12 After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.
13 When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.
15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.”
“And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked.
17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said.
“Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked.
18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?”
“Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. 19 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again. Genesis 38:12-19
As Tamar’s way of getting back at Judah for not making good on his promise of Shelah as her third husband, she deceived him. There was just so much wrong-headed thinking going on here: Judah soliciting a prostitute as he recovered from the loss of his wife, Tamar dressing as a prostitute, Tamar deceiving Judah and then demanding a pledge – something to blackmail him later. Nothing good can come from any of their actions. There are solid “don’t live your life like this” actions within those few verses.
Both knew better than to do what they did. Judah, however, didn’t fulfill a fairly significant promise to Tamar, namely, that he promised her another husband – his third son. Widows did not have an easy life in those days. Very few cared for them or about them.
We see this in our nursing homes and adult living facilities today. Those who have had decent family pensions do fine, but those who live solely on Social Security and Medicare don’t have a lot of choices about where they can live after it’s been decided that they can’t live alone anymore. Often those facilities are very lonely and forgotten places.
Consider visiting one just to go around and read the Bible and pray with people. They love visitors, those who take the time to care even a bit for them.