Why did God kill Onan? Genesis 38:8
This is probably one of the most misunderstood stories in the Bible. It is easily understood if you study inheritance law, and the Levirate Union, during the time Onan and Tamar lived.
Many think that this story speaks against masturbation, and “coitus interruptus”, by couples who use it as a form of birth control, but the act itself is not something punishable by death. And it was not the reason God killed Onan. Disregarding his laws, and robbing the fatherless, or a widow WAS.
God killed Onan for trying to rob a widow, and defrauding her of inheritance, by “coitus interruptus”.
In Onan’s time, the law required him to marry his brother’s widow in order for her to receive any inheritance from her husband’s father’s side of the family. What Onan was doing was basically using his brother’s widow for a concubine, and not allowing her to conceive. By not giving her children, he was subject to gaining a much greater inheritance and share of his father’s estate. Given that a woman could not divorce a man in those days (yet the man could divorce for most any reason), This would basically assure she would not be his heir, and most likely die in poverty, or it may be possible that Onan had plans to divorce her after his father passed away.
God killed Onan not for spilling his seed, but for NOT giving his BROTHER”S WIDOW his seed. His crime, in itself, was not the spilled seed, it was much more sinister than “coitus interruptus”. God killed Onan for LYING, and refusing to obey God’s law of the Levirate Union at the time, which was to give your brother’s widow offspring, and attempting to steal from, or withhold inheritance from a widow.
Onan’s death also freed Tamar to marry most any man she chose after that, since she no longer had family bonds with Onan’s family. Interestingly enough, Tamar bore a child by Onan’s father Judah after Onan’s death, and she recieved Onan’s, and a wife’s share of her father in law’s estate at his death, in addition to her son being Judah’s child, and recieving a son’s share also.
God does not take kindly to those who would rob an orphan or widow. Man can fool men, but man cannot fool God. God knows the heart.