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Judah and Tamar

38 Now at that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to [stay with] a certain Adullamite named Hirah. There Judah saw a daughter of Shua, a Canaanite, and he took her [as his wife] and lived with her. So she conceived and gave birth to a son and Judah named him Er. Then she conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. Again she conceived and gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Chezib that she gave birth to him.

Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him [in judgment]. Then Judah told Onan, “Go in to your brother’s widow, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law [under the levirate marriage custom]; [be her husband and] raise children for [the name of] your brother.”(A) Onan knew that the child (heir) would not be his [but his dead brother’s]; so whenever he lay with his brother’s widow, he spilled his seed on the ground [to prevent conception], so that he would not give a child to his brother. 10 But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; therefore He killed him also [in judgment]. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow at your father’s house until Shelah my [youngest] son is grown”; [but he was deceiving her] for he thought that [if Shelah should marry her] he too might die like his brothers did. So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.

12 [a]But quite a while later, Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died; and when the time of mourning was ended, he went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah with his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 Tamar was told, “Listen, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14 So she removed her widow’s clothes and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself up [in disguise], and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife [as Judah had promised]. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a [temple] prostitute, for she had covered her face [as such women did]. 16 He turned to her by the road, and said, “Please come, let me lie with you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give me, that you may lie with me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “Will you give me a pledge [as a deposit] until you send it?” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She said, “Your seal and your cord, and the staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and was intimate with her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she got up and left, and removed her veil and put on her widow’s clothing.

20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite, to get his pledge [back] from the woman, he was unable to find her. 21 He asked the men of that place, “Where is the temple prostitute who was by the roadside at Enaim?” They said, “There was no prostitute here.” 22 So he returned to Judah, and said, “I cannot find her; also the local men said, ‘There was no prostitute around here.’” 23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep the things (pledge articles) for herself, otherwise we will be a laughingstock [searching everywhere for her]. After all, I sent this young goat, but you did not find her.”

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the [role of a] prostitute, and she is with child because of her immorality.” So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned [to death as punishment]!” 25 While she was being brought out, she [took the things Judah had given her and] sent [them along with a message] to her father-in-law, saying, “I am with child by the man to whom these articles belong.” And she added, “Please examine [them carefully] and see [clearly] to whom these things belong, the seal and the cord and staff.” 26 Judah recognized the articles, and said, “She has been more righteous [in this matter] than I, because I did not give her to my son Shelah [as I had promised].” And Judah did not have [intimate] relations with her again.

27 Now when the time came for her to give birth, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one [baby] put out his hand, and the midwife took his hand and tied a scarlet thread on it, saying, “This one was born first.” 29 But he pulled back his hand, and his brother was born first. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself [to be the firstborn]!” So he was named Perez (breach, break forth).(B) 30 Afterward his brother who had the scarlet [thread] on his hand was born and was named Zerah (brightness).

Joseph’s Success in Egypt

39 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the [royal] guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he [even though a slave] became a successful and prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper (succeed) in his hand.(C) So Joseph pleased Potiphar and found favor in his sight and he served him as his personal servant. He made Joseph overseer over his house, and he put all that he owned in Joseph’s charge. It happened that from the time that he made Joseph overseer in his house and [put him in charge] over all that he owned, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house because of Joseph; so the Lord’s blessing was on everything that Potiphar owned, in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left all that he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with Joseph there he did not [need to] [b]pay attention to anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome and attractive in form and appearance.(D) Then after a time his master’s wife [c]looked at Joseph with desire, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me in the house, my master does not concern himself with anything; he has put everything that he owns in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God [and your husband]?” 10 And so it was that she spoke to Joseph [persistently] day after day, but he did not listen to her [plea] to lie beside her or be with her. 11 Then it happened one day that Joseph went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the men of the household was there in the house. 12 She caught Joseph by his [outer] robe, saying, “Lie with me!” But he left his robe in her hand and ran, and got outside [the house]. 13 When she saw that he had left his robe in her hand and had run outside, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “Look at this, your master has brought a Hebrew [into the household] to mock and insult us; he came to me to lie with me, and I screamed. 15 When he heard me screaming, he left his robe with me and ran outside [the house].” 16 So she left Joseph’s [outer] robe beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told her husband the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you brought among us, came to me to mock and insult me; 18 then as soon as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his robe with me and ran outside [the house].”

Joseph Imprisoned

19 And when Joseph’s master heard the words of his wife, saying, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger burned. 20 So Joseph’s master took him and put him in the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined; so he was there in the prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and extended lovingkindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the warden. 22 The warden committed to Joseph’s care (management) all the prisoners who were in the prison; so that whatever was done there, he was [d]in charge of it. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s care because the Lord was with him; whatever Joseph did, the Lord made to prosper.

Joseph Interprets a Dream

40 Now some time later, the cupbearer (butler) and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, Egypt’s king. Pharaoh ([e]Sesostris II) was extremely angry with his two officials, the chief of the cupbearers and the chief of the bakers. He put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard put Joseph in charge of them, and he served them; and they continued to be in custody for some time. Then the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, both dreamed a dream in the same night, each man with his [own significant] dream and each dream with its [personal] interpretation. When Joseph came to them in the morning and looked at them, [he saw that] they were sad and depressed. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in confinement with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so down-hearted today?” And they said to him, “We have [each] dreamed [distinct] dreams and there is no one to interpret them.” So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell me [your dreams].”

So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream there was a grapevine in front of me; 10 and on the vine were three branches. Then as soon as it budded, its blossoms burst open, and its clusters produced ripe grapes [in rapid succession]. 11 Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup; then I placed the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: the three branches represent three days; 13 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head (present you in public) and restore you to your position; and you will [again] put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand just as [you did] when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only think of me when it goes well with you, and please show me kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. 15 For in fact I was [f]taken (stolen) from the land of the Hebrews by [unlawful] force, and even here I have done nothing for which they should put me in the dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation [of the dream] was good, he said to Joseph, “I also dreamed, and [in my dream] there were three cake baskets on my head; 17 and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds [of prey] were eating [these foods] out of the basket on my head.” 18 Joseph answered, “This is the interpretation of it: the three baskets represent three days; 19 within three more days Pharaoh will [g]lift up your head and will hang you on a tree (gallows, pole), and [you will not so much as be given a burial, but] the birds will eat your flesh.”

20 Now on the third day, [which was] the Pharaoh’s birthday, he [released the two men from prison and] made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker [that is, presented them in public] among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and the cupbearer [once again] put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand; 22 but Pharaoh hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted [the meaning of the dreams] to them. 23 Yet [even after all that] the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot [all about] him.

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 38:12 Lit The days multiplied and Judah’s wife....
  2. Genesis 39:6 Lit know.
  3. Genesis 39:7 Lit cast her eyes on.
  4. Genesis 39:22 Lit the doer.
  5. Genesis 40:2 Also called Senusret II, 1894-1878 b.c.
  6. Genesis 40:15 The word here is much less personal than “kidnap.” Joseph was considered a “thing”—not a person.
  7. Genesis 40:19 Notice the totally different usage of the words “lift up your head.” In v 13, it is used idiomatically as “present you in public,” but in v 19, it is used literally, “lift your head up off of your body.”

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