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Genesis 38

38
1Around this time, Judah left his brothers and set up his tents at Adullam, near to a local man named Hirah. 2There Judah happened to see the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua and married her. He slept with her, 3and she became pregnant and had a son he named Er. 4She became pregnant again and had a son she named Onan. 5Then she had another son she named Shelah who was born in Kezib.
6Much later, Judah arranged for Er, his firstborn son, to marry a woman named Tamar. 7But Er did what was evil in the Lord's sight, so the Lord put him to death. 8Judah told Onan, “Go and sleep with your brother's wife to fulfill the requirements of a brother-in-law to have children on behalf of your brother.”
9Onan realized that any children he had wouldn't be his own, so whenever he slept with his brother's wife he made sure she wouldn't become pregnant by withdrawing and spilling his semen on the ground. In this way he prevented any children being born on behalf of his brother. 10But what he did was evil in the Lord's sight, so he also put Onan to death.
11Then Judah told his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Go to your father's house and live there as a widow until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “Maybe he'll die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went and stayed in her father's house.
12A long time later Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. After Judah had finished the time of mourning, he went to visit his sheepshearers at Timnah with his friend Hirah from Adullam. 13Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14So she took off her widow's clothes and covered herself with a veil, disguising herself. She sat down beside the entrance to Enaim, which is on the way to Timnah. She had realized that even though Shelah had now grown up, nothing had been done about her marrying him.
15Judah saw her and thought she must be a prostitute because she had veiled her face. 16He went over to her at the side of the road and said, “I want to sleep with you.” He didn't know she was his daughter-in-law.
“What will you give me if I let you sleep with me?” she asked.
17“I'll send you a young goat from my flock,” he replied.
“What guarantee will you give me to make sure you'll send it?” she asked.
18“What guarantee do I have to give you?” he asked.
“Your signet seal and its cord, and your walking stick that you're holding,” she replied. He handed them over to her. He slept with her and she became pregnant. 19She left, went home, took off her veil, and put on her widow's clothes.
20Judah sent his friend Hirah from Adullam with a young goat to get back his belongings he'd left as a guarantee from the woman, but he couldn't find her. 21Hirah asked the men there, “Where's the cult prostitute that sits by the entrance road to Enaim?”
“There's no cult prostitute here,” they answered.
22Hirah went back to Judah and told him, “I couldn't find her, and the men there said, ‘There's no cult prostitute here.’”
23“Let her keep what I gave her,” Judah replied. “We'll look ridiculous to people if we go on searching. In any case I did try to send her the young goat as promised but you couldn't find her.”
24Then about three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has had sex like a prostitute and now as a result she's pregnant!”
“Bring her out and burn her to death!” Judah ordered.
25As she was brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law, saying, “I'm pregnant by the man who owns these things.” Then she added, “Please look carefully at this signet seal and its cord and walking stick. Who do they belong to?”
26Judah recognized them right away and said, “She has honored the law more than I have, because I didn't give her in marriage to my son Shelah.” He didn't sleep with Tamar again.
27When the time came for Tamar to give birth, she was found to be carrying twins. 28One baby put out his hand, and the midwife tied a scarlet thread around on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29But then he pulled back his hand and his brother was born, she said, “How did you burst out?” So he was named Perez.#38:29. “Perez” means “burst out.” 30Then his brother with the scarlet thread on his wrist was born. He was named Zerah.#38:30. “Zerah” means “rising” (as in “sun”) with perhaps the implication of red color.
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Chapter 38
Judah's family #38:1 Judah lived among the Canaanites. He married a Canaanite woman. But God wanted the Israelites to keep themselves separate from foreign people.
1At that time, Judah left his brothers. He went to stay with a man from the town of Adullam. His name was Hirah. 2While he was there, Judah met the daughter of Shua, a Canaanite man. Judah married her and he had sex with her. 3She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. Judah gave him the name Er. 4His wife became pregnant again, and she gave birth to another son. She gave him the name Onan. 5Later, she gave birth to another son. She gave him the name Shelah. She gave birth to Shelah in the town called Kezib.
