“The Walking Staff Speaks”

Genesis 38: 18, 25

            “25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law,          ‘It was the owner of these who made me pregnant.’ And she said,          ‘Take note, please, whose these are, the signet and the cord and the        staff.’”

Jacob, grandson of Abraham, had 12 sons.  The fourth son, Judah, by his first wife married a local woman of a different “tribe” and had three sons.  The first died without giving children to his wife Tamar who was then given to the second son who died and so she was promised to the third son.  But Tamar realizing that her plight was dismal took matters into her own hands. 

         This story is important because Jesus is of the tribe of Judah and Tamar is one of the four women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus.  Tamar dressed like a prostitute and enticed Judah, taking his staff, his chord, and his seal as surety that Judah would send a goat to pay for her service.  Tamar became pregnant with twins, twin boys.  It was reported to Judah who was going to have her stoned as a harlot.  Tamar produces the seal, the chord and the staff as proof of the paternity of the babies.

         The staff identified Judah as the father.  The staff “spoke” to the duplicity of the situation.  This week I watched BBC report on the ceremonies in Scotland honoring the death of Queen Elizabeth II.  The camera focused on the mace of silver and gold that had been given by the Queen to the Scottish parliament as a symbol of their relationship.  We use walking sticks for hiking and they are a bit personal.  As an elder I use a cane sometimes.  It becomes part of me and necessary for when I am tired and need support.  Every young warrior a had a wooden “rungu”, a mace shaped stick with a large knot on the end that was decorated and represented him and was used to kill snakes or defend from enemies.  The Scottish mace had a name and represented the Queen’s authority and love for Scotland.  Judah’s stick identified him as the “author”, the father of the pregnancy.  That staff put Tamar in the genealogy!

         Perhaps you do not have a staff you use for hiking in the mountains or walking on the beach but I would suspect you have some sort of “walking stick” you lean on when tired.  Staffs are useful but we lean on friends, on chairs, or other items when we need help.  What would your own personal staff look like?  What truths would the staffs in our lives testify to, I wonder.  I pray it does not bring up memories of unjust beatings but brings images of comfort and justice.  We all have times when we need something or someone to lean on.  I would suggest that Christ is our most reliable walking stick and he always sees the good.

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