Onan

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Onan (Hebrew: אוֹנָן, Modern: ʾŌnan, Tiberian: ʾŌnān "Mourner"; Greek: Αὐνάν Aunan) found in the Book of Genesis chapter 38,[1] was the second son of Judah and Shua. He was the brother of Er and Shelah. Like his older brother Er,[2] Onan was slain by Yahweh. Onan's death was retribution for being evil in the sight of Yahweh(or Lord).[3][4][5]

Biblical account[edit]

New International Version

8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.” [1]

9 But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother. [2]

10 What he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also.[3] [4]

English Standard Version

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.[5]

New American Standard Bible

8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Have relations with your brother’s wife and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up a child for your brother.”

9 Now Onan knew that the child would not be his; so when he had relations with his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground so that he would not give a child to his brother.

10 But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also.[6]

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.”

9 But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother.

10 What he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also.[7]

The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version 5th Edition

8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.”

9 But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother.

10 What he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also.[6]

The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition 2nd Edition

8 Then Judah said to Onan, "Join with your brother's wife and do your duty by her as a brother-in-law: and provide offspring for your brother."

9 But Onan, knowing that the seed would not count as his, let it go to waste whenever he joined with his brother's wife, so as not to provide offspring for his brother.

10 What he did was displeasing to the Lord, and He took his life also. [7]

After Yahweh slew Onan's oldest brother Er, Onan's father Judah told him to fulfill his duty[8][9] as a brother-in-law to his brother Er by entering into a levirate marriage[10][11][12][13][14][15][9][16] with his brother's widow Tamar to give her offspring. Religion professor Tikva Frymer-Kensky has pointed out the economic repercussions of a levirate marriage: any son born to Tamar would be deemed the heir of the deceased Er and could claim the firstborn's double share of an inheritance. However, if Er were childless or only had daughters, Onan would have inherited as the oldest surviving son.[17]

When Onan had sex with Tamar, he withdrew before he ejaculated[18][19] and "spilled his seed on the ground" thus committing coitus interuptus,[20] since any child born would not legally be considered his heir.[21][22][23][24][25] The next statement in the Bible says that Onan did evil and that God slew him.[26] Onan's crime is often misinterpreted to be masturbation but it is universally agreed among biblical scholars that Onan's death is attributed to his refusal to fulfill his obligation of levirate marriage with Tamar by committing coitus interruptus.[27][28]

However, Onan‘s reluctance to give a child to his sister-in-law may reflect a rejection of this custom already present in society. The regulation of levirate marriage in Deut 25:5–10 shows that the custom had encountered some opposition. The law in Deuteronomy allowing a man to refuse[29] his duty was a concession to the reluctance to comply with the custom. Because of Onan‘s unwillingness to bear a son for his deceased brother, Yahweh was displeased with Onan and slew him also (Gen 38:10).[30][5]

Interpretation[edit]

The implication from the narrative is that Onan's act as described is what gave rise to divine displeasure.

Early Jewish views[edit]

One opinion expressed in the Talmud argues that this was where the death penalty's imposition originated.[31] However, the Levitical regulations concerning ejaculation, whether as a result of sexual intercourse[32] or not,[33] merely prescribe a ritual washing, and remaining ritually impure until the next day began on the following evening.

Classical Christian views[edit]

Early Christian writers have sometimes focused on the spilling seed, and the sexual act being used for non-procreational purposes. This interpretation was held by several early Christian apologists. Jerome, for example, argued:

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 begrudged his brother his seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?

