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Genesis 38

38
Judah and Tamar
1At that time, Judah left his brothers. He went down to stay with a man named Hirah from the town of Adullam. 2There Judah met the daughter of a man from Canaan. His name was Shua. Judah married her and slept with her. 3She became pregnant and had a son. They named him Er. 4She became pregnant again and had another son. She named him Onan. 5She had still another son. She named him Shelah. He was born at Kezib.
6Judah got a wife for his oldest son Er. Her name was Tamar. 7But Judah’s oldest son Er was evil in the Lord’s eyes. So the Lord put him to death.
8Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife. After all, you are her brother-in-law. So carry out your duty to her. Provide children for your brother.” 9But Onan knew that the children wouldn’t belong to him. So every time he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground. He did it so he wouldn’t provide children for his brother. 10What he did was evil in the Lord’s eyes. So the Lord put him to death also.
11Then Judah spoke to his daughter-in-law Tamar. He said, “Live as a widow in your father’s home. Wait there until my son Shelah grows up.” Judah was thinking, “Shelah might die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s home.
12After a long time Judah’s wife died. She was the daughter of Shua. When Judah got over his sadness, he went up to Timnah. His friend Hirah from Adullam went with him. Men were clipping the wool from Judah’s sheep at Timnah.
13Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to clip the wool from his sheep.” 14So she took off her widow’s clothes. She covered her face with a veil so people wouldn’t know who she was. Then she sat down at the entrance to Enaim. Enaim is on the road to Timnah. Tamar knew that Shelah had grown up. But she hadn’t been given to him as his wife.
15Judah saw her. He thought she was a prostitute because she had covered her face with a veil. 16He didn’t realize that she was his daughter-in-law. He went over to her by the side of the road. He said, “Come. Let me sleep with you.”
“What will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked.
17“I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said.
“Will you give me something that belongs to you?” she asked. “I’ll keep it until you send the goat.”
18He said, “What should I give you?”
“Give me your official seal and the string that it hangs from,” she answered. “And give me your walking stick.” So he gave them to her. Then he slept with her. And she became pregnant by him. 19After she left, she took off her veil. She put on her widow’s clothes again.
20Judah sent his friend Hirah with the young goat he had promised. He wanted to get back what he had given to the woman. But his friend Hirah couldn’t find her. 21He asked the men who lived at Enaim, “Where’s the temple prostitute? She used to sit beside the road here.”
“There hasn’t been any temple prostitute here,” they said.
22So Hirah went back to Judah. He said, “I couldn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there didn’t know anything about her. They said, ‘There hasn’t been any temple prostitute here.’ ”
23Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has. I don’t want people making fun of us. After all, I did send her this young goat. We can’t help it if you couldn’t find her.”
24About three months later people brought word to Judah. They said, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of being a prostitute. Now she’s pregnant.”
Judah said, “Bring her out! Have her burned to death!”
25As Tamar was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. She said, “I am pregnant by the man who owns these.” She continued, “Do you recognize this seal and string and walking stick? Do you know who they belong to?”
26Judah recognized them. He said, “She’s a better person than I am. I should have given her to my son Shelah, but I didn’t.” Judah never slept with Tamar again.
27The time came for Tamar to have her baby. There were twin boys inside her. 28As the babies were being born, one of them stuck out his hand. So the woman helping Tamar took a bright red thread. The woman tied it on the baby’s wrist. She said, “This one came out first.” 29But he pulled his hand back, and his brother came out first instead. She said, “Just look at how you have forced your way out!” So he was called Perez. 30Then his brother, who had the red thread on his wrist, came out. So he was named Zerah.
38
Judah and Tamar
1About that time Judah left his brothers in the hill country and went to live near his friend Hirah in the town of Adullam. 2While there he met the daughter of Shua, a Canaanite man. Judah married her, 3and they had three sons. He named the first one Er; 4she named the next one Onan. 5The third one was born when Judah was in Chezib, and she named him Shelah.
6Later, Judah chose Tamar as a wife for Er, his oldest son. 7But Er was very evil, and the Lord took his life. 8So Judah told Onan, “It's your duty to marry Tamar and have a child for your brother.”#38.8 It's your duty … child … brother: If a man died without having children, his brother was to marry the dead man's wife and have a child, who was to be considered the child of the dead brother (see Deuteronomy 25.5,6).
9Onan knew the child would not be his,#38.9 the child … not be his: When Judah died, Onan would get his dead brother's share of the inheritance, but if his dead brother had a son, the inheritance would go to him instead. and when he had sex with Tamar, he made sure that she would not get pregnant. 10The Lord wasn't pleased with Onan and took his life too.
11Judah did not want the same thing to happen to his son Shelah, and he told Tamar, “Go home to your father and live there as a widow until my son Shelah is grown.” So Tamar went to live with her father.
12Some years later Judah's wife died, and he mourned for her. He then went with his friend Hirah to the town of Timnah, where his sheep were being sheared. 13Tamar found out that her father-in-law Judah was going to Timnah to shear his sheep. 14She also realized that Shelah was now a grown man, but she had not been allowed to marry him. So she decided to dress in something other than her widow's clothes and to cover her face with a veil. After this, she sat outside the town of Enaim on the road to Timnah.
15When Judah came along, he did not recognize her because of the veil. He thought she was a prostitute 16and asked her to sleep with him. She asked, “What will you give me if I do?”
17“One of my young goats,” he answered.
“What will you give me to keep until you send the goat?” she asked.
18“What do you want?” he asked in return.
“The ring on that cord around your neck,” was her reply. “I also want the special walking stick#38.18 ring … walking stick: The ring was shaped like a cylinder and could be rolled over soft clay as a way of sealing special documents. The walking stick was probably a symbol of power and the sign of leadership in the tribe, though it may have been a shepherd's rod. you have with you.” He gave them to her, they slept together, and she became pregnant.
19After returning home, Tamar took off the veil and dressed in her widow's clothes again.
20Judah asked his friend Hirah take a goat to the woman, so he could get back the ring and walking stick, but she wasn't there. 21Hirah asked the people of Enaim, “Where is the prostitute who sat along the road outside your town?”
“There's never been one here,” they answered.
22Hirah went back and told Judah, “I couldn't find the woman, and the people of Enaim said no prostitute had ever been there.”
23“If you couldn't find her, we'll just let her keep the things I gave her,” Judah answered. “And we'd better forget about the goat, or else we'll look like fools.”
24About three months later someone told Judah, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has behaved like a prostitute, and now she's pregnant!”
“Drag her out of town and burn her to death!” Judah shouted.
25As Tamar was being dragged off, she sent someone to tell her father-in-law, “The man who gave me this ring, this cord, and this walking stick is the one who got me pregnant.”
26“Those are mine!” Judah admitted. “She's a better person than I am, because I broke my promise to let her marry my son Shelah.” After this, Judah never slept with her again.
27-28Tamar later gave birth to twins. But before either of them was born, one of them stuck a hand out of her womb. The woman who was helping tied a red thread around the baby's hand and explained, “This one came out first.”
29At once his hand went back in, and the other child was born first. The woman then said, “What an opening you've made for yourself!” So they named the baby Perez.#38.29 Perez: In Hebrew “Perez” sounds like “opening.” 30When the brother with the red thread was born, they named him Zerah.#38.30 Zerah: In Hebrew “Zerah” means “bright,” probably referring to the red thread.