The First Book of Moses, Called Genesis

Chapter 38

Judah begets Er, Onan, and Shelah, 1-5. Er's marriage with Tamar and death, 6, 7. The trespass of Onan, 8-10. Tamar is reserved for Shelah, 11. Judah's wife dies, 12. Tamar deceives Judah, 13-26. She bears twins, Pharez and Zarah, 27-30.

1 And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brothers and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 And Judah saw a daughter of a certain Canaanite there, whose name was Shuah, and he took her and went in to her. 3 And she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4 And she conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5 And she yet again conceived and bore a son, and called his name Shelah. And he was at Chezib when she bore him.

6 And Judah took a wife for Er his first-born, whose name was Tamar. 7 And Er, Judah's first-born, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD slew him. 8 And Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother's wife and marry her, and raise up a child for your brother." 9 And Onan knew that the child would not be his. And it came to pass, when he went in to his brother's wife, that he frustrated the purpose, lest he should give a child to his brother. 10 And the thing which 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," for he said, "Lest perhaps he die also as his brothers did." And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house.

12 And in process of time, the daughter of Shuah, Judah's wife, died. And Judah was comforted and went up to his sheep-shearers to Timnath—he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And it was told to Tamar, saying, "Behold, your father-in-law goes up to Timnath to shear his sheep." 14 And she took off her widow's garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath, for she saw that Shelah was grown and she was not given to him for a wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot because she had covered her face. 16 And he turned to her by the way and said, "Come, I pray you, let me have access to you"—for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, "What will you give me so that you may have access to me?" 17 And he said, "I will send you a kid from the flock." And she said, "Will you give me a pledge until you send it?" 18 And he said, "What pledge shall I give you?" And she said, "Your signet, your bracelets, 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 And she arose and went her way and took off her veil from her and put on the garments of her widowhood.

20 And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite to receive his pledge from the woman's hand, but he did not find her. 21 Then he asked the men of that place, saying, "Where is the harlot who was openly by the wayside?" And they said, "There was no harlot in this place." 22 And he returned to Judah and said, "I cannot find her. And also the men of the place said that there was no harlot in this place." 23 And Judah said, "Let her keep it, lest we be shamed. Behold, I sent this kid, and you have not found her."

24 And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told to Judah, saying, "Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot, and also, behold she is with child by lewdness." And Judah said, "Bring her forth and let her be burnt." 25 When she was brought forth, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, "I am with child by the man whose these are." And she said, "Discern, I pray you, whose these are: the signet, bracelets, and staff." 26 And Judah acknowledged them and said, "She has been more righteous than I have because I did not give her to Shelah my son." And he knew her again no more.

27 And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that behold, twins were in her womb. 28 And it came to pass when she travailed, that one put out his hand, and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, "This one came out first." 29 And it came to pass as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out, and she said, "How have you broken forth? This breach is upon you." Therefore, his name was called Pharez. 30 And afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread upon his hand, and his name was called Zarah.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Genesis, Chapter 38[➚]


[v.8] - "a child" - That is, a child to be an heir to Er.