— Jerome, Against Jovinian 1:19 (AD 393)

Epiphanius of Salamis wrote against heretics who used coitus interruptus, calling it the sin of Οnan:[34]

They soil their bodies, minds and souls with unchastity. Some of them masquerade as monastics, and their woman companions as female monastics. And they are physically corrupted because they satisfy their appetite but, to put it politely, by the act of Onan the son of Judah. For as Onan coupled with Tamar and satisfied his appetite but did not complete the act by planting his seed for the God-given [purpose of] procreation and did himself harm instead, thus, as [he] did the vile thing, so these people have used their supposed [female monastics], committing this infamy. For purity is not their concern, but a hypocritical purity in name. Their concern is limited to ensuring that the woman the seeming [ascetic] has seduced does not get pregnant—either so as not to cause child-bearing, or to escape detection, since they want to be honored for their supposed celibacy. In any case, this is what they do, but others endeavor to get this same filthy satisfaction not with women but by other means, and pollute themselves with their own hands. They too imitate the son of Judah, soil the ground with their forbidden practices and drops of filthy fluid and rub their emissions into the earth with their feet

— Epiphanius of Salamis, Boston, 2010, p. 131

Clement of Alexandria, while not making explicit reference to Onan, similarly reflects an early Christian view of the abhorrence of spilling seed:

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.

— Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 (AD 191)

To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature.

— Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children 2:10:95:3

Roman Catholic views[edit]

The papal encyclical Casti connubii (1930) invokes this Biblical text in support of the teaching of the Catholic Church against contracepted sex by quoting St. Augustine, "Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it."[35]

Early Protestant views[edit]

Making reference to Onan's offense to identify masturbation as sinful, in his Commentary on Genesis, John Calvin wrote that "the voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between a man and a woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is double monstrous."[36][37] Methodism founder John Wesley, according to Bryan C. Hodge, "believed that any waste of the semen in an unproductive sexual act, whether that should be in the form of masturbation or coitus interruptus, as in the case of Onan, destroyed the souls of the individuals who practice it".[38] He writes his Thoughts on the Sin of Onan (1767), which was reproduced as A Word to Whom it May Concern on 1779, as an attempt to censor a work by Samuel-Auguste Tissot.[39] In that writing, Wesley warns about "the dangers of self pollution", the bad physical and mental effects of masturbation,[40][39] writes many such cases along with the treatment recommendations.[41]

Disputes[edit]

According to some Bible critics who contextually read this passage, the description of Onan is an origin myth concerning fluctuations in the constituency of the tribe of Judah, with the death of Onan reflecting the dying out of a clan;[42][43] Er and Onan are hence viewed as each being representative of a clan, with Onan possibly representing an Edomite clan named Onam,[43] mentioned by an Edomite genealogy in Genesis.[44]

Biblical scholars universally agree that the biblical story of Onan is not about masturbation nor about contraception per se or the "wasting of semen" but his refusal to fulfill his obligation of levirate-marriage with Tamar by committing coitus interruptus.[45][27][46][19][47][28][48][9][49][50]

The text emphasizes the social and legal situation, with Judah explaining what Onan must do and why. A plain reading of the text is that Onan was killed because he refused to follow instructions. Scholars have argued that the secondary purpose of the narrative about Onan and Tamar, of which the description of Onan is a part, was to either assert the institution of levirate marriage or present a myth for its origin;[42] Onan's role in the narrative is, thus, as the brother abusing his obligations by agreeing to sexual intercourse with his dead brother's wife, but refusing to allow her to become pregnant as a result. Emerton regards the evidence for this to be inconclusive, although classical rabbinical writers argued that this narrative describes the origin of levirate marriage.[51]

John M. Riddle argues that "Epiphanius (fourth century) construed the sin of Onan as coitus interruptus".[52] John T. Noonan Jr. says that "St. Epiphanius gave a plain interpretation of the text as a condemnation of contraception, and he did so only in the context of his anti-Gnostic polemic".[53]

Bible scholars maintained that the story does not refer to masturbation, but to coitus interruptus.[3][50][54][28] Bible scholars even maintain that the Bible does not claim that masturbation would be sinful.[55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62]

Although the story of Onan does not involve masturbation, according to Peter Lewis Allen, some theologians found "a common element" in both coitus interruptus (also known as onanism) and masturbation, as well as anal intercourse and other forms of nonmarital and nonvaginal sexual acts, which are considered wrongful acts.[63]: 81–82 

Onanism[edit]

The term onanism has come to refer to "masturbation" in many modern languages – for example Hebrew (אוננות, onanút), German (Onanie), Greek (αυνανισμός, avnanismós), Japanese (オナニー, onanī), and Swedish (onani) – based on an interpretation of the Onan story.

