10 Commandments Series – 5: “Honor Your Father and Mother” Exodus 20:12

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (ESV)

This we are commanded to do.  It also makes a lot of sense.  But do we follow it?

The first thing to realize is that the command isn’t targeted at children.  Sure, they are included, but it is targeted at adults!  And if I were to rate our society as a whole (Christians included), I’d have to say that we fail miserably.  There is little respect for age anymore in our western culture.  The older one is, the more one is seen as a ‘burden’ on society and the family.  This backwards view of how to treat people as they get older can be shown to be one of the root causes of many of the ills in our society (but I’m not going to do so here.)  And these problems start with how we treat our own parents.

We are commanded to ‘honor’ our parents.  Interesting that the command isn’t to ‘love’ them.  Yeshua (Jesus) made two good illustrations of what it means to honor your parents.

In Matthew 15:4-8, Yeshua (Jesus) shows that honoring includes financial support.

In John 19:26-27, Yeshua (Jesus) made sure that his mother, Mary, would be taken care of after he was gone.

And there is something interesting to learn from the Hebrew word used for ‘honor.’

“We are not commanded to love our parents, or even to like them.  The Hebrew” word used is ‘kabed’.  “The word ‘kabed’ is an imperative verb, and it is related to the noun kaved, or heavy.  There should be some heft to the way we feel about our parents.”  “The Grammar of God” by Aviya Kushner, pg. 134.

Here are a couple more verses that are relevant:

“You shall rise up before the gray-headed and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.” Leveticus 19:32 (ESV)

“…and they [the parents] shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” Deuteronomy 21:20 (ESV)

To sum up, we should have our parents’ wellbeing in our mind, and be doing what we can for them.  We should be listening to their advice, and honoring them and all older folk around us!  (Did you notice that the verse in Deuteronomy 21 is talking about a grown son?  One wouldn’t be accusing a child of being a drunkard.)

We should take honoring our parents as a serious duty in our lives.

Our lives, and the culture, will be better for it.

  • Yosef

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3 thoughts on “10 Commandments Series – 5: “Honor Your Father and Mother” Exodus 20:12

  1. Luke 14:26 ESV
    26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

    Matthew 12:48-50 ESV
    48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

    Is Yeshua adding or subtracting from the Word of HaShem here? I suppose it’s how you interpret his words.

    Many who come to God through the Messiah find out what Yeshua means by hating your father and mother to be his disciple. This can be a greater hardship when they learn the commandment of honoring father and mother. How does all this work together? If my father rejects me because I have become a follower of Yeshua have I not become a discrace to my father and broken the commandment to honor?

    Honoring can be a heavy burden indeed!

    • Good comments. Thanks!

      If one takes all such comments, such as Yeshua’s (Jesus’) words in Luke 14:26, strictly literally, one will wind up with some very odd ideas about who or what God is and what He has said. As for Yeshua’s words, he is neither adding to nor subtracting from the commandment (in the Luke 14:26 verse), in my opinion. To interpret Yeshua’s (Jesus’) words here to mean a literal, emotional, hate would indeed put his words at odds with God’s commands. Rather they are meant as a hyperbole, just like many of his other sayings are parables, allegories, or hyperbole.

      His words in Matthew 12:48-50, even when taken absolutely literally, neither add nor subtract to God’s commands. I don’t see it as being a ‘command’ type of comment but simply an illustration. Neither do I see the verse allowing itself to be interpreted as anything but a hyperbole.

      You pose a very good question: isn’t it dishonoring of parents if you choose to follow Yeshua and they don’t want you to? A similar question could be, “isn’t it dishonoring to our parents if we insist on helping our (literal) brother or sister when they insist we have nothing to do with them?” My point is that whether or not a particular situation is breaking the command is an interpretation. Some situations may be obvious one way or the other. Some not so obvious. But such a question is obscuring the point I am making in the post.

      The point (well actually two points) of the post is that the command ‘to honor’ should be taken seriously and have a high priority in our lives; it is not to be taken lightly. To try and get out of helping or respecting our parents, and using God as an excuse, is generally not acceptable and should be carefully considered before doing so.

      The other point is that our culture has things so backwards, that age is considered a handicap, and that older folk should be neither seen nor heard. That perspective is completely out of line with God’s standard.

      Lastly, Yeshua (Jesus) stated that ‘his yoke is easy and his burden is light.’ In my opinion, and I saw this in my own life, if we are viewing the command to ‘honor’ our parents as heavy, we are either making our own interests of more importance then they should be (Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV), “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”), or we are so interpreting the command ‘to honor’ (and likely other commands of God) way to strictly. My problem, while my parents were alive, is that I always considered my own needs and wants as the most important and didn’t really consider that of my parents. Not until the last year of my mom’s life did I start to realize how wrong that had been. Unfortunately, our culture would say that my attitude had been the correct one. It wasn’t and isn’t. Not according to Yehovah (God).

      Shalom! – Yosef

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