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Bible verses about Cursing of Parents
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 21:15-17

The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament (vol. 1, p. 133), commenting on Exodus 21:15-17, reads:

Maltreatment of a father and mother through striking (ver. 15), man-stealing (ver. 16), and cursing parents (ver. 17, cf. Leviticus xx.9) were all to be placed on a par with murder, and punished in the same way. By "smiting" of parents we are not to understand smiting to death, . . . but any kind of maltreatment. The murder of parents is not mentioned at all, as not likely to occur and hardly conceivable. The cursing of parents is placed on a par with smiting, because it proceeds from the same disposition; and both were to be punished with death, because the majesty of God was violated in the persons of the parents.

"The majesty of God was violated"! In this lies the importance of keeping this commandment. The relationship God intends within the family is an exact type of a Christian's spiritual relationship with God the Father and the church as mother.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fifth Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 21:15-17

Maltreatment of a parent through striking or cursing is placed on a par with murder and kidnapping and is punished in the same way—death.

The word curse simply means "to belittle," "to make light of," "to be contemptuous of."

In the book of Matthew, as Jesus was giving the Sermon on the Mount, He says:

You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. (Matthew 5:21-22)

Raca means empty-headed; moron. It is a form of cursing, belittling, or speaking contemptuously of. The person who says this shall be in danger of the council.

But whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22)

Jesus is saying that He agrees with Exodus 21:15-17. For a child to speak contemptuously of or to consider his parents to be foolish puts him in danger of the death penalty. This is God's law, and here, Jesus Christ, our Savior, says that He agrees with it. He will be the God who judges. Cursing is placed on a par with murder, and there is a reason why: because it proceeds from this same attitude of heart. Thus, it is punishable by death.

The majesty and office of God is violated in the person of the parent because God regards the parent as His representative and as a type of Him. So, the fifth commandment is broken, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). It is that simple. In terms of the penalty, it is just as wrong to curse parents as it is to curse God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sanctification and the Teens


 

Leviticus 21:15-17

How important to God's purpose are the parents in this mix? God records in Exodus 21:15, 17, "And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. . . . And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death." To modern child psychologists, these are shocking statements. At the very least, they ought to give us pause to realize the seriousness of being constantly concerned about our child-training responsibilities!

These verses do not in any way imply a child is to be beaten into submission. They do mean that it is a tremendously serious responsibility to produce a godly child who glorifies God. Our responsibility is to follow God's patterns in child-training. He is patient and generous with His affections and mercies, yet He also gives correction in due season and in right measure.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 adds:

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 who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city. "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard." Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.

Here, the laws given in Exodus 21 are expanded on as the Israelites are about to enter the Land of Promise. If a child were unmanageable and stubbornly disobedient, the judges had a responsibility to back up the parents. However, the right to kill was not given to the parents. This passage indicates a process of evaluation by people not directly, and thus less emotionally, involved. Interestingly, the addictions in the child are directly named. One is a drug addiction, a major problem in our time.

Does it offend us that God's standard is so stern? Do we pass it off as being of little consequence or significance? We should perhaps rethink this. Consider what poor child-training is causing in Britain and America! Does not God prophesy against "the drunkards of Ephraim" (Isaiah 28:1, 3)?

God adds in Deuteronomy 27:16, "Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt." Ephraim (Israel) is under divine punishment, cursed, because parenting and parents are considered to be so unimportant. Why is God so concerned? Notice this comment concerning Exodus 21:12-17 in the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament:

Maltreatment of a father and mother through striking (v. 15), man-stealing (v. 16), and cursing parents (v. 17, cf. Lev 20:9), were all to be placed on a par with murder, and punished in the same way. By the "smiting" (hikaah) of parents we are not to understand smiting to death, for in that case waameet would be added as in v. 12, but any kind of maltreatment. The murder of parents is not mentioned at all, as not likely to occur and hardly conceivable. The cursing (qaleel as in Gen 12:3) of parents is placed on a par with smiting, because it proceeds from the same disposition; and both were to be punished with death, because the majesty of God was violated in the persons of the parents (cf. Ex 20:12). (Vol. 1, p. 133.)

Therein lies a major reason for keeping this commandment. The relationship God intends within the family is an exact type of the Christian's spiritual relationship with God the Father and the church as mother. In the eyes of God and in the eyes of a small child, a parent stands in the place of God Himself. In the physical sense, the parents are the child's creator, provider, lawgiver, teacher, and protector. A child's response to this relationship will in large measure determine his later response to broader relationships in society and beyond that to God Himself.

By direct implication, then, if as parents we represent God, it becomes our obligation to live lives worthy of honor to Him. Ultimately, the responsibility for keeping this commandment falls on the child. However, by carrying out their responsibilities, the parents clearly lay the foundation for the child keeping the commandment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fifth Commandment


 

Proverbs 20:20

This verse ought to give any person who has some measure of respect for God's seriousness about a child's responsibility toward his parents pause to think about things. Modern translations often choose to render "obscure" as pitch or complete. "His lamp shall be put out in pitch darkness (or in complete darkness)." It means in an area where there is no possibility of seeing anything, utter blindness. God's warning indicates utterly dark. If a lamp is snuffed out, extinguished in the darkness, how will a person see where he is going?

A lamp puts forth light, and light is a biblical symbol of truth. Therefore, God is in reality speaking of having correct guidance and direction. He is saying that if children curse their parents, the death penalty may not be not executed, but following right on the heels of this, God says He will remove the guidance that He would ordinarily make available.

This proverb, then, is saying that God will not necessarily put one to death. Instead, the penalty for cursing parents is that one will receive no guidance from Him. This imagery comes close to the punishment that is reserved for demons—to be able to see and desire greatly but to be able to do nothing about it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sanctification and the Teens


 

Matthew 15:3-6

Behind these Scriptures is a practice whereby people excused themselves from providing for their parents on the grounds of giving offerings (not tithes) to the Temple. On the surface this may seem like an honorable practice, but Jesus condemned them as hypocrites! God wants mercy to people in need, not the "sacrifice" of an offering to God that we think might put us in better standing with Him. That "sacrifice" should have been spent relieving the parent's need!

Jesus quotes Exodus 21:17 as His authority. "Curses" implies afflicting, bringing evil upon, or causing harm or misfortune to. The person who curses a parent, even under the New Covenant, breaks the fifth commandment and is worthy of death. These are sobering words regarding a serious obligation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fifth Commandment (1997)


 

 




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