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The term “Qorban” or “Corban” (Hebrew: קָרְבָּן, qorban) literally means “that which is brought near” and refers to offerings made to God in the Temple. These offerings were intended to substitute an obligation, and once made, they could not be withdrawn. The concept of Qorban is deeply rooted in Jewish sacrificial practices, as seen in the Old Testament, particularly in Leviticus and Numbers, where it is mentioned numerous times as a central term for sacrifices and offerings to God (Lev 1:2, Num 7:3).

Jesus’ Opposition to Qorban

In the New Testament, Jesus strongly opposed the misuse of the practice of Qorban by the Pharisees and scribes. This confrontation is vividly described in Mark 7:1-13. The Pharisees criticized Jesus’ disciples for not observing the ceremonial washing of hands before eating, a tradition upheld by the elders. Jesus responded by condemning the Pharisees for prioritizing human traditions over God’s commandments. He cited the practice of Qorban as an example of how they nullified God’s commandment to honor one’s parents.

Jesus highlighted that the Pharisees allowed people to declare their resources as Qorban – dedicated to God – thereby exempting them from using those resources to support their parents. This practice effectively nullified the commandment given through Moses: “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex 20:12). Jesus stated, “But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘Corban’ (that is, devoted to God)—then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that” (Mk 7:11-13).

The Implications of Qorban

The temple authorities encouraged the practice of Qorban because it benefited them financially. However, Jesus condemned this practice because it allowed individuals to neglect their familial responsibilities under the guise of piety. According to Jesus, no temple offering could substitute the love and care that children owed to their elderly parents. This manipulation of God’s commandments by substituting them with human traditions was against the will of God and was not pleasing to Him.

Once an offering was declared as Qorban, the individual was free from any obligation to their parents, and reversing this decision required formal approval from a wise man. Jesus criticized this practice because it caused unnecessary suffering for elderly and weak parents, who were deprived of the support they needed due to false teachings and traditions developed by the religious leaders.


The message of Jesus regarding Qorban is a powerful reminder for Christians today. Unlike animals, humans have a prolonged period of dependency during their growth and formation, which necessitates care and support from their parents. When parents become elderly and helpless, it is the children’s responsibility to care for them. In modern times, it is common to see elderly parents being sent to institutional care or being ignored. However, the love and support of family are irreplaceable, even when professional help is needed.

Jesus’ teaching emphasizes that our obligations to our parents and family cannot be substituted by any ritual or offering. True piety and righteousness involve honoring and caring for our parents, as commanded by God. As Christians, we must ensure that our traditions and practices align with the divine commandments and do not become a means to evade our responsibilities. By doing so, we uphold the true spirit of God’s law and reflect His love and care in our actions.

Let us reflect on how we treat our parents and elders in our lives. Are we truly honoring them as God commands, or are we finding ways to sidestep our responsibilities? Let us strive to embody the love and care that Jesus teaches, ensuring that our actions reflect our faith and commitment to God’s commandments. By honoring our parents and caring for them, we fulfill God’s law and demonstrate His love in the world.

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