Substitute Saint

  • Cast Number: 1
  • Run-time: 6 minutes
  • Bible Reference: Genesis 38:6-30
Tamar, one of only 5 women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus, is a little known person, merely a kind of footnote in the narrative of history. But hers was an important, and in many ways tragic, role. Widowed by her evil husband, rejected by her brother-in-law and dismissed by her powerful father-in-law Judah, Tamar should have ended up a weak and unimportant, discarded woman. But God had other plans for Tamar, and he set those plans in motion, to his glory.

Cast: 1 female

Set, Lighting, Sound: standard

Costumes: likely traditional

Sample of script:

actor comes on stage

Which was worse?
The indignity of becoming a widow, handed down to my brother-in-law, or his rejection of me by not doing his prescribed Leverite duty to allow me to produce a son, and so to carry on my dead husband’s line.

(looks into audience as though to listen to a question)

Me? . . I am Tamar.


Indeed I do have some rank in our community!
Perhaps you may be familiar with the name Judah?

(nods head in pride)

I expected as much.
Everyone knows Judah, him the very own son of Jacob and Leah.
And perhaps you will be interested in knowing that I, Tamar, am the daughter-in-law of the same Judah!
Yes . . . daughter-in-law. . . married to Er . . firstborn son of Judah.


But my husband grievously offended the Lord God Yahweh. , , And Yahweh took Er’s life.
Leaving me not only a widow, but worse, a widow without a son.
So Judah spoke to his next eldest son, Onan, and instructed Onan to impregnate me so that I might have a son to carry on Er’s line.

(pauses, frowns)

You look confused, perhaps offended by this.
This was the law, as handed down by our leaders.
Unless a man leaves a son to carry on for him, it is as though the man had never lived.
So it was my duty, and that of Onan’s, to produce a son for my dead husband.
But Onan balked at the prospect of producing a child which, in the eyes of the community, would not be his child, but rather the child of his dead brother.
So Onan deliberately refused to properly impregnate me.
And when God saw this he was furious and, like he had with Er, God took Onan’s life.
Now fact is Judah had another son, a younger son, name of Shelah.
And I expected that Judah would arrange that Shelah and I would facilitate providing a child to honor my dead husband.
But my father-in-law instructed me to go to my father’s home and to live as a widow until Shelah “grew up.”
I am a woman. And I know instinctively when a man is being supportive and when he is simply being condescending.
And I knew that the real reason for Judah wanting me shuffled off to my father was that Judah was concerned Shelah would end up dead, just like his brothers.
And so, humiliated, I returned to my father’s house, a broken woman.
Circumstances were not kind to Judah. After losing two sons, his wife, my mother-in-law, took ill and died.
And greatly did Judah mourn!
But, as both I and Judah learned, although tragedy may befall, life indeed must go on.

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