CHVII - VII. Table Two - Duties toward People: 5. Honor Thy...

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VII. Table Two -- Duties toward People: 5. Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother : Israel is an oriental nation. The customs of the mid-eastern people have more connections with the east than they do with our western culture and mores.' Honor for one's parents is a common denominator across eastern cultures; in the Far East it is reinforced through ancestor worship. In the OT, showing proper respect for parents is a common theme; indeed, children who do not obey their parents are subject to severe penalties in Israel (Dt. 21:18-21). And as the Proverbs remind us on more than one occasion, a rebellious son has no place in his father's house or the community. But the primary thrust of the fifth commandment is not directed toward children -- the Decalogue is directed to adults, people over the age of consent; in fact, custom directs it to adult male members of the community, though all others are not excluded. The linkage between the fourth and fifth commandments becomes clearer when the latter is seen as being directed to the adult members of the community regarding their treatment of their aged parents and maturer members of the community. Just as human beings cease from the back-breaking labors of their work-a-day world to remind them that toil is not the reason for human existence or the sole focus of human endeavor, so also do human beings cease to have worth or value when their productive years have run their course. Parents, when entering upon their age of feebleness, are in a Sabbath period of their lives; and are to be shown the respect and honor that were theirs while they were more active in the work of the community. Seen in this light, the fifth commandment also has to do with the way Israel handles the ebb and flow of life. Is our strong reading of the prohibition: "curse his father or mother" contextually justified? Is it really little difference between having contempt for one's parents and cursing them? The book of the Covenant, which follows the Decalogue, offers the germinal form of two laws which shed some light on the intention of the fifth commandment; Exodus 21:15 and 21:17.
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Ex. 21:15 states: "Whoever strikes his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death." The context seems to be that of a young, explosive son whose respect for his parents diminishes with their ability to physically control him. This same context is reflected in the expansion this law undergoes in its Deuteronomic form: (Dt. 21:18-21) If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they chastise him, will not give heed to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elder of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, [city counsels used to always be at the city gate] and they shall say to the elders of his city, I this our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard,I then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones; so
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course REL THEL 353 taught by Professor Tyson during the Spring '08 term at Houghton College.

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CHVII - VII. Table Two - Duties toward People: 5. Honor Thy...

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