Beating your children: Proverbs from the Bible and Assyria compared

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In liberal child-rearing circles in our day and age, “spanking” a child is very much looked down on and even condemned; not so in many ancient societies. As a demonstration that ancient “Wisdom” differed very much, in places, from modern, and yet was at times remarkably consistent from one ancient culture to the next, consider the following passages taken from the book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible and the Assyrian text, “The Words of Ahiqar” from the eighth or seventh century B.C.E.:


Do not withhold discipline from a young man; if you beat him with the rod, he will not die.

You should beat him with the rod, and you will save his life from Sheol (Proverbs 23:13-14)



Spare not your son from the rod;

Otherwise can you save him

From wickedness?

If I beat you, my son,

you will not die;

But if I leave you alone, you will not live (Ahiqar 81-82)


The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction by renowned biblical scholar and New York Times bestselling author Dr Bart D. Ehrman, p. 209.


Categories: Bible, Dr Bart Ehrman, Liberalism, Life in the West

5 replies

  1. So, the Bible copied from the ancient culture of the time? Isn’t it amazing that Christians are always harping about the Quran’s alleged copying of apocryphal Jewish and Christian sources?

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