Judah and Tamar
1About that time Judah left his brothers in the hill country and went to live near his friend Hirah in the town of Adullam. 2While there he met the daughter of Shua, a Canaanite man. Judah married her, 3and they had three sons. He named the first one Er; 4she named the next one Onan. 5The third one was born when Judah was in Chezib, and she named him Shelah.
6Later, Judah chose Tamar as a wife for Er, his eldest son. 7But Er was very evil, and the LORD took his life. 8So Judah told Onan, “It's your duty to marry Tamar and have a child for your brother.”#38.8 It's your duty…child…brother: If a man died without having children, his brother was to marry the dead man's wife and have a child, who was to be considered the child of the dead brother (see Deuteronomy 25.5-6).
9Onan knew the child would not be his,#38.9 the child…not be his: When Judah died, Onan would get his dead brother's share of the inheritance, but if his dead brother had a son, the inheritance would go to him instead. and when he had sex with Tamar, he made sure that she would not get pregnant. 10The LORD wasn't pleased with Onan and took his life too.
11Judah did not want the same thing to happen to his son Shelah, and he told Tamar, “Go home to your father and live there as a widow until my son Shelah is grown up.” So Tamar went to live with her father.
12Some years later Judah's wife died, and he mourned for her. He then went with his friend Hirah to the town of Timnah, where his sheep were being sheared. 13Tamar found out that her father-in-law Judah was going to Timnah to shear his sheep. 14She also realized that Shelah was now a grown man, but she had not been allowed to marry him. So she decided to dress in something other than her widow's clothes and to cover her face with a veil. After this, she sat outside the town of Enaim on the road to Timnah.
15When Judah came along, he did not recognize her because of the veil. He thought she was a prostitute 16and asked her to sleep with him. She asked, “What will you give me if I do?”
17“One of my young goats,” he answered.
“What will you give me to keep until you send the goat?” she asked.
18“What do you want?” he asked in return.
“The ring on that cord around your neck,” was her reply. “I also want the special walking stick#38.18 ring…walking stick: The ring was shaped like a cylinder and could be rolled over soft clay as a way of sealing special documents. The walking stick was probably a symbol of power and the sign of leadership in the tribe, though it may have been a shepherd's rod. you have with you.” He gave them to her, they slept together, and she became pregnant.
19After returning home, Tamar took off the veil and dressed in her widow's clothes again.
20Judah sent his friend Hirah to take a goat to the woman, so he could get back the ring and walking stick, but she wasn't there. 21Hirah asked the people of Enaim, “Where is the prostitute who sat along the road outside your town?”
“There's never been one here,” they answered.
22Hirah went back and told Judah, “I couldn't find the woman, and the people of Enaim said no prostitute had ever been there.”
23“If you couldn't find her, we'll just let her keep the things I gave her,” Judah answered. “And we'd better forget about the goat, or else we'll look like fools.”
24About three months later someone told Judah, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has behaved like a prostitute, and now she's pregnant!”
“Drag her out of town and burn her to death!” Judah shouted.
25As Tamar was being dragged off, she sent someone to tell her father-in-law, “The man who gave me this ring, this cord, and this walking stick is the one who got me pregnant.”
26“Those are mine!” Judah admitted. “She's a better person than I am, because I broke my promise to let her marry my son Shelah.” After this, Judah never slept with her again.
27-28Tamar later gave birth to twins. But before either of them was born, one of them stuck a hand out of her womb. The woman who was helping tied a red thread around the baby's hand and explained, “This one came out first.”
29Straight away his hand went back in, and the other child was born first. The woman then said, “What an opening you've made for yourself!” So they named the baby Perez.#38.29 Perez: In Hebrew “Perez” sounds like “opening”. 30When the brother with the red thread came out, they named him Zerah.#38.30 Zerah: In Hebrew “Zerah” means “bright”, probably referring to the red thread.
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© British and Foreign Bible Society 2012
1¶ And it came to pass at that time that Judah went down from his brethren and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.
2And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah, and he took her and went in unto her.
3And she conceived and gave birth to a son, and he called his name Er.
4And she conceived again and gave birth to a son, and she called his name Onan.
5And she yet again conceived and gave birth to a son and called his name Shelah. And he was at Chezib, when she gave birth to him.
6And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.
7And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord and the Lord slew him.
8Then Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife and marry her and raise up seed to thy brother.
9And Onan knew that the seed would not be his, and it came to pass when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he corrupted it on the ground, to not give seed to his brother.
10And the thing which he did displeased the Lord, and he slew him also.
11Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, Remain a widow at thy father’s house until Shelah, my son, is grown; for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.
12¶ And many days passed and Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shuah, died; and Judah was comforted and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah, the Adullamite.
13And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold, thy father-in-law goes up to Timnath to shear his sheep.
14And she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself and sat by the gate to the waters by the way to Timnath, for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.
15When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot because she had covered her face.
16And he turned unto her by the way and said, Come now, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee (for he knew not that she was his daughter-in-law). And she said, What wilt thou give me that thou may come in unto me?
17And he said, I will send thee from the sheep a kid from the goats. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge until thou send it?
18Then he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet and thy mantel and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave them to her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.
19And she arose and went away and took off her veil and put on the garments of her widowhood.
20And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend, the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman’s hand; but he did not find her.
21Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the cult prostitute of the waters by the way side? And they said, There was no cult prostitute in this place.
22And he returned to Judah and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said that there was no cult prostitute in this place.
23And Judah said, Let her take the things for herself lest we be shamed; behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.
24¶ And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar, thy daughter-in-law, has played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth and let her be burnt.
25When she was brought forth, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, By the man whose these are, am I with child; and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet and mantel and staff.
26Then Judah acknowledged them, and said, She has been more righteous than I because I did not give her to Shelah, my son. And he knew her again no more.
27And it came to pass in the time of her travail that, behold, twins were in her womb.
28And it came to pass when she travailed, that the one put out his hand, and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first.
29And it came to pass as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out; and she said, Why hast thou brought this breach upon thee? Therefore his name was called Pharez.
30And afterward his brother that had the scarlet thread upon his hand came out, and his name was called Zarah.
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