What does Genesis 38:25 mean?Tamar appears to be caught in the sin of sexual immorality. She is an unmarried woman, twice widowed but childless, promised to Judah's youngest son, yet she is pregnant (Genesis 38:24). In such cases, local customs allowed for the death penalty. This same punishment would be part of the later Mosaic law (Leviticus 20:10). Judah is all too eager to administer this penalty to Tamar.
At this point, Tamar completes the trap she laid for Judah from the beginning. He had failed to keep his commitment to marry her to his third son (Genesis 38:11, 14). She disguised herself as a prostitute, enticed Judah, and kept his personal effects as a promise of future payment (Genesis 38:15–18). When Judah sent a friend to retrieve his signet and staff, she was gone (Genesis 38:20). Tamar's very first plan might have been to reveal herself to Judah immediately, and shame him into caring for her. When he was forced to leave his staff and signet, it might have inspired her to wait to make her move. Learning she was pregnant, without a doubt, would have given her incentive to keep her secret until the perfect moment.
Now that moment has come. Judah has learned of her pregnancy and is demanding her death. She sends a message to him saying the father of her baby is the owner of a certain signet, cord, and staff. After all, that man is just as guilty of immorality as she is. Her challenge is for Judah to identify those items, and the man to whom they belong.
Of course, the items belong to Judah himself. Tamar has proof he is the father of her unborn. Judah's response is contrite, and Tamar will have gained the security she sought (Genesis 38:26).