Genesis 38: Judah’s Five Sons, Including Two With Tamar

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Hebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Judah has three sons named Er, Onan, and Shelah. Er dies, his widow Tamar marries Onan, but Onan will not inseminate Tamar. Yahweh kills Onan for his sin and Judah sends Tamar away lest she marry Shelah and he die too. Later, Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute and Judah impregnates her. When Judah sentences Tamar to death for being pregnant, she proves that he was the one who impregnated her and is allowed to live. Tamar gives birth to twins named Perez and Zerah.

II. Photo

Tamar disguises herself to Judah: “When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a prostitute, for she had covered her face.” (v. 15)

III. Select Verses

6-11: When the time of her delivery came, there were twins in her womb. While she was in labor, one put out a hand; and the midwife took and bound on his hand a crimson thread, saying, “This one came out first.” But just then he drew back his hand, and out came his brother; and she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore he was named Perez. Afterward his brother came out with the crimson thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah. Then 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 he too would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.

24-26: About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the whore; moreover she is pregnant as a result of whoredom.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “It was the owner of these who made me pregnant.” And she said, “Take note, please, whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” Then Judah acknowledged them and said, “She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not lie with her again.

27-30: When the time of her delivery came, there were twins in her womb. While she was in labor, one put out a hand; and the midwife took and bound on his hand a crimson thread, saying, “This one came out first.” But just then he drew back his hand, and out came his brother; and she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore he was named Perez. Afterward his brother came out with the crimson thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah.

IV. Outline
1-5. Judah’s children with the daughter of Shua

    1. Judah leaves his brothers and settles near Hirah the Adullamite

    2. Judah marries Shua’s daughter, a Canaanite woman

    3-5. Shua gives birth to Er, Onan, and Shelah

6-30. Judah children with his daughter-in-law Tamar

    6. Er marries Tamar

    7. Yahweh kills Er, who is displeasing to him

    8. Judah tells Onan to take Tamar as a wife

    9. Onan does not inseminate Tamar

    10. Yahweh kills Onan for his actions

    11. Judah sends Tamar home to protect his third son, Shelah, telling her to wait for him to grow

    12. Shua’s daughter dies and Judah travels to Hirah the Adullamite at Timnah

    13-14. Tamar takes off her widow’s clothing and sees that Shelah has grown

    15-18a. Judah mistakes Tamar for a prostitute and gives her his seal and staff as collateral for a goat as payment

    18b. Judah sleeps with Tamar and she becomes pregnant

    19. Tamar leaves and puts on her widow’s clothing

    20-23. Judah sends a goat to the “prostitute” via Hirah, but she cannot be found

    24. When it is apparent Tamar is pregnant, Judah condemns her to death for whoring

    25. Tamar shows Judah the seal and the staff

    26. Judah acknowledges his wrongdoing regarding Shelah and does not lie with Tamar again

    27-30. Tamar gives birth to twins, Perez who “broke through” (paratz) first after his brother Zerah’s hand had preceded him

V. Comment

No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

Photo copied from http://marciomartins.deviantart.com/art/Woman-with-veil-57757568

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