Genesis 38:6–11 (ESV)
Judah and Tamar
6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the
Lord, and the Lord put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But
Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did
was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for
he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.
Onan was to continue the family line for
his brother by taking Tamar as his wife and producing children, especially the first born son. But Onan knew that the line he produced would be an extension of his brother, so he chose to … well … withhold the seed. The Lutheran Study
Bible states “He did not want the family inheritance to be divided up further. Yet if this was all he desired, he could have abstained from intercourse altogether. Instead, Onan wanted to enjoy sexual intercourse while intentionally depriving Tamar of
a family and inheritance. Imagine how this hurt and offended her at each encounter.” Martin Luther further writes: “Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin.… We call it unchastity,
yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should
be followed” (AE 7:20–21).
I pray: O Lord, help me to trust in You and to walk in your ways. Amen.ar
E. A. (2009). The Lutheran Study Bible (p. 75). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.