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Proverbs 3:11–12, Hebrews 12:5–6, and the tradition of corporal punishment

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Chapter Summary

Proverbs 3:11?12 reflects the ancient Israelite practice of corporal punishment, which is a specific instantiation of the intimate connection in ancient thought between suffering and learning. The author of Hebrews views it as axiomatic that every father disciplines his children, or at least his legitimate children, and that this discipline involves whipping, which is an admittedly painful experience. This chapter discusses the use of corporal punishment in ancient homes and schools, which were the primary social settings in which this kind of discipline was administered. It mainly focuses on corporal punishment in the ancient Near East (including Egypt) and ancient Israel, for the latter is the tradition to which the author of Hebrews appeals when he cites Proverbs 3:11?12 lxx in Hebrews 12:5?6. In doing so, however, he appeals not to an antiquated idea and discarded practice, but to a living reality.

Keywords: ancient Near East; corporal punishment; disciplines; Hebrews; Israelite practice; LXX; Proverbs



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