Welcome message

Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Twenty Two Testimonies about the free ebook "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy


Twenty Two Testimonies about the free ebook

"Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me:

Christians and the Spanking Controversy


To get your free ebook, write: info@biblechild.com or download Samuel Martin's free ebook - Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy here - http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/


I am stopping with 22 testimonies because 22 is a biblical number :) These are all from women! The only men who've generally given me testimonies are biblical scholars, professors and other religious scholars. I have received an important endorsement from  Professor William Webb, a well known theologian from Canada, who has also written on corporal punishment and it is found here - www.redemptivechristianity.com/?p=214

From my inbox - "Hello,I've ordered your book from the bookshop as I didn't know you give it away for free.

I am a Christian, I am also a mother. I am at the moment a member of a church that preaches beating children as a godly way of disciplining them. to be honest it scares me as for years I have been working with young people and families and I just know how much harm and anger issues this can cause.

I have been researching this issue for a long time. I am trying to find as much biblically based evidence to try and speak about it to my husband and my Pastor. I want them to understand that what I am saying to them is not based on my feelings and rebellion against God's word but on the Bible.

I would appreciate any written materials on this topic so please, if you have got any more, would you please send or forward it to me.  Thank you"

SECOND

This is an older testimony about my book - a very powerful and meaty post - "I just recently received a copy of your book and have gotten through about 1/3rd of it. I'm glad you wrote it and I'm glad I've come across it. It's been quite intriguing thus far.

Personally, I too have come to many of the same convictions you have concerning children and corporal punishment. Many of my first inklings of something being wrong though, came from observations that the "traditional methods" prescribed by most Christian "experts" on child rearing were ineffective on my son. He's a bit more "complicated" than most children since he has seizures, Autism and is believed to have some brain damage from a birth injury. Needless to say, these "Biblical methods" were not only ineffective, but down right inappropriate. I came to the conclusion that if Biblical truth were applicable across all boards than it should also be effective across all boards too - which truly wasn't the case with my son.

I too do a lot of Bible study in looking at the Greek and Hebrew texts themselves. So I do most appreciate your vanish point in presenting the material as you have. There is a verse in the Bible that states "what men meant for evil, God meant for good" and although the verse is contained in a story about Joseph and his brothers; I think there is some good principle in that statement. Even "standing alone" outside of the story where it is contained we can see practical life application in the idea it portrays. I've considered this verse many times in a variety of contexts and think it bears some general application to the controversy of hitting children. We know our thoughts are not God's thoughts and we also know the Hebrew language lends it's-self to a variety of truths presented in a pictorial form. I've looked up various verses that contain the word "rod" and "beat" and I'm not convinced that man in general has necessarily understood or interpreted these verses as God had intended in the penning there of. Now I do believe that the men who wrote them wrote them accurately as instructed; I'm just not so sure that we understand them well on account of our fallen nature.

I think it can be of a certain amount of wisdom to study a culture and understand how those specific people interpreted their own Holy Writings, but I don't think it's necessarily needed to totally understand Jewish culture in order to interpret the Scripture. The Bible has a pretty amazing way of defining it's-self and when we look at it isolated from what we think we know if it - some pretty profound truth can "jump out and bite us" when we least expect it. It's interesting historically to see what Jewish scholars over the centuries have thought of these verses in Proverbs; but I think it's prudent to keep in mind that Jesus had a lot of problems with these same "scholars" himself.
The truth of the matter is that life 2000 years ago was very harsh, regardless of weather you were a Jew or Gentile. In the Roman world, it was permissible to literally beat your children to death. Likewise in Deuteronomy 21:18+ a son could be put to death by request of his parents. Many scholars and lay people alike look at the harshness of the law and seek ways for it to not appear to be so punitive. The truth of the matter is though, that the law was conveyed specifically to produce death. (For in the law is the strength of sin and the wages there of are death.) If there is ever a time we should be grateful to be living under grace it should be now.
When Jesus came into this world, the light was revealed and as a consequence of that truth and grace being poured out (in the form of the Holy Spirit) subsequent generations and societies past that of the generation of the disciples inherited a very different world than the people of Moses day. Even the people of other religions (in this case the Jews) saw something fundamentally unpalatable about "the way things used to be". The "lighter" interpretation of Proverbs from the Rabbis you cited in your book was a consequence of this grace and truth. The law it's-self holds no mercy, and this is why those who strive to hold a "letter of the law" adherence to it, bear very little mercy themselves. This is why we see "religiously sanctioned child abuse" in much of "conservative Christianity" today. So yes, the interpretation that the first century and prior Jew physically beat their adolescent sons with sticks is probably true.

