A short synopsis of the Tamar story (Genesis 38):
So my question on my previous post on Tamar was: Why does Tamar merit to become the ancestress of King David?
Rashi says it was because of modesty. Judah did not recognize her because she covered herself up while in his house. Does this mean a physical modesty? Or maybe she just kept to herself? Or perhaps it’s the way she presented his staff, signet and cord: she could have accused him outright, but she set it up so he could either reveal himself, as he did, or he could deny it, which he chose not to do.
We can understand this story as a growth of Judah’s character; it is juxtaposed to the sale of his brother Joseph for a reason. Judah did not behave well in the sale of Joseph (one could add he did not behave well in withholding Shelah from Tamar as well). At the end of this story, however, he does the right thing by Tamar in admitting that it was his staff, signet and cord and thus he was the one who had impregnated her. You can read more about Judah as penitential man in Rabbi Jonathan Sack’s post.
Getting back to Tamar, I do find it strange that someone who dresses as a prostitute is considered righteous and a role model. But I suppose she knew she needed to carry the ancestor of David, and she knew it should be from Judah.
Tamar discussed on Eishes Chayil website (at the very end, Tamar is compared to Leah, a nice comparison of women who struggled)
Thank you to Augustus John for his help with the watercolor.