38:1 At that time Judah left his brothers and stayed with an Adullamite man named Hirah.
38:2 There Judah met (saw) the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. Judah acquired (married) her as a wife and had sexual relations with her. 38:3 She became pregnant and had a son named Er. 38:4 She became pregnant again and had another son, whom she named Onan. 38:5 Then she had yet another son, whom she named Shelah. She gave birth to him in Kezib.
38:6 Judah acquired a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. 38:7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the LORD’s sight, so the LORD killed him.
38:8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Have sexual relations with your brother’s wife and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her so that you may raise up a descendant for your brother.” 38:9 But Onan knew that the child would not be considered his. So whenever he had sexual relations with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground (withdrew prematurely) so as not to give his brother a descendant. 38:10 What he did was evil in the LORD’s sight, so the LORD killed him too.
38:11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until Shelah my son grows up.” For he thought, “I don’t want him to die like his brothers.” So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.
38:12 After some time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. After Judah was consoled (recovered from his grief), he left for (went to) Timnah to visit his sheepshearers, along with his friend Hirah the Adullamite.
38:13 Tamar was told, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 38:14 So she removed her widow’s clothes and covered herself with a veil. She wrapped (disguised) herself and sat at the entrance to Enaim which is on the way to Timnah. (She did this because she saw that she had not been given to Shelah as a wife, even though he had now grown up.)
38:15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute because she had covered her face. 38:16 He turned aside to her along the road and not realizing she was his daughter-in-law, said, “Come now, I want to have sex with you.” She asked, “What will you give me in exchange for having sex with you?” 38:17 He replied, “I’ll send you a young goat from the flock.” She asked, “Will you give me a pledge until you send it?” 38:18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?” She replied, “Your seal, its cord, and the staff that’s in your hand.” So he gave them to her and had sex with her. She became pregnant by him. 38:19 She left immediately, removed her veil, and put on her widow’s clothes.
38:20 Then Judah had his friend Hirah the Adullamite take a young goat to get back from the woman the items he had given in pledge, but Hirah could not find her. 38:21 He asked the men who were there, “Where is the cult (shrine) prostitute who was at Enaim by the road?” But they replied, “There has been no cult prostitute here.” 38:22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I couldn’t find her. Moreover, the men of the place said, ‘There has been no cult prostitute here.’” 38:23 Judah said, “Let her keep the things for herself. Otherwise we will appear to be dishonest (a laughingstock). I did indeed send this young goat, but you couldn’t find her.”
38:24 After three months Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has been sexually promiscuous (or guilty of prostitution) and as a result she has become pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!” 38:25 While they were bringing her out, she sent word to her father-in-law: “I am pregnant by the man to whom these belong.” Then she said, “See if you can identify the one to whom the seal, cord, and staff belong.” 38:26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more upright (righteous) than I am, because I wouldn’t give her to Shelah my son.” He did not have sexual relations with her again.
38:27 When it was time for her to give birth, there were twins in her womb. 38:28 While she was giving birth, one child put out his hand, and the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 38:29 But then he drew back his hand, and his brother came out before him. She said, “How you have broken out of the womb!” So he was named Perez. 38:30 Afterward his brother came out – the one who had the scarlet thread on his hand – and he was named Zerah.