Judah and Tamar
1About that time, Judah left his brothers and went to stay with a man named Hirah from the town of Adullam. 2Judah met a Canaanite girl there and married her. The girl’s father was named Shua. 3The Canaanite girl gave birth to a son and named him Er. 4Later, she gave birth to another son and named him Onan. 5Then she had another son named Shelah. Judah lived in Kezib when his third son was born.
6Judah chose a woman named Tamar to be the wife of his first son Er. 7But Er did many bad things. The Lord was not happy with him, so the Lord killed him. 8Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and sleep with your dead brother’s wife.#38:8 Go and sleep … wife In Israel if a man died without children, one of his brothers would take the widow. If a child was born, it would be considered the dead man’s child. Become like a husband to her. If children are born, they will belong to your brother Er.”
9Onan knew that the children from this union would not belong to him. He had sexual relations with Tamar, but he did not allow himself to stay inside her. 10This made the Lord angry. So he killed Onan also. 11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Go back to your father’s house. Stay there and don’t marry until my young son Shelah grows up.” Judah was afraid that Shelah would also be killed like his brothers. So Tamar went back to her father’s home.
12Later, Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. After Judah’s time of sadness, he went to Timnah with his friend Hirah from Adullam. Judah went to Timnah to have the wool cut from his sheep. 13Tamar learned that Judah, her father-in-law, was going to Timnah to cut the wool from his sheep. 14Tamar always wore clothes that showed that she was a widow. So she put on some different clothes and covered her face with a veil. Then she sat down near the road going to Enaim, a town near Timnah. Tamar knew that Judah’s younger son Shelah was now grown up, but Judah would not make plans for her to marry him.
15Judah traveled on that road and saw her, but he thought that she was a prostitute. (Her face was covered with a veil like a prostitute.) 16So he went to her and said, “Let me have sex with you.” (Judah did not know that she was Tamar, his daughter-in-law.)
She said, “How much will you give me?”
17Judah answered, “I will send you a young goat from my flock.”
She answered, “I agree to that. But first you must give me something to keep until you send me the goat.”
18Judah asked, “What do you want me to give you as proof that I will send you the goat?”
Tamar answered, “Give me your seal and its string#38:18 seal … string People wrote a contract, folded it, tied it with string, put wax or clay on the string, and pressed the seal onto it to seal it. This was like signing the agreement. Also in verse 25. and your walking stick.” Judah gave these things to her. Then Judah and Tamar had sexual relations, and she became pregnant. 19Then Tamar went home, took off her veil that covered her face, and again put on the special clothes that showed she was a widow.
20Later, Judah sent his friend Hirah to Enaim to give the prostitute the goat he promised. Judah also told Hirah to get the special seal and the walking stick from her, but Hirah could not find her. 21He asked some of the men at the town of Enaim, “Where is the prostitute who was here by the road?”
The men answered, “There has never been a prostitute here.”
22So Judah’s friend went back to Judah and said, “I could not find the woman. The men who live in that place said that there was never a prostitute there.”
23So Judah said, “Let her keep the things. I don’t want people to laugh at us. I tried to give her the goat, but we could not find her. That is enough.”
Tamar Is Pregnant
24About three months later, someone told Judah, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar sinned like a prostitute, and now she is pregnant.”
Then Judah said, “Take her out and burn her.”
25The men went to Tamar to kill her, but she sent a message to her father-in-law that said, “The man who made me pregnant is the man who owns these things. Look at them. Whose are they? Whose special seal and string is this? Whose walking stick is this?”
26Judah recognized these things and said, “She is right. I was wrong. I did not give her my son Shelah like I promised.” And Judah did not sleep with her again.
27The time came for Tamar to give birth. She was going to have twins. 28While she was giving birth, one baby put his hand out. The nurse tied a red string on the hand and said, “This baby was born first.” 29But that baby pulled his hand back in, so the other baby was born first. So the nurse said, “You were able to break out first!” So they named him Perez.#38:29 Perez This name is like the word meaning “to break out.” 30After this, the other baby was born. This was the baby with the red string on his hand. They named him Zerah.#38:30 Zerah This name is like the word meaning “bright.”
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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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