Judah's family #38:1 Judah lived among the Canaanites. He married a Canaanite woman. But God wanted the Israelites to keep themselves separate from foreign people.
1At that time, Judah left his brothers. He went to stay with a man from the town of Adullam. His name was Hirah. 2While he was there, Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man called Shua. Judah married her and he had sex with her. 3She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. Judah gave him the name ‘Er’. 4His wife became pregnant again, and she gave birth to another son. She gave him the name ‘Onan’. 5Later, she gave birth to another son. She gave him the name ‘Shelah’. She gave birth to Shelah in Kezib.
6Judah found a wife for his oldest son, Er. Her name was Tamar. 7But the Lord saw that Er, Judah's firstborn son, was very bad. So the Lord caused him to die. 8Then Judah said to Onan, ‘You should marry your dead brother's wife and have sex with her. You are her dead husband's brother. You must have a son who will become your dead brother's descendant.’ #38:8 In those days, there was a custom. If a man died before his wife had had children, his brother had to marry the dead man's wife. The family would think of a new son born to those parents as the child of the dead brother. So this son would receive any land belonging to the dead man.
9But Onan did not want Tamar to give birth to his child. He knew that the child would not belong to him. So when he had sex with his brother's wife Tamar, he made his semen go onto the ground. Onan did this so that Tamar would not give birth to a child for his dead brother.
10What Onan did was bad, and the Lord was not pleased with him. So the Lord caused Onan to die too. 11Then Judah said to his son's widow, Tamar, ‘Go back to your father's house and live there as a widow. Stay there until my son Shelah grows older.’ Judah thought, ‘I do not want Shelah to die in the way that his brothers died.’ So Tamar went to live in her father's house.
12After a long time, Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had stopped being sad because of her death, he left his home to travel. He went with his friend, Hirah the Adullamite, to a place called Timnah. He went to see the men who were cutting the wool from his sheep. 13Someone told Tamar, ‘Your husband's father is going to Timnah to get the wool from his sheep.’
14Tamar knew that Judah's son Shelah had now become a man. But Judah had not yet let Shelah marry her. So Tamar took off her widow's clothes and she put on other clothes. She covered her head with a veil. She did not want anyone to recognize her. Then she sat at the gate of Enaim. Enaim is a town on the road that goes to Timnah.
15Judah saw her as she sat there. He thought that she was a prostitute, because she had covered her face. 16He did not know that she was his son's widow. He went to her at the side of the road. He said, ‘Let me have sex with you.’ Tamar asked him, ‘If I have sex with you, what will you give me?’ 17Judah replied, ‘I will take a young goat from my animals and I will give it to you.’ Tamar said, ‘Please give me something now to show me that you will really send the goat to me.’ 18Judah asked her, ‘What should I give you?’ Tamar replied, ‘Give me your special ring and the string that holds it. And give me the stick that is in your hand.’ #38:18 The special ring and the stick would have Judah's mark on them. So other people would know who they belonged to. So Judah gave them to her. He had sex with her. As a result, she became pregnant.
19After this, Tamar left there and she took off her veil. She put her widow's clothes on again.
20Judah sent his friend Hirah, the Adullamite, to take a young goat back to where the woman had been. Judah wanted to get his special things back from the woman. But Hirah could not find the woman. 21He asked some men who lived there, ‘Where is the temple prostitute who sat by the road at Enaim?’ #38:21 A temple prostitute sat at a place where people worshipped foreign gods. But the men said, ‘There has not been any prostitute here.’
22So Hirah went back to Judah, with the goat. He told him, ‘I did not find her. The men who lived there said, “There has not been any temple prostitute here.” ’ 23So Judah said, ‘Let her keep the things that I gave to her. People will laugh at me if you go back there again. I sent this young goat for her, as I promised, but you could not find her.’
24Three months later, someone told Judah, ‘Your dead son's wife, Tamar, has become a prostitute and now she is pregnant.’ Judah said, ‘Take her out of the town and burn her to death!’ 25So they took Tamar away to kill her. But she sent a message to her dead husband's father. She said, ‘The man that these things belong to had sex with me. That is why I am pregnant. Look at these things carefully. Do you know who the ring, its string, and the stick belong to?’
26Judah saw that the things belonged to him. He said, ‘She is more honest than I am. She has done this because I would not give her to my son, Shelah, as his wife.’ Judah did not have sex with Tamar again.
27The time came for Tamar to give birth, and there were twins! 28While she was giving birth, one baby put out his hand. The woman who was helping Tamar tied a red string to that baby's arm. She said, ‘This baby came out first.’ 29But then the baby moved his hand back inside and his brother came out first. The woman said, ‘You have opened a way for yourself to come out!’ So they gave him the name ‘Perez’. #38:29 ‘Perez’ means ‘pushing out’. 30Then his brother came out, with the red string on his arm. They gave him the name ‘Zerah’.
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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
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