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I'm having difficulty understanding Tamar's plan.

If she saw that she wasn't being given to Yehuda's youngest son why didn't she simply go to him and ask or demand to be married to Shelah? Furthermore, if Shelah has reached maturity why doesn't she go to him directly?

Did she have a 'plan b' if Yehuda had not opted to sleep with her when he thought she was a random prostitute?

If, for whatever reason, she feels she needs to deceive Yehuda, why does she wait until she is about to be killed to hint at who the father is? Why not reveal herself to Yehuda right away and explain her actions?

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I don't recall the source for this but I remember learning that when she saw that she wasn't being given in marriage to Shelah there was a tacit understanding that there was no intention on Yehuda's part for her to ever marry him.

if Shelah has reached maturity why doesn't she go to him directly?

Because he is still under the dominion of his father Yehuda

Did she have a 'plan b' if Yehuda had not opted to sleep with her when he thought she was a random prostitute?

I am not aware of any commentator who says she did have a plan b, why would she?

Why not reveal herself to Yehuda right away and explain her actions?

How would revealing herself serve any purpose? She doesn't even know if she is pregnant, which is ostensibly the point of sleeping with Yehuda. Perhaps you mean to ask why she doesn't come forward when she misses her first period. It would stand to reason that she doesn't believe Yehuda wants the same thing she wants, ie to further Er's family line at any cost. As such it would seem that she may have not even been living among Yehuda's family anymore as it was others (Bereshis 38:24) who brought her pregnancy to his attention. Perhaps she planned to raise the child alone.

  • An interesting idea (planned to raise the child alone) - but that leads to the obvious question, why did she think she would get away with that? – Yishai Dec 10 '14 at 22:01
  • @Yishai she's no longer married to anyone in Yehuda's family. For all intents and purposes she is single. – user6641 Dec 10 '14 at 22:16
  • Then why did Yehuda say she was Chayav Misa? Was she unfamiliar with that rule? – Yishai Dec 10 '14 at 22:45
  • @Yishai it is indeed puzzling why she was chayav misa. Rashi cites the midrash בתו של שם היתה, שהוא כהן, לפיכך דנוה בשרפה: – user6641 Dec 11 '14 at 14:07
  • Whatever the reason that she was Chayav, did she not know she would be? I did glance at a Chasam Sofer on the parsha last night and I think he was saying that this was an extra-judicial punishment (as Beis Din or a King is entitled to do at times). According to that it may be plausible to say that she wasn't expecting it. – Yishai Dec 11 '14 at 18:06

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