Exit Parallel Mode
 

Berĕshith (Genesis) 38

38
1And at that time it came to be that Yehuḏah left his brothers, and turned aside to a man, an Aḏullamite whose name was Ḥirah.
2And Yehuḏah saw there a daughter of a certain Kena‛anite whose name was Shuwa. And he took her and went in to her.
3So she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Ěr.
4And she conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan.
5And she conceived yet again and bore a son, and called his name Shĕlah. And he was at Keziḇ when she bore him.
6And Yehuḏah took a wife for Ěr his first-born, and her name was Tamar.
7But Ěr, Yehuḏah’s first-born, was evil in the eyes of יהוה, and יהוה took his life.
8And Yehuḏah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother.”
9And Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. And it came to be, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he spilled on the ground, lest he should give an offspring to his brother.
10But what he did displeased יהוה, so He took his life too.
11Then Yehuḏah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shĕlah is grown.” For he said, “Lest he also die as his brothers did.” And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.
12And after a long time the daughter of Shuwa, Yehuḏah’s wife, died. And Yehuḏah was comforted, and went up to his sheep-shearers at Timnah, he and his friend Ḥirah the Aḏullamite.
13And it was reported to Tamar, saying, “See, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.”
14And she took off her widow’s garments, and covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat at the entrance to Ěnayim which was on the way to Timnah. For she saw that Shĕlah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife.
15And Yehuḏah saw her, and reckoned her for a whore, for she had covered her face.
16And he turned aside to her by the way, and said, “Please let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What do you give me to come in to me?”
17And he said, “Let me send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “Do you give me a pledge until you send it?”
18So he said, “What pledge should I give you?” And she said, “Your seal and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” And he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him.
19And she arose and went away, and removed her veil and put on the garments of her widowhood.
20And Yehuḏah sent the young goat by the hand of his friend the Aḏullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman’s hand, but he did not find her.
21And he asked the men of that place, saying, “Where is the cult prostitute who was beside the way to Ěnayim?” And they said, “There was no cult prostitute in this place.”
22And he returned to Yehuḏah and said, “I have not found her. And the men of the place also said there was no cult prostitute in this place.”
23And Yehuḏah said, “Let her take them for herself, lest we become despised, for I sent this young goat and you have not found her.”
24And it came to be, about three new moons after, that Yehuḏah was informed, saying, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has whored, and see, she has conceived by whoring.” And Yehuḏah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”
25When she was brought out, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please examine whose these are: the seal and the cord and the staff.”
26And Yehuḏah examined and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shĕlah my son.” And he never knew her again.
27And it came to be, at the time for giving birth, that see, twins were in her womb.
28And it came to be, when she was giving birth, that the one put out his hand. And the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.”
29And it came to be, as he drew back his hand, that see, his brother came out! And she said, “How did you break through? This breach be upon you!” So his name was called Perets.
30And afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand. So his name was called Zeraḥ.
38
Judah and Tamar.#This chapter has subtle connections to the main Joseph story. It tells of the eponymous founder of the other great tribe of later times, Judah. Having already been introduced as one of the two good brothers in 37:26–27, he appears here as the father-in-law of the twice-widowed Tamar; he has reneged on his promise to provide his son Shelah to her in a levirate marriage. Unjustly treated, Tamar takes matters into her own hands and tricks Judah into becoming the father of her children, Perez and Zerah. Judah ultimately acknowledges that his daughter-in-law was right (“She is in the right rather than I,” v. 26). In contrast to Judah’s expectations, the family line does not continue through his son Shelah, but through the children of Tamar. Similarities relate this little story to the main narrative: the deception involving an article of clothing (the widow’s garments of Tamar, Judah’s seal, cord, and staff) point back to the bloody tunic that deceives Jacob in 37:31–33; a woman attempts the seduction of a man separated from his family, for righteous purposes in chap. 38, for unrighteous purposes in chap. 39. 1About that time Judah went down, away from his brothers, and pitched his tent near a certain Adullamite named Hirah. 2There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua; he married her, and had intercourse with her.#1 Chr 2:3. 3She conceived and bore a son, whom she named Er. 4Again she conceived and bore a son, whom she named Onan. 5Then she bore still another son, whom she named Shelah. She was in Chezib#Chezib: a variant form of Achzib (Jos 15:44; Mi 1:14), a town in the Judean Shephelah. when she bore him.#1 Chr 4:21.
