Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bring up a child?

Proverbs 22:6 says:

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (KJV)"

The CEV says: "Teach your children right from wrong, and when they are grown they will still do right." The CJB: "Train a child in the way he [should] go; and, even when old, he will not swerve from it. "

Gill has noted that "...there are exceptions to this observation; but generally, where there is a good education, the impressions of it do not easily wear off, nor do men ordinarily forsake a good way they have been brought up in..."

This proverb seems more like wishful thinking than the wisdom of sages. Can such an often-excepted proverb have developed among the Hebrews, who measured reality by experience? A closer look says, it probably did not.

In Hebrew, the verse says:

"HanoC' lana,ar ,al ´ piy dar'cO gaM ciy ´ yaz'kiyN lo` ´ yasur mimenah"

The first word, hanoc, means “to throttle, make narrow, restrict, or place limits on.” In Arabic, a sister language, this word was used of a rope in a horse’s mouth, like a bit in a bridal to make the animal submissive and bring it under control. This certainly illustrates how training includes the use of discipline, the application of external controls, in order to bring a child under control, which ultimately means God’s control. Good English words to substitute for this idea are "steer," "direct," or "usher."

Ezekiel 33:9 indicates that the Hebrew phrase "lo Shab midar'co" means "he will not turn from his way." Whereas this proverb uses "lo yasur mimenah," "he will not be turned aside." The one uses the root shub (to turn) while the other uses sur (to be turned aside).

Also, the words "al piy dar'cO" (literally: at the mouth of the way) form a common idiomatic phrase which means "according to the command of the way."

A better translation:

"Steer a child according to the command of 'the way'; yea even when he grows older, he shall not be turned aside from it."
The thought is that if you train a child properly, though he may stray from the path, no one may remove him from it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Then how do you explain prov. 22:6 where it says "HE will not depart from it?" You cannot just discount that truth and accept another biblical principal on it's own. If we are to believe that the bible is truly the Word of God, you have to accept that both passages are true. Obviously, to explain how a child can still "depart from it when he is old" is that in order to perfectly raise a child in the way he should go, you need to not only tell them how to live a God centered life, but also live it out yourself. We need not redefine the scriptures to better fit our understanding, but realize that God is smarter than us, and therefore we must strive to better understand the reasons He put these hard to achieve principles in there.

Marc Thomas said...

You may note that I do not use the words "truth" or "biblical principle" in my post. I am simply working to enlighten the passage with a more accurate literal translation.

Either way, my translation does not radically alter the thought. It tends to place stress on the capacity that God's way gives us in resisting the actions of others rather than acting oneself, which we are always free to do.

Thanks for your thoughts and bless you.