Judah and Tamar
1About that time, Judah left his brothers. He went to stay with a man named Hirah. Hirah was from the town of Adullam. 2Judah met a Canaanite girl there and married her. Her father was named Shua. And Judah had intimate relations with her. 3She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Judah named him Er. 4Later she gave birth to another son. She named him Onan. 5Later she had another son. She named him Shelah. She was at Kezib when this third son was born.
6Judah chose a girl named Tamar to be the wife of his first son Er. 7Er was Judah’s oldest son. But he did what the Lord said was evil. So the Lord killed him. 8Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and have physical relations with your dead brother’s wife.# It was a custom in Israel that if a man died without children, one of his brothers would marry the widow. If a child was born, it would be considered the dead man’s child. It is your duty to provide children for your brother in this way.”
9But Onan knew that the children would not belong to him. Onan was supposed to have physical relations with Tamar. But he did not complete the physical act. This made it impossible for Tamar to become pregnant. So Er could not have descendants. 10The Lord was displeased by this wicked thing Onan had done. So the Lord killed Onan also. 11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Go back to live in your father’s house. And don’t marry until my young son Shelah grows up.” Judah was afraid that Shelah also would die like his brothers. So Tamar returned to her father’s home.
12After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. After Judah had gotten over his sorrow, he went to Timnah. He went to his men who were cutting the wool from his sheep. His friend Hirah from Adullam went with him. 13Tamar learned that Judah, her father-in-law, was going to Timnah to cut the wool from his sheep. 14So she took off the clothes that showed she was a widow. Then she covered her face with a veil to hide who she was. She sat down by the gate of Enaim. It was on the road to Timnah. She did this because Judah’s younger son Shelah had grown up. But Judah had not made plans for her to marry him.
15When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute. This was because she had covered her face with a veil. 16So Judah went to her and said, “Let me have physical relations with you.” He did not know that she was Tamar, his daughter-in-law.
She asked, “What will you give me if I let you have physical relations with me?”
17Judah answered, “I will send you a young goat from my flock.”
She answered, “First give me something to keep as a deposit until you send the goat.”
18Judah asked, “What do you want me to give you as a deposit?”
Tamar answered, “Give me your seal and its cord,# A seal was used like a rubber stamp. People ran a string through it to tie around the neck. They wrote a contract, folded it, put wax or clay on the contract, and pressed the seal onto it as a signature. and give me your walking stick.” So Judah gave these things to her. Then Judah and Tamar had physical relations, and Tamar became pregnant. 19Tamar went home. She took off the veil that covered her face. And she put on the clothes that showed she was a widow.
20Judah sent his friend Hirah with the young goat. Judah told Hirah to find the woman and get back his seal and the walking stick he had given her. But Hirah could not find her. 21Hirah 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 he went back to Judah and said, “I could not find the woman. The men who lived there said, ‘There has never been a prostitute here.’”
23Judah said, “Let her keep the things. I don’t want people to laugh at us. I sent her the goat as I promised. But you could not find her.”
24About three months later someone told Judah, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law, is guilty of acting like a prostitute. Now she is pregnant.”
Then Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned to death.”
25When the men went to bring Tamar out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. She said, “The man who owns these things has made me pregnant. Look at this seal and its cord and this walking stick. Tell me whose they are.”
26Judah recognized them. He said, “She is more in the right than I. She did this because I did not give her to my son Shelah as I promised.” And Judah did not have physical relations with her again.
27When time came for Tamar to give birth, there were twins in her body. 28While she was giving birth, one baby put his hand out. The nurse tied a red string on his hand. She said, “This baby came out first.” 29But he pulled his hand back in. So the other baby was born first. The nurse said, “So you are able to break out first.” And they named him Perez.# This name means “breaking out.” 30After this, the baby with the red string on his hand was born. They named him Zerah.