Read chapter in full:


Deuteronomy 21 (ESV)


A Rebellious Son

18 “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, 19 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, 20 and they 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.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.




The case in the text establishes several important legal principles.

First, this case underlines the importance of a stable family, for the family was the basic religious and economic unit in Israel.  Other laws also stress the importance of honoring parents, as did Jesus.  Second, parents did not have absolute rights over their children.  .  Only the judges of the community, who were charged with determining a son’s guilt or innocence, could order execution.  Third, both father and mother must agree to bringing charges against a son.  The rights of the wife and mother, ignored in many other ancient law codes, were affirmed in Israel.

Family is basic to us too.  While nothing we parents can do will guarantee that our children will make godly choices, moms and dads share responsibility for giving boys and girls discipline and guidance.



Have a conversation with God, listen to his response.

As children, what is my attitude toward my parents?  If I were in the Israelite society then, what kind of treatment would I face?

As parents, how much effort have I made toward my children’s spiritual growth?  How should I do my share of the responsibility?