Deuteronomy 21:20
And they shall say to the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Deuteronomy 21:20. A glutton and a drunkard — Under which two offences others of a like or worse nature are comprehended.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. Stubborn and rebellious, adds incorrigibleness to all his wickedness.

A glutton and a drunkard; under which two offences others of a like or worse nature are comprehended by a synecdoche. And they shall say unto the elders of his city,.... In open court, what follows, at the same time, according to the Targum of Jonathan, acknowledging their own sins, for which such a calamity had befallen them, saying,"we have transgressed the decree of the word of the Lord, because is born unto us a son that is stubborn, &c.''see John 9:2.

this our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; one of an obstinate disposition, will have his own will and way, is perverse and refractory; honours not, but despises his parents, and is disobedient to their commands, unruly and ungovernable: the Jews gather (a) many things from hence, for which there is little foundation, as that they must be neither dumb, nor blind, nor deaf; though what they further observe is not much amiss, concerning this rebellious child, that the law respects a son and not a daughter, because a daughter generally is more tractable; and less capable of doing mischief than a son; and a son and not a man, for if at man's estate, and for himself, he is not under the power of his parents; and yet not a child or a little one, for that is not comprehended in the commands; he must be according to them thirteen years of age and one day, and he must be a son and not a father (b):

he is a glutton and a drunkard; which, according to the Misnah (c), is one that eats half a pound of flesh, and drinks half a log of Italian wine; R. Jose says, a pound of flesh and a log of wine; but the decision was not according to him; the first rule stood: now half a pound of flesh, and half a log of wine, which was about three egg shells, or a quarter of a pint, would be at this day reckoned very little by our grandsons of Bacchus, as Schickard observes (d); but in an age of severer discipline, as he says, in the tender candidates of temperance, it was reckoned too much, and was a presage of a future glutton: and it must be further observed to denominate him a rebellious son, what he ate and drank was to be what he stole from his parents, and did not eat and drink it at home, but abroad, and in bad company; so Jarchi remarks on the text, he is not guilty until he steals, and eats half a pound of flesh, and drinks half a log of wine; in which he seems to have respect to the Jewish canon (e),"if he steals from his father and eats it in a place in his father's power, or from others and eats it in a place in their power, or from others and eats it in a place in his father's power; he is not reckoned a stubborn and rebellious son, unless he steals from his father, and eats it in a place in the power of others,''see Proverbs 23:20, the Jews seem to refer to this when they charged Christ with being a glutton and a winebibber, Matthew 11:19 being desirous of having him thought as such an one.

(a) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 8. sect. 4. (b) Ut supra, (Misn. Bava Bathra, c. 8.) sect. 1. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (c) Ib. sect. 2.((d) Jus Regium Heb. c. 5. Theor. 17. p. 364. (e) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 8. sect. 3.

And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. elders] Sam. LXX, men.

riotous liver] Better, prodigal, lit. one who lavishes or squanders, Proverbs 23:20 (with flesh, a glutton) and 21, parallel to drunkard as here; Deuteronomy 28:7 : a companion of prodigals shameth his father.Verse 20. - He will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. Gluttony and drunkenness were regarded by the Hebrews as highly criminal. The word rendered by "glutton," however (זולַל, from זָלַל, to shake, to shake out, to squander), includes other kinds of excess besides eating. It designates one who is prodigal, who wastes his means or wastes his person by indulgence. In Proverbs 23:30, the whole phrase (זולְלֵי בָּשָׂר) is given - squanderers of flesh, i.e. wasters of their own body, debauchees. In Proverbs 28:7, the word is translated "riotous men" in the Authorized Version. Disobedience to parents was deemed an offense, which struck at the roots of the whole social institute. When the woman was taken home to the house of the man who had loved her, she was to shave her head, and make, i.e., cut, her nails (cf. 2 Samuel 19:25), - both customary signs of purification (on this signification of the cutting of the hair, see Leviticus 14:8 and Numbers 8:7), - as symbols of her passing out of the state of a slave, and of her reception into the fellowship of the covenant nation. This is perfectly obvious in her laying aside her prisoner's clothes. After putting off the signs of captivity, she was to sit (dwell) in the house, and bewail her father and mother for a month, i.e., console herself for her separation from her parents, whom she had lost, that she might be able to forget her people and her father's house (Psalm 45:11), and give herself up henceforth in love to her husband with an undivided heart. The intention of these laws was not to protect the woman against any outbreak of rude passion on the part of the man, but rather to give her time and leisure to loosen herself inwardly from the natural fellowship of her nation and kindred, and to acquire affection towards the fellowship of the people of God, into which she had entered against her will, that her heart might cherish love to the God of Israel, who had given her favour in the eyes of her master, and had taken from her the misery and reproach of slavery. But her master becoming her husband, she entered into the rights of a daughter of Israel, who had been sold by her father to a man to be his wife (Exodus 21:7.). If after this her husband should find no pleasure in her, he was to let her go לנפשׁהּ, i.e., at her free will, and not sell her for money (cf. Exodus 21:8). "Thou shalt not put constraint upon her, because thou hast humbled her." התעמּר, which only occurs again in Deuteronomy 24:7, probably signifies to throw oneself upon a person, to practise violence towards him (cf. Ges. thes. p. 1046).
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