet.
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Upon seeing her, he thought that she was a harlot, and he went up to her and asked her to lie with him. She asked what he would give her in return, and he answered that he would send her a kid from his flock. She asked him to give her a pledge until he sends her that, which he had, promised her. She asked for his signet, his cord and his stuff which were in his hand, and he agreed.
Later she lay with him and conceived twins. Then when Judah came back to give him that which he had made a promise to give her, she did not find him. When he asked in the neighbouring places, he was told that there had been no harlot in their place. In about three months later, Judah was told that his daughter-in-law was the one who was playing a harlot. Then he ordered for her to be brought out and be burned. However, upon her emergence out of her hiding place, she told the people about the promise that Judah had made her, and her proof was his stuff which he had given her as a sign that he will fulfill that which he had promised her. Therefore, she was not stoned, but Judah never touched her from that day onwards.
IN THE THOMAS MANN TETRALOGY
In the tetra logy of Thomas Mann, the figure “Tamar” is described of a Canaanite woman who was much convinced by the teaching of the historical line of Jacob. She was said to be in the line of blessings, and the salvation hall passes through his family. To the best of her knowledge, that choice fell on Leah’s fourth born, Judah. She resolves to put herself in a strategic position so as to be in the line of the inheritance.
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She, therefore, marries the two eldest sons of Judah one after the other only to be left without child after each marriage. Her demand for the third son is rejected. However, refusing to be frustrated, she tricks Judah into lying with her and she manages to get twins. She then forces Judah to acknowledge the truth by showing the pledges he had left with her.
In the comparison of the two accounts of the similar story, Thomas brings in a different approach to the actions made by Tamar. According to Thomas, her actions were mainly fueled by her knowledge of the blessings that flow within his family, and Judah being a child to Leah and an inheritance of the blessings (Wilson 752). She did not want the blessings to pass her. This was because her two husbands had died, leaving her childless, she saw a better opportunity of aligning herself to the lineage by tricking Judah into getting her an offspring who would defiantly be a beneficiary of the blessings that are within that lineage. Eventually, that would have defiantly been inclusive of her (Aland & Aland 29).
However, the biblical record has a different approach to Tamar’s action. According to the bible, Tamar bases her actions on the fact that she was widowed, her two husbands had died, and she had been promised the youngest son when he was grown up, and ready for marriage.
However, feels betrayed when the boy Shelah, who she had been promised, is grown up, and she had not yet been given him. Therefore, this motivates her to come up with a strategy on how to get a child. Fortunately, the opportunity presented itself when Judah had gone to his sheep shearers, and that is when she masqueraded herself as a harlot, and she got Judah to lie with her, and she conceives (Emerton 405).
In these two approaches of the analysis of Tamar’s action, there is a possibility of both the accounts being true. This is because all the people of the land, even those who were not Canaanites, were well aware of the blessings of the family of Israel. Therefore, she might have been possibly looking forward to having her blessings. This is because all the other people across the nations knew of the mighty wonders that the blessings from God had given them. Therefore, it is possible, as Thomas Mann puts it, that she was after blessings because she knew the benefits of those blessings (Mann &Warner 440).
She may also have wanted a child because around that time in their culture, a woman who did not have a child was despised. This is clearly evident from the step-mother of Judah, Rachel, who had not had a child for a long time because God had closed her womb. Therefore, there was societal pressure for her to get a child, and the moment she got a child, we see that the husband loves her even more. Therefore, in this society at the time, it may have been the society as well that made her look for a child in every way possible manner (Dennis 55).
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In both the tales of the story of Tamar, she is portrayed as a calculative native girl. When her first husband dies, she is barely moved. She looks for the next greener pasture, and she is given to Onan, and when Onan dies she asks for the youngest son. When she realizes that the father-in-law, Judah, was giving her a raw deal by not fulfilling his promise, she calculates the manner in which she would still get to have or bear a child from this blessed lineage. In the end, we see that she manages to get that which she had planned for from the very beginning (Werke 16).
Tamar is also seen as a character that takes charge of that which she deems to be hers. In the two accounts of the story of Tamar, when the people were ready to burn her for practicing harlotry, she comes out boldly in a manner like she was prepared for the day and proclaims that Judah had made her a promise. She even goes on to give evidence that shows that he had actually made her a promise. Therefore, she is not burnt. This simply shows a character of the figure of Tamar (Werke 78).
In the Thomas Mann story, the duality of Tamar’s action is seen in that she did wrong by seducing her father in law Judah. However, seeing as to the fact that his wife was bearing no more children, two of his eldest sons were dead and there was only one remaining, she is seen to have done the family of Judah a favor by doing that which she did because she ensured the continuity of their lineage, which was about, to perish. This was because all of them were just dying and none of them was leaving off springs to continue with their lineage (Werke 17)
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In the argument that she was securing her future with the blessings of the family, (Werke 55) is seen as part of God’s plan to continue with the lineage by using her to continue blessing the lineage of Jacob. This is more evident from the story when the bible says that God was angered by Onan’s action to pour his semen on the ground, and not bear a child for his eldest son. Thus, God slew him for what he had done. Therefore, it was also God’s plan to continue the lineage using Tamar (Mann 471).
Therefore, in both the tales, there is one similarity that shows itself very vividly. The role that the society had played in the decision by Tamar to trick Judah into conceiving a child with her was a huge one. This is so because there were some expectations of women at the time, and among them was giving birth.
However, the claims by Thomas can be said to be based on assumptions. This is because according to the bible, and the belief that the Christians have of the bible, every word written in it is true, and the information given there is from God and not man. Therefore, man could not have corrupted the story as it is told by Thomas Mann.
