Shannon here: Biblical fiction author, Teresa Pollard shares her story behind the story of her June release, Tokens of Promise. Comment on any post dated April 8 – 12 to get your name in the drawing for winner’s choice – a copy of Tokens of Promise in June or a copy of most recent release, Not Guilty. Deadline: April 27th, 11:59 pm, central time. Here’s Teresa:
The idea for Tokens of Promise was born in 1979, even before Candi Pullen and I wrote Not Guilty. For the first time, I had decided to read the Bible from cover to cover in one year. I hadn’t gotten far at all when the love story of Tamar and Judah in Genesis 38 jumped off the page at me. A friend had given me a whole grocery bag full of Harlequin romance novels, and to me this story read exactly like one of them: Judah, the handsome and wealthy Prince of Hebron was instantly attracted to Tamar, the poor but beautiful young maiden of Chezib. She falls for him, but he can’t return the love.
In a drunken stupor from the guilt over his own treachery in selling his brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt, Judah had already married a Canaanite woman. Now he had two sons Tamar’s age, and another soon to be born. He couldn’t do to them what his own father Jacob had done to him; he would not have two wives. Yet he cannot leave Tamar entirely, so he marries her off to his oldest son, Er, not realizing the evil Er is capable of. Doesn’t that sound just like a Harlequin romance? Arrogant me thought I was seeing something no one else had ever seen before. I decided to find out more.
My initial searches were no help. Most modern scholars seemed to agree that this was a “meaningless story of dubious morality that served merely as a ‘meanwhile-back-at-the-ranch’ break in the Joseph story.” I didn’t believe then, and still don’t today, that there is any such thing as a meaningless story in the Bible. I didn’t pursue it any further until I went back to college full time in 1984. I chose this story as my undergraduate honors thesis, and even studied Hebrew for a year just so I could really examine it word by word to try to determine its meaning. What I found was astonishing!
The early writers of the Talmud agreed it was a love story, and that the relationship between Judah and Tamar was the cause of Er and Onan’s sins. Not only that, they agreed that it was the story of the redemption of Judah: that the Judah of later chapters was a changed man from the earlier Judah, and this story was the reason for the change. How had this meaning been lost? Of course, the early writers never recognized the greatest meaning. The tokens Judah gave Tamar were his staff (a symbol of a prophet or shepherd of his people), his gold ring (symbol of a king) and his cord (the Hebrew word is the corded edge of a prayer shawl, a symbol of a priest). Right there in Genesis, God gave Israel the key to recognizing their Messiah, Jesus. Matthew tells us wise men gave Jesus gifts of gold (symbol of a king), frankincense (symbol of a priest) and myrrh (symbol of the ultimate shepherd who gave His life for His sheep).
I realized the sexual nature of the story in Genesis 38, but it wasn’t until I studied it that I knew what I had let myself in for. I will admit to you that I am by nature a prude. You would think I would be the last person God would choose to write a story of such a sexual nature. But maybe that’s why He did. My professor, Richard Dillard, said Tokens of Promise was a great story, but I’d never find a publisher in a million years because it was “way too righteous for any secular publisher, and way, way, way too sexual for any Christian publisher.” Fortunately, he never met Lynellen Perry at HopeSprings Books.
And it only took 27 years instead of a million! She believes, as I do, that Christians need to stop burying our heads in the sand, and confront our generation with the truth of God’s Word even on issues of sexuality that have been so taboo for the last 2000 years. When we do, we will find great meaning in the beautiful love story of Tamar and Judah, and the Tokens of Promise of an eternal love story with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
About Teresa: Teresa Pollard is from Richmond, Virginia, and was saved at a young age. She has a Masters degree in English and Creative Writing from HollinsCollege, and has served as a Sunday School teacher and children’s worker for most of the last forty years. Married for forty years, she was devastated by divorce and the death of her youngest daughter, but God has blessed her with a new home and another grandson, and she now resides in Dacula, Georgia. Learn more: www.TeresaPollardWrites.com and www.HopeSpringsBooks.com
About the book – Tokens of Promise: “Beware, Prince of Hebron, her witching ways are strong.” Ben Qara’s evil words still rang in his ears. Judah is sure he was bewitched by the beautiful Tamar. She is all he can think about. But no, it must not be. He will not break his vow to Yah. He already has a wife, and he will have only one. Tamar must marry Er.
Rescued from disgrace by the handsome Judah, Tamar is already in love with the kind stranger. She eagerly followed Emi’s advice on how to win him. It almost worked. He’d promised. If only his servant hadn’t come at that moment, she’d be his wife now instead of going home with him to be his daughter-in-law. Why had her father agreed to this? Surely he could see her destiny was with Judah?
“What are you talking about, woman?” Er demanded. “Tamar is no harlot. She’s the daughter of a Man of God, and Father bought her from him for me.”
“After he found her naked in the street and bought her back from her rightful husband,” Ruah said spitefully. “Her family was gone from the town, but your father stayed in her home with her through the night. How many times do you suppose he could have come in to her before my father arrived with the dawn? You don’t believe me? Ask the messenger who took the supplies back to Chezib. It seems the whole town is talking about it.”
Er’s anger seethed, and he vowed revenge. His father must die. But not before he would see what he would do to the beautiful “bride” he had intended to foist off on him.
Purchase Tokens of Promise: www.amazon.com/Tokens-Promise-Teresa-Pollard/dp/1938708148/
Due to circumstances beyond my control, my blog is behind a day. Come back April 13th for Connie Stevens!