Exit Parallel Mode
 

Genesis 38

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.
38
1And at that time Iudah went downe from his brethren, and turned in to a man called Hirah an Adullamite. 2And Iudah sawe there the daughter of a man called Suah a Canaanite: and he tooke her to wife, and went in vnto her. 3So she conceiued and bare a sonne, and he called his name Er. 4And she conceiued againe, and bare a sonne, and she called his name Onan. 5Moreouer she bare yet a sonne, whome she called Shelah: and Iudah was at Chezib when she bare him. 6Then Iudah tooke a wife to Er his first borne sonne whose name was Tamar. 7Now Er the first borne of Iudah was wicked in the sight of the Lord: therefore the Lord slewe him. 8Then Iudah said to Onan, Goe in vnto thy brothers wife, and do the office of a kinsman vnto her, and raise vp seede vnto thy brother. 9And Onan knewe that the seede should not be his: therefore when he went in vnto his brothers wife, he spilled it on the grounde, least he should giue seede vnto his brother. 10And it was wicked in the eyes of the Lord, which he did: wherefore he slewe him also. 11Then said Iudah to Tamar his daughter in lawe, Remaine a widowe in thy fathers house, till Shelah my sonne growe vp (for he thought thus, Least he die as well as his brethren.) So Tamar went and dwelt in her fathers house. 12And in processe of time also the daughter of Shuah Iudahs wife dyed. Then Iudah, when he had left mourning, went vp to his sheepe sherers to Timnah, he, and his neighbour Hirah the Adullamite. 13And it was tolde Tamar, saying, beholde, thy father in lawe goeth vp to Timnah, to shere his sheepe. 14Then she put her widowes garments off from her, and couered her with a vaile, and wrapped her selfe, and sate downe in Pethah-enaim, which is by the way to Timnah, because she sawe that Shelah was growen, and she was not giuen vnto him to wife. 15When Iudah sawe her, he iudged her an whore: for she had couered her face. 16And he turned to the way towardes her, and saide, Come, I pray thee, let me lie with thee. (for he knewe not that she was his daughter in lawe) And she answered, What wilt thou giue me for to lie with me? 17Then said he, I will sende thee a kid of the goates from the flocke. and she said, Well, if thou wilt giue me a pledge, till thou sende it. 18Then he saide, What is the pledge that I shall giue thee? And she answered, Thy signet, and thy cloke, and thy staffe that is in thine hande. So he gaue it her, and lay by her, and she was with childe by him. 19Then she rose, and went and put her vaile from her and put on her widowes raiment. 20Afterwarde Iudah sent a kid of the goates by the hande of his neighbour the Adullamite, for to receiue his pledge from the womans hand: but he found her not. 21Then asked he the men of that place, saying, Where is ye whore, that sate in Enaim by the way side? And they answered, There was no whore here. 22He came therefore to Iudah againe, and said, I can not finde her, and also the men of the place said, There was no whore there. 23Then Iudah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: beholde, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her. 24Now after three moneths, one tolde Iudah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the whore, and lo, with playing the whore, she is great with childe. Then Iudah saide, Bring ye her foorth and let her be burnt. 25When she was brought foorth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, vnto whom these things pertaine, am I with childe: and saide also, Looke, I pray thee, whose these are, the seale, and the cloke, and the staffe. 26Then Iudah knewe them, and said, She is more righteous then I: for she hath done it because I gaue her not to Shelah my sonne. So he lay with her no more. 27Now, when the time was come that she should be deliuered, beholde, there were twinnes in her wombe. 28And when she was in trauell, the one put out his hand: and the midwife tooke and bound a red threde about his hand, saying, This is come out first. 29But when he plucked his hand backe againe, loe, his brother came out, and the midwife said, How hast thou broken the breach vpon thee? and his name was called Pharez. 30And afterward came out his brother that had the red threde about his hande, and his name was called Zarah.