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Encyclopedia > Onan

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The story of Onan is found in the Bible in Genesis 38:1-10. Onan did coitus interruptus while consummating his Levirate marriage (Yibbum) and was slain by God.

Onan (אוֹנָן "Strong", Standard Hebrew Onan, Tiberian Hebrew ʾÔnān) is the second son of Judah. The LORD finds Judah's first son, Er, to be wicked and kills him. Judah instructs Onan to give his brother an heir by impregnating the widow, a practice that would later be codified as Levirate marriage. Onan, however, "spill(s) his seed" when he has sex with her, and God kills him for it. His story is found in the book of Genesis (Hebrew Bible and Christian Old Testament). The word onanism, an older term for masturbation or "spilling of seed," derives from his name. Jewish and Christian tradition have repeatedlly condemned "misuse" of seed in masturbation and recreational sex. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal or the pull out method, is a method of contraception in which, during sexual intercourse, the penis is removed from the vagina prior to ejaculation, primarily to avoid introducing semen into the vagina. ... Yibbum (pronounced yee-boom) or Levirate marriage, in Judaism, is commonly translated as levirate marriage, one of the most complex types of marital unions mandated by Torah law, and which is not presently practiced in its full application. ... The Modern Hebrew language is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family. ... Tiberian Hebrew is an oral tradition of pronunciation for ancient forms of Hebrew, especially the Hebrew of the Bible, that was given written form by masoretic scholars in the Jewish community at Tiberias in the early middle ages, beginning in the 8th century. ... In Genesis (the first book of the Bible) Judah (יְהוּדָה Praise, Standard Hebrew YÉ™huda, Tiberian Hebrew YÉ™hûḏāh) is the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, born in Padan-aram (Genesis xxix. ... The Tetragrammaton in Phoenician (1100 BC to 300 CE), Aramaic (10th Century BC to 0) and modern Hebrew scripts. ... Levirate marriage is the practice of a woman marrying one of her husbands brothers after her husbands death, if there were no children, in order to continue the line of the dead husband. ... For other uses, see Genesis (disambiguation). ... 11th century manuscript of the Hebrew Bible with Targum Hebrew Bible is a term that refers to the common portions of the Jewish canon and the Christian canons. ... For other uses, see Christian (disambiguation). ... Note: Judaism commonly uses the term Tanakh to refer to its canon, which corresponds to the Protestant Old Testament. ... Woman masturbating, 1913 drawing by Gustav Klimt. ...


Onan traced his lineage back to Abraham through his father, Judah; Judah's father, Jacob; and Jacob's father Isaac, Abraham's son.


Narrative

Onan was the second son of Judah. After God killed his older brother Er, Onan was required by the tradition of levirate marriage to marry Er's widow Tamar. According to Genesis 38:7-10, when he had sexual intercourse with Tamar he "spilt his seed upon the ground" because the resulting child would be considered his late brother's, and receive the inheritance of the older son, ie the status of the child would be higher than the status of Onan himself. In response to the transgression of disobedience, God killed Onan too. In Genesis (the first book of the Bible) Judah (יְהוּדָה Praise, Standard Hebrew YÉ™huda, Tiberian Hebrew YÉ™hûḏāh) is the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, born in Padan-aram (Genesis xxix. ... First-born of Judah. ... Levirate marriage is the practice of a woman marrying one of her husbands brothers after her husbands death, if there were no children, in order to continue the line of the dead husband. ... Tamar - תָּמָר Palm tree, Standard Hebrew Tamar, Tiberian Hebrew Tāmār The daughter-in-law of Judah, to whose eldest son, Er, she was married (Gen. ... It has been suggested that Duration of sexual intercourse be merged into this article or section. ... Horse semen being collected for breeding purposes. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ...


As is typical for a story from the Jahwist source of the Torah, the story of Onan refers to God as YHWH and concerns the southern kingdom of Judah. According to the documentary hypothesis, this story was originally written down c 950 BC and incorporated into the Torah c 400 BC. The Jahwist, also referred to as the Jehovist, Yahwist, or simply as J, is one of the sources of the Torah postulated by the documentary hypothesis. ... The Torah () is the most important document in Judaism, revered as the inspired word of G-d (the vocal is never spelled), traditionally said to have been revealed to Moses. ... The Tetragrammaton in Phoenician (1100 BC to 300 CE), Aramaic (10th Century BC to 0) and modern Hebrew scripts. ... A relational diagram describing the various versions postulated by the biblical documentary hypothesis. ...