The bible is the Holy book for the Christian religion. Seeing as they believe in a greater being, a God, they believe that the bible is God’s actual words to the world. They also say that it is the only word of God to His followers, and He uses the words in the bible to speak to His people being the Christians. The word bible came from the Greek word Biblos meaning Book. Therefore, this shows that they believe the bible is a Holy book seeing as they refer to it as ‘The holy bible’, to show that it was written by their God. Hence, it is Holy.
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In the bible, there is an Apostle Paul who is believed to be a believer and teacher of the word of God. He confirms the belief by Christians when he states that:
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God, for the salvation of everyone who believes: first to the Jew then to the Gentiles. (Romans 1:16)”
In the same holy book, there are a couple of instances where it is recorded that it was God speaking to the people whose encounters have been recorded. Taking the example of a man Known as Joshua who lived to see the “promised land” to Israelites, which is the land of Canaan. This book of Joshua gives instances when he conversed with God. It also gives instances where the Israelites did not do what God wanted, and the consequences they faced.
“do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)”
In the bible, there are instances where God has made covenants with his people. A covenant is an agreement between two parties and it can either be conditional or unconditional. In the bible writings, there are two covenants namely the one between Abraham and God and the one between God and the people mainly referred to as the “new covenant”. These are recorded in the books of Ezekiel and the book of Jeremiah. These covenants have played a huge role in the division of the bible into the two different testaments that are exist. There is the Old Testament which is based on the covenant between God and Abraham, and seeing that the new covenant is about Jesus Christ who is said to be the Son of God who came to earth and died for the trespasses of the people. Naturally, the writings that came after Jesus are referred to as the New Testament. In our present day, the word testament is used to refer to a person’s will. However, in the bible, a testament is used interchangeably with the word covenant which means an agreement between two parties.
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The Old Testament in the bible was written between 1500 B.C and 400B.C, and it’s a collection of 39 books. The Old Testament is a chronology of the life of the Israelites who are believed to be a God’s chosen nation until to date and their encounters with God. In the Old Testament, God spoke to his people through prophets. Hence, this part of the bible has a number of prophetic books written by Gods prophets in the believe that what they prophecy will come in the future days. This testament also records the lives of different people who came to encounter God not only as a nation, but also at a personal level as well.
It is believed that the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed while the New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed. This is because the writings in the New Testament were prophesied by those in the Old Testament, and they are, therefore, proof of each other’s existence. In the New Testament, there are the Gospels which in Greek mean the good news. This is the good news of the son of God that was going to save the people of God from destruction. The New Testament comprises of 27 books written between 45 A.D and 95 A.D. In this testament, there are recordings of what happened to those who believed in the son of God. There are teachings on how to Christians should live their lives, there are some recordings as well on what is yet to come when the world ends (Kidner 187).
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The bible as a whole was written over a long time, and it was written by various writers. However, it is believed that they were all inspired by God, which to Christians, implies that they were “God breathed”( Mack 15). In other words, the writings were not simply written by a human mind, but were an inspired piece of writing is a product of God’s writing through the conscious efforts of a human being. In the New Testament, a disciple known as Timothy gives proof of this when he writes:
“All scripture is God breathed and is useful in teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)”
BACKGROUND FOR THOMAS MANN- AGNES MEYER
Agnes. E. Meyer and Thomas Mann had been good friends for at least twenty years. They had shared several letters since their communication was limited to written communication, where most of their writings were an intense exchange of letters whose significance was to understand the writings of the German novelist.
The letters they shared with Meyer was one of the things he normally looked forward to because he felt that that was the one thing that cheered him up, and they were intelligent discussions as well as confidential. He looked forward to their discussions, and he says in a letter in 30th January 1942, that he at least looks forward to a break from the monotonous discussions he often has in the morning hours (Klaus & Jonas, 1971).
On meeting Thomas for the first time in 1937 in Mann’s lecture trip to America, Agnes claims that Thomas reminded her of her mother’s relatives, the German relatives to be precise. Their physical characteristics were similar (Robert 10).
Despite their admiration for each other, they still represented their own standpoint decisively and openly be it on personal, political or literary area. Agnes played a very huge role in the assistance of the publishing of Mann’s first literature work.
She did a critical review of his work which appeared in her newspaper as well as in the New York Times review. In his opinion, which was brought out in a letter he sent her on the 18th April 1939, called “sympathetically intelligent and cultivated, helpful exegetic endeavors of a noble female intellect”. Afterwards, she used her resources to assist Thomas and his family to get immigration visas, and the moment he arrived in America, she opened up a fund for him to lend a helping hand to any needy immigrants from Europe this was in the year 1938. She made a similar move when she assisted him in 1937 and 1940 when she made possible publication in Zurich of a piece of work edited by Thomas Mann and Konrad Falke known as “Mass und Wert, a periodical (Klaus and Ashliman 635).
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When he was appointed as a consultant by the library congress, she paid him without his knowledge his yearly salary of $ 3,000. She also arranged for his brothers migration in the year 1940 since he was not safe in place that he was situated, and using her influence on President Roosevelt arranged for his migration from France to America. Therefore, Agnes played a huge role in bringing his literacy work to the American continent.
In his interpretation of his literacy work, some may say that Agnes may have had some influence in his work owed to the relationship they had, and the role that she played in his life.
All in all, these different backgrounds, tell us where one is coming from when they are doing an interpretation of a piece of work. When we look at the bible, those who believe in it believe that it is accurate, and nothing that is not recorded is missing. However, when we look at the argument by Thomas, there is validity in his argument.