The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Genesis
Chapter 38
A time came when Juda left his brethren up in the hill country, and went to lodge with a man called Hiras, at Odollam.
Here he cast his eyes on the daughter of one Suë, a Chanaanite, and wedded and bedded her.
She conceived, and bore a son, whom she named Her;
then conceived again, and called her second son Onan;
then bore a third, whom she called Sela, and after that had no more children.
Juda found for his eldest son, Her, a wife whose name was Thamar;
but this first-born son of his was a sinner, and God saw it and cut him off in his prime.
Whereupon Juda bade his son Onan mate with the widow, and do a husband’s duty by her, so as to beget children in his brother’s name;
but Onan, who knew that they would not be reckoned as his, frustrated the act of marriage when he mated with her, sooner than breed sons in his brother’s name.
Him, too, for this abominable deed of his, the Lord punished with death.
And now Juda said to Thamar, his daughter-in-law, Go back to thy father’s house, and there support thy widowed state until my son Sela has grown up. The truth was, he was afraid the same doom might overtake Sela. Thamar, then, went back to live at her father’s house.

Time passed, and Suë’s daughter, the wife of Juda, died. And when his grief for her was assuaged, he went with his friend Hiras of Odollam, who was a shepherd, to see the men who were shearing his flock at Thamnas.
When she heard that her father-in-law was going up to Thamnas for the sheep-shearing,
Thamar laid aside her widow’s weeds, put a veil on, and disguised herself; then she went and sat at the cross roads on the way to Thamnas. She knew well that Sela had grown up, and still no husband was given her.
Juda saw her without recognizing her as his daughter-in-law (for she kept her face veiled) and took her for a harlot;
so he accosted her, and asked for her favours. What wilt thou give me, she asked, as the price of enjoying them?
I will send thee a goat, he answered, from my herd. And when she told him he might have his will, on condition that he gave her a pledge, to hold until he kept his promise,
What wilt thou have, asked Juda, for a pledge? Thy ring, she answered, and thy bracelet, and the staff thou carriest. At this single mating she conceived;
and now she rose up and was gone, took off her disguise, and was back in her widow’s weeds again.

Then Juda bade his shepherd at Odollam take the woman a goat, so as to recover the pledge he had given her. But the shepherd could not find her;
and when he asked the townsfolk, What has become of the harlot that used to sit at the cross-roads? they said, There was never a harlot there.
So he went back to Juda, and told him, I could not find her; and what is more, the townsfolk would have it there was never harlot sitting there at all.
Let her keep what she has, said Juda; she cannot call us dishonest, now that I have sent the kid as I promised, and she was not to be found.
So three months passed; and then word came to Juda, Thamar, thy daughter-in-law, has proved a light woman; she is big with child for all to see. Whereupon Juda said, Bring her here, then; she must be burned alive.
But she, on the way to her place of punishment, sent a message to her father-in-law to say, These belong to the man who got me with child; satisfy thyself, whose are this ring, this bracelet, and this staff.
And Juda, recognizing his own gifts, said, She is in the right, not I; why did I not give her my son Sela in marriage? Yet would he never mate with her again.

When she was near her time, it proved she had twins in her womb. And at the very moment of her delivery, one of the children put his hand out; so the midwife tied a red cord round it, thinking to herself,
This one is the first-born.
But he drew his hand in again, and the other was born first. Whereupon the woman said, Wouldst thou break thy way out? And so he was called Phares, which means, A breach in the wall.
And when his brother was brought to birth after him, with the red cord round his hand, he was called Zara, the Dawn.