The story of someone sleeping with their father in the Bible is shocking and appalling. Yet it’s a narrative that appears more than once in Scripture. If you’re looking for a quick answer: There are three women who have relations with their father in the Bible – Tamar, Lot’s daughters, and Bathsheba.
But the full story behind each case is complex.
In this comprehensive article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the three women who committed incest with their fathers in the Bible. We’ll examine the context, motivations, and consequences behind these troubling accounts.
Though difficult to confront, these stories impart valuable lessons about sin, redemption, justice and the dangers of unchecked lust.
Tamar and Judah – A Case of Trickery and Hypocrisy
The Backstory – Judah’s Unkept Promise
Judah was one of Jacob’s twelve sons and an ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:2-3). When his firstborn son Er married Tamar, he died without giving her a child (Genesis 38:6-7). As was custom, Judah instructed his second son Onan to fulfill his duty to Tamar, but he refused and died too.
Judah then told Tamar he would give her his third son Shelah when he grew up, but did not follow through on his word (Genesis 38:11).
Tamar’s Ingenious Scheme
After Judah’s wife died, Tamar realized she would never marry Shelah. So she disguised herself as a shrine prostitute, tricked Judah into sleeping with her, and got pregnant with twins (Genesis 38:13-18). When Judah heard Tamar was pregnant, he ordered her to be burned to death for prostitution.
But when she proved he was the father by showing his seal and staff, Judah admitted his hypocrisy and spared her life (Genesis 38:24-26).
The Aftermath – Judah’s Recognition of Fault
Judah’s public admission of guilt showed moral growth. He honestly confessed, “She is more righteous than I am” (Genesis 38:26). Their son Perez became an ancestor of King David and Jesus (Ruth 4:18-22; Matthew 1:3).
Though unconventional, Tamar’s perseverance preserved her family line and place in biblical history. The story illustrates situational ethics – because Judah failed his duty, Tamar’s extreme measures were justified to ensure her rights under the law.
This case shows that even biblical heroes were deeply flawed people. But God uses our mistakes and questionable acts to bring good out of bad situations. The messiness of life is no barrier for God’s redemptive plans.
Lot’s Daughters – When Escape Leads to Sin
Lot Flees Sodom and Loses His Wife
After God destroys the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his two daughters flee for safety. God had sent angels to warn Lot to leave the city before its destruction. Lot’s wife looks back longingly at the city as they flee and God turns her into a pillar of salt as punishment (Genesis 19:15-26).
Now Lot and his daughters find themselves hiding in a cave in the mountains, thinking they are the only survivors left after the cities’ destruction. The daughters worry they will never find husbands or bear children, as they think there are no men left alive. This leads them to hatch a wicked plan.
The Daughters Make Lot Drink Wine and Lie with Him
The older daughter suggests they get their father drunk with wine and sleep with him, so they can preserve their family line. That night they give Lot wine until he is drunk, and the older daughter goes and lies with her father.
The next night they get him drunk again and the younger daughter lies with him also (Genesis 19:30-38).
This is clearly a case of the daughters taking advantage of their father. Lot was so drunk he did not even realize when his daughters came to him. Their actions went against God’s moral laws.
The Tragic Results – Origin of Rival Nations
Both of Lot’s daughters become pregnant from these encounters. The older daughter gives birth to a son named Moab, progenitor of the Moabites. The younger daughter gives birth to a son named Ben-Ammi, considered the father of the Ammonites.
The Moabites and Ammonites then become rivals inhabiting the lands east of Israel.
This tragic story illustrates how even righteous people can fall into terrible sins when they feel hopeless and alone. Lot was a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7), but his daughters committed evil under extremely misguided pretenses. Their wicked behavior led to consequences rippling through generations.
Although Lot’s daughters’ actions were inexcusable, it provides an example of God’s grace. Even amid horrible sins, God shows His loving patience and works through the circumstances.
Bathsheba and David – A King’s Abuse of Power
David Sees Bathsheba Bathing and Lusts for Her
The story begins when King David sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing on a rooftop (2 Samuel 11:2). Overcome by lustful desire, David inquires about her and discovers she is the wife of Uriah, one of his soldiers. Rather than looking away, David’s gaze lingered and his passion was inflamed.
This would lead to a series of fateful choices with devastating consequences.
David Commits Adultery and Murder
David brought Bathsheba to the palace and slept with her, an act expressly forbidden by God’s commandments (Exodus 20:14). When Bathsheba sent word she was pregnant, David first schemed to pass off the child as Uriah’s.
But when that failed, he arranged to have Uriah killed in battle (2 Samuel 11:14-15).
David abused his unchecked power as king to take another man’s wife and cover up his sins through murder. His actions displayed not just lustful folly but gross corruption, using royal authority for selfish, wicked ends. As we will see, this abuse of power did not go unpunished.
The Child Dies, David Repents
Despite David’s attempts to conceal his grievous sins through more sin, God’s all-seeing eye was fixed upon him. When the child born of adultery fell deathly ill, David finally came under deep conviction. He fasted, wept, and pleaded with God for the child’s life (2 Samuel 12:15-16).
But after seven days the child died.
This devastating loss awakened David to the gravity of his offenses. The God-ordained consequences of sin, though painful, led King David to humble repentance. He confessed fully before the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12:13).
For the seasons that followed, David wrote gut-wrenching laments and pleas for forgiveness and renewal as he sought to realign his heart with God (see Psalms 32, 38, 51).
The Bible pulls no punches in showing the faults and failures even of “a man after God’s own heart.” But rather than hiding the ugly truths, the goal is restoration – turning our darkest moments into stepping stones toward righteousness.
The three Biblical accounts of father-daughter incest present a sobering picture of human depravity. Yet they also reveal the possibility of redemption, even in the face of horrendous sin.
Though shocking, these difficult stories impart critical warnings about lust, hypocrisy, and abuses of power. They force us to confront the depth of evil dwelling in the human heart. Most importantly, they point to humanity’s need for divine grace, wisdom and moral courage.