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Genesis 38

38
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.
38
Judah and Tamar
1About that time Judah left his brothers and went to stay with a man named Hirah, who was from the town of Adullam. 2There Judah met a young Canaanite woman whose father was named Shua. He married her, 3and she bore him a son, whom he named Er. 4She became pregnant again and bore another son and named him Onan. 5Again she had a son and named him Shelah. Judah was at Achzib when the boy was born.
6For his first son Er, Judah got a wife whose name was Tamar. 7Er's conduct was evil, and it displeased the Lord, so the Lord killed him. 8Then Judah said to Er's brother Onan, “Go and sleep with your brother's widow. Fulfill your obligation to her as her husband's brother, so that your brother may have descendants.” 9But Onan knew that the children would not belong to him, so when he had intercourse with his brother's widow, he let the semen spill on the ground, so that there would be no children for his brother. 10What he did displeased the Lord, and the Lord killed him also. 11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Return to your father's house and remain a widow until my son Shelah grows up.” He said this because he was afraid that Shelah would be killed, as his brothers had been. So Tamar went back home.
12After some time Judah's wife died. When he had finished the time of mourning, he and his friend Hirah of Adullam went to Timnah, where his sheep were being sheared. 13Someone told Tamar that her father-in-law was going to Timnah to shear his sheep. 14So she changed from the widow's clothes she had been wearing, covered her face with a veil, and sat down at the entrance to Enaim, a town on the road to Timnah. As she well knew, Judah's youngest son Shelah was now grown up, and yet she had not been given to him in marriage.
15When Judah saw her, he thought that she was a prostitute, because she had her face covered. 16He went over to her at the side of the road and said, “All right, how much do you charge?” (He did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.)
She said, “What will you give me?”
17He answered, “I will send you a young goat from my flock.”
She said, “All right, if you will give me something to keep as a pledge until you send the goat.”
18“What shall I give you as a pledge?” he asked.
She answered, “Your seal with its cord and the walking stick you are carrying.” He gave them to her. Then they had intercourse, and she became pregnant. 19Tamar went home, took off her veil, and put her widow's clothes back on.
20Judah sent his friend Hirah to take the goat and get back from the woman the articles he had pledged, but Hirah could not find her. 21He asked some men at Enaim, “Where is the prostitute who was here by the road?”
“There has never been a prostitute here,” they answered.
22He returned to Judah and said, “I couldn't find her. The men of the place said that there had never been a prostitute there.”
23Judah said, “Let her keep the things. We don't want people to laugh at us. I did try to pay her, but you couldn't find her.”
24About three months later someone told Judah, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has been acting like a whore, and now she is pregnant.”
Judah ordered, “Take her out and burn her to death.”
25As she was being taken out, she sent word to her father-in-law: “I am pregnant by the man who owns these things. Look at them and see whose they are—this seal with its cord and this walking stick.”
26Judah recognized them and said, “She is in the right. I have failed in my obligation to her—I should have given her to my son Shelah in marriage.” And Judah never had intercourse with her again.
27When the time came for her to give birth, it was discovered that she was going to have twins. 28While she was in labor, one of them put out an arm; the midwife caught it, tied a red thread around it, and said, “This one was born first.” 29But he pulled his arm back, and his brother was born first. Then the midwife said, “So this is how you break your way out!” So he was named Perez.#38.29: Perez: This name in Hebrew means “breaking out.” 30Then his brother was born with the red thread on his arm, and he was named Zerah.#38.30: Zerah: This name sounds like a Hebrew word for the red brightness of dawn.