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Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

Maps, when used, are are from Created using BibleMapper 3.0.
Additional data from
Source of Dates Used

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית • B'resheet
(“In Beginning” or “At First”)
The First Book of Moses,
Commonly Called


~ 38 ~

Parashah 9: VaYeshev (Continued)
(“He continued living”) Gen 37:1–40:23
(Small Roman numerals in the text indicate each 'aliyah.)

[K’ziv [MAP] 1699 BCE]

C. Judah and Tamar (38:1⁠–⁠30)

(iv) 1At this time that Y’hudah left his brothers and settled near a man named Hirah, an 'AdulamiAdullamite.[1] 2There Y’hudah saw the daughter of a Kena‘aniKena'anite named Shua. He took her as a wife and slept with her. 3She conceived and had a son, and Y'hudah named him 'Er“awake”. [c. 1699 BCE (R), 1698 (K)] 4She conceived again and had another son, and she named him Onan“strong”. [c. 1698 BCE (R), 1697 (K)] 5She had yet another son and named him Shelah“a petition”. [c. 1696 BCE] He was at K’zivChezib (Achzib) when she bore him.

6Y’hudah aquired a wife for 'Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar“palm tree”. 7But 'Er, Y’hudah’s firstborn, was wicked from Yehovah’s perspective, so Yehovah put him to death. 8Then Y’hudah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife. Perform your duty as her brother-in-law and produce offspring for your brother.”[8] 9Onan knew that the offspring wouldn’t be his, so when he had sex with his brother’s widow, he released his semen onto the ground so that he would not produce offspring for his brother. 10What he did was evil in Yehovah’s eyes, so He put him to death also. 11Then Y’hudah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelach grows up.” For he thought, “He might die like his brothers.” Tamar went and lived in her father’s house. [1679 BCE]

12After quite some time, Y’hudah’s wife, Shua’s daughter, died. When Y’hudah had finished his period of mourning, he went up to his sheep shearers at Timnah MAP] with his friend Hirah, the 'Adulami. 13Tamar was told, “Hinneh,[GN] your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14She took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with her veil to disguise herself, and sat in the gate of Enaim,[14] MAP] which is on the way to Timnah. [MAP] For she saw that though Shelach had grown up, she hadn’t been given to him as a wife. 15When Y’hudah saw her, he thought that she was a prostitute because she had covered her face.[15] 16Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her and said, “Come now, please let me have sex with you.”

She said, “What will you give me to have sex with me?”

17“I will send you a young goat from the flock,” he said.

But she asked him, “What will you give me as a pledge until you send it?”

18“What pledge should I give you?” he asked.

She answered, “Your signet, its cord,[18] and the staff that is in your hand.”

So he gave them to her and had sex with her, and she conceived by him. 19After she got up and left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s garments again.

20When Y’hudah sent his friend the 'Adulami with the young goat to retrieve the pledge items that he had left with her, he couldn’t find her. 21So he asked the men of that place, “Where is the temple prostitute who was by the road at Enaim?”

They answered, “There hasn’t been a temple prostitute here.”

22So Hirah went back to Y’hudah and told hiim, “I couldn’t find her, and the men of the place said, ‘There hasn’t been a temple prostitute here.’”

23“Let her keep them,” Y’hudah said, “otherwise we’ll become a laughingstock. After all, I did send the young goat, but you couldn’t find her.”

24About three months later, Y’hudah was told, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has been acting like a prostitute, and now she’s pregnant.”

“Bring her out,” Y’hudah said, “and let her be burned to death.”

25As she was being brought out, she sent this message to her father-in-law: “I’m pregnant by the man who owns these.” She added, “Please examine these. Whose signet, cord, and staff are these?”

26Y’hudah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, because I didn’t give her to my son Shelach.” Ane he was not intimate with her again.

[Birth of Perez and Zaerah, 1678 BCE]

27When she went into labor, twins were in her womb. 28While she was in labor, one of them put out a hand; so the midwife tied a scarlet thread onto his hand and said, “This one came out first.” 29But when he pulled back his hand and his brother came out, she said, “You have broken out first.” So he was nameed Perez“breaking out”. 30Then his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and he was nameed Zerah“rising” or “brightness”.



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  1. A resident of the Canaanite city of Adullam [MAP]. [BACK]

 8. Levirate marriage is the obligation of a surviving brother to marry the widow of his brother if he died without having sired children (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). The corollary is that the widow must marry a brother-in-law rather than anyone outside the family. The oldest of the surviving brothers had the first obligation to perform this commandment, which also allowed him to inherit all of his dead brother’s property. ( accessed 18 Oct 2021) [BACK]

14. Enaim: a place which lay between Adullam and Timnath; probably the same as Enam (Joshua 15:34). [BACK]

15. “Because she had covered her face. The Jewish commentators all agree that this was not the custom of harlots; and as Judah, in Genesis 38:21, calls her kedeshah, [temple prostitute] one consecrated, he probably thought that she was a woman performing the vow required of every female votary of the Phœnician Venus (Astarte), once in her lifetime (Herod. i. 199). Hence the hire was a kid to be sacrificed to the goddess. As for Tamar her object was to assert her claim to the inheritance of ‘Er. Lange considers that the wickedness of ‘Er had caused him, equally with Onan, to neglect her, and that consequently there was no real incest. This is made probable by her immediate conception.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) [BACK]

18. A signet or seal, usually a ring, often worn on a cord around the neck, was a device for making an impression in wax, clay, paper, or some other medium, used to authenticate a document. The signet could have been used to transact any form of business in his name. [BACK]

Page originally posted on Monday, 18 October 2021

Page last updated on Monday, 27 March 2023 02:31 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
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