6Judah got a wife named Tamar for his firstborn, Er. 7But Er, Judah’s firstborn, greatly offended the Lord; so the Lord took his life.#1 Chr 2:3. 8#Dt 25:5; Mt 22:24; Mk 12:19; Lk 20:28. Then Judah said to Onan, “Have intercourse with your brother’s wife, in fulfillment of your duty as brother-in-law, and thus preserve your brother’s line.”#Preserve your brother’s line: lit., “raise up seed for your brother”: an allusion to the law of levirate, or “brother-in-law,” marriage; see notes on Dt 25:5; Ru 2:20. Onan’s violation of this law brought on him God’s punishment (vv. 9–10). 9Onan, however, knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid giving offspring to his brother. 10What he did greatly offended the Lord, and the Lord took his life too. 11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up”—for he feared that Shelah also might die like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.
12Time passed, and the daughter of Shua, Judah’s wife, died. After Judah completed the period of mourning, he went up to Timnah, to those who were shearing his sheep, in company with his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13Then Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a shawl, and having wrapped herself sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the way to Timnah; for she was aware that, although Shelah was now grown up, she had not been given to him in marriage.#Prv 7:10. 15When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, since she had covered her face. 16So he went over to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me have intercourse with you,” for he did not realize that she was his daughter-in-law. She replied, “What will you pay me for letting you have intercourse with me?” 17He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” “Very well,” she said, “provided you leave me a pledge until you send it.” 18Judah asked, “What pledge should I leave you?” She answered, “Your seal and cord,#Seal and cord: the cylinder seal, through which a hole was bored lengthwise so that it could be worn from the neck by a cord, was a distinctive means of identification. Apparently one’s staff could also be marked with some sign of identification (cf. Nm 17:17–18). and the staff in your hand.” So he gave them to her and had intercourse with her, and she conceived by him. 19After she got up and went away, she took off her shawl and put on her widow’s garments again.
20Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to recover the pledge from the woman; but he did not find her. 21So he asked the men of that place, “Where is the prostitute,#Prostitute: the Hebrew term qedesha, lit., “consecrated woman,” designates a woman associated with a sanctuary whose activities could include prostitution; cf. Dt 23:18; Hos 4:14, where the same Hebrew word is used. In 38:15 and 24 the common word for prostitute, zona, is used. the one by the roadside in Enaim?” But they answered, “No prostitute has been here.” 22He went back to Judah and told him, “I did not find her; and besides, the men of the place said, ‘No prostitute has been here.’” 23“Let her keep the things,” Judah replied; “otherwise we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you did not find her.”
24About three months later, Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has acted like a harlot and now she is pregnant from her harlotry.” Judah said, “Bring her out; let her be burned.” 25But as she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “It is by the man to whom these things belong that I am pregnant.” Then she said, “See whose seal and cord and staff these are.” 26Judah recognized them and said, “She is in the right rather than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” He had no further sexual relations with her.
27When the time of her delivery came, there were twins in her womb.#1 Chr 2:4. 28While she was giving birth, one put out his hand; and the midwife took and tied a crimson thread on his hand, noting, “This one came out first.” 29#Ru 4:12; Mt 1:3; Lk 3:33. But as he withdrew his hand, his brother came out; and she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” So he was called Perez.#He was called Perez: the Hebrew word means “breach.” 30Afterward his brother, who had the crimson thread on his hand, came out; he was called Zerah.#He was called Zerah: a name connected here by popular etymology with a Hebrew word for the red light of dawn, alluding apparently to the crimson thread. #Nm 26:20; 1 Chr 2:4; Mt 1:3.