Deuteronomy 21:18
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
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Deuteronomy 21:18-21. THE INCORRIGIBLE SON.

(18) If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son.—Here we are again reminded that the Law of Jehovah was also the civil and criminal law of Israel. The systematic breach of the first commandment of the second table of the Law, no less than of the first commandment of the first table, entailed the penalty of death. Manifestly this enactment, if carried out, would be a great protection to the country against lawless and abandoned characters, and would rid it of one very large element in the dangerous classes.

(20) Stubborn and rebellious.—The Hebrew words became proverbial as the worst form of reproach, sôrêr û-môreh. This word môreh was the one employed by Moses, when, speaking “unadvisedly” (Numbers 20:10), he said to the people, “Hear now, ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock?” It appears in the Revised New Testament, in the margin of St. Matthew 5:22, for “thou fool.” But the Greek word there employed is true Greek, and has its own affinities in the New Testament. And the word môreh is true Hebrew. They may be idiomatically synonymous. They are not etymologically identical.

A glutton and a drunkard.—The same two words are found in Proverbs 23:20-22, “Be not among wine bibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. Hearken unto thy father that begat thee; and despise not thy mother when she is old.” The context of this quotation seems to make it a distinct reference to the law in Deuteronomy 21

(21) Shall stone him with stones.—Rashi says that the Law cuts short the man’s career, anticipating what its close will be. When he has spent all his father’s money, he will take to the road, and become a public robber. It is better that he die innocent of such crimes than guilty. We can hardly adopt this view of the case; but it contains one feature that is terribly true.

21:18-21 Observe how the criminal is here described. He is a stubborn and rebellious son. No child was to fare the worse for weakness of capacity, slowness, or dulness, but for wilfulness and obstinacy. Nothing draws men into all manner of wickedness, and hardens them in it more certainly and fatally, than drunkenness. When men take to drinking, they forget the law of honouring parents. His own father and mother must complain of him to the elders of the city. Children who forget their duty, must thank themselves, and not blame their parents, if they are regarded with less and less affection. He must be publicly stoned to death by the men of his city. Disobedience to a parent's authority must be very evil, when such a punishment was ordered; nor is it less provoking to God now, though it escapes punishment in this world. But when young people early become slaves to sensual appetites, the heart soon grows hard, and the conscience callous; and we can expect nothing but rebellion and destruction.The formal accusation of parents against a child was to be received without inquiry, as being its own proof. Thus the just authority of the parents is recognized and effectually upheld (compare Exodus 20:12; Exodus 21:15, Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9); but the extreme and irresponsible power of life and death, conceded by the law of Rome and other pagan nations, is withheld from the Israelite father. In this, as in the last law, provision is made against the abuses of a necessary authority. 18-21. If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son—A severe law was enacted in this case. But the consent of both parents was required as a prevention of any abuse of it; for it was reasonable to suppose that they would not both agree to a criminal information against their son except from absolute necessity, arising from his inveterate and hopeless wickedness; and, in that view, the law was wise and salutary, as such a person would be a pest and nuisance to society. The punishment was that to which blasphemers were doomed [Le 24:23]; for parents are considered God's representatives and invested with a portion of his authority over their children. No text from Poole on this verse.

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son,.... It is observed (w) that this law quickly follows, and is subjoined to that which relates to the marriage of a woman taken captive, because often from such marriages wicked and refractory children have sprung, and which they exemplify in the case of Absalom, whose mother they say David took in war and married: the character of such a son follows, and by which it may be known that he is stubborn and rebellious; stubborn in his nature, and rebellious in his actions; behaves contrary to the laws of God, and the instructions of his parents; what he should do, that he does not; and what he should not do, that he does; will not do what is commanded him, and will do what is forbidden him, notwithstanding all counsels, admonitions, and corrections given him:

which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother; is disobedient to the commands of either of them; see Proverbs 30:17 and, when they have chastened him, will not hearken to them; when they have reproved him by words, and corrected him with blows; the Jews understand this of scourging or beating by the order of the sanhedrim, after admonition given; it is said (x),"they admonish him before three (a court of judicature consisting of three judges), and they beat him; but it seems rather to respect private corrections of their own by words and stripes, which having no effect, they were to proceed as follows.''

(w) Moses Kotensis Mitzvot Torah, pr. affirm. 122. Kimchi in 2 Samuel 3. 3.((x) Misn. Sandedrin, c. 8. sect. 4.

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his {k} mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

(k) For it is the mother's duty also to instruct her children.

18. If a man have] See introd. to Deuteronomy 21:15-17.

stubborn and rebellious] Jeremiah 5:23, Psalm 78:8.

father or … mother] Mark the equality of the parents, as in the next v., the Fifth Comm. and in E, Exodus 21:15; Exodus 21:17; also in the Babylonian laws cited above.

chasten] see on Deuteronomy 8:5.

18–21. Of a Disobedient Son

If a man have a son, who, in spite of his parents’ rebuke, fails to obey them (Deuteronomy 21:18), they shall bring him forth to the gate, and state the case to the elders of the town (Deuteronomy 21:19 f.), and the townsmen shall stone him to death, so shall evil be put out of Israel and all take warning (21).—Except for the closing formula this law is not in the form of address to Israel, and the term for stoning is other than D’s. Therefore probably another of the laws incorporated by D.

The power of parents over their children (E, Exodus 21:7, Genesis 31:15), even to putting them to death, which prevailed in early Israel also to this degree (Genesis 38:24; cp. Buhl, Soc. Verkältn. d. Isr. 29), as among the Greeks and Romans, is here enforced and controlled by public authority. See further introd. to previous law. Cp. Deuteronomy 27:16; E, Exodus 21:15; Exodus 21:17, H, Leviticus 20:9 (death for smiting or cursing parents); Proverbs 30:17, Code of Ḫammurabi § 195, and two Sumerian laws cited by Johns, op. cit. p. 41. For Herod’s abuse of this law see Josephus, xvi. Antt. xi. 2.

Verses 18-21. - If a son was refractory and unmanageable by his parents, if, given to sensual indulgence, he would yield neither to reproof nor to chastisement, - the parents were to lay hold on him, and lead him to the elders of the town, sitting as magistrates at its gates, and there accuse him of his evil ways and rebelliousness. The testimony of the parents was apparently held sufficient to substantiate the charge, and this being received by the elders, the culprit was to be put to death by stoning. Deuteronomy 21:18Punishment of a Refractory Son. - The laws upon this point aim not only at the defence, but also at the limitation, of parental authority. If any one's son was unmanageable and refractory, not hearkening to the voice of his parents, even when they chastised him, his father and mother were to take him and lead him out to the elders of the town into the gate of the place. The elders are not regarded here as judges in the strict sense of the word, but as magistrates, who had to uphold the parental authority, and administer the local police. The gate of the town was the forum, where the public affairs of the place were discussed (cf. Deuteronomy 22:15; Deuteronomy 25:7); as it is in the present day in Syria (Seetzen, R. ii. p. 88), and among the Moors (Hst, Nachrichten v. Marokkos, p. 239).
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