By Athalya Brenner
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Extra info for Are We Amused?: Humour About Women In the Biblical World (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 383)
Gunn (Gender Power and Promise: The Subject of the Bible's First Story [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993], p. 88) write that the veil 'is clearly not an article of clothing associated with prostitution'. See also Tarlin, who writes, 'According to Fewell and Gunn, Tamar presents herself to Judah as a bride to remind him of his obligation to provide her with a husband from his family to raise up children for his dead sons' ('Tamar's Veil', p. 178). Such a reading dovetails nicely with my own (see below).
Nathan makes the first move, suggesting that Bathsheba present herself before David, with the subtle reminder, 'Did you not, my 52. A. Berlin, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1994), pp. 26-27. 53. On this shift in characterization, see Berlin, Poetics, pp. A. A. H. ), Women's Bible Commentary (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2nd edn, 1998), pp. 91-101 (98). 54. V. ), Women's Bible Commentary, pp. 102-16 (105): 'Though the initiative for her action appears to come from Nathan, she possesses her own power, skills, and motives for her role.
Left unsaid but implied is that without a wife, and after a period of mourning, Judah is ripe for, perhaps in dire need of, sexual contact. And what he seeks, he finds. Verse 13 begins with a curious passive construction, one used again in v. 24. In both cases, the word translated 'it was told' ("in) indicates a shift to a new scene in the unfolding story. In each case a chain of events is initiated by the person who is told the pertinent information. Here Tamar is told that Judah was going to the sheep shearing.