Genesis 38 – Entrapment
At that time, Judah went down from his brothers, and visited a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was 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: and 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 Yahweh’s sight. Yahweh 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 it on the ground, lest he should give offspring‡ to his brother. 10 The thing which he did was evil in Yahweh’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 of her the garments of her widowhood, and covered herself with her veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gate of Enaim, which is by 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?”
She said, “Will you give me a pledge, until you send it?”
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.”
Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 When she was brought out, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “By the man, whose these are, I am with child.” She also said, “Please discern whose are these—the signet, and the cords, and the staff.”
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, that had the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.**
Thoughts for the Day
Joseph is now on his way to Potifer as a slave, and Judah is living his life as any man would. Judah took a Canaanite woman as wife and had several children by her. Judah found his son Er, a wife, Tamar, but Er was evil and God killed him off. Judah told his other son Onan to impregnate Tamar, he only partially did the job because he did not want children by her, so God killed him too. So last ditch effort for Tamar, Judah tells her to wait for his son Shelah to grow up, then she could have him. Only thing I can think of is Tamar must have had some really negative traits for these guys not to want her. The way they are doing things I am surprised Judah did not just hand over his youngest son while he was too young to know what hit him. In verse 11 Judah tells her to wait for Shelah lest he dies also, so he may have with held his last son, as the stakes were just too high. I think this kind of activity and reasoning are why God ends up telling us how we are to marry later on. Seems there was a lot of confusion and it was getting more confusing by the day. I am not sure why God killed off the boys for not making Tamar pregnant, I think there are details missing here involving God’s instruction to them that would probably clear it up.
Verse 12, Judah’s wife dies, rumor gets out that he is headed to Timnah to sheer his sheep. Tamar knew Judah would need a little carnal pleasure, so she decides it is the perfect opportunity to get pregnant, and her target is Judah. Judah had not kept his promise and give her his son Shelah when he grew up, so she had no problem laying out a snare for him. She knew what Judah would need, and she set the trap with herself being the bait. She sells herself to him as a prostitute and takes his signet as proof of who she slept with. Unbelievably to me, Judah fell for it, and she conceived. The text claims she covered her face and he did not recognized her. Seems miraculous to me, as she was daughter in law who lived on his property for years, she is not just an acquaintance. How she pulled this off is a mystery to me.
Verse 24, Tamar has Judah right where she needs him she is three months pregnant and is not being brought up by charges of prostitution by Judah himself. He orders her to be burned to death. Tamar then presents Judah his signet and tells everyone that the man who gave her the signet got her pregnant. “6 Judah acknowledged them, and said, “She is more righteous than I, because I didn’t give her to Shelah, my son.”
Why Tamar went to this trouble to have children and was willing to risk so much I do not know, but she gave birth to Twin boys Perez and Zerah, who fought to be first out of the womb, just like Jacob and Esua.
Have a wonderful day and remember to thank God for what you don’t understand, as well as that which seems to be good.