1And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a man of Adullam whose name was Hirah. 2And Judah saw there the daughter of a Canaanitish man whose name was Shua; and he took her, and went in to her. 3And she conceived and bore a son; and he called his name Er. 4And she again conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5And again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah; and he was at Chezib when she bore him. 6And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of Jehovah, and Jehovah slew him. 8Then Judah said to Onan, Go in to thy brother's wife, and fulfil to her the brother-in-law's duty, and raise up seed to thy brother. 9But when Onan knew that the seed should not be his own, it came to pass when he went in to his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, in order to give no seed to his brother. 10And the thing which he did was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and he slew him also. 11And Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, Remain a widow in thy father's house, until Shelah my son is grown; for he said, Lest he die also, as his brethren. And Tamar went and remained in her father's house.
12And as the days were multiplied, Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. And Judah was comforted, and he went up to his sheep-shearers, to Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep. 14And she put the garments of her widowhood off from her, and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the entry of Enaim, which is on the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as wife. 15And Judah saw her, and took her for a harlot; because she had covered her face. 16And he turned aside to her by the way, and said, Come, I pray thee, let me go in to thee; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in to me? 17And he said, I will send thee a kid of the goats from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, until thou send it? 18And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy lace, and thy staff which is in thy hand. And he gave it her, and went in to her; and she conceived by him. 19And she arose and went away; and she laid by her veil from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood. 20And Judah sent the kid of the goats by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman's hand; but he found her not. 21And he asked the men of her place, saying, Where is the prostitute that was at Enaim, by the way-side? And they said, There was no prostitute here. 22And he returned to Judah, and said, I have not found her; and also the men of the place said, No prostitute has been here. 23Then Judah said, Let her take it for herself, lest we be put to shame. Behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.
24And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter-in-law has committed fornication, and behold, she is also with child by fornication. And Judah said, Bring her forth, that she may be burned. 25When she was brought forth, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, By the man to whom these belong am I with child; and she said, Acknowledge, I pray thee, whose are this signet, and this lace, and this staff. 26And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She is more righteous than I, because I have not given her to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more. 27And it came to pass at the time of her delivery, that behold, twins were in her womb. 28And it came to pass when she brought forth, that one stretched out his hand, and the midwife took it and bound round 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, How hast thou broken forth! on thee be the breach! And they called his name Pherez. 30And afterwards came out his brother, round whose hand was the scarlet thread; and they called his name Zerah.
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First published in 1890. This edition is maintained by the British and Foreign Bible Society.
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