וַיְהִי בָּעֵת הַהִוא וַיֵּרֶד יְהוּדָה מֵאֵת אֶחָיו וַיֵּט עַד־אִישׁ עֲדֻלָּמִי וּשְׁמֹו חִירָה 38:1
Gene. 38:1 Now it happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers, and he turned aside to a certain Adullamite, and his name was Hirah.
וַיַּרְא־שָׁם יְהוּדָה בַּת־אִישׁ כְּנַעֲנִי וּשְׁמֹו שׁוּעַ וַיִּקָּחֶהָ וַיָּבֹא אֵלֶיהָ 38:2
Gene. 38:2 And Judah saw there the daughter of a certain Canaanite, and his name was Shua, and he took her and he went in to her.
וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַיִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמֹו עֵר 38:3
Gene. 38:3 And she conceived and she bore a son and he called his name Er.
וַתַּהַר עוֹד וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא אֶת שְׁמוֹ אוֹנָן 38:4
Gene. 38:4 And she conceived again and bore a son and she called his name Onan.
וַתֹּסֶף עֹוד וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמֹו שֵׁלָה וְהָיָה בִכְזִיב בְּלִדְתָּהּ אֹתֹו 38:5
Gene. 38:5 And she added still more, and conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Shelah; and it was in Chezib upon her bearing him.
וַיִּקַּח יְהוּדָה אִשָּׁה לְעֵר בְּכֹורֹו וּשְׁמָהּ תָּמָר 38:6
Gene. 38:6 And Judah took a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.
וַיְהִי עֵר בְּכֹור יְהוּדָה רַע בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה וַיְמִתֵהוּ יְהוָה 38:7
Gene. 38:7 And Er, firstborn of Judah, was wicked in the eyes of the Lord and the Lord slew him.
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה לְאֹוןָן בֹּא אֶל־אֵשֶׁת אָחִיךָ וְיַבֵּם אֹתָהּ וְהָקֵם זֶרַע לְאָחִיךָ 38:8
Gene. 38:8 And Judah said to Onan, “Go in to the wife of your brother and marry her and raise seed for your brother.”
The word וְיַבֵּם, translated here as “and marry,” is taken to mean “and perform the duty of a brother-in-law for a brother who died childless.”
וַיֵּדַע אֹוןָן כִּי לֹּא לֹו יִהְיֶה הַזָּרַע וְהָיָה אִם־בָּא אֶל־אֵשֶׁת אָחִיו וְשִׁחֵת אַרְצָה לְבִלְתִּי נְתָן־זֶרַע לְאָחִיו 38:9
Gene. 38:9 But Onan knew that the seed would not be his. And it was, rather than going in to the wife of his brother, that he spilled it on the ground, lest he give seed for his brother.
This verse, together with the next one, forms most of the basis for the biblical prohibition on masturbation. But I believe Onan’s “punishment” was not for masturbating, a subject ignored by the rest of the bible, but for violating the law requiring him to impregnate his sister-in-law as stated in Deut. 25:5. By the way, the “it” in this verse does not refer to Onan’s seed, because here seed means children -- offspring, not ejaculate. There is no doubt that the pronoun refers to Onan’s ejaculate. What else could he have spilled to the ground?
[Return to Levi.18:21]
וַיֵּרַע בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיָּמֶת גַּם־אֹתֹו 38:10
Gene. 38:10 And what he did was evil in the eyes of the Lord, and He slew him also.
This verse could be thought to support the contention that Onan’s masturbation was his sin. But I believe that interpretation of this verse to be too literal and narrow . The words “what he did” can’t just refer only to the previous verse. It had to have referred to the entire incident, i.e., Onan’s refusal to marry his brother’s widow and produce sons for his brother.
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה לְתָמָר כַּלָּתֹו שְׁבִי אַלְמָנָה בֵית־אָבִיךְ עַד־יִגְדַּל שֵׁלָה בְנִי כִּי אָמַר פֶּן־יָמוּת גַּם־הוּא 38:11
כְּאֶחָיו וַתֵּלֶךְ תָּמָר וַתֵּשֶׁב בֵּית אָבִיהָ
Gene. 38:11 And Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in the house of your father until Shelah, my son, grows up,” for he said, “lest he also die like his brothers.” And Tamar went and dwelled in the house of her father.
