And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren,
and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.
And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah;
and he took her, and went in unto her.
At about that time , Judah had sex with a Canaanite woman (the daughter of Shuah),
which resulted in three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah.
And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er.
And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan.
And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah:
and he was at Chezib, when she bare him.
And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.
Judah selected a wife for Er, whose name was Tamar.
And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and
the LORD slew him.
Er was wicked in God's sight, and God killed him. 
And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up
seed to thy brother.
Judah said unto Onan,
Go have sex with your dead brother's wife. 
And Onan knew that the
seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his
brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he
should give seed to his brother.
And the thing which he
did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.
Onan spills his seed on the ground, so God kills him too. 
Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at thy
father's house, till Shelah my son be grown: for he said, Lest peradventure
he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's
And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died; and Judah
was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his
friend Hirah the Adullamite.
After God killed her husband (Er) and his brother (Onan), Judah said to his daughter-in-law, Tamar,
Remain a widow in your father's house until my son Shelah is old enough to have sex with you.
It would be a shame if he also died before impregnating you.
Some time later, Judah's wife (the daughter of Shuah) died and he went to his sheepshearer's place in Timnath.
And it was told Tamar,
saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep.
Tamar heard that her father-in-law was in Timnath to shear his sheep.
And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a
vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to
Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.
So she took off her widow's garments, covered herself with a veil, and sat in an open place on the way to Timnath.
(Because Judah's son, Shelah, was grown and she hadn't been given to him as a wife.)
When Judah saw her, he
thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.
When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face.
And he turned unto
her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew
not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me,
that thou mayest come in unto me?
So Judah said,
Let me have sex with you.
(He didn't know she was his daughter-in-law.) 
And she said,
What will you give me to have sex with you?
And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt
thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?
I'll give you a young goat.
And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and
thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he
gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.
And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on
the garments of her widowhood.
Tamar asked for Judah's seal, bracelets, and staff as a deposit until he sent the goat.
Judah gave them to Tamar and he impregnated her.
And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to
receive his pledge from the woman's hand: but he found her not.
Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was
openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this place.
And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of
the place said, that there was no harlot in this place.
Judah sent a friend to deliver the goat to Tamar, so he could get back his deposit.
But he couldn't find her.
And Judah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent
this kid, and thou hast not found her.
Let her keep the deposit, so we aren't shamed.
And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah,
saying, Tamar thy
daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child
by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.
A few months later, someone told Judah,
Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has played the harlot, and is with child by whoredom.
Find her and burn her to death. 
When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the
man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee,
whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff.
When Tamar was found and was brought to Judah, She said,
I was impregnated by a man who gave me these things as a deposit.
Who is the man who owns this seal, these bracelets, and this staff?
And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than
I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.
Judah acknowledged them, and said,
She is more righteous than I, because I didn't make my son Shelah have sex with her. 
And Judah didn't have sex with Tamar again.
And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were
in her womb.
And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand:
and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying,
This came out first.
And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother
came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon
thee: therefore his name was called Pharez.
And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his
hand: and his name was called Zarah.
Tamar had twins after she was impregnated by her father-in-law.
When the twins were delivered, the midwife put a scarlet thread on Zarah's finger, saying,
This one came out first.
But Zarah drew back his hand, and Pharez  came out first.
- And it came to pass at that time [v.1]
This story seems completely misplaced, sandwiched betwen the chapter where Joseph is
sold and taken to Egypt and the one where Potiphar buys him there.
- Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD;
and the LORD slew him. [v.7]
Drunk With Blood: 6. Er was wicked in the sight of the Lord
(so the Lord slew him)
- Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife. [v.8]
The Bible says that if a man dies, his brother must have
sex with his dead brother's wife. (Dt 25:5-10)
So when God killed Er, it was his younger brother Onan's job to impregnate Er's wife, Tamar.
And when God killed Onan (for spilling his seed when he was supposed to be using it to impregnate
his dead brother's wife), it was his younger brother Shelah's job to get the job done.
When Shelah didn't do it, Tamar decided to get someone else to. That
someone else was her father-in-law Judah.
- Onan ... spilled it on the ground. [v.9]
This lovely Bible story is seldom read in Sunday School, but it is the basis of many Christian doctrines, including the
condemnation of masturbation, homosexuality, and birth control.
What the Bible says about birth control,
semen and masturbation
Drunk With Blood: 7. Onan spilled it on the ground (so the Lord killed him too)
Mony Python: Every sperm is sacred
- (For he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) [v.16]
Sex by mistake in the Bible
- Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. [v.24]
What the Bible says about abortion and
burning people to death
- Judah ... said, She hath been more righteous than I;
because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. (v.26)
Judah finally acknowledges that he has done something wrong. Though it wasn't that he had sex with
his daughter-in-law, Tamar; it was that he didn't force his third (and only surviving son) to impregnate her.
- Twins were in her womb ... Pharez ... and ... Zarah. [vv.27-30]
From this incestuous union, twins were born (both were boys of course).
One of these was Pharez -- an ancestor of Jesus (Mt 1:3,
- Don't be wicked in the sight of the Lord.
- Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. 38:7
- Don't spill your seed on the ground.
- And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the
seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord:
wherefore he slew him also. 38:7-10
- Dwindling in Unbelief
- God's 5th Killing: Er was
wicked in the sight of the Lord (So the Lord killed him) (Genesis 38:7)
- God's 6th Killing: Onan spilled
it on the ground (So the Lord killed him, too) (38:7-10)
- Top 50 Bible stories for kids
- How many has God killed?
(Complete list and estimated total) (38:7, 10)
- Dan Savage is right about the Bible: It's Bullshit.
- Three more ways that Muhammad is better than Jesus (38:13-28)
- The Daily (Maybe)
- In Defense of Onan
- Slate Blogs the Bible by David Plotz
- Jacob Gets His Comeuppance
- The Bible (Annotated)
- Genesis 38. Intermission: Taming Tamar.
- Christian Response
- The Annotated Skeptic's Annotated Bible
these are the generations of Pharez (Gen 38)
- Responses to the Skeptic's Annotated Bible Cruelty Short List - Genesis
Drunk With Blood: Genesis