What does Genesis 38:22 mean?
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.
NKJV: So he returned to Judah and said, “I cannot find her. Also, the men of the place said there was no harlot in this place.
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Genesis 38:20–26 reveals the end of Tamar's scheme to obtain her rightful due as a widow. Her father-in-law, Judah, had refused to follow tradition by granting her marriage to his next son. So, she disguised herself as a prostitute and slept with Judah, keeping his signet and staff as payment. When Judah learns Tamar is pregnant, though widowed, he hypocritically demands she be killed for immorality. Tamar produces the staff and signet as proof that Judah is the father. He sheepishly admits his error.
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.
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