And he said, What pledge shall I give you? And she said, Your signet, and your bracelets, and your staff that is in your hand. And he gave it her, and came in to her, and she conceived by him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Thy bracelets.—Heb., thy cord. The art of engraving was probably not advanced enough among these nomads to permit them to engrave gems small enough to wear in a ring. Judah evidently suspended his signet round his neck by a cord; and this custom still exists among the Arabs, of whom some wear signet rings, while others hang them round their necks. Probably each man of distinction had his emblem, and in Genesis 49 Jacob seems to refer to them. Thus Judah’s emblem was a lion, Zebulun’s a ship, Issachar’s an ass, &c.
Thy staff.—The staff in ancient times was elaborately adorned. Herodotus (i. 195) describes the staves carried by the Babylonians, as having on them carvings of fruit, or of some flower or bird; and Homer perpetually makes mention of the “sceptres,” that is, walking-sticks, of the kings, as carved so magnificently as to be worthy of being ascribed to Hephaestus, and handed down as emblems of authority from father to son. (See Iliad, ii. 101-107.) It is from these staves that the sceptres of kings, and the batons of field-marshals, &c, are derived.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.Thy bracelets, or handkerchief, or girdle, or any other ornament made of twisted thread, which the Hebrew word signifies. God so ordering things by his providence, that his sin might be discovered. And this and other such horrid crimes committed sometimes by the patriarchs, and other eminent persons, it hath pleased God for divers wise and holy reasons to leave upon record, partly, to discover how great and deep the corruption of man’s nature is, and that even in the best; partly, to oblige all men to a humble sense of their own infirmity, and to a diligent application of themselves to God for his gracious succours, and to a greater circumspection and watchfulness to prevent those evils in themselves; partly, to encourage even the greatest sinners to repentance and the hope of pardon; and partly, for the just punishment and obduration of incorrigible sinners, who make such sad examples matter of their delight and imitation.
and she said, thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand; she asks all these, that if one should be lost, or fail of being sufficient proof, the other might: the first of these the Septuagint version renders, "thy ring"; the ring upon his finger, which had a seal on it, and was the signet of his right hand; so Onkelos and Ben Melech: the second word seems not so well rendered, since "bracelets" were wore by women and not men: Jarchi takes it to be a garment with which he was covered; so Ben Melech and the Targum, a cloak, which is not likely, that she should desire him to strip off his clothes: it seems to be either a covering of his head, a wrap of linen such as the Turks wear, or else a handkerchief he had in his pocket; and the staff in his hand was either his walking staff or a shepherd's crook or staff:
and he gave it her, all the above things as a pledge:
and came in unto her; not on the public road, but in some private place at some distance, to which they retired. Maimonides (c) says, before the law was given, if a man met a woman in the street, and he and she agreed, he gave her hire, and he lay with her, and went away, and such an one was called "Kedeshah", a harlot, the word used afterwards for Tamar:
and she conceived by him; she proved with child upon it.And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. signet … cord … staff] The signet ring is frequently worn by Arabs on a cord fastened round the neck. Cf. Song of Solomon 8:6, “set me as a seal upon thine heart.” The signet ring and the staff, which was often carved and highly ornamented, would be the most personal possessions of a Sheikh, and, as pledges, a most certain means of identification. This astute manoeuvre is the turning-point of the whole story.Verse 18. - And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, - the chotham, or signet, was either worn on the finger, δακτυλίον (LXX.) or suspended round the neck by a pithil, or silk string. Its impression was a sign of property and a means of security (cf. Matthew 27:66; John 3:33; Ephesians 1:13, &c.). Among the ancient Babylonians it was customary for every one to wear such a ring (Herod., 1:195); and modern Arabians in towns wear a seal-ring on the finger, or fastened by a cord round the neck, the impression of which serves as a signature (Robinson, 1:52). The seals and signets that have been brought to light by the excavations in Assyria and Babylon (Layard, 'Nin. and Bab.,' 152-159, 602-608) are of various forms and materials. They show the art of engraving to have been of great antiquity; but whether Judah's signet was marked with alphabetical characters cannot be determined, though it may have been, since alphabetical writing was as old at least as the time of Abraham (vide Keil, 'Introd.,' Part I. sect. 1. Genesis 1. § 4) - and thy bracelets (rather, thy chain, pithil, ut supra), and thy staff (the mateh, or rod, was so called from the idea of stretching out, the root being natah, to stretch out or extend) that is in thine hand. This too every Baby-Ionian carried (Herod., 1:195). "It was necessarily adorned with some device carved upon it, and consisting in a flower or a fruit, a bird, or some other animal" (Kalisch). And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him. Joshua 15:10; Joshua 19:43), but Timnah on the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:57, cf. Rob. Pal. ii. 343, note), as the expression "went up" shows. The sheep-shearing was a fte with shepherds, and was kept with great feasting. Judah therefore took his friend Hirah with him; a fact noticed in Genesis 38:12 in relation to what follows.
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