I finally got to Number chapter 26 and read this:

בְּנֵי יְהוּדָה עֵר וְאוֹנָן וַיָּמָת עֵר וְאוֹנָן בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן׃

Born to Judah: Er and Onan. Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan.

Then I remembered that I read almost the same thing in Genesis 38:8

And Judah said to Onan: Come to your brother's wife and take her in levirate marriage, and establish seed for your brother, [the son being called by the latter's name].

How is this possible? Were they reincarnated for some reason while the Israelites were on the journey?

  • See also Numbers 26:61. – Alex Jun 19 '19 at 11:56

No. They were not reincarnated.

Genesis 38- they're being mentioned in the present tense of the story.

Numbers 26- after the plague that killed many people in Klal Yisrael (see previous chapter), the Torah takes a census of the people remaining by going through each of the 12 tribes.

Since the Torah is starting from Yehuda and discusses his descendants, Er and Onan are mentioned.

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  • Present tense of the story? Have I been reading wrong? Does that happen a lot in Genesis? Are there other such examples of Genesis mentioning something in present tense? – Israel B. Jun 20 '19 at 9:26

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