The point you made about the different stages of development referenced in the Hebrew words themselves was of a quite keen observation. I'd caught onto part of that when I'd done a study that I'd presented to a pastor regarding what God actually considered as sexual abuse. This pastor had stated that because Daniel had been castrated by the Babylonians in order to serve as a protectorate of the King's family - that this constituted the worst type of sexual abuse. Daniel having had "his desire taken away" was the worst thing this man could imagine. Obviously anyone who honestly compares Daniel's interpretation of his own experience to the experience of someone who's been brutally raped; can see a profound difference in the psychological impact of the two people in question. Comparing Daniel to a rape victim is like comparing a child who's been pushed down at the playground to a murder victim.
One of the things I noticed in this study I did; also touched on the different Hebrew words for "child". I don't know if you caught this but the word "na'ar" has it's roots in the context of a lion shaking off his mane. I found this very interesting in the context of the study I was doing since a male lion doesn't bear a mane to "shake off" until he's reached the point of being a reproductively viable animal. So what this said to me, was that a "na'ar" was an individual who had entered puberty but hadn't quite gotten to the age where they were considered mature enough to consummate a marriage. Thus the next stage in the Hebrew language - ("bthulah" and "bachur") people who were eligible for marriage but hadn't surpassed the marriage ceremony. (There are a few verses in Judges (I believe) that state God was displeased with those who'd engaged in sexual activity with children who'd not entered puberty yet.)
In your book you'd concluded that "na'ar" referred to a child over ten years old. One thing you are probably not aware of though (most people aren't) is that prior to the 20th century; the average age of menstruation was 17! Today it's 11. Why is this of interest? In the context of the Hebrew word "na'ar" - a "na'ar" is an adolescent who was probably closer to 15 or 16 than 10. Boys generally enter puberty later than girls. So, what did this mean in the context of first century adolescent boys? Developmentally, the synapse in the brain don't close until a child is about 9 years old. This is when the brain stops "growing" - the neurons stop differentiating and the growth plates in the skull start to calcify. From that point the brains "job" is to develop myelin sheathing around the nerves. This actually improves the reasoning ability of the child. (This is also the point in which their cognitive potential is set.) The later onset of puberty actually gave children more time to learn to reason. They had more time to mature mentally before puberty hit. They had more time to learn how to think clearly and engage in forward backward reasoning.
We see this in Luke with 12 year old Jesus in the temple. When Mary and Joseph finally find him; we see the answers he gives are technically correct but very black and white. He lacks the sophisticated thought processes of an older teen. He's not being rude, he's still a child - an "elem" if you will. His brain lacks the myelin sheathing that would allow him to think in a more sophisticated manner than he does. (He's obviously also lacking the presence of the hormones that initiate puberty.) Later in the passage it talks about Jesus increasing in physical size and puberty is the primary cause of physical growth in boys.
So getting back to those boys who were "beat with a rod" we see there is a variety of potential ages in this category, as well as a wide gap between what we see as "na'ar" today and what would have been historically true. Since developmental stages are a vary individual thing; we see that the Hebrew words are defined by the stages, not classified by age categories. Also we see these adolescent boys were not lacking in reasoning capacity - as an 11 or 12 year old would be.

So, there's some interesting stuff for you to chew on; as well as additional information for those interested in serious study of the spanking issue. Hope you found it enlightening. I'm enjoying your book and looking forward to finishing it."

THIRD

"Hi, I stumbled upon the blog, Dulce de Leche, and Samuel Martin’s blog was mentioned as well as the offer of a book about the Scriptures and spanking – Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me.

I have been struggling with the whole spanking issue. I grew up being spanked, which did not harm me, as far as I can tell, but I also do not know that it benefitted me, seeing as my parents only punished doing wrong and failed to teach how to do right.

Now, with my own children (two 2-year olds) I see that when I spank them (because I was taught that’s what good parents do), it seems to exasperate them rather than discourage them from doing wrong. Though I have been very intentional in trying to teach them what they should do instead, the spanking seems to make them behave worse. When I stopped spanking them a few weeks ago, I saw major improvement in their behavior and attitudes, as well as in my own attitude.

