Friday, April 30, 2021

Regarding Proverbs 23:13-14 … Are we really supposed to beat our children?


We are having an issue about Proverbs 23:13 and 14 … We can't picture Father YAHWEH or Yeshua using a rod on a child. We checked on Hebrew definitions and word meanings but can't find a way around the word "strike". It means what it means,  

We understand the part that tells us not to withhold discipline from a child, and understand fully the outcome if you don't. We also understand the different meanings for the word "rod" and the uses for it. Are we missing something? 

Can you offer us some context on this issue? Thanks in advance.  May YHWH continue to bless you both along  with your website.


That is a great question!  The phrase in Proverb 23:13, “כי-תכנו בשבט“, chi-ta’chaynu v’shebet, translated as “beat [him] with a stick/rod”, is a Hebrew idiom. We will try to explain.

There are many Biblical Hebrew words for “rod/stick” which carry the same meaning of the English word for rod/stick. Example: In Hebrew, the word for a “rod” or “switch” suitable for striking a person or child to inflict pain as punishment is the word “מקל“, maquel, which, depending on the context, means “stick” or “rod” (for striking, walking, guiding) and sometimes the context means it is a “staff”; see Numbers 22:7. Another is “מטה”, mat’teh, also by context carrying the same meaning as maquel; see Isaiah 10:24.

But the Hebrew “שבט“, shebet, which, in context, can also carry the same meaning as the first two examples, generally has a more ominous use and meaning. We find the shebet being used when the context is about a “big stick” intended for beating and winning against a foe. The shebet is for severely punishing, for immobilize the opponent. Thus the shebet is usually somewhat larger, heavier, and may have spikes on it. See 1 Chronicles 11:23 for example.

So, we know the phrase chi-ta’chaynu v’shebet, “beat [him] with a stick/rod”, in Proverbs 23:13 is NOT literal, for the message of the Proverb is not to inflict serious pain and suffering on the child, rather, it is to discipline. Thus, the phrase “chi-ta’chaynu v’shebet” is figurative of being strict with the child so he will not LATER die an eternal death for straying from the Torah of YHWH.

The part of the verse “Don’t withhold discipline/correction from the child…” is best explained in the Talmud. It means the punishment should be immediate. "Do not threaten a child that he will be hit later, if you see him doing a wrong deed, strike him immediately or be completely silent" (Kitzur Shulkhan Aruklh 165:7).

Thus, an immediate punishment is clearly linked to the child's misbehavior. The discipline should be followed by a show of love and warmth, enabling the child to understand that the punishment is not directed against him/her but rather at his wrongdoing. Therefore, the phrase chi-ta’chaynu v’shebet, “beat [him] with a stick/rod” is figurative or an idiom for “be the parent, as if you carried a shebet into battle to save the child’s life from a more powerful enemy.”

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