וַיִּרְבּוּ הַיָּמִים וַתָּמָת בַּת־שׁוּעַ אֵשֶׁת־יְהוּדָה וַיִּנָּחֶם יְהוּדָה וַיַּעַל עַל־גֹּזֲזֵי צֹאנֹו הוּא וְחִירָה רֵעֵהוּ 38:12
Gene. 38:12 And the time passed, and the daughter of Shua, the wife of Judah, died, and Judah was comforted; and he went up to the shearers of his sheep, he and Hirah, his friend, the Adullamite, to Timnah.
וַיֻּגַּד לְתָמָר לֵאמֹר הִנֵּה חָמִיךְ עֹלֶה תִמְנָתָה לָגֹז צֹאנֹו 38:13
Gene. 38:13 And it was told to Tamar saying, “Behold, your father-in-law goes up to Timnah to shear his sheep.”
וַתָּסַר בִּגְדֵי אַלְמְנוּתָהּ מֵעָלֶיהָ וַתְּכַס בַּצָּעִיף וַתִּתְעַלָּף וַתֵּשֶׁב בְּפֶתַח עֵינַיִם אֲשֶׁר עַל־דֶּרֶךְ תִּמְנָתָה כִּי 38:14
רָאֲתָה כִּי־גָדַל שֵׁלָה וְהִוא לֹא־נִתְּנָה לֹו לְאִשָּׁה
Gene. 38:14 And she removed the garments of widowhood from herself and concealed herself with a veil and wrapped herself and sat in the entrance of Enaim that is on the way to Timnah, for she saw that Shelah was grown up, but she was not given to him for a wife.
וַיִּרְאֶהָ יְהוּדָה וַיַּחְשְׁבֶהָ לְזֹונָה כִּי כִסְּתָה פָּנֶיהָ 38:15
Gene. 38:15 Then Judah saw her, but he thought her to be a harlot, for she had covered her face.
וַיֵּט אֵלֶיהָ אֶל־הַדֶּרֶךְ וַיֹּאמֶר הָבָה־נָּא אָבֹוא אֵלַיִךְ כִּי לֹא יָדַע כִּי כַלָּתֹו הִוא וַתֹּאמֶר מַה־תִּתֶּן־לִּי כִּי 38:16
Gene. 38:16 And he turned in to her on the way and said, “Come, please, let me go in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give me that you may come in to me?”
וַיֹּאמֶר אָנֹכִי אֲשַׁלַּח גְּדִי־עִזִּים מִן־הַצֹּאן וַתֹּאמֶר אִם־תִּתֵּן עֵרָבֹון עַד שָׁלְחֶךָ 38:17
Gene. 38:17 And he said, “I will send you a kid of the goats from the flock.” And she said, “If you will give a pledge until your sending.”
וַיֹּאמֶר מָה הָעֵרָבֹון אֲשֶׁר אֶתֶּן־לָּךְ וַתֹּאמֶר חֹתָמְךָ וּפְתִילֶךָ וּמַטְּךָ אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדֶךָ וַיִּתֶּן־לָּהּ וַיָּבֹא אֵלֶיהָ 38:18
Gene. 38:18 And he said, “What is the pledge that I should give you?” And she said, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that are in your hand.” And he gave them to her and he went in to her, and she conceived by him.
וַתָּקָם וַתֵּלֶךְ וַתָּסַר צְעִיפָהּ מֵעָלֶיהָ וַתִּלְבַּשׁ בִּגְדֵי אַלְמְנוּתָהּ 38:19
Gene. 38:19 And she rose and left, and she removed her veil from herself and put on the garments of her widowhood.
וַיִּשְׁלַח יְהוּדָה אֶת־גְּדִי הָעִזִּים בְּיַד רֵעֵהוּ הָעֲדֻלָּמִי לָקַחַת הָעֵרָבֹון מִיַּד הָאִשָּׁה וְלֹא מְצָאָהּ 38:20
Gene. 38:20 And Judah sent the kid of the goats by the hand of his friend, the Adullamite, to get the pledge from the hand of the woman, but he did not find her.
