Unveiling the Versions: The Tactics of Tamar in Genesis 38:15

John R. Huddlestun


Modern interpretations of Tamar’s actions in Genesis 38:15
fall into two groups: those who maintain that the veil indicated her prostitute
status and those who counter that it only concealed her identity. I argue that
the expansion to and subsequent interpretive history of this verse, coupled with
the lack of correlation between veil and prostitution historically, suggest that
the first mentioned interpretation - Judah believed her to be a prostitute
because of the veil - should be reconsidered. Rather, the separation of shroud
from profession, both exegetically and historically, provides a compelling
historical precedent for the second view, namely, that Tamar’s veil concealed
more than it revealed.

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