The word onanism is not based on the biblical story of Onan itself but on an interpretation of that biblical story, nor is the word onanism found in any form in the biblical texts. Thus the etymological connection of onanism (in the sense of masturbation) with Onan’s name is misleading.[64][50]

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines onanism as:

  1. masturbation
  2. coitus interruptus
  3. self-abuse.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chapter 38
  2. ^ Alter, Robert (1997). Genesis: Translation and Commentary (First ed.). W. W. Norton & Company. p. 218. ISBN 978-0393316704. And Er his firstborn was evil in the eyes of the LORD. The nature of his moral failing remains unspecified, but given the insistent pattern of reversal of primogeniture in all these stories, it seems almost sufficient merely to be firstborn in order to incur God's displeasure: though the firstborn is not necessarily evil, he usually turns out to be obtuse, rash, wild, or otherwise disqualified from carrying on the heritage. It is noteworthy that Judah, who invented the lie that triggered his own father's mourning for a dead son, is bereaved of two sons in rapid sequence. In contrast to Jacob's extravagant grief, nothing is said about Judah's emotional response to the losses
  3. ^ a b Dancy, J. The Divine Drama: the Old Testament as Literature (ISBN 0718829875, ISBN 978-0-7188-2987-2), 2002, p. 92
  4. ^ The Anchor Yale Bible dictionary. David Noel Freedman. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0-300-14081-1. OCLC 237189110. The second son of Judah and Shua, a Canaanite woman (Gen 38:2–4). He was the brother of Er and Shelah. In the genealogical list of Judah‘s descendants, Onan is mentioned as the daughter of Bath-shua (1 Chr 2:3). Judah had arranged a marriage between his firstborn, Er, and a woman named Tamar. Er, however, died an early death, which was attributed to an act of Yahweh because of Er‘s unmentioned wickedness (Gen 36:7).{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ a b "ONAN - JewishEncyclopedia.com". jewishencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2022-06-20. A son of Judah; he refused to enter into a levirate marriage with his sister-in-law after the death of his elder brother Er, and it was for this reason that the Lord "slew him also" (Gen. xxxviii. 7-10).
  6. ^ The new Oxford annotated Bible : New Revised Standard version with the Apocrypha. Michael David Coogan, Marc Zvi Brettler, Carol A. Newsom, Pheme Perkins (Fully revised fifth ed.). New York, New York. 2018. ISBN 978-0-19-027609-6. OCLC 1006596851.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ The Jewish Study Bible. Adele Berlin, Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Publication Society (Second ed.). Oxford. 2014. ISBN 978-0-19-997846-5. OCLC 892869165.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ The Jewish Study Bible. Adele Berlin, Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Publication Society (Second ed.). Oxford. 2014. ISBN 978-0-19-997846-5. OCLC 892869165. The duty in question, known in English as "levirate marriage" is spelled out in Deut. 25.5-10. If a man dies childless, his brother is obligated to marry his widow, and her first son is reckoned as the offspring of the deceased. In Deuteronomy, the surviving brother can decline and undergo a procedure that the Rabbis named "halitzah," but Gen. ch 38 presupposes a stage in the history of the law in which "haliztah" is still unknown.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ a b c Hamilton, Victor P. (1995). The book of Genesis. Chapters 18-50. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. ISBN 0-8028-2309-2. OCLC 31604392. Onan’s responsibility is to fulfill his part in what is known as levirate marriage. He is to levirate, or perform the duty of a brother-in-law to (weyabbēm), Tamar. Later biblical law spells out the particulars of the levirate in Deut. 25:5-10, in which the root ybm (cf. yāḇām, “brother-in-law”) appears six times (twice as a verb, vv. 5, 7; four times as a noun, vv. 5, 7 [twice], 9). These six occurrences of ybm account for all but two uses of the root in the OT (here and Ruth 1:15). The law states that if brothers live together, and if one of them is married but dies without children, one of the surviving brothers is to marry or take her as wife and father a child with her. The child born of this levirate relationship (levir is Latin for “brother-in-law”) carries on the name of his deceased father and eventually inherits the family estate. Here Judah is clever enough to mention only producing a child for the brother. For obvious reasons he says nothing about the inheritance this child will one day receive.
