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The Apocryphal Old Testament Collection of the most important non-canonical Old Testament books designed for general use.

Chapter XLI

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Text Commentary

1And in the fourty-fifth jubilee, in the second week, in the second year, Judah found a wife for his eldest son Er, a woman of Aram named Tamar. 2But he took a dislike to her and would not lie with her, because his mother was a woman of Canaan and he wanted a wife from his mother's kinsfolk, but his father, Judah, would not allow it. 3And this Er, Judah's eldest son, was wicked, and the Lord took his life. 4And Judah said to Onan, his brother, Take your brother's wife and do your duty as her brother-in-law and raise offspring for your brother. 5And Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, but his brother's only, and he went into his sister-in-law's house and spilled his seed on the ground; and he too was wicked in the Lord's sight, and he took his life as well. 6And Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, Remain in your father's house as a widow till my son Shelah grows up, and I will give you to him as his wife. 7And he grew up; but Bath-Shua, Judah's wife, would not allow her son Shelah to marry her. And Bath-Shua, Judah's wife, died in the fifth year of this week.

8And in the sixth year Judah set off for Timnathah to shear his sheep. And they said to Tamar, Behold your father-in-law is going up to Timnathah to shear his sheep. 9And she set aside her widow's weeds, and put on a veil, and adorned herself, and sat in the gate by the Timnathah road. 10And as Judah was on his way he came upon her and thought she was a harlot and said to her, Let me come in to you; and she said to him, Come in; and he went in. 11And she said to him, Give me my fee; and he said to her, I have nothing with me 1 Lit. ‘in my hand’. but the ring on my finger, my bracelet, and the staff in my hand. 12And she said to him, Give me them till you send me my fee; and he said to her, I will send you a kid; and he gave them to her and went in to her, 2 So Lat.: Eth. om. ‘and went in to her’. and she conceived by him. 13And Judah went to his sheep, and she went to her father's house.

14And Judah sent his shepherd, an Adullamite, with the kid, but he could not find her; and he asked the people of the place, saying, Where is the harlot here? 3 Eth. ‘who is here’: Lat. ‘who was here’. 15And they said to him, We have no harlot here. And he returned and told Judah 4 So Lat.: Eth. ‘him’. that he could not find her and said to him, I asked the people of the place, and they said to me, There is no harlot here. And he said, Let her keep them, 5 So Lat.: Eth. ‘You keep it’. or we shall become a laughing-stock.

16And when she had completed three months it became obvious that she was with child; and they told Judah, saying, Behold, Tamar, your daughter-in-law, is with child by harlotry. 17And Judah went to her father's house and said to her father and her brothers, Bring her out and let her be burnt, for she has committed an outrage 6 Lit. ‘wrought uncleanness’. in Israel. 18And it came to pass when they brought her out to burn her, she sent her father-in-law the ring and the bracelet and the staff, saying, Do you recognize whose these are? By him I am with child. 19And Judah realized that they were his and said, Tamar is more in the right than I am, so let her not be burnt. 20And for that reason she was not given to Shelah; 7 This sentence fits in very oddly here. In Gen. xxxviii. 26 Judah gives no explicit counter- instructions that Tamar should not be burnt, and the statement about her not being given to Shelah is part of Judah's declaration, explaining why he thought she was more in the right than he was. The probability is that Judah's counter-instruction (whether added by the author of Jubilees himself or by a later source) had been accidentally inserted in the wrong place in the text, and that we should reverse the clauses in verses 19–20 and read ‘And Judah realized that they were his and said, “Tamar is more in the right than I am, because she was not given to Shelah: so let her not be burnt”. And he did not approach her again’. and he did not approach her again. 21And after that she bore two sons, Perez and Zerah, in the seventh year of this second week. 22(And it was then that the seven years of plenty came to an end, about which Joseph had spoken to Pharaoh.)

23And Judah realized that what he had done was wrong (for he had had intercourse with his daughter-in-law), and he despised himself because of it 8 Lit. ‘and he esteemed it hateful in his eyes’. and realized he had transgressed and done something shameful (for he had dishonoured his son's bed), and he began to lament and make supplication before the Lord because of his transgression. 24And we told him in a dream that it would be forgiven him because his supplication and his lamentation were sincere, and provided he did not transgress again. 25And he received forgiveness because he repented of his sin and because he had done it without knowing what it was he did (although his transgression was very great before our God, and everyone that behaves like this, and everyone that has intercourse with his mother-in-law, must be burnt with fire and destroyed, 9 Lit. ‘burnt with fire that he may burn in it’. for they are unclean and polluted: let them be burnt with fire. 26And do you give instructions to the sons of Israel that there be no uncleanness among them, for everyone that has intercourse with his daughter-in-law or his mother-in-law brings on himself 10 Lit. ‘has wrought’. uncleanness: let them be burnt with fire, both the man who has had intercourse with her and the woman also; and the Lord 11 Lit. ‘he’. will turn back his wrath and avert the punishment from Israel.) 27And we assured Judah that inasmuch as his two sons had not had intercourse with Tamar, 12 Lit. ‘her’. his own offspring by her were established as a second family and would not be rooted up. 28For he had honestly sought her punishment, and, in accordance with Abraham's ruling that he had given to his sons, Judah had tried to have her burnt with fire.

Notes:

1 Lit. ‘in my hand’.

2 So Lat.: Eth. om. ‘and went in to her’.

3 Eth. ‘who is here’: Lat. ‘who was here’.

4 So Lat.: Eth. ‘him’.

5 So Lat.: Eth. ‘You keep it’.

6 Lit. ‘wrought uncleanness’.

7 This sentence fits in very oddly here. In Gen. xxxviii. 26 Judah gives no explicit counter- instructions that Tamar should not be burnt, and the statement about her not being given to Shelah is part of Judah's declaration, explaining why he thought she was more in the right than he was. The probability is that Judah's counter-instruction (whether added by the author of Jubilees himself or by a later source) had been accidentally inserted in the wrong place in the text, and that we should reverse the clauses in verses 19–20 and read ‘And Judah realized that they were his and said, “Tamar is more in the right than I am, because she was not given to Shelah: so let her not be burnt”. And he did not approach her again’.

8 Lit. ‘and he esteemed it hateful in his eyes’.

9 Lit. ‘burnt with fire that he may burn in it’.

10 Lit. ‘has wrought’.

11 Lit. ‘he’.

12 Lit. ‘her’.

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