Genesis Chapter 38
1 At that time, Judah went down from his brothers, and visited a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.
2 There, Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite man named Shua. He took her, and went in to her.
3 She conceived, and bore a son; and he named him Er.
4 She conceived again, and bore a son; and she named him Onan.
5 She yet again bore a son, and named him Shelah. He was at Chezib when she bore him.
6 Judah took a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.
7 Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the LORD's sight. So The LORD killed him.
8 Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother's wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her, and raise up offspring for your brother."
9 Onan knew that the offspring wouldn't be his; and when he went in to his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother.
10 The thing which he did was evil in the LORD's sight, and he killed him also.
11 Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, "Remain a widow in your father's house, until Shelah, my son, is grown up;" for he said, "Lest he also die, like his brothers." Tamar went and lived in her father's house.
12 After many days, Shua's daughter, the wife of Judah, died. Judah was comforted, and went up to his sheep shearers to Timnah, he and his friend Hirah, the Adullamite.
13 Tamar was told, "Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep."
14 She took off the garments of her widowhood, and covered herself with her veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gate of Enaim, which is on the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she wasn't given to him as a wife.
15 When Judah saw her, he thought that she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face.
16 He turned to her by the way, and said, "Please come, let me come in to you," for he didn't know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, "What will you give me, that you may come in to me?"
17 He said, "I will send you a young goat from the flock." She said, "Will you give me a pledge, until you send it?"
18 He said, "What pledge will I give you?" She said, "Your signet and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand." He gave them to her, and came in to her, and she conceived by him.
19 She arose, and went away, and put off her veil from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood.
20 Judah sent the young goat by the hand of his friend, the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman's hand, but he didn't find her.
21 Then he asked the men of her place, saying, "Where is the prostitute, that was at Enaim by the road?" They said, "There has been no prostitute here."
22 He returned to Judah, and said, "I haven't found her; and also the men of the place said, 'There has been no prostitute here.' "
23 Judah said, "Let her keep it, lest we be shamed. Behold, I sent this young goat, and you haven't found her."
24 About three months later, Judah was told, "Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has played the prostitute. Moreover, behold, she is with child by prostitution." Judah said, "Bring her out, and let her be burnt."
25 When she was brought out, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, "I am with child by the man who owns these." She also said, "Please discern whose these are-the signet, and the cords, and the staff."
26 Judah acknowledged them, and said, "She is more righteous than I, because I didn't give her to Shelah, my son." He knew her again no more.
27 In the time of her travail, behold, twins were in her womb.
28 When she travailed, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, "This came out first."
29 As he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out, and she said, "Why have you made a breach for yourself?" Therefore his name was called Perez.
30 Afterward his brother came out, who had the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.
- Verse 29 (Perez)
- Perez means "breaking out".
- Verse 30 (Zerah)
- Zerah means "scarlet" or "brightness".
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Genesis Chapter 38 Guide
The sad and tragic story of Judah's corruption recorded here needs very little comment. It carries its own lessons of the frailty of human nature and of the far-reaching effects of sin.
However, placing it at this point in the history is suggestive and important. Following this revelation, we are observing the first movements of God in the process of regeneration amid the degeneration of the race. So far, we have been occupied almost exclusively with individuals. Gradually the larger outlook on the family and society emerges into view. The conditions which made possible Judah's sin, and the sin in itself, revealed the necessity for another new departure. A marked tendency toward the corruption of the chosen people by unhallowed intercourse with the people of the land was apparent. Had there been no divine over-ruling and had these people been left to themselves, the chosen seed would have inevitably been utterly corrupted and the purposes of God defeated.
While Judah was thus sinning, Joseph was already in Egypt, and so the segregation of the chosen people for a long period was already being prepared by keeping them separate from other people and by the rigid exclusiveness of the Egyptians.
From "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" by G. Campbell Morgan.