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The term “Qorban” or “Corban” literally means “that which is brought near.” In ancient Israelite practices, it referred to offerings made to God in the Temple. These offerings were often used to substitute for obligations, particularly the duty to care for one’s elderly parents. Once an individual declared something as “qorban,” they were considered free from their duty to support their parents. This vow was irrevocable by the individual, even if they later had a change of heart and wanted to support their parents. The temple authorities, who benefited from these offerings, encouraged this practice. If someone who had declared qorban wanted to reverse the vow, they needed the intervention and approval of a wise man.

Jesus’ Critique of Qorban

The Gospel of Mark records an instance where the Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem criticized Jesus because His disciples ate without performing the traditional handwashing rituals. Jesus responded sharply, highlighting the Pharisees’ preference for human traditions over God’s commandments. He said:

“‘You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.’ He went on to say, ‘How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, ‘Any support you might have had from me is qorban’ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things’” (Mark 7:8-13).

Jesus criticized this practice because it contradicted the commandment to honor one’s parents. He condemned the leaders for promoting traditions that nullified God’s word and caused suffering to parents who were deprived of support from their children. According to Jesus, no temple offering could substitute for the love and care that one must provide to their parents, especially when they need it most. Such practices were not pleasing to God and went against His commandments.


The concept of qorban highlights a broader issue of prioritizing human traditions over divine commandments. Today, we may practice a modern form of qorban by admitting the elderly, the physically or mentally challenged, or people with other life issues to welfare institutions when we could care for them at home. While institutional care is sometimes necessary and beneficial, it should not be used to avoid our God-given responsibilities.

The Bible teaches us to honor and care for our parents and those in need within our families. As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone doesn’t provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” Caring for our loved ones is a manifestation of our faith and obedience to God’s commandments.

As Christians, we are called to reflect God’s love and compassion in all our actions. The practice of qorban, as criticized by Jesus, serves as a reminder to examine our own lives and traditions. We must ensure that our practices and choices align with God’s commandments rather than human traditions that may lead us astray.

Let us strive to honor our parents and care for our family members with the love and dedication that God commands. While professional help and institutions have their place, they should complement rather than replace the personal care and compassion we are called to provide. By doing so, we fulfill the commandment to honor our parents and demonstrate our faith in action.

May we seek God’s wisdom and strength to carry out our responsibilities with love, ensuring that our actions reflect His commandments and bring glory to His name. Let us remember that our faith is demonstrated through our actions and the way we treat those entrusted to our care. By honoring our parents and supporting our family members, we honor God and live out His teachings in our daily lives.

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