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Why Did Jesus Condemn the Practice of Corban?


Why did Jesus condemn the practice of declaring one’s personal possessions corban?


For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. (Mark 7:10-13)

Qorban or corban is an offering dedicated to the temple that cannot be used for any other purpose. Jesus was condemning not the idea of a dedicated offering to the temple but rather the abuse of this practice by the Pharisees and temple authorities.

The commandment to honor one’s parents had always been interpreted to mean that children must support their parents if they slip into poverty. This support for one’s parents is a commandment from God and therefore must be observed faithfully.

The religious leaders of the temple were not helping people fulfill this commandment, instead they were focused on what they could obtain for use in the temple. As such they would permit people to dedicate money to the temple that should have been used to fulfill the commandment of keeping one’s parents out of poverty. The self-interest of the religious leaders trumped the keeping of the commandments and it is this attitude that Jesus condemned.

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