The story of Judah and Tamar
1 It happened at this time that Judah left his brothers and went to stay with an Adullamite by the name of Hirah. 2 There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite called Shua. He married her 3 and she gave birth to a son whom he called Er. 4 She had another child and called him Onan. 5 And then she had a third child whom she called Shelah. She was at Chezib when she gave birth to him.
6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn son. Her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Ju dah’s firstborn, was wicked in Yahweh’s sight and the Lord took his life. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s widow and fulfill the duties of a brother-in-law; the child to be born will be the heir of your brother.” 9 But Onan knew the child would not be his, so whenever he slept with his brother’s widow, he spilled the semen on the ground lest he give an heir to his brother. 10 What he did was displeasing to Yahweh who took his life as well. 11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until Shelah, my son has grown up,” for he was afraid that Shelah, like his brothers, might die. So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.
12 After a long time, the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter died. When Judah became consoled, he went up to Timnah to his sheep-shearers with his friend Hirah, the Adul lamite. 13 It happened that Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14 She at once took off her widow’s clothes, wrapped herself in a veil and sat down at the entrance to Enaim which is on the road to Timnah, for she knew that Shelah was a grown man and had not been given to her in marriage.
15 Judah saw her and as her face was veiled he took her for a prostitute. 16 He went over to her on the roadside and said, “Allow me to sleep with you,” for he didn’t know she was his daughter-in-law. She asked, “What will you give me to sleep with you?” 17 He said, “I will send you a kid from my flock.” She replied, “Will you give me a pledge till you send it?” 18 “What pledge shall I give you?” he asked. She answered, “Give me your seal, your cord and the staff in your hand.” So he gave them to her and slept with her; 19 then she rose and left him and, taking off her veil, she put on her widow’s clothes. And she became pregnant.
20 When Judah sent the kid by his friend, the Adullamite, to recover the pledge from the woman, he did not find her. 21 So he questioned the local people, “Where is the prostitute who was by the road at Enaim?” “There has been no prostitute there,” they said. 22 He returned to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her and even the local people said that there was no prostitute there.” 23 Judah then said, “Let her keep it all for herself lest the people finally laugh at us. At least I sent her the kid even if you didn’t find her.”
24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law played the prostitute and moreover she is now with child.” Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned.” 25 As they were bringing her out she sent word to her father-in-law, “I have become pregnant by the man who owns these things. Find out to whom this seal, cord and staff belong!” 26 Judah acknowledged them and said, “She is more righteous than I am since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he had no further intercourse with her.
27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand and the midwife tied a scarlet thread around his wrist saying, “This one is the firstborn.” 29 But he withdrew his hand and his brother came out first and she said, “What a rift you have made for yourself!” And he was called Perez. 30 Then his brother with the scarlet thread on his wrist came out and he was given the name Zerah.