Genesis (Bereshit) Stories: The Story of Judah and Tamar
Mondays, January 22–February 12, 6:00–7:00 pm
Instructor: Joe Septimus
The episode of the sexual union of Judah and Tamar in Beraishit is disruptive on many levels. Literarily, its placement interrupts the flow of the Joseph story; albeit its leitmotifs suggest connection rather than discontinuity. Ethically, it hangs like a grey cloud over the moral and sexual decisions and behavior of the characters. Historically, it is the foundational origin story for the core of today’s Jewish people’s (Jews = dwellers in the “kingdom” of Judah). Theologically, the leadership, and “God’s chosen” royal family and redeemer of Israel, will emerge from the offspring of this messy union. Sociologically, the story mixes ancient Near Eastern ritual norms, male power norms and female ingenuity to evolve with outcomes that are personally transformative, endlessly instructive, as well as decidedly ambiguous and complex – like life itself - leaving us room and responsibility for ongoing human development.
We will explore texts related to this episode, its backstory and epilogs, and commentaries throughout the ages, to help glimpse into the personal humanity, strength and weaknesses of the characters, and notice how they can continue to shape our own values and character.
Texts will be provided in English. No previous background necessary.