Genesis 38:15
When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Because she had covered her face.—The Jewish commentators all agree that this was not the custom of harlots; and as Judah, in Genesis 38:21, calls her kedeshah, one consecrated, he probably thought that she was a woman performing the vow required of every female votary of the Phœnician Venus (Astarte), once in her lifetime (Herod. i. 199). Hence the hire was a kid to be sacrificed to the goddess. As for Tamar her object was to assert her claim to the inheritance of ‘Er. Lange considers that the wickedness of ‘Er had caused him, equally with Onan, to neglect her, and that consequently there was no real incest. This is made probable by her immediate conception.

38:1-30 The profligate conduct of Judah and his family. - This chapter gives an account of Judah and his family, and such an account it is, that it seems a wonder that of all Jacob's sons, our Lord should spring out of Judah, Heb 7:14. But God will show that his choice is of grace and not of merit, and that Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief. Also, that the worthiness of Christ is of himself, and not from his ancestors. How little reason had the Jews, who were so called from this Judah, to boast as they did, Joh 8:41. What awful examples the Lord proclaims in his punishments, of his utter displeasure at sin! Let us seek grace from God to avoid every appearance of sin. And let that state of humbleness to which Jesus submitted, when he came to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, in appointing such characters as those here recorded, to be his ancestors, endear the Redeemer to our hearts.Judah now comes into criminal, and, though unknown to him, incestuous sexual intercourse with Tamar. "And many were the days," a year or somewhat more. "To Timnah." This town is about twenty miles northwest of Hebron. There is another, however, in the hills about seven miles south of Hebron. "Put on a veil;" to conceal her face from Judah, or any other beholder. "The qate of Enaim." This is supposed to be the same as Enam Joshua 15:34. "And thy lace." This is the cord by which the signet was suspended round his neck. "Courtesan." The original word קדשׁה qedêshâh means one consecrated to the worship of Ashtoreth, in which chastity is sacrificed.12. Judah … went up unto his sheep-shearers—This season, which occurs in Palestine towards the end of March, was spent in more than usual hilarity, and the wealthiest masters invited their friends, as well as treated their servants, to sumptuous entertainments. Accordingly, it is said, Judah was accompanied by his friend Hirah.

Timnath—in the mountains of Judah.

And was doubtless careful not to discover herself by her voice.

When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot,.... By her posture and the place she was in:

because she had covered her face; with her veil, that he did not know her; for this is not given as a reason why he took her to be an harlot; the reason of this was, because she sat in the public road; but having covered her face he could not discern who she was, and therefore, from the other circumstance, concluded that she was an harlot, and sat there to prostitute herself to any that passed by.

When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. covered her face] Cf. Proverbs 7:10. The attire indicated the character she had assumed.

Verse 15. - When (literally, and) Judah saw her, he (literally, and he) thought her to be an harlot; - literally, thought her (i.e. took her for) an harlot, like λογίζεσθαι τινα de r& (cf. 1 Samuel 1:13; Job 13:24), or to זונָה (fem. part. of זָנַה, commit fornication); vide Genesis 34:31 - because she had covered her face - more meretricis. Genesis 38:15When Judah saw her here and took her for a harlot, he made her an offer, and gave her his signet-ring, with the band (פּתיל) by which it was hung round his neck, and his staff, as a pledge of the young buck-goat which he offered her. They were both objects of value, and were regarded as ornaments in the East, as Herodotus (i. 195) has shown with regard to the Babylonians (see my Bibl. Arch. 2, 48). He then lay with her, and she became pregnant by him.
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