Hebrew Explanation of the ‘Rod’ Verses About Spanking Children

Many people say that the Bible commands parents to spank their children as a form of discipline, but when we look at the 5 following verses it becomes questionable whether or not that is true when the Hebrew translation is taken into consideration.

The Bible clearly indicates the importance of parents being present and active in their child’s life, and although physical discipline is never prohibited by the Bible it clearly isn’t suggested (let alone commanded) either. It is important to note that all of these “rod” verses come from Proverbs – a book of wisdom in the Bible yes, but not to be interpreted as LAW unlike other books of the Bible.

As you are looking at the interpretation of these verses, be sure to notice the translation for “child.” In English we can use the word “child” to mean a very wide rang of ages, but in Hebrew different words indicated different ages of a child. Look at the following Hebrew words for, “child.”

yeled or yaldah – newborn boy or girl

yonek or yanak – nursing baby

olel – nursing baby who also eats solid food (translated ‘young child’)

gamal – weaned child (around 3-4 years old)

taph – young child

elem or almah – older child, more independent

na’ar (m) or na’arah (f) – independent child, young adult child (older teens and young adults)

For our verses in question, “child” is better translated as a young man (na’ar). It is not talking about toddlers or even young children. That translation alone should be enough to question the broad Christian recommendation to begin spanking children at a very young age.

Read the following images for yourself and decide what you think.

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A biblical explanation of the rod verses proverbs 29:15
Gentle Parenting Power Tools Free Resource

What is the Biblical Alternative to Spanking?

If after reading these verses closely you come to the conclusion that spanking is not going to work in your family, you might be wondering what alternatives there are.

Some families might find that spanking works for them, but Gentle Parenting (also known as respect-based parenting, peaceful parenting or positive discipline) is just as effective as spanking, if not more so.

Through Gentle Parenting you will first learn to regulate your own emotions, then focus on nurturing a strong, trusting relationship with your child, and then use positive discipline strategies to correct behaviour. It’s what we call the “Know-Yoke-Grow System to Creating a Child’s Heartfelt Willingness to do What’s Good.”

The Know Yoke Grow System of Gentle Parenting

You can trade in yelling and spanking for a calmer approach to discipline. It might feel daunting at the moment, but you can learn little by little how to bring Gentle Parenting into your home. If you’d like to learn more and start today I’d suggest downloading my 2 week challenge to kick start Gentle Parenting – you can download it below.

Explanation of the Rod Verses on Spanking

Posts Relateed to the Bible’s View on Spanking

Is Spanking Biblical?: The Truth About Biblical Discipline

Is Gentle Parenting Biblical?

What Punishments Are Getting Wrong About Child Discipline

How to Discipline a Child Without Spanking Them

4 thoughts on “Hebrew Explanation of the ‘Rod’ Verses About Spanking Children”

  1. I desperately want to know what number 5 is but it won’t load on any of my devices. I’m clearing cookies and trying again in a moment. Thank you for these resources, I greatly appreciate the time that went into researching the original Hebrew.

  2. Hi thank you for this post. I pray that I may be able to show my husband this and he take it with an open heart. The Chrisitan world is so full of spanking and i don’t feel comfortable with that and haven’t but my husband has only done so once with our toddler and it felt terribly wrong to me even with talking with our child during and after that. I have been reading the word and books and love this website for more encouragement, ideas and wisdom. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I’m so glad this was helpful for you. I definitely know what you mean about the Christian world being full of spanking, and it can be really hard trying to talk to people about it because they can think you are defying the Bible and ultimately God – but that’s not the case! I think sometimes people like the idea of spanking because they think it “works” because the child will behave differently afterwards, but usually that’s just because they are afraid of the punishment, but if their heart is able to actual change wouldn’t we prefer that as Christian parents anyways? We want our child to choose to do the right thing all the time, not just when they could get caught. It can be really hard for people to understand this, especially if they were also spanked as a child. <3

  3. Pingback: What is Gentle Parenting? How Do I Do It? And is it Biblical? - The Moving Mama

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