  10. ^ "LEVIRATE MARRIAGE - JewishEncyclopedia.com". jewishencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2022-06-20.
  11. ^ Alter, Robert (1997). Genesis: Translation and Commentary (1st ed.). W. W. Norton & Company. p. 218. ISBN 978-0393316704. 8. do your duty as brother-in-law. In the Hebrew, this is a single verb, yabem, referring to the so-called levirate marriage. The legal obligation of yibum, which was a widespread practice in the ancient Near East, was incurred when a man died leaving his wife childless. His closest brother in order of birth was obliged to become his proxy, "raising up seed" for him by impregnating his widow. The dead brother would thus be provided a kind of biological continuity, and the widow would be able to produce progeny, which was a woman's chief avenue of fulfillment in this culture.
  12. ^ The Anchor Yale Bible dictionary. David Noel Freedman. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0-300-14081-1. OCLC 237189110. The purpose of levirate marriage is expressed by Deut 25:6: ―that his name [the name of the dead brother] may not be blotted out of Israel.‖ Thus, in order to comply with the intent of the tradition, Judah commanded Onan to take the wife of his deceased brother in order to raise an offspring for his brother (Gen 38:8). Onan was not required to actually marry Tamar, for in levirate marriage the widow only had the right to a son to preserve her husband‘s name{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  13. ^ Collins, John J. (2018). Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Third ed.). Minneapolis. ISBN 978-1-5064-4605-9. OCLC 1031462523. The story begins with Judah’s marriage to a Canaanite woman. This is not condemned in the text, but it goes against the practice of the patriarchs hitherto. When their son Er dies, his brother Onan is expected to “go in” to his widow, Tamar, to raise up offspring for him. (This is known as the levirate law. It is spelled out in Deut 25:5-10.)
  14. ^ The Oxford Bible commentary. John Barton, John Muddiman. Oxford. 2001. ISBN 0-19-875500-7. OCLC 45879881. Tamar's second marriage, to Onan, conforms to the custom of levirate marriage (see Deut 25:5—6).{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  15. ^ The New interpreter's bible commentary. Leander E. Keck. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press. 2015. ISBN 978-1-4267-3912-5. OCLC 892041536. Judah then directs his second son, Onan, to “perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her” (though marriage is not mentioned, consummation probably entails it; cf. v. 14)—namely, to raise up an heir to carry on the name and inheritance of the deceased brother (cf. Deut 25:5-10; Ruth 4).{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  16. ^ The new Oxford annotated Bible : New Revised Standard version with the Apocrypha. Michael David Coogan, Marc Zvi Brettler, Carol A. Newsom, Pheme Perkins (Fully revised fifth ed.). New York, New York. 2018. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-19-027609-6. OCLC 1006596851. According to the ancient custom of levirate marriage (Deut 25.5–10), the duty of a brother-in-law of his brother’s childless widow was to impregnate her and thus perpetuate his brother’s name and inheritance through his widow’s offspring.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. ^ Frymer-Kensky, Tikva. "Tamar: Bible", Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 20 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on August 6, 2014)
  18. ^ Freedman, Myers & Beck. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (ISBN 0802824005, ISBN 978-0-8028-2400-4), 2000, p. 1273
