38:11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until Shelah my son grows up.” For he thought, 2 “I don’t want him to die like his brothers.” 3 So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.
38:24 After three months Judah was told, 4 “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has turned to prostitution, 5 and as a result she has become pregnant.” 6 Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!” 38:25 While they were bringing her out, she sent word 7 to her father-in-law: “I am pregnant by the man to whom these belong.” 8 Then she said, “Identify 9 the one to whom the seal, cord, and staff belong.” 38:26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more upright 10 than I am, because I wouldn’t give her to Shelah my son.” He did not have sexual relations with her 11 again.
1 tn Heb “and Judah took.”
2 tn Heb “said.”
3 tn Heb “Otherwise he will die, also he, like his brothers.”
sn I don’t want him to die like his brothers. This clause explains that Judah had no intention of giving Shelah to Tamar for the purpose of the levirate marriage. Judah apparently knew the nature of his sons, and feared that God would be angry with the third son and kill him as well.
4 tn Heb “it was told to Judah, saying.”
5 tn Or “has been sexually promiscuous.” The verb may refer here to loose or promiscuous activity, not necessarily prostitution.
6 tn Heb “and also look, she is with child by prostitution.”
7 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.
8 tn Heb “who these to him.”
10 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.
11 tn Heb “and he did not add again to know her.” Here “know” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.