וַיִּשְׁאַל אֶת־אַנְשֵׁי מְקֹמָהּ לֵאמֹר אַיֵּה הַקְּדֵשָׁה הִוא בָעֵינַיִם עַל־הַדָּרֶךְ וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֹא־הָיְתָה בָזֶה 38:21
Gene. 38:21 So he asked the men of her place saying, “Where is the harlot who was at Enaim by the wayside?” And they said, “No harlot has been here.”
וַיָּשָׁב אֶל־יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא מְצָאתִיהָ וְגַם אַנְשֵׁי הַמָּקֹום אָמְרוּ לֹא־הָיְתָה בָזֶה קְדֵשָׁה 38:22
Gene. 38:22 And he returned to Judah and said, “I did not find her, and also the men of the place said, ‘No harlot has been here.’”
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה תִּקַּח־לָהּ פֶּן נִהְיֶה לָבוּז הִנֵּה שָׁלַחְתִּי הַגְּדִי הַזֶּה וְאַתָּה לֹא מְצָאתָהּ 38:23
Gene. 38:23 And Judah said, “You had to have taken to her lest we would be put to shame. Behold, I sent this kid and you did not find her.”
וַיְהִי כְּמִשְׁלֹשׁ חֳדָשִׁים וַיֻּגַּד לִיהוּדָה לֵאמֹר זָנְתָה תָּמָר כַּלָּתֶךָ וְגַם הִנֵּה הָרָה לִזְנוּנִים וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה 38:24
Gene. 38:24 And it happened after about three months that it was told to Judah saying, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has played the harlot and also, behold, she is pregnant by harlotry.” And Judah said, “Bring her forth, that she be burned.”
הִוא מוּצֵאת וְהִיא שָׁלְחָה אֶל־חָמִיהָ לֵאמֹר לְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר־אֵלֶּה לֹּו אָנֹכִי הָרָה וַתֹּאמֶר הַכֶּר־נָא לְמִי 38:25
הַחֹתֶמֶת וְהַפְּתִילִים וְהַמַּטֶּה הָאֵלֶּה
Gene. 38:25 She was brought forth, but she sent to her father-in-law saying, “I am pregnant by the man whose these are.” And she said, “Notice, please, the signet and the cords and the staff, whose these are.”
וַיַּכֵּר יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר צָדְקָה מִמֶּנִּי כִּי־עַל־כֵּן לֹא־נְתַתִּיהָ לְשֵׁלָה בְנִי וְלֹא־יָסַף עֹוד לְדַעְתָּהּ 38:26
Gene. 38:26 And Judah acknowledged them and said, “Righteous is she, more than I, forasmuch as I did not give her to Shelah, my son.” And he did not again know her anymore.
וַיְהִי בְּעֵת לִדְתָּהּ וְהִנֵּה תְאֹומִים בְּבִטְנָהּ 38:27
Gene. 38:27 And it happened in the time of her labor that, behold, twins were in her womb.
וַיְהִי בְלִדְתָּהּ וַיִּתֶּן־יָד וַתִּקַּח הַמְיַלֶּדֶת וַתִּקְשֹׁר עַל־יָדֹו שָׁנִי לֵאמֹר זֶה יָצָא רִאשֹׁנָה 38:28
Gene. 38:28 And it was when she labored, that a hand showed out, and the midwife took and bound up on his hand a scarlet thread, saying, “This one came forth first.”
וַיְהִי כְּמֵשִׁיב יָדֹו וְהִנֵּה יָצָא אָחִיו וַתֹּאמֶר מַה־פָּרַצְתָּ עָלֶיךָ פָּרֶץ וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמֹו פָּרֶץ 38:29
Gene. 38:29 And it happened as he drew back his hand that, behold, his brother came forth, and she said, “How did you break through a breach for yourself?” So his name was called Perez.
The name Perez means breach or pushed [or broke] through. [Return to Ruth 4:12]
וְאַחַר יָצָא אָחִיו אֲשֶׁר עַל־יָדֹו הַשָּׁנִי וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמֹו זָרַח 38:30
Gene. 38:30 And afterward his brother who had the scarlet thread on his hand came forth. And his name was called Zerah.
The name Zerah can mean rising or risen. Notice here that this chapter, like Genesis 36, is also a prolonged narrative spanning three generations, Judah, his sons and daughter-in-law, and the sons of his daughter-in-law (you could call it two generations as the last two sons are Judah’s as well).
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