  19. ^ a b The New interpreter's bible commentary. Leander E. Keck. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press. 2015. ISBN 978-1-4267-3912-5. OCLC 892041536. Onan sabotages the intent of the relationship in order to gain Er’s inheritance for himself upon Judah’s death—the firstborn would receive a double share. He regularly uses Tamar for sex, but makes sure she does not become pregnant by not letting his semen enter her (coitus interruptus, not masturbation). He thereby formally fulfills his duty, lest the role be passed on to his other brother and he lose Er’s inheritance in this way. This willful deception would be observable to Tamar, but God’s observation leads to Onan’s death (again, by unspecified means).{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  20. ^ Alter, Robert (1997). Genesis: Translation and Commentary (1st ed.). W. W. Norton & Company. p. 218. ISBN 978-0393316704. he would waste his seed on the ground. Despite the confusion engendered by the English term "onanism" that derives from this text, the activity referred to is almost certainly coitus interruptus—as Rashi vividly puts it, "threshing within, winnowing without."
  21. ^ Dershowitz. The Genesis of Justice (ISBN 0446524794, ISBN 978-0-446-52479-7), 2000, ch. 9
  22. ^ Alter, Robert (1997). Genesis: Translation and Commentary (1st ed.). W. W. Norton & Company. p. 218. ISBN 978-0393316704. 9. the seed would not be his. Evidently, Onan is troubled by the role of sexual proxy, which creates a situation in which the child he begets will be legally considered his dead brother's offspring.
  23. ^ The Jewish Study Bible. Adele Berlin, Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Publication Society (Second ed.). Oxford. 2014. ISBN 978-0-19-997846-5. OCLC 892869165. 9:Onan would have to expend his own resources to support a child that is legally someone else's, and the child, as the heir to a first-born son, would displace Onan in the line of inheritance to boot.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  24. ^ Walton, John H. (2001). Genesis : from biblical text ... to contemporary life. Grand Rapids, Mich. ISBN 0-310-20617-0. OCLC 46872206. Onan’s refusal is explained by his knowledge that the son will not be his (38:9). We need to recognize, then, that there is a birthright issue here. Er was the firstborn and entitled to the birthright. If he has no offspring, the birthright will transfer to Onan. If, however, Tamar bears a son that is considered Er’s, the birthright will pass to that son.
  25. ^ Mathews, K. A. (1996–2005). Genesis. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman Publishers. ISBN 0-8054-0101-6. OCLC 33207787. Onan, however, refused to impregnate Tamar, ejaculating on the ground (coitus interruptus) because he did not want to reduce his share of the family inheritance.
  26. ^ Genesis 38:8–10
  27. ^ a b Patton, Michael S. (1986). "Twentieth-Century Attitudes Toward Masturbation". Journal of Religion and Health. 25 (4): 291–302. doi:10.1007/BF01534067. ISSN 0022-4197. JSTOR 27505893. PMID 24301692. S2CID 2994906. The story of Onan in Genesis 38:7-10 has been the basis of the condemnation of masturbation by Jewish and Christian theologians. Biblical scholars universally agree that the Onan story is a gross misconception of masturbation, since Onan's sexual activity was not masturbation but coitus interruptus.
  28. ^ a b c The new Oxford annotated Bible : New Revised Standard version with the Apocrypha. Michael David Coogan, Marc Zvi Brettler, Carol A. Newsom, Pheme Perkins (Fully revised fifth ed.). New York, New York. 2018. ISBN 978-0-19-027609-6. OCLC 1006596851. Onan’s death is attributed to his refusal to perform this duty of impregnating Er’s widow, Tamar, probably by coitus interruptus (rather than “onanism,” masturbation).{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  29. ^ "ḤALIẒAH - JewishEncyclopedia.com". jewishencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2022-06-21.
  30. ^ The Anchor Yale Bible dictionary. David Noel Freedman. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0-300-14081-1. OCLC 237189110.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  31. ^ Niddah 13a.
