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.#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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