Genesis 38

Judah and Tamar

38 And it came about at that time, that Judah [a]departed from his brothers and [b]visited a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; and he took her as a wife and had relations with her. And she conceived and gave birth to a son, and he named him Er. Then she conceived again and gave birth to a son, and she named him Onan. She gave birth to yet another son and named him Shelah; and it was at Chezib [c]that she gave birth to him.

Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life. Then Judah said to Onan, “Have relations with your brother’s wife and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up a [d]child for your brother.” Now Onan knew that the [e]child would not be his; so when he had relations with his brother’s wife, he [f]wasted his seed on the ground so that he would not give [g]a child to his brother. 10 But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also. 11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up”; for he [h]thought, “I am afraid that he too may die like his brothers.” So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.

12 Now [i]after a considerable time Shua’s daughter, the wife of Judah, died; and when [j]the time of mourning was ended, Judah went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And Tamar was told, “Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14 So she [k]removed her widow’s garments and covered herself with a [l]veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of [m]Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he assumed she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, “[n]Here now, let me have relations with you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give me, that you may have relations with me?” 17 He said, therefore, “I will send you a [o]young goat from the flock.” She then said, “Will you give a pledge until you send it?” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” And she said, “Your seal and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and had relations with her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she got up and departed, and [p]removed her [q]veil and put on her widow’s garments.

20 When Judah sent the [r]young goat by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. 21 He asked the people of her place, saying, “Where is the temple prostitute who was by the road at Enaim?” But they said, “There has been no temple prostitute here.” 22 So he returned to Judah, and said, “I did not find her; and furthermore, the people of the place said, ‘There has been no temple prostitute here.’” 23 Then Judah said, “Let her [s]keep them, otherwise we will become a laughingstock. [t]After all, I sent this young goat, but you did not find her.”

24 Now it was about three months later that Judah was [u]informed, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has prostituted herself, and behold, she is also pregnant by prostitution.” Then Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned!” 25 It was while she was being brought out that she sent word to her father-in-law, saying, “I am pregnant by the man to whom these things belong.” She also said, “Please examine and see, whose signet ring and cords and staff are these?” 26 And Judah recognized them, and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not [v]have relations with her again.

27 It came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. 28 Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, that one baby put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But it came about as he drew back his hand that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” So he was named [w]Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named [x]Zerah.


  1. Genesis 38:1 Lit went down
  2. Genesis 38:1 Lit turned aside to
  3. Genesis 38:5 Lit when
  4. Genesis 38:8 Lit seed
  5. Genesis 38:9 Lit seed
  6. Genesis 38:9 Lit spilled on the ground
  7. Genesis 38:9 Lit seed
  8. Genesis 38:11 Lit said
  9. Genesis 38:12 Lit the days became many and
  10. Genesis 38:12 Lit Judah was comforted, he
  11. Genesis 38:14 Lit removed from herself
  12. Genesis 38:14 Or shawl
  13. Genesis 38:14 In Josh 15:34, Enam
  14. Genesis 38:16 Or Come, now
  15. Genesis 38:17 Lit kid of goats
  16. Genesis 38:19 Lit removed from herself
  17. Genesis 38:19 Or shawl
  18. Genesis 38:20 Lit kid of goats by the hand of
  19. Genesis 38:23 Lit take for herself
  20. Genesis 38:23 Lit Behold
  21. Genesis 38:24 Lit informed, saying
  22. Genesis 38:26 Lit know her yet again
  23. Genesis 38:29 I.e., a breach
  24. Genesis 38:30 I.e., a dawning or brightness