Genesis 38:8-9

8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.”
9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother.

Genesis 38:8-9 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 38

This chapter is wholly taken up with matters relating to Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, from whom the Jews have their name, and from whom Christ sprung: it treats of his marriage with a Canaanitess, his children by her, their character and end, Ge 38:1-11; of his incest with his daughter-in-law, though unknown by him, Ge 38:12-23; of his resentment against her, when he heard she was with child, and his confusion when he found it was by himself, Ge 38:24-26; and of the birth of twins by her, named Pharez and Zarah, Ge 38:27-30.

Genesis 38:8-9 In-Context

6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.
7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.
8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.”
9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother.
10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.
11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Deuteronomy 25:5-6; Ruth 4:5; Matthew 22:24-28