6Judah found a wife for his oldest son, Er. Her name was Tamar. 7But the Lord saw that Er, Judah's firstborn son, was very bad. So the Lord made him die. 8Then Judah said to Onan, ‘You should marry your dead brother's wife and have sex with her. You are her dead husband's brother. You must have a son who will become your dead brother's descendant.’ #38:8 In the Old Testament, if a man died before his wife had children, his brother should marry the dead man's wife. If the wife then had a son, they called that son the child of the dead brother.
9But Onan did not want Tamar to give birth to his child. He knew that the child would not belong to him. So when he had sex with his brother's wife Tamar, he made his semen go on to the ground. Then Tamar would not give birth to a child for Onan's dead brother.
10What Onan did was bad, and the Lord was not pleased with him. So the Lord made Onan die too. 11Then Judah said to his son's widow, Tamar, ‘Go back to your father's house and live there as a widow. Stay there until my son Shelah grows older.’ Judah thought, ‘I do not want Shelah to die in the way that his brothers died.’ #38:11 Judah does not want to give Shelah to Tamar as a husband. So Tamar went to live in her father's house.
12After a long time, Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had stopped being sad because of her death, he left his home to travel. He went with his friend, Hirah the Adullamite, to a place called Timnah. He went to see the men who were cutting the wool from his sheep. 13Someone told Tamar, ‘Your husband's father is going to Timnah to get the wool from his sheep.’ #38:13 Wool grows like hair on the skin of sheep. People use it for making clothes.
14Tamar knew that Jacob's son Shelah had now grown to become a man. But Judah had not yet let him marry her. So Tamar took off her widow's clothes and she put on other clothes. She covered her head with a veil. She did not want anyone to recognize her. Then she went and she sat at the gate of Enaim town. Enaim is on the road going to Timnah.
15Judah saw her as she sat there. He thought that she was a prostitute, because she had covered her face. 16He did not know that she was his son's widow. He went to her at the side of the road. He said, ‘Let me have sex with you.’ Tamar asked him, ‘If I have sex with you, what will you give me?’ 17Judah replied, ‘I will take a young goat from my animals and I will give it to you.’ Tamar said, ‘You must give me something now to show that you will send the goat to me.’ 18Judah asked her, ‘What should I give you?’ Tamar replied, ‘Give me your special ring and the string that holds it. And give me the stick that is in your hand.’ #38:18 The special ring and the stick would have Judah's mark on them. So other people would know who they belonged to. So Judah gave them to her. He had sex with her. As a result, she became pregnant.
19After this, Tamar left there and she took off her veil. She put her widow's clothes on again.
20Judah sent his friend Hirah, the Adullamite, to take a young goat back to where the woman had been. Judah wanted to get his special things back from the woman. But Hirah could not find the woman. 21He asked some men who lived there, ‘Where is the temple prostitute who sat by the road at Enaim?’ #38:21 A temple prostitute sat at a place where people went to worship foreign gods. But the men said, ‘There has not been any prostitute here.’
22So Hirah went back to Judah, with the goat. He told him, ‘I did not find her. The men who lived there said, “There has not been any temple prostitute here.” ’ 23So Judah said, ‘Let her keep the things that I gave to her. People will laugh at me if you go back there again. I sent this young goat for her, as I promised, but you could not find her.’
24Three months later, someone told Judah, ‘Your dead son's wife, Tamar, has become a prostitute and now she is pregnant.’ Judah said, ‘Take her out of the town and burn her to death!’ 25So they took Tamar out and they were going to kill her. But she sent a message to her dead husband's father. She said, ‘The man that these things belong to had sex with me. That is why I am pregnant. Look at these things carefully. Do you know who the ring, its string, and the stick belong to?’ 26Judah saw that the things belonged to him. He said, ‘She is more in the right than I am. She has done this because I would not give her to my son, Shelah, as his wife.’ Judah did not have sex with Tamar again.
27The time came for Tamar to give birth, and there were twins! 28While she was giving birth, one baby put out his hand. The woman who was helping Tamar tied a red string to that baby's arm. She said, ‘This baby came out first.’ 29But then the baby took his hand back inside and his brother came out first. The woman said, ‘You have opened a way for yourself to come out!’ So they gave him the name Perez. #38:29 Perez means ‘pushing out’. 30Then his brother came out, with the red string on his arm. They gave him the name Zerah.