  32. ^ Leviticus 15:18
  33. ^ Leviticus 15:16–17
  34. ^ United States Congress Senate Committee on Government Operations Subcommittee on Foreign Aid Expenditures. Population Crisis: Hearings, Eighty-ninth Congress, Second Session. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1966, p. 403–404
  35. ^ "Casti Connubii (December 31, 1930) | PIUS XI". www.vatican.va. Retrieved 2022-09-04.
  36. ^ Thatcher, Adrian (2011). God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 184–185. ISBN 978-1405193696.
  37. ^ Reilly, Kevin (2014). "Masturbation". In Laderman, Gary; León, Luis (eds.). Religion and American Cultures: Tradition, Diversity, and Popular Expression (Second ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 770. ISBN 978-1610691109.
  38. ^ Hodge, Bryan C. (2010). The Christian Case against Contraception: Making the Case from Historical, Biblical, Systematic, and Practical Theology & Ethics. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1621892199.
  39. ^ a b Numbers, Ronald L.; Amundsen, Darrel W. (1986). Caring and Curing: Health and Medicine in the Western Religious Traditions. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 322. ISBN 0801857961.
  40. ^ Madden, Deborah (2012). 'Inward & Outward Health': John Wesley's Holistic Concept of Medical Science, the Environment and Holy Living. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 152–153. ISBN 978-1620321270.
  41. ^ Coe, Bufford W. (1996). John Wesley and Marriage. Lehigh University Press. p. 64. ISBN 0934223394.
  42. ^ a b J. A. Emerton, Judah And Tamar
  43. ^ a b Cheyne and Black, Encyclopedia Biblica
  44. ^ Genesis 36:23
  45. ^ Ehrlich, Carl S. (2001). "Onan". In Metzger, Bruce M.; Coogan, Michael David (eds.). The Oxford guide to people & places of the Bible. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 222. ISBN 0-19-514641-7. OCLC 45439956. Although Onan did cohabit with Tamar, "he spilled his seed on the ground"; for this he was put to death by God. Onan's effort to avoid impregnating his sister-in-law has given rise to the term "onanism," a synonym for masturbation. This passage is then employed by some to indicate divine condemnation of autoeroticism. This interpretation, however, completely misses the point of the passage. Onan's sin was not sexual. Rather, it was his refusal to fulfill the obligation of levirate marriage, according to which a man was obligated to impregnate the wife of his brother if his brother had died without an heir, thus ensuring the continuation of his brothers line and inheritance. That fulfilling this obligation often raised additional questions regarding the apportioning of the familial inheritance is indicated by passages in Deuteronomy and Ruth. Thus Onan's sexual act, most probably coitus interruptus, was the means whereby he avoided his fraternal duty, in spite of the fact that he seemed to be fulfilling it by cohabiting with Tamar. For this deception he was punished.
  46. ^ Mariottini, Claude F. (2008). "Onan (PERSON)". In Freedman, David Noel (ed.). The Anchor Yale Bible dictionary. Vol. 5. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-0-300-14081-1. OCLC 237189110. This action of Onan probably was a reference to coitus interruptus, but Onan's conduct has produced the word "onanism," which has come to be a reference to masturbation.
  47. ^ Satlow, Michael L. (2020). Tasting the Dish: Rabbinic Rhetorics of Sexuality. Brown Judaic Studies. doi:10.2307/j.ctvzpv5s5. ISBN 978-1-946527-53-0. JSTOR j.ctvzpv5s5. S2CID 241988511.
  48. ^ SATLOW, MICHAEL L. (1994). ""Wasted Seed," The History of a Rabbinic Idea". Hebrew Union College Annual. 65: 137–175. ISSN 0360-9049. JSTOR 23508531.
  49. ^ Hamilton, Victor P. (1995). The book of Genesis. Chapters 18-50. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. ISBN 0-8028-2309-2. OCLC 31604392. The levir in this case is to be Onan, the second born. But he refuses to accept his responsibility. Instead, he practices coitus interruptus with Tamar; that is, instead of impregnating her, he wasted his semen on the ground (lit., “he spoiled [it] groundward”).This is clearly a reference to withdrawal to prevent conception, rather than a reference to masturbation.
