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
CHAPTER 38
1In the same time, Judah went down from his brethren, and turned to a man of Adullam, Hirah by name;
2and he saw there a daughter of a man of Canaan, Shuah by name. And when he had taken her to wife, he entered [in] to her,
3and she conceived, and childed a son, and he called his name Er.
4And again when another child was conceived, she named the child that was born Onan.
5And she childed the third son, whom she called Shelah, and when he was born, she ceased to bear child more.
6Soothly Judah gave a wife, that was called Tamar, to his first begotten son Er.
7And Er, the first begotten son of Judah, was wayward in the sight of the Lord, and therefore he was slain of the Lord.
8Therefore Judah said to Onan, his son, Enter thou [in] to the wife of thy brother, and be thou fellowshipped to her, that thou raise seed to thy brother.
9And he knew that sons should not be born to him; and he entered [in] to the wife of his brother, and shedded his seed into the earth, lest the free children should be born by the name of the dead brother;
10and therefore the Lord smote him, for he did abominable thing.
11Wherefore Judah said to Tamar, his son’s wife, Be thou a widow in the house of thy father, till Shelah my son waxed; for he dreaded lest also he should die as his brethren. And she went, and dwelled in the house of her father.
12Forsooth when many years were passed, the daughter of Shuah, Judah’s wife, died; and when comfort was taken after mourning, Judah went up to the shearers of his sheep; he and Hirah of Adullam, that was [the] keeper of the flock, went up into Timnath.
13And it was told to Tamar, that her husband’s father went up into Timnath, to shear sheep.
14And she did away the clothes of widowhood, and she took a rochet cloth or veil with many wrinkles, and when the clothing was changed, she sat in the way-lot that leadeth to Timnath; for Shelah had waxed, and she had not taken him into husband.
15And when Judah had seen her, he supposed her to be a whore; for she had covered her face, lest she was known.
16And Judah entered to her, and said, Suffer me that I lie with thee; for he knew not that she was the wife of his son. And when she answered, What shalt thou give to me, that thou lie with me?
17he said, I shall send to thee a kid of the flocks. And again when she said, I shall suffer that that thou wilt, if thou shalt give to me a wed, till thou send that that thou promisest.
18Judah said, What wilt thou that be given to thee for a wed? She answered, Thy ring, and thy band of the arm, and the staff which thou holdest in thine hand. Therefore the woman conceived at one lying-by,
19and she rose, and went [away]; and when the cloth or veil was put away which she had taken, she was clothed in the clothes of widowhood.
20Forsooth Judah sent a kid by his shepherd of Adullam, that he should receive the wed which he had given to the woman; and when he had not found her,
21he asked men of that place, Where is the woman that sat in the way-lot? And when all men answered, A whore was not in this place;
22he turned again to Judah, and said to him, I found not her, but also the men of that place said to me, that a whore sat never there.
23Judah said, Have she those things to herself, that we be not despised, certainly she may not reprove us of a leasing; I sent the kid which I promised, and thou foundest not her.
24Lo! soothly after three months they told to Judah, and said, Tamar, thy son’s wife, hath done fornication, and her womb seemeth to wax great. Judah said, Bring her forth, that she be burnt.
25And when she was led to her pain, she sent to her husband’s father, and said, I have conceived of the man, whose these things be; know thou whose is the ring, and the band of the arm, and the staff?
26And when the gifts were known, Judah said, She is more just [or rightwise] than I, for I gave not her to Shelah, my son; nevertheless Judah knew her no more fleshly.
27Soothly when the childbearing nighed, two children appeared in the womb,
28and in that birth of the children, one put forth the hand, in which hand the midwife bound a red thread, and said, This shall go out before.
29Soothly while he withdrew the hand, the tother went out, and the woman said, Why, was the skin in which the child lay in the womb parted for thee? And for this cause she called his name Perez.
30Afterward his brother went out, in whose hand was the red thread, whom she called Zarah, that is, Redness.