Judah and Tamar.#This chapter has subtle connections to the main Joseph story. It tells of the eponymous founder of the other great tribe of later times, Judah. Having already been introduced as one of the two good brothers in 37:26–27, he appears here as the father-in-law of the twice-widowed Tamar; he has reneged on his promise to provide his son Shelah to her in a levirate marriage. Unjustly treated, Tamar takes matters into her own hands and tricks Judah into becoming the father of her children, Perez and Zerah. Judah ultimately acknowledges that his daughter-in-law was right (“She is in the right rather than I,” v. 26). In contrast to Judah’s expectations, the family line does not continue through his son Shelah, but through the children of Tamar. Similarities relate this little story to the main narrative: the deception involving an article of clothing (the widow’s garments of Tamar, Judah’s seal, cord, and staff) point back to the bloody tunic that deceives Jacob in 37:31–33; a woman attempts the seduction of a man separated from his family, for righteous purposes in chap. 38, for unrighteous purposes in chap. 39. 1About that time Judah went down, away from his brothers, and pitched his tent near a certain Adullamite named Hirah. 2There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua; he married her, and had intercourse with her.#1 Chr 2:3. 3She conceived and bore a son, whom she named Er. 4Again she conceived and bore a son, whom she named Onan. 5Then she bore still another son, whom she named Shelah. She was in Chezib#Chezib: a variant form of Achzib (Jos 15:44; Mi 1:14), a town in the Judean Shephelah. when she bore him.#1 Chr 4:21.
6Judah got a wife named Tamar for his firstborn, Er. 7But Er, Judah’s firstborn, greatly offended the Lord; so the Lord took his life.#1 Chr 2:3. 8#Dt 25:5; Mt 22:24; Mk 12:19; Lk 20:28. Then Judah said to Onan, “Have intercourse with your brother’s wife, in fulfillment of your duty as brother-in-law, and thus preserve your brother’s line.”#Preserve your brother’s line: lit., “raise up seed for your brother”: an allusion to the law of levirate, or “brother-in-law,” marriage; see notes on Dt 25:5; Ru 2:20. Onan’s violation of this law brought on him God’s punishment (vv. 9–10). 9Onan, however, knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid giving offspring to his brother. 10What he did greatly offended the Lord, and the Lord took his life too. 11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up”—for he feared that Shelah also might die like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.
12Time passed, and the daughter of Shua, Judah’s wife, died. After Judah completed the period of mourning, he went up to Timnah, to those who were shearing his sheep, in company with his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13Then Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a shawl, and having wrapped herself sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the way to Timnah; for she was aware that, although Shelah was now grown up, she had not been given to him in marriage.#Prv 7:10. 15When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, since she had covered her face. 16So he went over to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me have intercourse with you,” for he did not realize that she was his daughter-in-law. She replied, “What will you pay me for letting you have intercourse with me?” 17He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” “Very well,” she said, “provided you leave me a pledge until you send it.” 18Judah asked, “What pledge should I leave you?” She answered, “Your seal and cord,#Seal and cord: the cylinder seal, through which a hole was bored lengthwise so that it could be worn from the neck by a cord, was a distinctive means of identification. Apparently one’s staff could also be marked with some sign of identification (cf. Nm 17:17–18). and the staff in your hand.” So he gave them to her and had intercourse with her, and she conceived by him. 19After she got up and went away, she took off her shawl and put on her widow’s garments again.
20Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to recover the pledge from the woman; but he did not find her. 21So he asked the men of that place, “Where is the prostitute,#Prostitute: the Hebrew term qedesha, lit., “consecrated woman,” designates a woman associated with a sanctuary whose activities could include prostitution; cf. Dt 23:18; Hos 4:14, where the same Hebrew word is used. In 38:15 and 24 the common word for prostitute, zona, is used. the one by the roadside in Enaim?” But they answered, “No prostitute has been here.” 22He went back to Judah and told him, “I did not find her; and besides, the men of the place said, ‘No prostitute has been here.’” 23“Let her keep the things,” Judah replied; “otherwise we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you did not find her.”
24About three months later, Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has acted like a harlot and now she is pregnant from her harlotry.” Judah said, “Bring her out; let her be burned.” 25But as she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “It is by the man to whom these things belong that I am pregnant.” Then she said, “See whose seal and cord and staff these are.” 26Judah recognized them and said, “She is in the right rather than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” He had no further sexual relations with her.