  50. ^ a b c Coogan, Michael (October 2010). God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says (1st ed.). New York; Boston: Twelve. Hachette Book Group. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-446-54525-9. OCLC 505927356. Retrieved May 5, 2011. Although Onan gives his name to onanism, usually a synonym for masturbation, Onan was not masturbating but practicing coitus interruptus.
  51. ^ Genesis Rabbah 85:6
  52. ^ Riddle, John M. (1992). "1. Population and Sex". Contraception and abortion from the ancient world to the Renaissance. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-674-16875-5. OCLC 24428750.
  53. ^ Noonan, Jr., John T. (2012). Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists (Enlarged ed.). Harvard University Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0674070264.
  54. ^ Ellens, J. Harold (2006). "6. Making Babies: Purposes of Sex". Sex in the Bible: a new consideration. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers. p. 48. ISBN 0-275-98767-1. OCLC 65429579. He practiced coitus interruptus whenever he made love to Tamar.
  55. ^ Patton, Michael S. (June 1985). "Masturbation from Judaism to Victorianism". Journal of Religion and Health. Springer Netherlands. 24 (2): 133–146. doi:10.1007/BF01532257. ISSN 0022-4197. PMID 24306073. S2CID 39066052. Social change in attitudes toward masturbation has occurred at the professional level only since 1960 and at the popular level since 1970. [133] ... onanism and masturbation erroneously became synonymous... [134] ... there is no legislation in the Bible pertaining to masturbation. [135]
  56. ^ Kwee, Alex W.; David C. Hoover (2008). "Theologically-Informed Education about Masturbation: A Male Sexual Health Perspective" (PDF). Journal of Psychology and Theology. La Mirada, California: Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University. 36 (4): 258–269. doi:10.1177/009164710803600402. ISSN 0091-6471. S2CID 142040707. Retrieved 12 November 2011. The Bible presents no clear theological ethic on masturbation, leaving many young unmarried Christians with confusion and guilt around their sexuality.
  57. ^ Nemesnyik Rashkow, Ilona (2000). "Sin and Sex, Sex and Sin: The Hebrew Bible and Human Sexuality". Taboo Or Not Taboo: Sexuality and Family in the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. p. 16. ISBN 9781451409871. OCLC 42603147. Archived from the original on 2021-08-15. Retrieved 2020-10-28. Since it is questionable whether masturbation is considered a category of "negative" sexual activity in the Hebrew Bible, I shall not discuss masturbation. (The sin of Onan [Genesis 38] is not necessarily that of masturbation; otherwise, oblique references to seminal emission, such as "a man, when an emission of semen comes out of him" [Lev 15:16], refer to the emission rather than its circumstances. Female masturbation is never mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.)
  58. ^ Jones, Stanton; Jones, Brenna (2014). "CHAPTER 13: Developing Moral Discernment About Masturbation and Petting". How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex: A Lifelong Approach to Shaping Your Child's Sexual Character. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, Tyndale House. p. 253. ISBN 9781612912301. OCLC 104623265. Archived from the original on 2021-08-15. Retrieved 2020-10-28. 1. We are aware of only one argument that attempts to draw directly from the Scripture to establish a basis for the acceptance of masturbation, found in J. Johnson, "Toward a Biblical Approach to Masturbation, Journal of Psychology and Theology 10 (1982): 137-146. Johnson suggests that Leviticus 15:16-18 should set the tone for our dealing with masturbation. Verses 16 and 17 say that a man who has an emission of semen should wash and be ceremonially unclean until evening. Verse 18 goes on to say that if a man and woman have intercourse, the same cleanliness rules apply. By bringing up intercourse separately, the passage surely does imply that the emission of semen in verses 16 and 17 occurred for the man individually. The passage may be referring to