Saturday, June 23, 2012
I don't want to beat this to death.
I only want to have one more go at it before I withdraw from it completely.
I have so many thoughts on this Biblical episode. They are just spilling out.
I am going to try to gather the spunk to make one final thrust at this story. I feel God would want me to go to work on it just one more time, to plant the seed of clarity, if you will.
To begin with, Onan the Barbarian came from good stock. Good, solid, circumcised Hebrew stock. Except, perhaps, for his grandpapa Jacob who screwed his own brother out of his inheritance. But Jacob (later named Israel) went on to have 12 sons (and probably 20 or so daughters that were not important enough to mention in the Bible) and one of those sons was Judah. Except for the great Onan incident, relatively little is said about Judah in the Bible. Mostly, his space is taken up with accounts of his half-brother Joseph whose coat Dolly Parton later wrote a song about.
The important thing to remember, if you are to get a firm grip, a proper grasp, on the situation, is that God gave the (rather gullible) Hebrews a lot of odd laws and practices. The Hebrews followed these practices because .... because... well, God would also smite some of them from time to time.
For example, one afternoon God and Abraham were talking, as they often did. God had promised him great wealth and land and had told Abraham that his (unspilled) seed would multiply for generations. I imagine Abraham nodded solemnly at this thought. Then, out of the blue, God told Abraham that he wanted him to go cut off his foreskin. Whoa! Just like that. With little more emotion than, "Would you pass the bread, please?" And so Abraham hacked it off and from then on out until today, they still do that. God gave them many laws to follow and they did, without actually subjecting the laws to much analysis.
The system of passing down land was apparently another of those laws they followed. Inheritance only was possible if a man had a son to pass on his land to. Obviously, one could not just give the land to his widow, she being a woman and all. If a man died without a son-heir, then there was, apparently, an ensuing land-grab event. And the widow was just told to hit the road. But there was one legal loophole to the land-grabbing, and that is where Onan "came in" so to speak. Actually, there must have been TWO legal loopholes, if you count blackmailing your father-in-law, but that one is hazy at best. This being before the days of artificial insemination, enter Onan the Barbarian.
Incidentally, if you didn't see the movies about Arnold the Barbarian, then much of this is not very funny to you. There's a good chance it isn't anyway.
There are many unanswered questions in my mind. Or, if they ARE answered in the Bible, they remain unread by me. For exampe, was Onan married with children? If so, what did his wife or wives have to say about this law-enforced adultery? After God killed Onan, did they just tell his wife to get off Onan's homestead too? And besides, weren't they all Egyptian slaves by this time? They didn't have any land to inherit in Egypt. Grandpa Jacob was old by now and they would have been in Egypt. By gosh, I want to have that cleared up! Was Onan a stone-cutter by trade? Or just working with wood? Inquiring minds would like some answers.
The thing to remember is that Onan disobeyed God's law. Once you are clear on that point, then killing Onan after the fact, even in a barbaric manner, seems a reasonable thing to do. At this point, I am going to withdraw from this saga. I will admit I didn't read far enough to find out if Onan had a younger brother who could rise up and carry on.
[Semi-obscene animation removed from this spot]
Posted by Relax Max at 1:33 PM