Judah and Tamar
38 1 About that time, Judah separated from his brothers and hooked up with a man in Adullam named Hirah. 2 While there, Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua. He married her, they went to bed, 3 she became pregnant and had a son named Er. 4 She got pregnant again and had a son named Onan. 5 She had still another son; she named this one Shelah. They were living at Kezib when she had him. 6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn. Her name was Tamar. 7 But Judah's firstborn, Er, grievously offended God and God took his life. 8 So Judah told Onan, "Go and sleep with your brother's widow; it's the duty of a brother-in-law to keep your brother's line alive." 9 But Onan knew that the child wouldn't be his, so whenever he slept with his brother's widow he spilled his semen on the ground so he wouldn't produce a child for his brother. 10 God was much offended by what he did and also took his life. 11 So Judah stepped in and told his daughter-in-law Tamar, "Live as a widow at home with your father until my son Shelah grows up." He was worried that Shelah would also end up dead, just like his brothers. So Tamar went to live with her father.
12 Time passed. Judah's wife, Shua's daughter, died. When the time of mourning was over, Judah with his friend Hirah of Adullam went to Timnah for the sheep shearing. 13 Tamar was told, "Your father-in-law has gone to Timnah to shear his sheep." 14 She took off her widow's clothes, put on a veil to disguise herself, and sat at the entrance to Enaim which is on the road to Timnah. She realized by now that even though Shelah was grown up, she wasn't going to be married to him. 15 Judah saw her and assumed she was a prostitute since she had veiled her face. 16 He left the road and went over to her. He said, "Let me sleep with you." He had no idea that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, "What will you pay me?" 17 "I'll send you," he said, "a kid goat from the flock." She said, "Not unless you give me a pledge until you send it." 18 "So what would you want in the way of a pledge?" She said, "Your personal seal-and-cord and the staff you carry." He handed them over to her and slept with her. And she got pregnant. 19 She then left and went home. She removed her veil and put her widow's clothes back on. 20 Judah sent the kid goat by his friend from Adullam to recover the pledge from the woman. But he couldn't find her. 21 He asked the men of that place, "Where's the prostitute that used to sit by the road here near Enaim?" They said, "There's never been a prostitute here." 22 He went back to Judah and said, "I couldn't find her. The men there said there never has been a prostitute there." 23 Judah said, "Let her have it then. If we keep looking, everyone will be poking fun at us. I kept my part of the bargain - I sent the kid goat but you couldn't find her."
24 Three months or so later, Judah was told, "Your daughter-in-law has been playing the whore - and now she's a pregnant whore." Judah yelled, "Get her out here. Burn her up!" 25 As they brought her out, she sent a message to her father-in-law, "I'm pregnant by the man who owns these things. Identify them, please. Who's the owner of the seal-and-cord and the staff?" 26 Judah saw they were his. He said, "She's in the right; I'm in the wrong - I wouldn't let her marry my son Shelah." He never slept with her again. 27 When her time came to give birth, it turned out that there were twins in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one put his hand out; the midwife tied a red thread on his hand, saying, "This one came first." 29 But then he pulled it back and his brother came out. She said, "Oh! A breakout!" So she named him Perez (Breakout). 30 Then his brother came out with the red thread on his hand. They named him Zerah (Bright).
Joseph and Potiphar's Wife
39 1 After Joseph had been taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelites, Potiphar an Egyptian, one of Pharaoh's officials and the manager of his household, bought him from them. 2 As it turned out, God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. 4 He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. 5 From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian - all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, 6 and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day.
7 As time went on, his master's wife became infatuated with Joseph and one day said, "Sleep with me." 8 He wouldn't do it. He said to his master's wife, "Look, with me here, my master doesn't give a second thought to anything that goes on here - he's put me in charge of everything he owns. 9 He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn't turned over to me is you. You're his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?" 10 She pestered him day after day after day, but he stood his ground. He refused to go to bed with her. 11 On one of these days he came to the house to do his work and none of the household servants happened to be there. 12 She grabbed him by his cloak, saying, "Sleep with me!" He left his coat in her hand and ran out of the house.
13 When she realized that he had left his coat in her hand and run outside, 14 she called to her house servants: "Look - this Hebrew shows up and before you know it he's trying to seduce us. He tried to make love to me but I yelled as loud as I could. 15 With all my yelling and screaming, he left his coat beside me here and ran outside." 16 She kept his coat right there until his master came home. 17 She told him the same story. She said, "The Hebrew slave, the one you brought to us, came after me and tried to use me for his plaything. 18 When I yelled and screamed, he left his coat with me and ran outside."
19 When his master heard his wife's story, telling him, "These are the things your slave did to me," he was furious. 20 Joseph's master took him and threw him into the jail where the king's prisoners were locked up. But there in jail 21 God was still with Joseph: He reached out in kindness to him; he put him on good terms with the head jailer. 22 The head jailer put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners - he ended up managing the whole operation. 23 The head jailer gave Joseph free rein, never even checked on him, because God was with him; whatever he did God made sure it worked out for the best.
Joseph Interprets the Prisoners' Dreams
40 1 As time went on, it happened that the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt crossed their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was furious with his two officials, the head cupbearer and the head baker, 3 and put them in custody under the captain of the guard; it was the same jail where Joseph was held. 4 The captain of the guard assigned Joseph to see to their needs.
5 the king's cupbearer and baker, while being held in the jail, both had a dream on the same night, each dream having its own meaning. 6 When Joseph arrived in the morning, he noticed that they were feeling low. 7 So he asked them, the two officials of Pharaoh who had been thrown into jail with him, "What's wrong? Why the long faces?" 8 They said, "We dreamed dreams and there's no one to interpret them." Joseph said, "Don't interpretations come from God? Tell me the dreams." 9 First the head cupbearer told his dream to Joseph: "In my dream there was a vine in front of me 10 with three branches on it: It budded, blossomed, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 I was holding Pharaoh's cup; I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh's cup, and gave the cup to Pharaoh." 12 Joseph said, "Here's the meaning. The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days, Pharaoh will get you out of here and put you back to your old work - you'll be giving Pharaoh his cup just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only remember me when things are going well with you again - tell Pharaoh about me and get me out of this place. 15 I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews. And since I've been here, I've done nothing to deserve being put in this hole." 16 When the head baker saw how well Joseph's interpretation turned out, he spoke up: "My dream went like this: I saw three wicker baskets on my head; 17 the top basket had assorted pastries from the bakery and birds were picking at them from the basket on my head." 18 Joseph said, "This is the interpretation: The three baskets are three days; 19 within three days Pharaoh will take off your head, impale you on a post, and the birds will pick your bones clean."
20 And sure enough, on the third day it was Pharaoh's birthday and he threw a feast for all his servants. He set the head cupbearer and the head baker in places of honor in the presence of all the guests. 21 Then he restored the head cupbearer to his cupbearing post; he handed Pharaoh his cup just as before. 22 And then he impaled the head baker on a post, following Joseph's interpretations exactly. 23 But the head cupbearer never gave Joseph another thought; he forgot all about him.