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Genesis 38:25-26

Context
38:25 While they were bringing her out, she sent word 1  to her father-in-law: “I am pregnant by the man to whom these belong.” 2  Then she said, “Identify 3  the one to whom the seal, cord, and staff belong.” 38:26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more upright 4  than I am, because I wouldn’t give her to Shelah my son.” He did not have sexual relations with her 5  again.

1 tn Heb “she was being brought out and she sent.” The juxtaposition of two clauses, both of which place the subject before the predicate, indicates synchronic action.

2 tn Heb “who these to him.”

3 tn Or “ recognize; note.” This same Hebrew verb (נָכַר, nakhar) is used at the beginning of v. 26, where it is translated “recognized.”

4 tn Traditionally “more righteous”; cf. NCV, NRSV, NLT “more in the right.”

sn She is more upright than I. Judah had been irresponsible and unfaithful to his duty to see that the family line continued through the levirate marriage of his son Shelah. Tamar fought for her right to be the mother of Judah’s line. When she was not given Shelah and Judah’s wife died, she took action on her own to ensure that the line did not die out. Though deceptive, it was a desperate and courageous act. For Tamar it was within her rights; she did nothing that the law did not entitle her to do. But for Judah it was wrong because he thought he was going to a prostitute. See also Susan Niditch, “The Wronged Woman Righted: An Analysis of Genesis 38,” HTR 72 (1979): 143-48.

5 tn Heb “and he did not add again to know her.” Here “know” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.



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