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Genesis 38:8

Context

38:8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Have sexual relations with 1  your brother’s wife and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her so that you may raise 2  up a descendant for your brother.” 3 

Genesis 38:11

Context

38:11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until Shelah my son grows up.” For he thought, 4  “I don’t want him to die like his brothers.” 5  So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.

1 tn Heb “go to.” The expression is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

2 tn The imperative with the prefixed conjunction here indicates purpose.

3 sn Raise up a descendant for your brother. The purpose of this custom, called the levirate system, was to ensure that no line of the family would become extinct. The name of the deceased was to be maintained through this custom of having a child by the nearest relative. See M. Burrows, “Levirate Marriage in Israel,” JBL 59 (1940): 23-33.

4 tn Heb “said.”

5 tn Heb “Otherwise he will die, also he, like his brothers.”

sn I don’t want him to die like his brothers. This clause explains that Judah had no intention of giving Shelah to Tamar for the purpose of the levirate marriage. Judah apparently knew the nature of his sons, and feared that God would be angry with the third son and kill him as well.



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