What does Genesis 38:3 mean?
ESV: and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er.
NIV: she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er.
NASB: And she conceived and gave birth to a son, and he named him Er.
CSB: She conceived and gave birth to a son, and he named him Er.
NLT: she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and he named the boy Er.
KJV: And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er.
Verse Commentary:
Jacob's son Judah (Genesis 29:25) has moved away from his brothers and family at Hebron and taken a Canaanite woman as his wife (Genesis 38:2). She becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son named Er, which may mean "guard" or "watchful."

Judah has recently conspired with his brothers to sell their sibling, Joseph, into slavery (Genesis 37:26–28). As he grows his own family, Judah does not realize that Joseph is becoming a powerful figure in Egypt (Genesis 45:1).
Verse Context:
Genesis 38:1–5 explains the birth of Judah's three sons to a Canaanite woman, known only as the daughter of Shua. Two of these sons, Er and Onan, will die at the hands of God, due to their immoral actions. Tamar, a woman married in sequence to Er, then to Onan, will be abandoned by Judah. Left without support and unable to marry, she will scheme to take matters into her own hands.
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 12/6/2023 11:18:58 PM
© Copyright 2002-2023 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.