Genesis 38:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 38:8, NIV: 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.'

Genesis 38:8, ESV: 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.”

Genesis 38:8, KJV: And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

Genesis 38:8, NASB: 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.'

Genesis 38:8, NLT: Then Judah said to Er's brother Onan, 'Go and marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. You must produce an heir for your brother.'

Genesis 38:8, CSB: Then Judah said to Onan, "Sleep with your brother's wife. Perform your duty as her brother-in-law and produce offspring for your brother."

What does Genesis 38:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

After his wicked son Er has been killed by the Lord (Genesis 38:6–7), Judah turns to his second son Onan. He tells Onan to take Er's widow Tamar as his wife. Onan's specific duty is to care for Tamar as a wife, with special emphasis on providing her with children, so his departed brother would have some offspring by proxy.

While the practice seems strange today, it was a strong custom in the region at the time. The tradition was intended to keep a man's family line from being "cut off," if possible. It also served the interests of the widow, who would be left destitute and helpless without children to support her later in life. This "levirate marriage" would also become the standard practice of Israel (Deuteronomy 25:5–6), though the Law would later allow for a man to opt out of taking his brother's widow as a wife in this way.