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Genesis 38

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Judah and Tamar
1And it happened that at that time Judah went down from his brothers and pitched his tent near a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2And Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite there whose name was Shua. And he took her and went in to her. 3And she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4And she conceived again and bore a son, and he called his name Onan. 5And once again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. And he#That is, Judah was in Chezib when she bore him. 6And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7And Er, the firstborn of Judah, was evil in the eyes of Yahweh, and Yahweh killed him. 8Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to the wife of your brother and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9But Onan knew that the offspring would not be for him, so whenever he went in to the wife of his brother he would waste it on the ground#Meaning he would spill his semen on the ground so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10And what he did was evil in the sight of Yahweh, so he killed him also. 11Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, “Stay a widow in your father’s house until Shelah my son grows up,” for he feared he would also die#Literally “he thought lest he also will die” like his brother. So Tamar went and stayed in the house of her father. 12And in the course of time#Literally “And the days increased” the daughter of Shua, the wife of Judah, died. When Judah was consoled he went up to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite, to Timnah. 13And it was told to Tamar, saying, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14So she removed the clothes of her widowhood and covered herself with the veil and disguised herself. And she sat at the entrance to Eynayim, which is on the way to Timnah, for she saw that Shelah was grown but she had not been given to him as a wife. 15And Judah saw her and reckoned her to be a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16And he turned aside to her at the roadside and said, “Please come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give to me that you may come in to me?” 17And he said, “I will send a kid from the goats of the flock.” And she said, “Only if you give a pledge until you send it.” 18And he said, “What is the pledge that I must give to you?” And she said, “your seal, 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 left, and she removed her veil from herself and put on the garments of her widowhood. 20And Judah sent the kid from the goats by the hand of his friend the Adullamite to take back the pledge from the hand of the woman, but he could not find her. 21So he asked the men of her place, saying, “Where is that cult prostitute that was at Eynayim by the roadside?” And they said, “There is no cult prostitute here.” 22Then he returned to Judah and said, “I could not find her. Morever, the men of the place said, ‘There is no cult prostitute here.’ ” 23And Judah said, “Let her take them for herself, lest we be laughed at.#Literally “as contempt” Behold, I sent this kid, but you could not find her.” 24And about three months later#Literally “it happened about three months” it was told to Judah, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the whore, and now, behold, she has conceived by prostitution.” And Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned.” 25She was brought out, but she sent to her father-in-law saying, “By the man to whom these belong I have conceived.” And she said, “Now discern#Or “examine” to whom these belong: the seal and cord and the staff.” 26Then Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know#“Know” is a euphemism for “have sexual relations with” her again. 27And it happened that at the time she gave birth that, behold, twins were in her womb. 28And it happened that at her labor one child put out a hand. And the midwife took it and tied a crimson thread on his hand saying, “This one came out first.” 29Then his hand drew back and, behold, his brother came out, and she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” And she called his name Perez. 30And afterward his brother who had the crimson thread on his hand came out. And his name was called Zerah.
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1-5About that time, Judah separated from his brothers and hooked up with a man in Adullam named Hirah. While there, Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua. He married her, they went to bed, she became pregnant and had a son named Er. She got pregnant again and had a son named Onan. She had still another son; she named this one Shelah. They were living at Kezib when she had him.
6-7Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn. Her name was Tamar. But Judah’s firstborn, Er, grievously offended God and God took his life.
8-10So Judah told Onan, “Go and sleep with your brother’s widow; it’s the duty of a brother-in-law to keep your brother’s line alive.” But Onan knew that the child wouldn’t be his, so whenever he slept with his brother’s widow he spilled his semen on the ground so he wouldn’t produce a child for his brother. God was much offended by what he did and also took his life.
11So Judah stepped in and told his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow at home with your father until my son Shelah grows up.” He was worried that Shelah would also end up dead, just like his brothers. So Tamar went to live with her father.
12Time passed. Judah’s wife, Shua’s daughter, died. When the time of mourning was over, Judah with his friend Hirah of Adullam went to Timnah for the sheep shearing.
13-14Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law has gone to Timnah to shear his sheep.” She took off her widow’s clothes, put on a veil to disguise herself, and sat at the entrance to Enaim which is on the road to Timnah. She realized by now that even though Shelah was grown up, she wasn’t going to be married to him.
15Judah saw her and assumed she was a prostitute since she had veiled her face. He left the road and went over to her. He said, “Let me sleep with you.” He had no idea that she was his daughter-in-law.
16She said, “What will you pay me?”
17“I’ll send you,” he said, “a kid goat from the flock.”
She said, “Not unless you give me a pledge until you send it.”
18“So what would you want in the way of a pledge?”
She said, “Your personal seal-and-cord and the staff you carry.”
He handed them over to her and slept with her. And she got pregnant.
19She then left and went home. She removed her veil and put her widow’s clothes back on.
20-21Judah sent the kid goat by his friend from Adullam to recover the pledge from the woman. But he couldn’t find her. He asked the men of that place, “Where’s the prostitute that used to sit by the road here near Enaim?”
They said, “There’s never been a prostitute here.”
22He went back to Judah and said, “I couldn’t find her. The men there said there never has been a prostitute there.”
23Judah said, “Let her have it then. If we keep looking, everyone will be poking fun at us. I kept my part of the bargain—I sent the kid goat but you couldn’t find her.”
24Three months or so later, Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law has been playing the whore—and now she’s a pregnant whore.”
Judah yelled, “Get her out here. Burn her up!”
25As they brought her out, she sent a message to her father-in-law, “I’m pregnant by the man who owns these things. Identify them, please. Who’s the owner of the seal-and-cord and the staff?”
26Judah saw they were his. He said, “She’s in the right; I’m in the wrong—I wouldn’t let her marry my son Shelah.” He never slept with her again.
27-30When her time came to give birth, it turned out that there were twins in her womb. As she was giving birth, one put his hand out; the midwife tied a red thread on his hand, saying, “This one came first.” But then he pulled it back and his brother came out. She said, “Oh! A breakout!” So she named him Perez (Breakout). Then his brother came out with the red thread on his hand. They named him Zerah (Bright).