Codification in Jewish law

As these incidents occurred prior to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, the regulations, punishments and religious consequences of these acts as described in the Biblical verses are not contributory to Bibilical halachic regulation in modern Judaism. The Torah () is the most important document in Judaism, revered as the inspired word of G-d (the vocal is never spelled), traditionally said to have been revealed to Moses. ... Moses with the Ten Commandments by Rembrandt (1659) Biblical Mount Sinai refers to the place where, according to the Hebrew Bible (Exod. ... Halakha (הלכה in Hebrew or Halakhah, Halacha, Halachah) is the collective corpus of Jewish law, custom and tradition regulating all aspects of behavior. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


There are, however, significant Rabbinical rulings on the permissiblity of onanism. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, a concise version of the Shulchan Aruch authored by Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, compares onanism to murder, as the severance of potential life is made analogous to the severance of actual life. Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried (Hungary 1804 to 1886) is best known as the author of the work of Halakha (Jewish law), the Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh (lit. ... The Shulkhan Arukh (Hebrew: Prepared Table), by Rabbi Yosef Karo is considered the most authoritative compilation of Jewish law since the Talmud. ... Shlomo Ganzfried (Solomon ben Joseph Ganzfried; Hungary, 1804 to 1886) was an Orthodox rabbi and posek best known as author of the work of Halakha (Jewish law), the Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh (Hebrew: קיצור שולחן ערוך, Abbreviated Shulkhan Arukh), by which title he is also known. ...


Interpretations

The earliest interpretations were straightforward. What Onan had done was dishonor his dead brother and shirk his obligations. Exactly how he frustrated the purpose of levirate marriage was irrelevant. The text emphasizes the social or legal setting, with Judah describing what Onan has to do and why. The plain reading is that Onan's sin was refusal to provide his dead brother with an heir.


One Jewish interpretation is that Onan was deserving of the death penalty solely because he sinned by spilling his seed (see Babylonian Talmud tractate Niddah 13a). The narrative is cited as a reason for the ban on both masturbation and coitus interruptus. Medieval Catholic authors interpreted this story as a condemnation of contraception. This interpretation was held by important figures in the early Church, such as Saint Jerome who makes explicit reference to Onan's sexual act: Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is the execution of a convicted criminal by the state as punishment for crimes known as capital crimes or capital offences. ... For other uses, see Sin (disambiguation). ... Woman masturbating, 1913 drawing by Gustav Klimt. ... Coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal or the pull out method, is a method of contraception in which, during sexual intercourse, the penis is removed from the vagina prior to ejaculation, primarily to avoid introducing semen into the vagina. ... Saint-Jérôme, Quebec is a town in Quebec, near Mirabel, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Montreal along Autoroute des Laurentides. ...

But I wonder why he the heretic Jovinianus set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? (Against Jovinian 1:19, A.D. 393)

Clement of Alexandria, though he does not make explicit reference to Onanism, certainly reflects an early Christian view of the abhorrence of "spilling seed": Jovinian, or Jovinianus, the Epicurus of Christianity according to his enemy Jerome, was condemned as a heretic at a synod convened in Milian by Ambrose, in 390. ... Look up Judah in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In the Bible Tamar - תָּמָר Date Palm, Standard Hebrew Tamar, Tiberian Hebrew Tāmār was the daughter-in-law of Judah, to whose eldest son, Er, she was married (Gen. ... Reproduction is the creation of one thing as a copy of, product of, or replacement for a similar thing, e. ... Clement of Alexandria (Titus Flavius Clemens), was the first member of the Church of Alexandria to be more than a name, and one of its most distinguished teachers. ... For other uses, see Christian (disambiguation). ...

Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted. (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 A.D. 191)
To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature. (The Instructor of Children 2:10:95:3)

However, some modern Biblical scholars assert that Onan's primary sin was to violate the rules of levirate marriage. Possibly, the main purpose of these verses was to denote the punishment for violating the rules of levirate marriage, which was a divine law, rather than for practicing either coitus interruptus or masturbation. This view though fails to explain why similar instances of such a violation are not punished so severely.[citation needed] Most also understand the passage to refer to coitus interruptus. Ejaculation is the ejecting of semen from the penis, and is usually accompanied by orgasm. ... A pair of lions copulating in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. ... Reproduction is the creation of one thing as a copy of, product of, or replacement for a similar thing, e. ... Levirate marriage is the practice of a woman marrying one of her husbands brothers after her husbands death, if there were no children, in order to continue the line of the dead husband. ... Levirate marriage is the practice of a woman marrying one of her husbands brothers after her husbands death, if there were no children, in order to continue the line of the dead husband. ... Divine law is any law (or rule) that comes directly from the will of God (or a god), such as from the Bible in Christianity or in Islam the Quran from Allah himself, etcetera. ... Coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal or the pull out method, is a method of contraception in which, during sexual intercourse, the penis is removed from the vagina prior to ejaculation, primarily to avoid introducing semen into the vagina. ...


Some have stated that he wasn't killed because he violated a levirate law, for in the book of Deuteronomy the punishment was just humiliation, not death. But an interesting fact is that the date estimated in which the giving of the law concerning the "Brother's Duty" is a few hundred years after the incident concerning Onan occurred. The law concerning the Brother's Duty is found in Deuteronomy, whereas the account of Onan is found in Genesis 38. So 200-300 years separate the two occurrences. So the idea that he was killed because he didn't fulfill his duty remains plausible.


More evidence is contained in Leviticus 15, which discusses the ritual impurity resulting from heterosexual intercourse (15:18) separately from that resulting from ejaculation (15:16-17), implying that masturbation is not a capital offense.[citation needed] Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, also the third book in the Torah (five books of Moses). ... Coition of a Hemisected Man and Woman (c. ... Ejaculation is the ejecting of semen from the penis, and is usually accompanied by orgasm. ... Capital punishment, also referred to as the death penalty, is the judicially ordered execution of a prisoner as a crime, often called a capital offense or a capital crime. ...


Of note is that the story of Onan and Er is one of the few recorded incidents in the Pentateuch where God willfully kills humans without using a medium such as a plague or the Angel of Death. Er "was wicked in the eyes of the LORD; and the LORD slew him." (38:07). Likewise, Onan "was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also." (38:10). Look up Pentateuch in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... This article is about large epidemics. ... “Grim Reaper” redirects here. ...



New Living Translation According to the New Living Translation Bible, (more modern language than the King James Version) the passage is re-worded as -- (Genesis 38:6-10) "6 When his [Judah] oldest son, Er, grew up, Judah arranged his marriage to a young woman named Tamar. 7 But Er was a wicked man in the Lord's sight, so the Lord took his life. 8 Then Judah said to Er's brother Onan, 'You must marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. Her first son from you will be your brother's heir.' 9 But onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with Tamar, he spilled the semen on the ground to keep her from having a baby who would belong to his brother. 10 But the Lord considered it a wicked thing for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the Lord took Onan's life, too."


This version of the passage has clearer language that seems to indicate that the passage was pointing to Onan violating his duties to his brother, rather than the physical act of masturbation.


  Results from FactBites:
 
Onan (WebBible Encyclopedia) - ChristianAnswers.Net (362 words)
Onan was a wicked man, the second son of Judah, grandson of Jacob, greatgrandson of Isaac, greatgreatgrandson of Abraham.
Onan's sin was in purposely disobeying his father, denying his wife the opportunity of conceiving the child that she wanted (and probably needed).
God judged Onan not fit for his ultimate position as the leader of this especially important tribe of God's chosen people, which was destined to be the line of King David, and ultimately of Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus.
Onan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (641 words)
After his older brother Er died, Onan was required by the tradition of levirate marriage to marry Er's widow Tamar.
One Jewish interpretation is that Onan was deserving of the death penalty solely because he sinned by spilling his seed (see Babylonian Talmud tractate Niddah 13a).
More evidence against interpretation of Onan's sin as masturbation is contained in Leviticus 15, which discusses the ritual impurity resulting from heterosexual intercourse (15:18) separately from that resulting from ejaculation (16-17), implying that masturbation is not a capital offense.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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