Why using the rod on your child and spanking is not found in the Bible: An old truth in a new light. (Part 2)
In this Article I will, like promised, cover the nine names in Hebrew to name a child. Then we will see what this has to do with our five scriptures in Proverbs, including the rod and spanking a child.
Like I said in the first part of this Article, the material I am presenting to you in these articles is not “new” or coming by “revelation”. In fact, every student of the Bible who is able to do the study in the original language can explain the same thing.
In this article I will point to the findings I took from a book written by Samuel Martin. Samuel Martin has been in Jerusalem on and off during his childhood and lives there permanently since 2001. He knows the culture and the language, and therefore was able to study the book of Proverbs in the context; including the study of the ancient post biblical and biblical culture of the times where it was written.
I will only do a short resume of his material. Therefore, if you really want to know what his findings were, in all the details and powerful clarification of what it really says in these scriptures from Proverbs… I strongly suggest you download the book “Thy Rod And Thy Staff They Comfort Me – Christians and the Smacking Controversy” here and read it by yourself.
He is the author of the fallowing insights. In His writing he often refers to the book of “Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, pg 103-105”
Samuel Martin is pointing out:
“When we look at terms in the Bible that describe actions directed at a certain person or group, because we are dealing with a very old text that is culturally disconnected from our modern world by many hundreds of years, we need to be sure that the group in our modern world that we are applying these texts to are the same group in the ancient world that the people at the time applied the same information to.”
So let’s begin with the beginning, by understanding the different terms in Hebrew and how this will affect our understanding of what we read there, specially concerning our children and the rod.
- The first of these terms designates the babe as the “newly born”- the “yeled” or, in the feminine, “yaldah”- as in Exodus 2:3, 2:6; 2:8 (concerning baby Moses)
These terms “yeled” and “yaldah” are both related to the verb “yalad” which simply means “to give birth”.
This verb, in various forms is found several hundred times in the Bible and is referring to the time in the life of a child from birth to the time of weaning.
In Isaiah 9:6 we find a clear example: “For a babe (Hebrew: “yeled”) is born unto us, a son (Hebrew: “ben”) is given to us.” This word “yeled” appears almost 90 times in the Bible.
- In Genesis 21.8 it is shown very clearly: “And the child (Hebrew: “yeled”) grew, and was weaned” (Historical sources show that this weaning took place at the age of three)
- The next child-name is “yonek” which means literally, “a suckling”. This word in Hebrew comes from the verb “yanak” which literally means, “to suck”. In fact, there are two different terms in the Bible that describe two different periods of a suckling child. The first term “yonek”, refers to babies who are in the period of life that is characterized as receiving nourishment only from their mothers breast. These are children who are aged from birth to about 12 month or so.
- The word “olel” refers to a child who is not weaned yet but still periodically nurses at its mothers breast. As the word implies, the “olel” is still sucking, but it is no longer satisfied with only this nourishment and is “asking bread” as in Lamentations 4:4 “The tongue of the suckling child (“yonek”)claves to the roof of his mouth for thirst; the newly eating children (“olelim”- plural of the word “olel”) ask bread”.
So “olel” is always older then a“yonek”. The term “yonek” is found 32 times in the Bible, whereas the term “olel”
occurs 20 times.
- The fourth designation found in the Bible is “gamul” meaning “weaned one”, from a verb which primarily means to complete, and secondarily to wean. It shows the child completing the nursing phase. For example, in Genesis 21:8 we find the mentioning that Isaak was weaned.
We find that the phase of life for these children is between the ages of three to four.
- The fifth designation is “taph”. The verbal use of this noun refer to the English word “swaddled”. This term refers to the ancient custom of woman wearing swaddling bands. These were exterior garments that were band-like in construction and were a hand breadths or so thick and were used to carry children by their mothers.In using the word “taph” it gives the strong impression that Hebrew mothers were intensely close to their children and their children stayed very close to their mothers throughout the time prior to the age of six years.This word is found 42 times in the Hebrew Bible and it universally refers to “little children”. It refers to young children who are between the age of four to six years.
- The sixth period is marked by the word “elem” (in the feminine “almah”) This time in life mentioned in the Bible is when a young person is approaching adolescence. In our modern language we call it pre-teenagers. These words together are found nine times in the Bible.
- Next we have the word “na’ar” There is another term referring to the time just after and including the teenager years, where the young person is now starting to gain some sense of independence. This word means literally “he who shakes of, or shakes himself free”.
This word is found over 200 times in the Bible. (and “na’arah” for the feminine form and is also found frequently in the Bible) The vast majority of these texts refer to younger men or woman who have yet to marry.
- Then we have the term “bthulah”. We find this word used to refer to the phase of life for young woman just immediately prior to marriage. That word means a young woman who has not participated in sexual intercourse, or specifically, a virgin. This is the exact meaning and there are numerous texts to show this. This word appears 50 times in the Bible.
- The term “bachur”, (the feminine “bachurah” is never found in the Bible) means “the ripened one; a young warrior” as in Isaiah 31.8 . Bachur refers to a time in the life of young men, where marriage starts to come a reality. Men in the Biblical and post-Biblical periods generally married between 13 and 17 years of age.
- Finally, the last last term that describes the final stage of life, adulthood, means man: “ish” – and “ishah” – woman.
Man and woman as “Ish” and “Ishah” appear hundreds of times in the Bible.
Having now a clear view of all the terms for “child” it becomes interesting to watch closely what are the used terms in the book of Proverbs.
At the very beginning of the book of Proverbs we have an introduction that orients the reader to the book as a whole. This section mentions that the book is directed to the “young man”. This word for “young man” that is used is “na’ar”. As the previous outlining of the different terms has shown, does not include young men who fall into the pre-teen category.
Additionally, reading the book of Proverbs into its context, we will find that the book is directed only to men. It shows men how to conduct their life. It shows men how to deal with family and society and it also shows kings (who in Israeli culture were always men) how to deal with their subjects.
Therefore, it is directed to firstly male and secondly grown man. The book is not designed for young men below the teenage years
We see it is not, as we have it in our translations, referring to “children” in an unspecific way.
As already mentioned, I will only do a short resume of the content of the book. However, I hope I was able to let you see the authors point here: The book of Proverbs is not talking about children. It is talking about young and grown mn.
Next week, I will cover the five scriptures in the book of Proverbs and what they tell us if we dig into the Hebrew language. There is much of exciting and interesting information in this book as a whole. So much that I will not be able to cover everything in three articles. So if you are as interested as I am in that whole subject, I strongly suggest that you download the book here and dig into it by yourself!