Of Pro-Child-Beating Biblical Proverbs
By Chris Dugan
|In his 1972 book, "The Book Of Proverbs" (Cambridge, England: Cambridge
University Press), author R. N. Whybray notes the parallels between Proverbs
23:13-14 and the Assyrian _Book of Ahikar_. He writes:
"Much of its contents is very similar to passages in Proverbs: for example, it's teaching on parental discipline is very close indeed: 'The son who is educated and disciplined and whose feet are fettered will do well. Do not hesitate to take the rod to your son if you cannot restrain him from wickedness. If I strike you, my son, you will not die, and if I leave you to your own devices you will not live.'"
Compare with Proverbs 23:13-14: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."
The Assyrians, of course, were the mass ethnic cleansers of Biblical times, noted for slaughtering entire cities and heaping up the skulls of everyone who once lived in them. It is hardly surprising that they beat their children with rods and fettered their feet. What better way to help ensure that they would grow up to continue the tradition of brutalization handed down from previous generations of pagan Assyrians?
If Proverbs 23:13-14 is divinely inspired, why would God speak to Assyrians first before saying pretty much the same thing to King Solomon (the putative author of Proverbs)? On the other hand, perhaps there was little difference... After all, the Bible itself tells us that Solomon became an idolator in his old age and was a bigamist with hundreds of wives. And of course, his son turned out badly. Solomon was a tyrant, who died a pagan. His reputation for wisdom has long been overrated. It should come as no surprise that he may well have plagarized from pagan sources, assuming he actually had anything to do with writing Proverbs in the first place.