27When the time of her delivery came, there were twins in her womb.#1 Chr 2:4. 28While she was giving birth, one put out his hand; and the midwife took and tied a crimson thread on his hand, noting, “This one came out first.” 29#Ru 4:12; Mt 1:3; Lk 3:33. But as he withdrew his hand, his brother came out; and she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” So he was called Perez.#He was called Perez: the Hebrew word means “breach.” 30Afterward his brother, who had the crimson thread on his hand, came out; he was called Zerah.#He was called Zerah: a name connected here by popular etymology with a Hebrew word for the red light of dawn, alluding apparently to the crimson thread. #Nm 26:20; 1 Chr 2:4; Mt 1:3.
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1And it cometh to pass, at that time, that Judah goeth down from his brethren, and turneth aside unto a man, an Adullamite, whose name [is] Hirah;
2and Judah seeth there the daughter of a man, a Canaanite, whose name [is] Shuah, and taketh her, and goeth in unto her.
3And she conceiveth, and beareth a son, and he calleth his name Er;
4and she conceiveth again, and beareth a son, and calleth his name Onan;
5and she addeth again, and beareth a son, and calleth his name Shelah; and he was in Chezib in her bearing him.
6And Judah taketh a wife for Er, his first-born, and her name [is] Tamar;
7and Er, Judah's first-born, is evil in the eyes of Jehovah, and Jehovah doth put him to death.
8And Judah saith to Onan, ‘Go in unto the wife of thy brother, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother;’
9and Onan knoweth that the seed is not [reckoned] his; and it hath come to pass, if he hath gone in unto his brother's wife, that he hath destroyed [it] to the earth, so as not to give seed to his brother;
10and that which he hath done is evil in the eyes of Jehovah, and He putteth him also to death.
11And Judah saith to Tamar his daughter-in-law, ‘Abide a widow at thy father's house, till Shelah my son groweth up;’ for he said, ‘Lest he die — even he — like his brethren;’ and Tamar goeth and dwelleth at her father's house.
12And the days are multiplied, and the daughter of Shuah, Judah's wife, dieth; and Judah is comforted, and goeth up unto his sheep-shearers, he and Hirah his friend the Adullamite, to Timnath.
13And it is declared to Tamar, saying, ‘Lo, thy husband's father is going up to Timnath to shear his flock;’
14and she turneth aside the garments of her widowhood from off her, and covereth herself with a vail, and wrappeth herself up, and sitteth in the opening of Enayim, which [is] by the way to Timnath, for she hath seen that Shelah hath grown up, and she hath not been given to him for a wife.
15And Judah seeth her, and reckoneth her for a harlot, for she hath covered her face,
16and he turneth aside unto her by the way, and saith, ‘Come, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee,’ (for he hath not known that she [is] his daughter-in-law); and she saith, ‘What dost thou give to me, that thou mayest come in unto me?’
17and he saith, ‘I — I send a kid of the goats from the flock.’ And she saith, ‘Dost thou give a pledge till thou send [it]?’
18and he saith, ‘What [is] the pledge that I give to thee?’ and she saith, ‘Thy seal, and thy ribbon, and thy staff which [is] in thy hand;’ and he giveth to her, and goeth in unto her, and she conceiveth to him;
19and she riseth, and goeth, and turneth aside her vail from off her, and putteth on the garments of her widowhood.
20And Judah sendeth the kid of the goats by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the hand of the woman, and he hath not found her.
21And he asketh the men of her place, saying, ‘Where [is] the separated one — she in Enayim, by the way?’ and they say, ‘There hath not been in this [place] a separated one.’
22And he turneth back unto Judah, and saith, ‘I have not found her; and the men of the place also have said, There hath not been in this [place] a separated one,’
23and Judah saith, ‘Let her take to herself, lest we become despised; lo, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.’
24And it cometh to pass about three months [after], that it is declared to Judah, saying, ‘Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath committed fornication; and also, lo, she hath conceived by fornication:’ and Judah saith, ‘Bring her out — and she is burnt.’
25She is brought out, and she hath sent unto her husband's father, saying, ‘To a man whose these [are], I [am] pregnant;’ and she saith, ‘Discern, I pray thee, whose [are] these — the seal, and the ribbons, and the staff.’
26And Judah discerneth and saith, ‘She hath been more righteous than I, because that I did not give her to Shelah my son;’ and he hath not added to know her again.
27And it cometh to pass in the time of her bearing, that lo, twins [are] in her womb;
28and it cometh to pass in her bearing, that [one] giveth out a hand, and the midwife taketh and bindeth on his hand a scarlet thread, saying, ‘This hath come out first.’
29And it cometh to pass as he draweth back his hand, that lo, his brother hath come out, and she saith, ‘What! thou hast broken forth — on thee [is] the breach;’ and he calleth his name Pharez;
30and afterwards hath his brother come out, on whose hand [is] the scarlet thread, and he calleth his name Zarah.
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