Judah and Tamar
1At that time Judah left his brothers and settled near an Adullamite#Jos 15:35; 1Sm 22:1 named Hirah. 2There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua; he took her as a wife and slept with her. 3She conceived and gave birth to a son, and he named him Er.#Gn 46:12; Nm 26:19 4She conceived again, gave birth to a son, and named him Onan. 5She gave birth to another son and named him Shelah. It was at Chezib that#38:5 LXX reads She was at Chezib when#38:5 Or He was at Chezib when she gave birth to him.
6Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7Now Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the Lord’s sight, and the Lord put him to death.#1Ch 2:3 8Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife. Perform your duty as her brother-in-law#Dt 25:5–10 and produce offspring for your brother.”#Mt 22:24 9But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he released his semen on the ground so that he would not produce offspring for his brother. 10What he did was evil in the Lord’s sight, so he put him to death also.
11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up.”#Ru 1:12–13 For he thought, “He might die too, like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.
12After a long time#38:12 Lit And there were many days, and Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had finished mourning, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went up to Timnah#Jos 15:10,57 to his sheepshearers. 13Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14So she took off her widow’s clothes, veiled her face,#Gn 24:65 covered herself, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the way to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had grown up, she had not been given to him as a wife. 15When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face.
16He went over to her and said, “Come, let me sleep with you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.#Lv 18:15
She said, “What will you give me for sleeping with me?”
17“I will send you a young goat from my flock,” he replied.
But she said, “Only if you leave something with me until you send it.”
18“What should I give you?” he asked.
She answered, “Your signet ring, your cord, and the staff in your hand.” So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. 19She got up and left, then removed her veil and put her widow’s clothes back on.
20When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get back the items he had left with the woman, he could not find her. 21He asked the men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”
“There has been no cult prostitute here,” they answered.
22So the Adullamite returned to Judah, saying, “I couldn’t find her, and besides, the men of the place said, ‘There has been no cult prostitute here.’”
23Judah replied, “Let her keep the items for herself; otherwise we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send this young goat, but you couldn’t find her.”
24About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law, Tamar, has been acting like a prostitute, and now she is pregnant.”
“Bring her out,” Judah said, “and let her be burned to death!” #Lv 20:14
25As she was being brought out, she sent her father-in-law this message: “I am pregnant by the man to whom these items belong.” And she added, “Examine them. Whose signet ring, cord, and staff are these?”
26Judah recognized them and said, “She is more in the right#38:26 Or more righteous than I,#1Sm 24:17 since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her intimately again.
27When the time came for her to give birth, there were twins in her womb. 28As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand, and the midwife took it and tied a scarlet thread around it, announcing, “This one came out first.” 29But then he pulled his hand back, out came his brother, and she said, “What a breakout you have made for yourself!” So he was named Perez.#38:29 = Breaking Out#Gn 46:12; Nm 26:20; 1Ch 2:4; Mt 1:3 30Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread tied to his hand, came out, and was named Zerah.#38:30 = Brightness of Sunrise; perhaps related to the scarlet thread
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Judah and Tamar
1About that time Judah left his brothers and went to stay with a man named Hirah, who was from the town of Adullam. 2There Judah met a young Canaanite woman whose father was named Shua. He married her, 3and she bore him a son, whom he named Er. 4She became pregnant again and bore another son and named him Onan. 5Again she had a son and named him Shelah. Judah was at Achzib when the boy was born.
6For his first son Er, Judah got a wife whose name was Tamar. 7Er's conduct was evil, and it displeased the LORD, so the LORD killed him. 8Then Judah said to Er's brother Onan, “Go and sleep with your brother's widow. Fulfil your obligation to her as her husband's brother, so that your brother may have descendants.” 9But Onan knew that the children would not belong to him, so whenever he had intercourse with his brother's widow, he let the semen spill on the ground, so that there would be no children for his brother. 10What he did displeased the LORD, and the LORD killed him also. 11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Return to your father's house and remain a widow until my son Shelah grows up.” He said this because he was afraid that Shelah would be killed, as his brothers had been. So Tamar went back home.
12After some time Judah's wife died. When he had finished the time of mourning, he and his friend Hirah of Adullam went to Timnah, where his sheep were being sheared. 13Someone told Tamar that her father-in-law was going to Timnah to shear his sheep. 14So she changed from the widow's clothes she had been wearing, covered her face with a veil, and sat down at the entrance to Enaim, a town on the road to Timnah. As she well knew, Judah's youngest son Shelah had now grown up, and yet she had not been given to him in marriage.
15When Judah saw her, he thought that she was a prostitute, because she had her face covered. 16He went over to her at the side of the road and said, “All right, how much do you charge?” (He did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.)
She said, “What will you give me?”
17He answered, “I will send you a young goat from my flock.”
She said, “All right, if you will give me something to keep as a pledge until you send the goat.”
18“What shall I give you as a pledge?” he asked.
She answered, “Your seal with its cord and the stick you are carrying.” He gave them to her. Then they had intercourse, and she became pregnant. 19Tamar went home, took off her veil, and put her widow's clothes back on.
20Judah sent his friend Hirah to take the goat and get back from the woman the articles he had pledged, but Hirah could not find her. 21He asked some men at Enaim, “Where is the prostitute who was here by the road?”
“There has never been a prostitute here,” they answered.
22He returned to Judah and said, “I couldn't find her. The men of the place said that there had never been a prostitute there.”
23Judah said, “Let her keep the things. We don't want people to laugh at us. I did try to pay her, but you couldn't find her.”
24About three months later someone said to Judah, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has been acting like a whore, and now she is pregnant.”
Judah ordered, “Take her out and burn her to death.”
25As she was being taken out, she sent word to her father-in-law: “I am pregnant by the man who owns these things. Look at them and see whose they are — this seal with its cord and this stick.”
26Judah recognized them and said, “She is in the right. I have failed in my obligation to her — I should have given her to my son Shelah in marriage.” And Judah never had intercourse with her again.
27When the time came for her to give birth, it was discovered that she was going to have twins. 28While she was in labour, one of them put out an arm; the midwife caught it, tied a red thread round it, and said, “This one was born first.” 29But he pulled his arm back, and his brother was born first. Then the midwife said, “So this is how you break your way out!” So he was named Perez.#38.29 Perez: This name in Hebrew means “breaking out”. 30Then his brother was born with the red thread on his arm, and he was named Zerah.#38.30 Zerah: This name sounds like a Hebrew word for the red brightness of dawn.
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Good News Bible. Scripture taken from the Good News Bible (r) (Today's English Version Second Edition, UK/British Edition). Copyright © 1992 British & Foreign Bible Society. Used by permission.