Genesis 38:22

ESV So he returned to Judah and said, “I have not found her. Also, the men of the place said, ‘No cult prostitute has been here.’”
NIV So he went back to Judah and said, 'I didn't find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, 'There hasn't been any shrine prostitute here.''
NASB So he returned to Judah, and said, 'I did not find her; and furthermore, the people of the place said, ‘There has been no temple prostitute here.’?'
CSB So the Adullamite returned to Judah, saying, "I couldn't find her, and besides, the men of the place said, 'There has been no cult prostitute here.' "
NLT So Hirah returned to Judah and told him, 'I couldn’t find her anywhere, and the men of the village claim they’ve never had a shrine prostitute there.'
KJV And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place.

What does Genesis 38:22 mean?

Judah sent a friend to pay his debt to a prostitute (Genesis 38:20), but Hirah cannot find her. As a result, he cannot return the personal items Judah left as security (Genesis 38:18). Locals know of no such person, because the woman Judah slept with is actually Tamar, Judah's widowed daughter-in-law (Genesis 38:7–10).

Tamar's scheme was to force Judah to make good on his promise to care for her (Genesis 38:11). That has been revealed as a lie (Genesis 38:14). Perhaps her first goal was simply to sleep with Judah and privately shame him. When he has no money and needs to leave his personal effect, she may have seen that as an opportunity for greater leverage. Certainly, learning she was pregnant would have given her an enormous advantage.

As expected, Judah is afraid his reputation will suffer, so he chooses to do nothing (Genesis 38:23). Later, his own hypocrisy will complete Tamar's trap (Genesis 38:24–25).
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