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Genesis 38

38
Tamar’s place in Judah’s family
1At that time, Judah moved away from his brothers and settled near an Adullamite named Hirah. 2There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite whose name was Shua, and he married her. After he slept with her, 3she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, whom she#38.3 Sam, Tg; MT he named Er. 4She became pregnant again, gave birth to a son, and named him Onan. 5Then she gave birth to one more son and named him Shelah. She was in Chezib when she gave birth to him.
6Judah married his oldest son Er to a woman named Tamar. 7But the LORD considered Judah’s oldest son Er immoral, and the LORD put him to death. 8Judah said to Onan, “Go to your brother’s wife, do your duty as her brother-in-law, and provide children for your brother.” 9Onan knew the children wouldn’t be his so when he slept with his brother’s wife, he wasted his semen on the ground, so he wouldn’t give his brother children. 10The LORD considered what he did as wrong and put him to death too. 11Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Stay as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” He thought Shelah would die like his brothers had. So Tamar went and lived in her father’s household.
12After a long time, Judah’s wife the daughter of Shua died. Then, after a period of mourning, he and his neighbor Hirah the Adullamite went up to Timnah, to those who were shearing his sheep. 13Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is now on his way up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14So Tamar took off the clothing she wore as a widow, covered herself with a veil, put on makeup,#38.14 Or perfumed herself or wrapped herself up and sat down at the entrance to Enaim on the road to Timnah, since she realized that although Shelah had already grown up, she hadn’t been given to him as a wife.
15Judah saw her and thought she was a prostitute because she had covered her face. 16He turned to her beside the road and said, “Let me sleep with you,” because he didn’t know she was his daughter-in-law.
She said, “What will you give me for sleeping with you?”
17He said, “I will give you a kid goat from my flock.”
She said, “Only if you give me some deposit, as security to guarantee that you will send it.”
18He said, “What kind of deposit should I give you?”
And she said, “Your seal, its cord, and the staff in your hand.” He gave these to her, slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.
19Then she got up, left, and took off her veil, dressing once again in the clothing she wore as a widow. 20Judah sent the kid goat with his neighbor Hirah the Adullamite so he could take back the deposits from the woman, but he couldn’t find her. 21He asked the locals of that place, “Where’s the consecrated worker#38.21 Traditionally cultic prostitute who was at Enaim on the road?”
But they said, “There’s no consecrated worker here.”
22So he went back to Judah and said, “I couldn’t find her. The locals even said, ‘There’s no holy woman here.’”
23Judah said, “Let her keep everything so we aren’t laughed at. I did send this kid goat, but you couldn’t find her.”
24About three months later, Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has become a prostitute and is now pregnant because of it.”
And Judah said, “Bring her out so that she may be burned.”
25When she was brought out, she sent this message to her father-in-law, “I’m pregnant by the man who owns these things. See if you recognize whose seal, cord, and staff these are.”
26Judah recognized them and said, “She’s more righteous than I am, because I didn’t allow her to marry my son Shelah.” Judah never knew her intimately again.
27When she gave birth, she discovered she had twins in her womb. 28At birth, one boy put out his hand, and the midwife took it and tied a red thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29As soon as he pulled his hand back, his brother came out, and she said, “You’ve burst out on your own.” So he was named Perez.#38.29 Or bursting out 30Afterward, his brother with the red thread on his hand came out, and he was named Zerah.#38.30 Or dawn
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.