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Genesis 38 (New International Reader's Version)

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Judah and Tamar

1 At that time, Judah left his brothers. He went down to stay with a man named Hirah. Hirah was from the town of Adullam. 2 There Judah met the daughter of a man from Canaan. His name was Shua. Judah married her and made love to her. 3 She became pregnant. She had a son. They named him Er. 4 She became pregnant again and had another son. She named him Onan. 5 She had still another son. She named him Shelah. He was born at Kezib. 6 Judah got a wife for his oldest son Er. Her name was Tamar. 7 But Judah's oldest son Er was evil in the LORD's eyes. So the LORD put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, "Make love to your brother's wife. After all, you are her brother-in-law. So carry out your duty to her. Produce children for your brother." 9 But Onan knew that the children wouldn't belong to him. So every time he made love to his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground. He did it so he wouldn't produce children for his brother. 10 What he did was evil in the LORD's eyes. So the LORD put him to death also. 11 Then Judah spoke to his daughter-in-law Tamar. He said, "Live as a widow in your father's home. Wait there until my son Shelah grows up." Judah was thinking, "Shelah might die too, just like his brothers." So Tamar went to live in her father's home. 12 After a long time Judah's wife died. She was the daughter of Shua. When Judah got over his sadness, he went up to Timnah. His friend Hirah from Adullam went with him. Men were clipping the wool from Judah's sheep at Timnah. 13 Tamar was told, "Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to clip the wool from his sheep." 14 So she took off her widow's clothes. She covered her face with a veil so people wouldn't know who she was. Then she sat down at the entrance to Enaim. Enaim is on the road to Timnah. Tamar knew that Shelah had grown up. But she hadn't been given to him as his wife. 15 Judah saw her. He thought she was a prostitute because she had covered her face with a veil. 16 He didn't realize that she was his daughter-in-law. He went over to her by the side of the road. He said, "Come. Let me make love to you." "What will you give me to make love to you?" she asked. 17 "I'll send you a young goat from my flock," he said. "Will you give me something that belongs to you?" she asked. "I'll keep it until you send the goat." 18 He said, "What should I give you?" "Give me your seal and its string," she answered. "And give me your walking stick." So he gave them to her. Then he had sex with her. And she became pregnant by him. 19 After she left, she took off her veil. She put on her widow's clothes again. 20 Judah sent his friend Hirah with the young goat he had promised. He wanted to get back what he had given to the woman. But his friend Hirah couldn't find her. 21 He asked the men who lived at Enaim, "Where's the temple prostitute? She used to sit beside the road here." "There hasn't been any temple prostitute here," they said. 22 So Hirah went back to Judah. He said, "I couldn't find her. Besides, the men who lived there didn't know anything about her. They said, 'There hasn't been any temple prostitute here.' " 23 Then Judah said, "Let her keep what she has. I don't want people making fun of us. After all, I did send her this young goat. We can't help it if you couldn't find her." 24 About three months later people brought word to Judah. They said, "Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of being a prostitute. Now she's pregnant." Judah said, "Bring her out! Have her burned to death!" 25 As Tamar was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. She said, "I am pregnant by the man who owns these." She continued, "Do you recognize this seal and string and walking stick? Do you know who they belong to?" 26 Judah recognized them. He said, "She's a better person than I am. I should have given her to my son Shelah, but I didn't." Judah never had sex with Tamar again. 27 The time came for Tamar to have her baby. There were twin boys inside her. 28 As the babies were being born, one of them stuck out his hand. So the woman who was helping Tamar took a bright red thread. The woman tied it on the baby's wrist. She said, "This one came out first." 29 But he pulled his hand back, and his brother came out first instead. She said, "Just look at how you have broken out!" So he was called Perez. 30 Then his brother, who had the red thread on his wrist, came out. So he was named Zerah.
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