What does Genesis 38:17 mean?
ESV: He answered, "I will send you a young goat from the flock." And she said, "If you give me a pledge, until you send it — "
NIV: "I’ll send you a young goat from my flock," he said. "Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?" she asked.
NASB: He said, therefore, 'I will send you a young goat from the flock.' She then said, 'Will you give a pledge until you send it?'
CSB: "I will send you a young goat from my flock," he replied. But she said, "Only if you leave something with me until you send it."
NLT: I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,' Judah promised. 'But what will you give me to guarantee that you will send the goat?' she asked.
KJV: And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?
NKJV: And he said, “I will send a young goat from the flock.” So she said, “Will you give me a pledge till you send it?
Verse Commentary:
Judah's widowed daughter-in-law was promised marriage to his youngest son (Genesis 38:11). This was according to a tradition meant to provide care for childless widows. That promise has proven itself a lie (Genesis 38:14). In desperation, Tamar has disguised herself as a prostitute and veiled her face. She has successfully captured Judah's attention as he travels. He has no idea who she really is, and she successfully entices him to make an offer in exchange for sex (Genesis 38:16).

Tamar is negotiating over a price, but her goal is not simply to make money. She is hoping to trap Judah into providing for her, since he has gone back on his agreement to allow his son to marry her. Judah offers a young goat as payment but doesn't have one with him. He will have to send it to her. Perhaps this is just what she was hoping to hear. She counters that he will have to leave something of value with her as a pledge for her to keep until the goat arrives.
Verse Context:
Genesis 38:12–19 describes a plan devised by the childless widow, Tamar, to provide for her future after being abandoned by her father-in-law, Judah. He has violated tradition by delaying—refusing, it turns out—to give her to his next-oldest son, Shelah. Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute and engages in sex with Judah, keeping his signet ring and staff until he can pay her. This results in pregnancy, setting up a scandalous revelation.
Chapter Summary:
Jacob's son Judah marries a Canaanite woman and has three sons. His first son marries a woman called Tamar but is put to death by God for an unnamed sin. Judah follows tradition and marries Er's widow to the next oldest brother. Onan takes advantage of the situation for sex, but deliberately refuses to give her children. God puts him to death as well. When Judah abandons Tamar, she disguises herself as a prostitute and has sex with him. Found to be pregnant, she proves Judah is the father, and he admits his guilt. She then gives birth to twin boys.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 38 departs from the story of Joseph (Genesis 37:26–28) to describe what happens when Judah moves away from his family at Hebron and marries a Canaanite woman. Two of his three sons are put to death by God, each while married to the same woman. When Judah abandons her, she works a scheme to trick him into having sex with her. Confronted with proof that he is the father in her scandalous pregnancy, she is allowed to live and gives birth to Judah's twin boys. The following chapter returns to a focus on Joseph and his rise within Egyptian society (Genesis 39:1).
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
Accessed 6/14/2024 8:25:18 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.