A Rebellious Son: The Deeper Hebrew Meaning

Yesterday we talked about the inheritance rights of the firstborn. Today we will continue with next issue concerning having a rebellious son:

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious.”(Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

In the original Hebrew the term for ‘a rebellious son’ is ‘Ben Sorer U-More.’ {בן סורר ומורה} As you probably noticed the Hebrew term has THREE words in it: the first word is ‘Ben’ {בן} and it simply means ‘son’ the two other Hebrew words are ‘Sorer’ {סורר}  and ‘More.’ {מורה} 

The Hebrew root of the first word ‘Sorer’ is S-U-R {ס-ו-ר} and it literally means ‘to turn aside’ or ‘to deviate’ and refers to the digression from the right path – which is the path of the parents. The English (as well as other Bible translations) chose to translate this Hebrew word as ‘stubborn’ because the same Hebrew word – ‘Sorer’ – can be found once again in the Hebrew Bible in the context of ‘stubborn’ as can be seen in the following example from the Book of Jeremiah:

“But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away.” (Jeremiah 5:23)

There, the original Hebrew word for ‘stubborn’ is ‘Sorer’ and the original Hebrew term for ‘they have turned aside’ is ‘Saru’ {סרו} – which derived from the same Hebrew root as ‘Sorer.’ The second Hebrew word ‘More’ comes from the root M-R-H {מ-ר-ה} which means ‘disobedience’ or ‘resistance’ and in our case was translated as
‘rebellious.’  This biblical law is very interesting and it seems that in order to receive the utmost justice and prevent bad abuse of this law, the Bible set TWO major ground rules:

The first is that BOTH parents need to agree that their son is ‘rebellious’ because it is mentioned specifically in the original Hebrew ‘who will not obey the voice of his father AND the voice of his mother’ (in the English translation it is written ‘or’).

The second rule is that the jurisdiction transfer occurs from the father – who is clearly not neutral in this case – to the ‘elders of the city.

If you will have a closer look at the scriptures again you will notice that the Bible emphasizes the ‘elders of HIS city’ and ‘the gate of the place where HE lives’ – ‘his’ and not the ‘they’ (the parents) in order to make sure the parents have no influence on the judges.