A few years ago, I was told by my (former) pastor that even if spanking were made illegal, Christian parents should still spank their children because they are commanded to in Scripture (the “spare the rod, spoil the child verse”, which is, even to me clearly, not a command). He basically told us (my husband and I) that we would be sinning if we did not spank our children.

All this to say, spanking has not been sitting right with me, but I want to follow the Scriptures, whatever that may be. I believe God led me to this site at this time for a reason. I was looking for information on a completely different topic when I came upon this, but this is perfect timing considering where I am at in my parenting journey.

I would greatly appreciate a copy of the book. Is this book available in a digital format? For Kindle, or as a .pdf?

FOURTH

From the inbox - The problem of smacking (how the term 'spanking' is referred to in British daily talk) is one which also of a concerning to those parents and families and living in my birth country (the UK) - "I hope this finds you well. I saw your free offer of your pamphlet on child spanking/hitting mentioned on the internet. I live in England - I wonder if I could receive it. I have felt for a longtime that this hitting of children can't be right or Christian - I would appreciate looking at the Biblical evidence."

FIFTH

"Is your eBook "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy" still available? I read an excerpt online and it seems like it would be a great tool in 'debunking' the beliefs of some Christians that children *have* to be spanked. I am against spanking and it's hard to 'prove' to them that they're not correct, and that I am not being a bad parent for not using or allowing the use of corporal punishment on my kids. Thanks!"

SIXTH - from a mom now a foster mother

Wow! I'm so glad that you have been able to give this book out to so many. [over 400 in the last 12 months] I still am so grateful that I discovered it. It has helped us to parent each of our children with love and respect. We have recently become foster parents and I was so proud to be able to say that we were Christians who don't spank. They make foster parents sign a contract to not spank foster children if they use corporal punishment with their own children. They are so used to Christians spanking there own children and seemed surprised that we didn't.

Blessing to you and all the work that you do.

SEVENTH

"I would very much appreciate a PDF copy of your book “Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me; Christians and the Spanking Controversy".

Well since then I married and brought up two daughters. In the {mentions denomination] culture of the time, under pressure from the ministry, I did apply a limited amount of spanking with my elder daughter for a very few years, but by the time my second daughter was born I had come to the view that this was not a Christian way to bring up a child, and neither daughter was spanked from then on.

My daughters are now two fine, loving adult ladies. My eldest daughter is now married, and has a two year old son, and a three week old daughter.

She too is now concerned to bring up her children in a correct way, but is also aware of some pressure on her to apply spanking, which she has thus far resisted.

I would appreciate you sending a copy of the book to me, and I presume you would have no objections to me forwarding a copy on to her? Or alternatively I can ask her to contact you direct."

EIGHT

"I came upon your book title, "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy," in a blog posted by The Hippie Housewife, where she mentions you are offering your book on corporal punishment and the Bible free of charge. As my husband and I are pregnant with our first child, and discussing discipline philosophy, I was wondering if your offer is still good?"

NINTH

"Hello, I am writing to request a free download of the book "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me; Christians and the Spanking Controversy" by Samuel Martin. I am a Christian, expecting my first child in August. I am floored by the willingness of many Christians to twist the Word of God so horribly. I look forward to having this book as a tool to back up what I already believe about parenting with the grace God parents us."

TENTH

"I am a new mom to a beautiful baby girl and have recently found your blog! I was hoping to get a copy of your book, Thy rod and thy staff...????

I was spanked as a child and always thought that was what God wanted but THANK JESUS for the many revelations I have had recently about parenting! I just feel so genuinely excited about raising my daughter now...thinking God expected / wanted me to hit my kids to teach them right always felt wrong to me but I was prepared to do it bc I really believed that to be what God wanted. I'm so grateful my eyes have been opened. And so looking forward to educating myself more on this issue. Thank you for what you do!!! You are a blessing."

11

Hello! I am so excited about your book. The biblical spanking issue is one I feel God has put on my heart since childhood, as I was spanked and have vivid memories of it. Where many have forgotten the child's perspective with spankings, I remember them well and with much pain.
Please send me your book! "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me; Christians and the Spanking Controversy" by Samuel Martin

12

I would like the PDF of "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me; Christians and the Spanking Controversy", please.

