“Come, let’s spend time together at my lodgings,” Judah propositioned the veiled woman, not realizing that the temple prostitute was his daughter-in-law, Tamar.
“And what’s in it for me?” Tamar asked with a sly smile.
“A baby goat from my flocks when I reach Timnah,” Judah said.
“And I should just believe you’ll keep your promise?” Tamar asked. “I need collateral.”
Judah carried little of monetary value when he traveled. “What shall I give you, as I have nothing but the clothes on my back?”
Tamar smiled. “I’ll take your signet ring and the cord it dangles from on your neck. Or is your identity worthless?”
Judah took the ring of his family seal and handed it to her.
“And your staff,” Tamar added.
Judah handed over his staff and brought her to his bed.
After Tamar got what she was after, she left Judah’s tent and went back home and changed her clothes.
After seeing his sheepshearers in Timnah, Judah sent his friend Hirah back through Enaim to make good on his promise and to recover his signet, cord, and staff. Hirah looked all over Enaim for her without success.
He asked the local citizens, “Where can I find the temple prostitute who waits by the east gate?” But no one knew who he was talking about. “We run a clean town. No prostitutes here.”
Hirah went back and gave Judah the bad news. Judah answered, “Well, let her keep my belongings. We’ll become a laughing stock if we keep looking for her.”
Three months later, Judah heard some disturbing news. “Tamar, your sons’ widow, has been whoring around and now she’s pregnant.
“Bring her here to be burned alive,” Judah commanded indignantly.
Tamar faced her father-in-law, who had already prepared a pyre for her in the square. She carried with her a broad-bottomed satchel.
“The owner of these belongings is the man who has made me pregnant,” she said, throwing the satchel at his feet. “Take a look, and know who the father is.”
Judah opened the satchel and turned white as a ghost. There he found his signet, cord, and staff.
Falling to his knees, he hung his head and said to those gathered around, “She’s in the right, and I’m in the wrong. I promised her my son Shelah, and I failed to fulfill it.”
Tamar gave birth to twins, and Judah never slept with her again. During childbirth, one child put his hand out, so the midwife tied a red thread around its wrist to mark who would be born first. But when he withdrew his hand, his brother came out before him. They called the firstborn “Perez,” Breach, and his brother with the red thread, they named “Zerah,” Bright.
Inspiration: Genesis 38