Genesis 38 Judah’s Sons, Tamar Played the Harlot

Judah’s Sons (vs 1-11)
At that time (when Joseph was sold as a slave to Potiphar in Egypt), Judah went down from his brothers, and stayed with Hirah, an Adullamite. While there Judah saw a daughter of Shua, a Canaanite. He took her and went in unto her. She conceived and bore a son. Judah called his name Er. She conceived again and bore a son. She called his name Onan. And she conceived yet again and bore a son. She called his name Shelah. Judah was at Chezib when she gave birth to Shelah.

Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn. Her name was Tamar. Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him.

Judah (to Onan): Go in unto your brother’s wife and marry her and raise up seed to your brother.

Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. Therefore, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, he spilled his seed on the ground, lest he should give seed to his brother. This thing which he did displeased the Lord: therefore he slew him also.

Judah (to Tamar his daughter in law): Remain a widow at your father’s house till Shelah my son is grown.

Judah (to himself): Lest perhaps he die also, as his brethren did.

And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.

Tamar Played the Harlot (vs 12-23)

In the process of time Judah’s wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up to his sheepshearers to Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.

Someone (to Tamar): Your father-in-law goes up to Timnah to shear his sheep.

Tamar saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife. Therefore she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself and sat in an open place by the way to Timnah. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute; because she had covered her face.

He turned to her by the way.

Judah: Let me come in unto you.

He did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.

Tamar: What will you give me, that you may come in to me?

Judah: I will send you a kid from the flock.

Tamar: Will you give me a pledge, till you send it?

Judah: What pledge shall I give you?

Tamar: Your signet and your bracelets and your staff that is in your hand.

Judah gave it her and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.

Tamar arose, went away, laid her veil from her and put on the garments of her widowhood.

Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman’s hand. But Hirah did not find her.

Hirah (to the men of that place): Where is the harlot, that was openly by the wayside?

The men: There was no harlot in this place.

Hirah returned to Judah.

Hirah: I cannot find her, and also the men of the place said that there was no harlot in this place.

Judah said, Let her keep the pledge for herself, lest we be shamed. I sent this kid as I said, and you have not found her.

More Righteous Than Judah (vs 24-26)

About three months later:

Someone (to Judah): Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; and she is with child by whoredom.

Judah: Bring her forth and let her be burned.

Tamar was brought forth.

She sent the pledge items to her father-in-law.

Tamar: By the man, to whom these belong, am I with child. Discern whose are these, the signet, the bracelets and the staff.

Judah acknowledged them.

Judah: She has been more righteous than I; because I did not give her to Shelah my son.

Judah did not have sex with Tamar ever again.

Twins (vs 27-30)

In the time of her travail, twins were in her womb. When she travailed, one child put out his hand: and the midwife bound a scarlet thread around his hand.

The midwife: This came out first.

As he drew back his hand, his brother came out

The midwife: How have you broken forth? The breach be on you.

Therefore his name was called Pharez. Pharez means “breach.”

Afterward his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his hand, came out.

His name was called Zerah.

1 Chronicles 2:4
Judah’s daughter-in-law Tamar bore Perez and Zerah to Judah. He had five sons in all.


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