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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. He went to stay with a man named Hirah. Hirah was from the town of Adullam. 2Judah met a Canaanite girl there and married her. Her father was named Shua. And Judah had intimate relations with her. 3She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Judah named him Er. 4Later she gave birth to another son. She named him Onan. 5Later she had another son. She named him Shelah. She was at Kezib when this third son was born.
6Judah chose a girl named Tamar to be the wife of his first son Er. 7Er was Judah’s oldest son. But he did what the Lord said was evil. So the Lord killed him. 8Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and have physical relations with your dead brother’s wife.# It was a custom in Israel that if a man died without children, one of his brothers would marry the widow. If a child was born, it would be considered the dead man’s child. It is your duty to provide children for your brother in this way.”
9But Onan knew that the children would not belong to him. Onan was supposed to have physical relations with Tamar. But he did not complete the physical act. This made it impossible for Tamar to become pregnant. So Er could not have descendants. 10The Lord was displeased by this wicked thing Onan had done. So the Lord killed Onan also. 11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Go back to live in your father’s house. And don’t marry until my young son Shelah grows up.” Judah was afraid that Shelah also would die like his brothers. So Tamar returned to her father’s home.
12After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. After Judah had gotten over his sorrow, he went to Timnah. He went to his men who were cutting the wool from his sheep. His friend Hirah from Adullam went with him. 13Tamar learned that Judah, her father-in-law, was going to Timnah to cut the wool from his sheep. 14So she took off the clothes that showed she was a widow. Then she covered her face with a veil to hide who she was. She sat down by the gate of Enaim. It was on the road to Timnah. She did this because Judah’s younger son Shelah had grown up. But Judah had not made plans for her to marry him.
15When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute. This was because she had covered her face with a veil. 16So Judah went to her and said, “Let me have physical relations with you.” He did not know that she was Tamar, his daughter-in-law.
She asked, “What will you give me if I let you have physical relations with me?”
17Judah answered, “I will send you a young goat from my flock.”
She answered, “First give me something to keep as a deposit until you send the goat.”
18Judah asked, “What do you want me to give you as a deposit?”
Tamar answered, “Give me your seal and its cord,# A seal was used like a rubber stamp. People ran a string through it to tie around the neck. They wrote a contract, folded it, put wax or clay on the contract, and pressed the seal onto it as a signature. and give me your walking stick.” So Judah gave these things to her. Then Judah and Tamar had physical relations, and Tamar became pregnant. 19Tamar went home. She took off the veil that covered her face. And she put on the clothes that showed she was a widow.
20Judah sent his friend Hirah with the young goat. Judah told Hirah to find the woman and get back his seal and the walking stick he had given her. But Hirah could not find her. 21Hirah asked some of the men at the town of Enaim, “Where is the prostitute who was here by the road?”
The men answered, “There has never been a prostitute here.”
22So he went back to Judah and said, “I could not find the woman. The men who lived there said, ‘There has never been a prostitute here.’”
23Judah said, “Let her keep the things. I don’t want people to laugh at us. I sent her the goat as I promised. But you could not find her.”
24About three months later someone told Judah, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law, is guilty of acting like a prostitute. Now she is pregnant.”
Then Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned to death.”
25When the men went to bring Tamar out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. She said, “The man who owns these things has made me pregnant. Look at this seal and its cord and this walking stick. Tell me whose they are.”
26Judah recognized them. He said, “She is more in the right than I. She did this because I did not give her to my son Shelah as I promised.” And Judah did not have physical relations with her again.
27When time came for Tamar to give birth, there were twins in her body. 28While she was giving birth, one baby put his hand out. The nurse tied a red string on his hand. She said, “This baby came out first.” 29But he pulled his hand back in. So the other baby was born first. The nurse said, “So you are able to break out first.” And they named him Perez.# This name means “breaking out.” 30After this, the baby with the red string on his hand was born. They named him Zerah.