Corban: A brief study of the only occurance


This is a word that occurs only once in the entire Bible. Scholars know it is a Hebrew word that received no translation into Greek. This is just a quick exploration into this word, and its implication on the passage in which it appears, Mark 7:11.

Definition: The word describes anything dedicated to God, and therefore not available for ordinary uses. The utterance of it was held to constitute a binding vow, and the fulfillment of a vow was regarded by the Pharisees as of deeper obligation than the duty even to parents. See Matt. 15: 5 and Mark 7: 11, where it appears that the Pharisees misused the opportunity of dedicating their material possessions to God, in order to avoid responsibility to care for their parents.

One commentary suggests that pharisees developed this responsibility shedding tradition from a couple of Old Testament commandments found in Leviticus and Numbers.

Leviticus 27:14-15 This chapter talks about dedicating things to the Lord. In verses 14-15 it talks about dedicating ones house to the Lord; a priest would appraise it, deem it worthy or unworthy of being dedicated (“No broken shacks please Levi, c’mon”) to the temple.

Numbers 30:1-2 This chapter talks about vows, and specifically it says in verses 1-2 that if a man makes a promise or vow, he must do it. No exceptions.

Lets put it all in context and lets see how this might go down. Moshe wants to dedicate his house to the Lord. Moshe has parents still who are of old age and will need assistance next year. He doesn’t want to take care of his folks, so he gets the priest to approve his house to be dedicated to the Lord, so that it is now “corban”, dedicated solely to the use of the temple and no other. Now Moshe on a good conscience can say, “Well, I made a vow to the Lord, and I have to keep it….sorry Mom and Dad.”

Like some pastors and leaders today, they are comissioned to be shepherds and care for their flock, but don’t even care for their own family at times. This is backwards, and you get a good feel on what Jesus’ sentiments are for the pharisees, who live by such flagrantly disrespectful traditions. These are the same people who Jesus calls a family of vipers and children of Satan.

Here is Mark 7:9-13, for you to read with this new knowledge of corban.

“You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, “Honor your father and mother; and ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or mother, ‘Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban (that is, given to God) – then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the Word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

Do we understand the heart of things, presented in the word of God, so as to be careful not to make our own traditions today (examples being perhaps, swearing by the KJV, living in alegiance to a form of Christian nationalism, or even slight as allowing doctrines of the church slowly replace the heart of the gospel in our lives)

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