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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.
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 eldest 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 up.” 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 sent his friend Hirah to 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.”
29Straight away 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 came out, they named him Zerah.#38.30 Zerah: In Hebrew “Zerah” means “bright”, probably referring to the red thread.