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Genesis 38

38
Judah and Tamar
1About this time, Judah left home and moved to Adullam, where he stayed with a man named Hirah. 2There he saw a Canaanite woman, the daughter of Shua, and he married her. When he slept with her, 3she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and he named the boy Er. 4Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to another son, and she named him Onan. 5And when she gave birth to a third son, she named him Shelah. At the time of Shelah’s birth, they were living at Kezib.
6In the course of time, Judah arranged for his firstborn son, Er, to marry a young woman named Tamar. 7But Er was a wicked man in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord took his life. 8Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. You must produce an heir for your brother.”
9But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he spilled the semen on the ground. This prevented her from having a child who would belong to his brother. 10But the Lord considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the Lord took Onan’s life, too.
11Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, “Go back to your parents’ home and remain a widow until my son Shelah is old enough to marry you.” (But Judah didn’t really intend to do this because he was afraid Shelah would also die, like his two brothers.) So Tamar went back to live in her father’s home.
12Some years later Judah’s wife died. After the time of mourning was over, Judah and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went up to Timnah to supervise the shearing of his sheep. 13Someone told Tamar, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.”
14Tamar was aware that Shelah had grown up, but no arrangements had been made for her to come and marry him. So she changed out of her widow’s clothing and covered herself with a veil to disguise herself. Then she sat beside the road at the entrance to the village of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. 15Judah noticed her and thought she was a prostitute, since she had covered her face. 16So he stopped and propositioned her. “Let me have sex with you,” he said, not realizing that she was his own daughter-in-law.
“How much will you pay to have sex with me?” Tamar asked.
17“I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” Judah promised.
“But what will you give me to guarantee that you will send the goat?” she asked.
18“What kind of guarantee do you want?” he replied.
She answered, “Leave me your identification seal and its cord and the walking stick you are carrying.” So Judah gave them to her. Then he had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant. 19Afterward she went back home, took off her veil, and put on her widow’s clothing as usual.
20Later Judah asked his friend Hirah the Adullamite to take the young goat to the woman and to pick up the things he had given her as his guarantee. But Hirah couldn’t find her. 21So he asked the men who lived there, “Where can I find the shrine prostitute who was sitting beside the road at the entrance to Enaim?”
“We’ve never had a shrine prostitute here,” they replied.
22So Hirah returned to Judah and told him, “I couldn’t find her anywhere, and the men of the village claim they’ve never had a shrine prostitute there.”
23“Then let her keep the things I gave her,” Judah said. “I sent the young goat as we agreed, but you couldn’t find her. We’d be the laughingstock of the village if we went back again to look for her.”
24About three months later, Judah was told, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has acted like a prostitute. And now, because of this, she’s pregnant.”
“Bring her out, and let her be burned!” Judah demanded.
25But as they were taking her out to kill her, she sent this message to her father-in-law: “The man who owns these things made me pregnant. Look closely. Whose seal and cord and walking stick are these?”
26Judah recognized them immediately and said, “She is more righteous than I am, because I didn’t arrange for her to marry my son Shelah.” And Judah never slept with Tamar again.
27When the time came for Tamar to give birth, it was discovered that she was carrying twins. 28While she was in labor, one of the babies reached out his hand. The midwife grabbed it and tied a scarlet string around the child’s wrist, announcing, “This one came out first.” 29But then he pulled back his hand, and out came his brother! “What!” the midwife exclaimed. “How did you break out first?” So he was named Perez.#38:29 Perez means “breaking out.” 30Then the baby with the scarlet string on his wrist was born, and he was named Zerah.#38:30 Zerah means “scarlet” or “brightness.”
38
Tamar’s place in Judah’s family
1At that time, Judah moved away from his brothers and settled near an Adullamite named Hirah. 2There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite whose name was Shua, and he married her. After he slept with her, 3she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, whom she#38.3 Sam, Tg; MT he named Er. 4She became pregnant again, gave birth to a son, and named him Onan. 5Then she gave birth to one more son and named him Shelah. She was in Chezib when she gave birth to him.
6Judah married his oldest son Er to a woman named Tamar. 7But the LORD considered Judah’s oldest son Er immoral, and the LORD put him to death. 8Judah said to Onan, “Go to your brother’s wife, do your duty as her brother-in-law, and provide children for your brother.” 9Onan knew the children wouldn’t be his so when he slept with his brother’s wife, he wasted his semen on the ground, so he wouldn’t give his brother children. 10The LORD considered what he did as wrong and put him to death too. 11Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Stay as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” He thought Shelah would die like his brothers had. So Tamar went and lived in her father’s household.
12After a long time, Judah’s wife the daughter of Shua died. Then, after a period of mourning, he and his neighbor Hirah the Adullamite went up to Timnah, to those who were shearing his sheep. 13Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is now on his way up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14So Tamar took off the clothing she wore as a widow, covered herself with a veil, put on makeup,#38.14 Or perfumed herself or wrapped herself up and sat down at the entrance to Enaim on the road to Timnah, since she realized that although Shelah had already grown up, she hadn’t been given to him as a wife.
15Judah saw her and thought she was a prostitute because she had covered her face. 16He turned to her beside the road and said, “Let me sleep with you,” because he didn’t know she was his daughter-in-law.
She said, “What will you give me for sleeping with you?”
17He said, “I will give you a kid goat from my flock.”
She said, “Only if you give me some deposit, as security to guarantee that you will send it.”
18He said, “What kind of deposit should I give you?”
And she said, “Your seal, its cord, and the staff in your hand.” He gave these to her, slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.
19Then she got up, left, and took off her veil, dressing once again in the clothing she wore as a widow. 20Judah sent the kid goat with his neighbor Hirah the Adullamite so he could take back the deposits from the woman, but he couldn’t find her. 21He asked the locals of that place, “Where’s the consecrated worker#38.21 Traditionally cultic prostitute who was at Enaim on the road?”
But they said, “There’s no consecrated worker here.”
22So he went back to Judah and said, “I couldn’t find her. The locals even said, ‘There’s no holy woman here.’”
23Judah said, “Let her keep everything so we aren’t laughed at. I did send this kid goat, but you couldn’t find her.”
24About three months later, Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has become a prostitute and is now pregnant because of it.”
And Judah said, “Bring her out so that she may be burned.”
25When she was brought out, she sent this message to her father-in-law, “I’m pregnant by the man who owns these things. See if you recognize whose seal, cord, and staff these are.”
26Judah recognized them and said, “She’s more righteous than I am, because I didn’t allow her to marry my son Shelah.” Judah never knew her intimately again.
27When she gave birth, she discovered she had twins in her womb. 28At birth, one boy put out his hand, and the midwife took it and tied a red thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29As soon as he pulled his hand back, his brother came out, and she said, “You’ve burst out on your own.” So he was named Perez.#38.29 Or bursting out 30Afterward, his brother with the red thread on his hand came out, and he was named Zerah.#38.30 Or dawn