I am newish to this topic and my husband and I feel like gentle parenting is the right thing for our child(ren).

13

Hello! Someone in an unschooling group I'm apart of posted a link to your post about a free .pdf of your book. My husband and I are gentle parents {guess that's how you'd word it} ever since Michael and Debi Pearl's teachings were suggested to us and we tried them out on our then 18mo daughter. She began hitting herself any time she was spanked, no matter what we did. That made us evaluate what we were doing and what we could do instead. Gentle parenting hasn't been the easiest, but it's definitely been very worth it.
I'm definitely interested in reading your book and I'll send others your way to get a free copy as well

14

More from the inbox - I'd like the PDF of your book. I really appreciate your work. I've seen first hand the damage that the teachings of the Pearls and this like them can do.

15

I came across your website and book (Thy Rod and Thy Staff) as I was searching online for Bible scholars who do not believe the Bible says to spank in those five Proverbs. Reverend Moody was the only other name I found – do you, by any chance, know of other “big” names who agree with your interpretation? I’ve looked at John Macarthur, John Piper, and many others who say the verses mean to spank, and I just don’t see how they can say that. I am doing this research because my church is currently showing the Tedd Tripp DVDs “Shepherding Your Child’s Heart,” where he teaches parents to spank for every offense.
Your book as been very helpful in clarifying some things for me! Thank you for making it available online. "

16

More from the inbox - "I'd love to read a copy of your book. My husband and I were both abused and while we choose not to spank, we have hit our children in anger in the past. As we have worked on our abuse issues and grown closer to God, it has gotten easier to take a moment and not react out of anger.
Our children's guidance counselor gave a class on Love and Logic and that also really helped.
One of my friends shared your status on Facebook today. I shared it after reading the discussion left in the comments of that status. I thou you'd be interested in what I posted:

This is great. I think it's pretty sad that people are using this status to argue that hitting a child is necessary. How else do you discipline? Consequences, removal, distraction...all depending on the situation and age of the child.

We get disciplined at work and in society without hitting. In fact, we're told hitting and bullying is wrong. Yet we think kids are too stupid to learn without hitting...while being smart enough to understand that hitting from a caregiver is different?"

17

"Thank you! I read the intro and can't wait to read the rest of your book.
So far I'm in total agreement with everything you've said.

I've shared a couple of these concepts with my friends in the past and they shrug their shoulders pick up their Ezzo/Tripp books and think they are still completely in God's plan. I am excited about a scholarly/biblical look at this topic that I hope can be shared with others to broaden this discussion. I am pained by this issue because I think well-meaning and loving parents are being deceived, thinking they are doing right. One of the ways they are deceived is by authors that flatter them into thinking they are good parents for taking their advice. I pray that God would continue to open eyes to the lies that are being sold, so that children would be raised without harm, bathed in love, grace, mercy, and training of their HEARTS that leads them to the free gift of Jesus in the gospel...not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Ghost."

18

"I am in full support and am still so extremely thankful for your book. It has given me such resolve and a sense of peace in what I am doing with my daughter. I am indeed treading in new water, as far as my own family is concerned, but I'm also blazing a path to be seen, and hopefully, some day emulated by fellow family, as I go. My family will be the evidence that it can be done by someone with little experience in gentle rearing, but a determination given and confirmed by God Himself. I want to thank you soooo much for your work. I plan on passing it on to anyone who will listen."

19

Beautiful testimony abouit Dulce's blog, which we all love! - "I follow the Dulce de Leche blog- which I love. I started to question the practice of spanking when my first son was very young, and discovering Dulce's blog and other resources helped confirm my choice. I found out about your work through her blog. She also personally recommended you.
I am thrilled to read your book, and be further equipped with some answers for friends who will hopefully choose to parent with gentleness and grace, rather than hurtful hands."

20

Another testimony - "Thank you very much for sending me the e-book!
I read about your offer and your work on Dulce Chale's facebook page. I am learning what I can to help us raise our children the best we can for God's glory. I used to think it was revealed in the Bible that parents were obliged to spank their children to "discipline" them correctly. Your work is very important in bringing true understanding to well-meaning Christian parents."

21

Some more comments from the inbox - "Thank you so much for your quick response- I can't wait to read the book!

