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Er (Biblical name)

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This article discusses close relatives of Judah. Er is also a name listed by the Gospel of Luke's version of the genealogy of Jesus.

In the Biblical Book of Genesis, Er (Hebrew: עֵר, Modern ʿEr Tiberian ʿĒr "city (?)"; Greek: Ἤρ) was the eldest son of Judah, and is described as marrying Tamar;[1] According to the text, Yahweh killed Er because he was wicked, although it doesn't give any further details.[2] In Hebrew Er spelled backwards spells 'evil.' According to Rashi and other rabbis, he, like Onan, purposely tried to keep Tamar from conceiving, in his case because he was afraid of spoiling her beauty. In the text, Er is portrayed as the brother of Onan[3] and Shelah;[4] the Book of Chronicles lists an Er as being one of Shelah's sons.[5]

According to biblical scholars, the description of Er is an eponymous aetiological myth concerning fluctuations in the constituency of the tribe of Judah, with the abrupt death of Er reflecting the dying out of a clan;[6][7] the presence of an Er as a descendant of Shelah, in the Book of Chronicles, suggests that Er was in reality the name of a clan that was originally equal in status to the Shelah clan, but was later subsumed by it.[6][8] The brother - Onan - may represent an Edomite clan named Onam,[9] who are mentioned in an Edomite genealogy in Genesis.[10]

Scholars have argued that the Tamar narrative, of which the description of Er is a part, secondarily aims to either assert the institution of levirate marriage, or present an aetiological myth for its origin;[6] Er's role in the narrative would thus be as the background to the main plot, his death being the reason for levirite marriage to become an issue. Emerton regards the evidence for this as inconclusive, though classical rabbinical writers argued that this narrative concerns the origin of levirate marriage.[11]

Notes and citations

  1. Genesis 38:6
  2. Genesis 38:7
  3. Genesis 38:8
  4. Genesis 38:11
  5. 1 Chronicles 4:21
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 J. A. Emerton, Judah And Tamar
  7. Cheyne and Black, Encyclopedia Biblica
  8. Cheyne and Black, Encyclopedia Biblica
  9. Cheyne and Black, Encyclopedia Biblica
  10. Genesis 36:23
  11. Genesis Rabbah 85:6
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Er (Biblical name). The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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