Sarah Trimmer42 wrote even less on the story of Tamar in Genesis 38 than on the story of Dinah in Genesis 34. In her comments on this chapter, she wrote as little as possible, dismissing the details surrounding Tamar's story as abhorrent to Christians and contrary to the gospel.
From Sarah Trimmer, A Help to the Unlearned in the Study of the Holy
Scriptures (London: F. C. & J. Rivington, 1805), 38.
This chapter relates to some very irregular conduct in Jacob's sons, which every true Christian must abhor, as contrary to the pure laws of the gospel.
Cornwallis,43 the English commentary writer, dealt with the story of Tamar in her interpretation of Genesis 38. She left out many details in her retelling, while underlining the sin of Judah and his sons. Her comments suggest that she had reserved sympathy towards Tamar. She attributed to Tamar an honourable motive for her ruse of wanting to bear "a child to one of that family, out of which the Messiah was to spring."
From Mary Cornwallis, Observations, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical
on the Canonical Scriptures, vol. 1 (London: Baldwin, Cradock, & Joy,
1817). "Text from 2nd ed. (1820), 86–87."
THE present chapter forms an interruption to the history of Joseph, and may therefore be passed over, but, if read, the observations made in the introduction should be recollected.44 As Er and Onan died by the hand of God, their offence was probably contempt of the Divine laws, and disregard of the blessing that was promised to the seed of Abraham. The sin of Judah was rendered instrumental to one important end, which accounts for the introduction of this chapter: it proved beyond a doubt that he was the father of Pharez, from whom Christ is traced in his genealogy, Matt. i .3. Tamar was probably actuated to the measures she took, by the desire of bearing a child to one of that family, out of which the Messiah was to spring. The forms of marriage in the patriarchal times are not known; but, by the demands she made of Judah's ring, his bracelets, and his staff, we may conjecture that she considered them as matrimonial pledges; and they seem to have been so esteemed when the transaction became public, as her name is mentioned in St. Matthew's genealogy with that of Judah.
42 For further biographical information on Sarah Trimmer, see part 2, "Sarah—First
Mother of Israel."
43 For a biography of Mary Cornwallis, see part 5, "Leah and Rachel—Founders of the
House of Israel."