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Genesis 38

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 1 And it came to pass at that time, that Judah left his brothers and visited a certain Adullamite named Hirah.

 2  There Judah met a daughter of a certain Canaanite man named Shuah; and he took her as his wife and lay with her;

 3 And she conceived and bore a son, and he called him Er.

 4 Then she conceived again and bore a son, and she called him Onan.

 5 And she conceived yet again and bore a son, and called him Shelah. They were at Chezib when she bore him.

 6 Now Judah took a wife for Er, his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.

 7 And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD slew him.

 8 And Judah said to Onan, "Marry your brother's widow and raise up offspring for your brother."

 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, so when he went in to his brother's wife, he spilled his seed on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother.

 10 And the thing that he did displeased the LORD; therefore he slew him also.

 11 Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, "Remain a widow at your father's house, until Shelah my son is grown;" but he thought, "[Though I fear that] he may also die, like his brothers did." And Tamar went and dwelled in her father's house.

 12 Now in process of time, the daughter of Shuah, Judah's wife died; and when Judah was comforted he went up to his sheep shearers at Timnath with his friend Hirah the Adullamite.

 13 And it was told Tamar, "Behold your father in law goes up to Timnath to shear his sheep."1

 14 So she put off her widow's garments and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself up, and sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown and she was not given to him as his wife.

 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute because she had covered her face.

 16 And he turned to her by the road and said, "Come, I pray you, let me come in to you;" (for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law). And she said, "What will you give me, that you may come in to me?"

 17 And he said, "I will send you a kid from the flock." And she said, "Will you give me a security of your promise until you send it?"

 18 And he said, "What security shall I give you?" And she said, "Your seal and its cord, and your staff that is in your hand." And he gave them to her and came in to her, and she conceived by him.

 19 Then she arose and went away, taking off her veil and putting back on the garments of her widowhood.

 20 And Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite to fulfill the promise he had made to the woman; but he could not find her.

 21 So he asked the men of that place, saying, "Where is the prostitute who was openly by the roadside?" And they said, "There was no prostitute in this place."

 22 And he returned to Judah, and said, "I cannot find her; and the men of this place said, "There was no harlot in this place."

 23 Then Judah said, "Let her keep my staff and seal for herself, lest we be shamed; for behold, I sent this kid to her but you have not found her."

 24 And it came to pass about three months later, that it was told Judah, saying, "Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot, and she is with child by whoredom." And Judah said, "Bring her forth and let her be burned."

 25 Now when she was brought forth, she sent a message to her father-in-law, saying, "I am with child by the man to whom these belong. And she added, "Discern, I pray you, whose seal, cord, and staff these are."

 26 And Judah acknowledged them and said, "She has been more righteous than I because I did not give her to Shelah my son." And he did not lay with her again.

 27 Now when the time of her labor came, behold, twins were in her womb.

 28 And when she labored, one child put out his hand; and the midwife took his hand and bound a scarlet thread upon it, saying, "This one came out first."

 29 But he drew back his hand, and behold, his brother was born. And she said, "How you have broken forth!" Therefore he was called Pharez.

 30 And afterward his brother who had the scarlet thread on his hand was born and was called Zarah.


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1 Behold your father in law goes up to Timnath to shear his sheep. Sheep shearing was a time of celebration, with feasting, drinking wine to drunkenness, settling debts, etc. So Tamar probalby knew she would find Judah at a weak moment of drunkenness.

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