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The one who withholds his rod hates his son,
but the one who loves him desires discipline for him. Bible

“desires discipline.” While the REV has “desires discipline,” the Hebrew text is more graphic and idiomatic, and could be more literally translated, “searches [or “seeks”] him out for chastisement [or “discipline”]. The HALOT Hebrew-English lexicon has “searches him out for a beating” [entry under the word for “search,” not “discipline”].

The idea of the Hebrew text is that the parent who really loves a child understands that he must learn at an early age that bad behavior brings unwanted consequences. At a time when girls were regularly married by 14, and boys by 16, children were taught very early that being wise and doing things the right way avoided a lot of pain in life.

The Hebrew text saying, “searches him out for a beating,” would not be misunderstood in the biblical culture. There was no social security in the biblical world, and no “old folk’s homes” where the elderly could be taken care of. In their old age, or if they were hurt or disabled, parents were cared for by their children, which was one reason that children were so greatly loved and esteemed. No one living in the biblical era would think that a parent searching out a child for a beating would be child abuse, although that might be what someone today would think if we had that translation in the REV text.

Everyone in biblical times understood that children had to learn at an early age to be wise and make good decisions, and firm discipline helped ensure the children would be safe. There were no hospitals, no antibiotics, and no out-patient surgery centers. A child who was foolish and got what we today would think of as a minor injury could easily die or be crippled for life, so good parents diligently watched over their children to keep them safe and healthy and teach them wisdom.


Commentary for: Proverbs 13:24