Genesis 38:26 says:

וַיַּכֵּר יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר צָדְקָה מִמֶּנִּי כִּי עַל כֵּן לֹא נְתַתִּיהָ לְשֵׁלָה בְנִי וְלֹא יָסַף עוֹד לְדַעְתָּהּ:

Then Judah recognized [them], and he said, "She is right, [it is] from me, because I did not give her to my son Shelah." But he no longer continued to be intimate with her.

Rashi says on this verse:

But he no longer continued: Heb. וְלֹא-יָסַף. Some say: he did not continue [to know her] (Targum Onkelos), and others say: he did not cease (Sotah 10b). (A similar instance is found in connection with Eldad and Medad (Num. 11:25), [where the verse reads:] וְלֹא יָסָפוּ, they did not continue, which the Targum renders: וְלֹא פָסְקוּ, they did not cease).

Which textual tradition is correct? Did he not cease or not continue?

If Yehudah did not cease, does this mean he married Tamar? If he did not continue (which is the translation I've always seen until now), then did he finally give her his third son? Or was that unnecessary now that children were produced? If so, did she go off and marry someone else entirely, or did she remain unmarried?

(I checked Sotah 10b but didn't find any further enlightenment there.)


1 Answer 1


In Genesis 46:12, the two children of Tamar are actually numbered not as the children of Er (Tamar's oringinal husband), but the children of Judah. In other words, Judah did not fulfill the Levirate marriage with Tamar, and so her children were not considered the children of Er under Levirate marriage. (Judah never married Tamar.) Instead Tamar was the mother of the twin sons of JUDAH.

In Hebrew when we look at Genesis 46:12, we see the EXACT SAME construct found in 1 Samuel 7:13, 2 Samuel 2:28, and 2 Kings 6:23. That is, the verb יָסַף is connected to the negative לֹא, which is modified by the adverb עֹוד, which in turn is complemented by an infinitive. In other words, the literal translation goes something like this: "And [subject of sentence] did not continue [infinitive] furthermore." So in 1 Samuel 7:13 it would be "[they] did not continue [to come] furthermore"; or in 2 Samuel 2:28, "[they] did not continue [to fight] furthermore"; and again in 2 Kings 6:23, "[they] did not continue [to come] furthermore."

So in Genesis 38:26, we could say: "and [Judah] did not continue [to know] her furthermore." The connotation here is sexual. So in essence, Tamar was now the mother of Judah's sons, Perez, and Zerah, however, she was not a wife, but a kept concubine. Her sons, Perez and Zerah, were not "the sons of Er" through Levirate marriage, but plain and simply the sons of Judah according to Genesis 46:12. So to answer the question of this posting, it does not appear that Tamar was ever married to another husband for the purposes of Levirate marriage, since she was now the concubine of Judah. That is, she was the bona-fide mother to his two sons, Perez, and Zerah. However, as a kept woman, [Judah] did not continue [to have sexual relations] with her furthermore.

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