a nocturnal emission, or wet dream, rather than masturbation, but the passage is not specific. Johnson suggests that this Leviticus passage is significant for treating a solitary sexual experience, whether wet dream or masturbation, as a purely ceremonial cleanliness issue and not as a matter of morality. The passage also puts no more disapproval on the solitary experience than it does on intercourse. Since Christians today commonly view the Old Testament ceremonial law as no longer valid, this author suggests that masturbation is not in itself a moral concern from a biblical perspective and is no longer a ceremonial concern either.
  59. ^ Wray, Tina J. (2011). "Chapter 7. Should We or Shouldn't We? A Brief Exploration of Sexuality and Gender". What the Bible Really Tells Us: The Essential Guide to Biblical Literacy. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 142–143. ISBN 9781442212930. OCLC 707329261. Returning to the Levitical list of sexual taboos, curiously missing from the list is any mention of masturbation. Many people assume that this, too, is forbidden, but the truth is, the word masturbation is never specifically mentioned in the Bible, though some argue that it is implied (and also condemned) in several places. The story cited most often is found in Genesis 38...For centuries this obscure passage has been used as an indictment against masturbation though it is not masturbation at all...But if Onan's story is not about masturbation, then where in the Bible is the practice forbidden? Some commentators conclude that the word porneia—a word already discussed in the first two assumptions—is a catchall term to include all forms of unchastity, including masturbation, but others vehemently disagree. In the book of Leviticus, there is explicit mention of purity regulations regarding semen that seem to emanate from either masturbation or possibly nocturnal emission: [Bible quote Lev 15:16-17] None of this, however, represent a clear condemnation of masturbation.
  60. ^ Jech, Carl L. (2013). "CHAPTER 2. Beyond Heaven and Hell". Religion as Art Form: Reclaiming Spirituality Without Supernatural Beliefs. Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 97. ISBN 9781621896708. OCLC 853272981. Archived from the original on 2021-08-15. Retrieved 2020-10-28. (Masturbation is never mentioned in the Bible.)
  61. ^ Malan, Mark Kim; Bullough, Vern (Fall 2005). "Historical development of new masturbation attitudes in Mormon culture: secular conformity, counterrevolution, and emerging reform" (PDF). Sexuality & Culture. 9 (4): 80–127. doi:10.1007/s12119-005-1003-z. ISSN 1095-5143. S2CID 145480822. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-12. Retrieved 2015-06-26. While nowhere in the Bible is there a clear unchallenged reference to masturbation, Jewish tradition was always seriously concerned about the loss of semen. The Book of Leviticus, for example states: [Bible quote Lev 14:16-18]...Although masturbation is not mentioned in the Bible or Book of Mormon, absence of scriptural authority on the matter, Kimball said, is irrelevant: "Let no one rationalize their sins on the excuse that a particular sin of his is not mentioned nor forbidden in scripture" (p.25).
  62. ^ Vines, Matthew (2014). "4. The Real Sin of Sodom". God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. New York, NY: Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. p. 72. ISBN 9781601425171. OCLC 869801284. Archived from the original on 2021-08-15. Retrieved 2020-10-28. Most Christians today understand that masturbation was not the sin of Onan. What's more, many also recognize that masturbation is not inherently sinful.
  63. ^ Allen, Peter Lewis (2002). The Wages of Sin: Sex and Disease, Past and Present. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226014614.
  64. ^ Hamilton, Victor P. (1995). The book of Genesis. Chapters 18-50. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. ISBN 0-8028-2309-2. OCLC 31604392. This is clearly a reference to withdrawal to prevent conception, rather than a reference to masturbation.Thus the etymological connection of “onanism” (in the sense of masturbation) with Onan’s name is misleading.