Genesis 38:26 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 38:26, NIV: Judah recognized them and said, 'She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn't give her to my son Shelah.' And he did not sleep with her again.

Genesis 38:26, ESV: Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.

Genesis 38:26, KJV: And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.

Genesis 38:26, NASB: And Judah recognized them, and said, 'She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.' And he did not have relations with her again.

Genesis 38:26, NLT: Judah recognized them immediately and said, 'She is more righteous than I am, because I didn't arrange for her to marry my son Shelah.' And Judah never slept with Tamar again.

Genesis 38:26, CSB: Judah recognized them and said, "She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah." And he did not know her intimately again.

What does Genesis 38:26 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Judah realizes that he has been caught in a trap, laid for him by Tamar (Genesis 38:14–19). More than that, though, he realizes he is not merely guilty, but even more guilty than she is. He admits his guilt in not following through on his commitment to marry his third son to Tamar (Genesis 38:11). Tamar's desperate move was inspired by being a childless widow; Judah's broken promise left her with little hope.

It's important to note that Judah does not say Tamar is guiltless. Tamar's actions aren't justified, in any sense, but Judah fully realizes his role in creating the situation. And, of course, he's at least guilty of the basic sin for which he was just demanding Tamar suffer a death sentence. In essence, Judah says that whatever Tamar has done, his own sin is worse. He, too, is guilty of sexual immorality, as well as lying and abandoning a widow.

Scripture gives no details on the relationship between Judah and Tamar from this point forward. All we know is that Judah did not again sleep with her: there was no continued sexual relationship. Whether she was taken in as a full-fledged wife, or merely cared for in the household, we are not told. For all intents and purposes, Judah has taken on the "levirate" responsibility (Deuteronomy 25:5–6) which should have fallen to his son (Genesis 38:11).

Tamar's plan was extremely dangerous. She was fortunate, in a sense, to have become pregnant and had the opportunity to prove Judah's involvement. Once again, Israel's early history is marked by grand deception and startling revelations (Genesis 27:34–35; 29:21–27; 37:23–28).