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Genesis 38

38
Judah and Tamar
1Now at that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to [stay with] a certain Adullamite named Hirah. 2There Judah saw a daughter of Shua, a Canaanite, and he took her [as his wife] and lived with her. 3So she conceived and gave birth to a son and Judah named him Er. 4Then she conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. 5Again she conceived and gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Chezib that she gave birth to him.
6Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. 7But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him [in judgment]. 8Then Judah told Onan, “Go in to your brother’s widow, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law [under the levirate marriage custom]; [be her husband and] raise children for [the name of] your brother.” 9Onan knew that the child (heir) would not be his [but his dead brother’s]; so whenever he lay with his brother’s widow, he spilled his seed on the ground [to prevent conception], so that he would not give a child to his brother. 10But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; therefore He killed him also [in judgment]. 11Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow at your father’s house until Shelah my [youngest] son is grown”; [but he was deceiving her] for he thought that [if Shelah should marry her] he too might die like his brothers did. So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.
12 # Lit The days multiplied and Judah’s wife.... But quite a while later, Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died; and when the time of mourning was ended, he went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah with his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13Tamar was told, “Listen, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14So she removed her widow’s clothes and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself up [in disguise], and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife [as Judah had promised]. 15When Judah saw her, he thought she was a [temple] prostitute, for she had covered her face [as such women did]. 16He turned to her by the road, and said, “Please come, let me lie with you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give me, that you may lie with me?” 17He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “Will you give me a pledge [as a deposit] until you send it?” 18He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She said, “Your seal and your cord, and the staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and was intimate with her, and she conceived by him. 19Then she got up and left, and removed her veil and put on her widow’s clothing.
20When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite, to get his pledge [back] from the woman, he was unable to find her. 21He asked the men of that place, “Where is the temple prostitute who was by the roadside at Enaim?” They said, “There was no prostitute here.” 22So he returned to Judah, and said, “I cannot find her; also the local men said, ‘There was no prostitute around here.’ ” 23Then Judah said, “Let her keep the things (pledge articles) for herself, otherwise we will be a laughingstock [searching everywhere for her]. After all, I sent this young goat, but you did not find her.”
24About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the [role of a] prostitute, and she is with child because of her immorality.” So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned [to death as punishment]!” 25While she was being brought out, she [took the things Judah had given her and] sent [them along with a message] to her father-in-law, saying, “I am with child by the man to whom these articles belong.” And she added, “Please examine [them carefully] and see [clearly] to whom these things belong, the seal and the cord and staff.” 26Judah recognized the articles, and said, “She has been more righteous [in this matter] than I, because I did not give her to my son Shelah [as I had promised].” And Judah did not have [intimate] relations with her again.
27Now when the time came for her to give birth, there were twins in her womb. 28And when she was in labor, one [baby] put out his hand, and the midwife took his hand and tied a scarlet thread on it, saying, “This one was born first.” 29But he pulled back his hand, and his brother was born first. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself [to be the firstborn]!” So he was named Perez (breach, break forth). 30Afterward his brother who had the scarlet [thread] on his hand was born and was named Zerah (brightness).
38
1-5About that time, Judah separated from his brothers and hooked up with a man in Adullam named Hirah. While there, Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua. He married her, they went to bed, she became pregnant and had a son named Er. She got pregnant again and had a son named Onan. She had still another son; she named this one Shelah. They were living at Kezib when she had him.
6-7Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn. Her name was Tamar. But Judah’s firstborn, Er, grievously offended God and God took his life.
8-10So Judah told Onan, “Go and sleep with your brother’s widow; it’s the duty of a brother-in-law to keep your brother’s line alive.” But Onan knew that the child wouldn’t be his, so whenever he slept with his brother’s widow he spilled his semen on the ground so he wouldn’t produce a child for his brother. God was much offended by what he did and also took his life.
11So Judah stepped in and told his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow at home with your father until my son Shelah grows up.” He was worried that Shelah would also end up dead, just like his brothers. So Tamar went to live with her father.
12Time passed. Judah’s wife, Shua’s daughter, died. When the time of mourning was over, Judah with his friend Hirah of Adullam went to Timnah for the sheep shearing.
13-14Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law has gone to Timnah to shear his sheep.” She took off her widow’s clothes, put on a veil to disguise herself, and sat at the entrance to Enaim which is on the road to Timnah. She realized by now that even though Shelah was grown up, she wasn’t going to be married to him.
15Judah saw her and assumed she was a prostitute since she had veiled her face. He left the road and went over to her. He said, “Let me sleep with you.” He had no idea that she was his daughter-in-law.
16She said, “What will you pay me?”
17“I’ll send you,” he said, “a kid goat from the flock.”
She said, “Not unless you give me a pledge until you send it.”
18“So what would you want in the way of a pledge?”
She said, “Your personal seal-and-cord and the staff you carry.”
He handed them over to her and slept with her. And she got pregnant.
19She then left and went home. She removed her veil and put her widow’s clothes back on.
20-21Judah sent the kid goat by his friend from Adullam to recover the pledge from the woman. But he couldn’t find her. He asked the men of that place, “Where’s the prostitute that used to sit by the road here near Enaim?”
They said, “There’s never been a prostitute here.”
22He went back to Judah and said, “I couldn’t find her. The men there said there never has been a prostitute there.”
23Judah said, “Let her have it then. If we keep looking, everyone will be poking fun at us. I kept my part of the bargain—I sent the kid goat but you couldn’t find her.”
24Three months or so later, Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law has been playing the whore—and now she’s a pregnant whore.”
Judah yelled, “Get her out here. Burn her up!”
25As they brought her out, she sent a message to her father-in-law, “I’m pregnant by the man who owns these things. Identify them, please. Who’s the owner of the seal-and-cord and the staff?”
26Judah saw they were his. He said, “She’s in the right; I’m in the wrong—I wouldn’t let her marry my son Shelah.” He never slept with her again.
27-30When her time came to give birth, it turned out that there were twins in her womb. As she was giving birth, one put his hand out; the midwife tied a red thread on his hand, saying, “This one came first.” But then he pulled it back and his brother came out. She said, “Oh! A breakout!” So she named him Perez (Breakout). Then his brother came out with the red thread on his hand. They named him Zerah (Bright).