Judah left home in Hebron to stay with a friend and fellow shepherd named Hirah in Adullam. While living there, he married a Canaanite named Bathshua, and they had two sons, Er and Onan. When Bathshua conceived the third son, Judah and his family settled for a time in Chezib.
Shortly after his third son Shelah was born, Judah chose a wife for his firstborn son, Er. Her name was Tamar.
Er was a wicked man, so God put him to death. As was the custom, Judah insisted that Onan marry his brother’s widow so that he could father a child on his brother’s behalf. But Onan wanted the offspring as heirs for himself, so whenever Onan had sexual intercourse with Tamar, he’d pull out and let his semen spill onto the ground. This displeased God, who wanted Abraham’s descendants to be fruitful, so He put him to death too.
“Live as a widow in your father’s house,” Judah told Tamar after Onan’s death. “When my son Shelah comes of age, he will be your husband, and he will give you an heir.”
Judah had no intention of giving his third son to Tamar because he feared Shelah too might die. But Tamar took Judah at his word and moved back to Adullam to live with her father until Shelah came of age.
Judah’s wife died shortly after Shelah grew to manhood. After he mourned her death, Judah and his friend Hirah decided to meet up in Timnah for sheep shearing season. Word got back to Tamar about their plans, and since Judah hadn’t kept his word to her, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
Tamar took off her widow’s clothing and put on a veil. There on the road to Timnah, she sat disguised as a prostitute at the entrance to Enaim. She would wait for Judah to pass by.
Inspiration: Genesis 38