I'm not exactly sure how I first heard of your book, probably either through the Dulce de leche blog or through the Why Not Train a Child blog. It was awhile ago, and I knew the ebook was available for free but I just never sat down to send the email and request it. Yesterday a facebook page I've liked shared your recent status update reminder about how to get a free copy so I decided to go ahead and request it.
My husband and I have 4 boys ages 4 and under and we started out spanking our two oldest boys because we thought that was the biblical thing to do (and I even used to roll my eyes at the blogs on gentle parenting that I now absolutely LOVE), yet neither of us ever felt good about it at all. It was a process, but thankfully God opened my eyes to what the Bible really says about discipline and how we are to treat one another and how He parents us. I am so happy to say that we gave up spanking in November 2011 and have never looked back. We parent our children with gentleness and understanding, coming alongside them in this journey of life, and God is teaching me new things all the time. I do feel a little awkward in some Christian settings though because most other parents we know do spank their children and we have a few good friends from our old church who are very much into the Pearl's books (yikes!). I think that most people probably assume that we spank our children too, we don't necessarily broadcast the fact that we don't...not because we are ashamed of it, just because it doesn't really ever come up in conversation. So I guess I feel like I don't quite fit in anywhere, so it can be discouraging. I am so thankful for more resources to read concerning spanking/discipline/etc. Especially since so many Christians believe that the Bible commands spanking, which is what I thought too until I actually took the time to look into what the Bible said instead of simply believing what other people told me that the Bible said

Thank you again for making your book free to anyone who wants it. I have a friend who I am currently in a parenting/discipline discussion with and I will pass on to her this info in case she would be interested in the book as well."

22

Tradition is a hard nut to crack - "Yes, thanks. I was tremendously blessed [by your book]. I even went through it [your free ebook] with my Pastor, who of course, is old school and is moderately pro-spanking, like most Christians. It challenged him, but did not convince him completely. It’s really hard to get through to people who are so ingrained to spanking. But, it did make him think and question many things, so I’m going to continue to work on him, and hopefully the Holy Spirit will enlighten him.
It’s amazing to see what a strong-hold “tradition” has on people because exegetically and logically, I don’t see the proof for spanking. My Pastor was even a little taken back because he couldn’t find exegeses from any of his commentaries on the “spanking” passages. It seems like it’s just been taken for granted over all these years.
Thanks for you all your hard work!

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Effect of Corporal Punishment/Spanking/Smacking on Gender Dynamics in the Christian Home


The Effect of Corporal Punishment/Spanking/Smacking on the Gender Dynamics in the Christian Home

I have been researching and studying this issue of corporal punishment/spanking/smacking for over 20 years now. My first interests in the subject began right around 1992. As I have gotten more involved in discussions surrounding the issue, I have developed a large body of feedback which talks about the impact that this issue has on the Christian family in Western countries. 

Generally speaking, the impact that is found on the Christian family is quite similar regardless of the country we are speaking about. If you are attending a fundamentalist oriented church in Canada, South Africa, the USA, New Zealand or any other English speaking country where the influence of the King James Version of the Bible either has been (or continues to be) felt, the general experiences of people engaging with this issue will be similar. 

The Added Value of Corporal Punishment/Spanking/Smacking - 
Greater Control over Gender aspects in Family Dynamics

Over the years, one area which I have noted is particularly felt over a wide scale is the impact that well intentioned (but often seriously misguided) male ministers make on women (and especially mothers) within in their sphere of influence. There are many areas where a male minister can exercise authority and influence over women in a fundamentalist church environment, but the issue of how one disciplines their children extends outside of the church door and reaches into the minute by minute daily life of the mother in question. 

This is often due to the fact that mothers generally speaking spend more time with their children. So, because of this if a male minister is focused on this issue and seeks to aggressively promote this issue, the effect that is can have on individual families can be very dramatic.

Now, what are some of the things that male ministers say about corporal punishment/spanking/smacking? I think we are all pretty aware of what families hear from many ministers. You must spank. Spanking is good. God commands you to do it. If you don't do it, you are evil. You do it for their own good. We've all heard these statements over and over and over again. They are often drilled into us and they are done so with a strong dosage of the book of Proverbs as the authority for all of it.

But along the way, there are other effects and one of them is that women and particularly mothers are controlled to ignore their motherly instincts and feelings surrounding this issue.

