Thursday, March 17, 2011

Na’ar in Proverbs…what kind of child are parents to strike?

This is an excerpt from a posting I found this week that has some seriously compelling evidence against a common practice which I engaged in for 20 years…
You can go here to read the full posting this is from…

Begin excerpt: 
(the bolding was stuff that stuck out to me)

Child (Na’ar) in Proverbs
In modern day English, we use a variety of words to describe the different stages of a child’s development. The progression of terms even begins in the womb with words like “embryo”, “fetus”, and “unborn baby”. Following birth, we use “newborn”, “infant”, and “baby”, some use the word “nursling”, then comes “child”, “toddler”, and “preschooler”, and then “school-aged”, “prepubescent”, “pre-teen”, “tween”, “adolescent”, “teenager” and “young adult”. We rarely use the word “child” to describe a “teen”, except when people of ANY age tell “how many children” they have.

There is a very detailed collection of words that accurately describe the development of a child. The author of the book, Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me, compiled a list of the NINE Hebrew words that concisely describe this beautiful progression of life.

yeled (yaldah feminine) – newly born, baby
yonek – suckling, nursing child (nursing without solids, birth to approx. twelve months)
olel – still sucking, nursing, but one who is also starting to eat bread (nursing with solids, twelve months to three years)
gamul – completely weaned child (usually between the ages of three and four) [In our culture, which does not encourage extended breastfeeding, that would mean the child no longer uses bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, and thumb sucking]
taph – little children, age of closeness to one’s mother, clinging to mother (between four to six years)
elem (almah feminine) – becoming firm and strong, pre-teenagers
na’ar (narah feminine) – youth, he who shakes off, or shakes himself free, younger men and women who have yet to marry (after and including the teenage years)
bthulah – young women just immediately prior to marriage, virgin
bachur – ripened one, young warrior, marriage starts to become reality

It is significant to note that the words referring to the youngest stages, yeled, yonek, olel, taph, (as well as bthulah) are never found in Proverbs!

When we read the word “child” in the rod verses in Proverbs, we naturally assume it means child! In three of the rod verses in Proverbs, the English word we see is “child”, but the original Hebrew word is na’ar. It means the “one shook lose” and refers to the young adult or teenage years.

None of the words translated as “child/children” in the book of Proverbs actually refer to those under the age of ten or twelve. This is significant! The rod verses are NOT directed toward little children.

(Note: In the Old Testament, na’ar also very accurately described Baby Moses. To save his life, they put him in the river. Definitely “shaken off”. It is not a word that would describe a typical baby. The same word was also used for Samuel when he was weaned and taken to the temple. Again, “shaken off” and not a typical experience for a young child.)

When we look at the original Hebrew word, na’ar, we see that it means male youth, young adult. Not even taking into consideration other aspects of the verses that may be misinterpreted, have a look at these verses with this translation of the word na’ar.

Proverbs 22:15 “Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a na’ar (teenage boy/young man); [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

Proverbs 23:13 “Withhold not correction from the na’ar (teenage boy/young man): for [if] thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”

Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a na’ar (teenage boy/young man) left [to himself] bringeth his mother to shame.”

We believe all the parenting experts who cite the Proverbs rod verses in English as a mandate to spank young children are ignoring the actual text. (e.g. Pearl advises spanking as early as four months, Dobson at age eighteen months, etc.)

When we examine the evidence, we believe those who rely on the rod verses in Proverbs to argue that parents are Biblically mandated to spank young children, especially those under the age of ten or twelve years, are mistaken. You can’t take a word and try to make it fit another word, even if your purpose is traditional, cultural, acceptable, and legal.

The actual age of the “child” in the Proverbs rod verses is about the age when most authors and parents decide a child is too big for a spanking, at which time they have to find new ways to “discipline” the child.

When you read the book of Proverbs, you will notice that the material is targeted toward young males, certainly not babies and toddlers or even young children. The themes discussed in Proverbs are generally appropriate for only more mature adolescents and those preparing for marriage. Most of the topics found in Proverbs would not even be appropriate to discuss with small children.

End of excerpt from

You know, this is not like about “preferences”. This is our CHILDREN and someday we’re going to stand before God and answer for what we did with them…and if there is the slightest chance that hitting them is wrong…my goodness why would you even persist in going there? The “damage” that can be done if you do NOT spank is well…I have a very not-terrible 2 who has never been spanked and so I can’t see that there is any damage to NOT spanking because not spanking does not equal letting your kids do whatever they want (aka “permissive parenting”) …but there is ample documented evidence that hitting our kids hurts them.

This isn’t some attack by the devil or liberals against “Christian parenting”. For that matter Hitler woulda’ taught TO spank and I’m pretty sure that if satan had kids he’d enjoy hitting them as well…So this is no attack by the anti-Christian “left”…

This excerpt does not mention (the full article does) that the “rod” that the Proverbs would be referring to is a 5 foot tall stick used for beating off predators…So, how does God feel, I wonder, looking down from heaven seeing Christian ladies with spatulas in their hands (thinking this is a “rod”?) just going to town whacking and whacking their little ones on a private place (their butts) thinking that this is somehow “God’s way” to raise godly kids???

I know we all can’t be “perfect” parents…so we have to admit that at least once we’re going to spank our kids out of anger or because whatever they did personally offended us and not because what they did actually was “bad”…this “weapon”…the rod…is a dangerous tool that parents should leave where it belongs…in the field with shepherds beating off predators…

And, the reason I fuss about this so much is because it’s new and exciting to me…because I have to live in a world full of people beaten to obedience…I love my friends and hate that they lose some of the God-giving amazingness of their relationship with their kids because they have been taught to do this…because some parents because their senses have been dulled by hitting their kids and so it’s an easy step to begin BEATING them…and…God is the biggest loser in this. He is hurt by this and robbed of fellowship with humans because of this…and I hate when He’s hurt…

Again…go here for the full posting…

Pic I found of an ancient shepherd's rod...
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