Biblical Tamar (Genesis 38) is an important and enigmatic figure. The enigma stems from the dichotomy between Tamar's daring, unconventional behavior and her elevation to prominence in the Bible and later Jewish traditions. Despite her transgressive behavior, Tamar, who tricks Judah, is praised by him; she ultimately becomes King David's ancestress and a heroine to later commentators. Indeed, Tamar is raised to the level of a saint in ancient liturgical poetry, acquiring cosmic significance in mystical traditions, and a serving as representative of the disenfranchised in modern feminist interpretation. This study traces the transformation of Tamar, beginning with the earliest interpreters such as the Tragum, Philo, Pseudepigrapha, early Midrash and Talmud. It proceeds with the classic medieval commentators, the Hasidic writings, and feminist interpreters of the modern period. The work includes an introduction to the each of these genres of Jewish literature in which Tamar appears. The panoramic perspective of interpretive traditions show how commentators articulate their own communities' moral lessons and religious ideals, with Tamar as an exemplar.
The Transformation of Tamar (Genesis 38) in the History of Jewish Interpretation
av E. Blachman
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