The Old Testament refers to the name of the Jewish holy book collection, the Tanakh, that was given by the first Christians. As the meaning of a testament is connected with the definition of a treaty or covenant, the Old Testament may be defined as the treaty between the Jewish people and God that states the necessity of their obedience. In other words, the Hebrews were promised safety and land by the Lord in return for their worship and the execution of His Law.
The Old Testament represents the history of Israel and the Jewish people, with the main focus on the exclusive covenant between the Israelites and God. It was originally established after Noah’s salvation and subsequently extended several times. However, there has been substantial speculation on the Old Testament’s origin as its authors and initial structure remain unclear.
The covenant is regarded both as a collection of previously existing single text fragments that were attached together and one original text that was extended throughout the course of history. Nevertheless, the passages of the Old Testament contain messages that are immeasurably important for religious people as they contribute to a better understanding of life events. That is why the purpose of this paper is to analyze and explain in detail the meaning and importance of Deuteronomy 21.18-21.
Deuteronomy 21.18-21 is the passage of the Old Testament currently regarded as one of the most controversial for religious people. It is written in the following way: “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them. Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place. And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear” (King James Version, Deut. 21.18-21). Unfortunately, a substantial number of people interpret this passage incorrectly. They suppose that God orders severe punishment and death for children in case of their disobedience and with consent from their parents. This unreliable interpretation may be highly maleficent as it deceives people and encourages their denial of faith.
Deuteronomy 21.18-21 is the passage of the Old Testament that is characterized by the allegorical meaning. “A stubborn and rebellious son” referenced in the passage may imply a criminal that does not follow the Law of his “father,” God, and the rules of his “mother,” country (King James Version, Deut. 21.18). Their son’s hopeless wickedness forces them to give their consent to punishment. “The elders of his city” mentioned in the passage may be regarded as judges in a court who traditionally are expected to be rational and unprejudiced (King James Version, Deut. 21.19).
In Israel, the Law of the Lord was regarded as both the criminal and civil law of the country, and people who broke it were frequently sentenced to death. In addition, the power of parents over their children was substantial, and they occasionally decided the faith of young people in case of their misconduct. However, in the present day, the passage reminds people that any malfeasance is considered by God while the country should be protected against abandoned and dangerous characters who should get the punishment they deserve.
Moreover, the passage identifies the reasons for a significant number of crimes. According to it, the son is “a drunkard,” and these words excellently describe highly disturbing issues that currently exist as well (King James Version, Deut. 21.20). Unfortunately, in the present day, there is a distinctive link between violent acts and alcohol consumption. A substantial number of violent crime victims report that their abusers were drinking before committing the offense. Sexual assaults and homicides are considered to be the most common crimes perpetrated by people in a state of alcoholic intoxication.
Alcohol consumption contributes to violence escalation and frequently results in severe injuries to victims. Moreover, “a stubborn and rebellious son” who refuses to obey is called “a glutton,” and this description may refer to psychological factors that cause crime committing (King James Version, Deut. 21.20). When a person is avaricious, he or she will never be satisfied with existing things. That is why greediness and acquisitiveness may instigate gluttons to a crime that may be regarded by such people as an easy way to achieve what they want.
Nevertheless, despite the severity of punishment mentioned in the passage that may be justified by the realities of Hebrew society in the past and hidden allegory, the passage currently provides young people essential life lessons. First of all, Deuteronomy 21.18-21reminds all religious people of the indisputability of the Law of God. It was established, and all people who do not follow it will be judged. People who become slaves to their sensual appetites, alcohol, and hidden desires will not be responsible for their actions and bring misfortune upon them.
In addition, the passage refers to one more issue that is highly significant in the present days – the relationship between children and parents. It goes without saying that mothers and fathers unconditionally love their children and punish them only in case of absolute necessity. In turn, children should not forget to honor their parents and follow their rules. The children’s disobedience to the authority of parents, rebellion, and destruction may have a substantial negative impact on their life in the future.
The Old Testament may be defined as the treaty between the Jewish people and God that states the necessity of their obedience. However, this covenant encompasses a substantial number of highly important messages that may be contemporarily beneficial for people worldwide. Deuteronomy 21.18-21 is the passage of the Old Testament that refers to children, the issues of stubbornness and self-will, and punishment.
It reminds all religious people of the indisputability of the Law of God, the necessity to honor their parents, and the harmfulness of alcohol and greediness. Despite the severity of punishment mentioned in the passage that may be justified by the realities of Hebrew society in the past, the passage has the allegorical meaning as well. It represents the judicial system that provides the inevitability of punishment for a criminal. The passage reminds people that any malefaction should be considered, and they are protected by the Law of God and the rules of a country.
King James Version. Bible Gateway.