I have heard from scores of mothers (and a week does not pass where I hear from more of them) that they never felt quite right about corporal punishment/spanking/smacking. This is especially the case for second generation mothers who themselves were spanked often very hard and they look back on their own lives and say often that it really did not help them and they will not take these issues forward.

These issues create great conflict inside many mother's heads because of the messages about corporal punishment/spanking/smacking that they have been taught. Let's look at how this idea extends into a procedure for control.

Now, if you are a young mother who has just given birth and a pastor tells you what you need to be doing regarding that child, if his advice goes against your motherly intuition, you then will feel that your motherly intuition, which is a protective gift from God, might not be from God at all! This is a huge problem because it can cause women and mothers to think that their inner voice, feelings and intuitions are not in step with the teachings of God's minister.

I have heard this over and over again. Mothers feel torn inside because they feel like they want to please God and have to do that no matter what and this has all kinds of implications for how their interact with their husbands and especially their children. 

We have all seen some of the horrifying cases where children have died at the hands of their parents. Many mothers looking at those circumstances wonder how a mother could allow something like that to happen? But this, as I am here saying, is one of the issues that male ministers need to take into careful consideration in how they play God in the lives of the women in their churches.

Many ministers also do not understand the influence they have. This is because of many of the general attitudes that some fundamentalist Christians have about women and these ideas are projected out onto women and mothers either consciously or subconsciously. 

Women and mothers are taught that they are sinful, responsible for the fall of mankind, need to listen to and be controlled by their husbands first and then ministers second and this is all done in the name of Jesus using His Holy Scripture along the way.

I would be very interested to hear your experience or opinion concerning this issue? Do you agree with me?

There are some lessons I think we can learn from this. If you are in a situation where a minister is telling you something and your intuition or internal moral compass is telling you something different, beware! 

God has placed within mothers something special. Call it what you want: mommy spirit, feminine protective energy, I guess you could think of many such phrases. 

These feelings and intuitions should be considered in your decision making processes and given at least the same weight that you give to the opinion of a male minister giving you his interpretation of the Bible, which may or may not be correct. 

One thing is clear. Your internal voice is closely connected to your connection with your child, which is something obviously that we men just can't appreciate in the same way a mommy does.

I rejoice in your intuition because I think in the vast majority of cases it is that still small voice from the LORD reminding you of what you already know as a mother in the first place.

Download Samuel Martin's free ebook - Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy here - http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/

 



Thursday, June 06, 2013

True Eastern Wisdom Is Coming West



True Eastern Wisdom Is Coming West

Human beings have been living in tents for the greater part of human history. In fact, more settled lifestyles of living in houses and cities are fairly new compared to those who have been living in tents. 

Now in more modern times, those who lived in tents were looked down up on as being lower class, uneducated, migrants, uncivilized and a whole host of other names. 

I remember my dad telling me about growing up in central California in the late 1930's. When his family arrived in the Visalia region of central California in 1935, my dad and his family lived in a tent with a dirt floor for several years. This was because they were poor migrants from Oklahoma who fled the Dust Bowl and went to the promised land of California because there was water and work. Dad often commented that he was grateful to have never missed a meal.

But my dad was called names like "Oakie" or "Hillbilly" because he and his family were poor migrants and had to live in a tent. Later on, they did move into a house, but my dad never forgot his roots and spoke about his early experiences in life "camping out" as a lifestyle.  

People who live in tents though have often been looked down on by the upper classes, but those who live in tents are in good company and follow divine examples. Note the following examples. First, the universe itself is likened to a tent which is stretched out.

 Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent. (Psalm 104:2 ESV)

The sun itself also lives in a type of a "tent."

 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun, (Psalm 19:1-4 ESV)

First, the LORD, of course, is no stranger to dwelling in tents.
 
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill? (Psalm 15:1 ESV)

Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah (Psalm 61:4 ESV)

the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, (Exodus 31:7 ESV)

When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. (Exodus 33:9 ESV)

Now dwelling in tents is definitely what we would have to call something which originates in an Eastern lifestyle orientation. It has a strong historical connection to a patriarchal lifestyle. Note how ancient it is. People from the earliest of times have been living in tents and pursuing a pastoral type lifestyle connected to animal husbandry. Note this text from the earliest part of Genesis.

Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. (Genesis 4:20 ESV)

The early Patriarchs mentioned in the Bible also were living in tents and pursing some elements of a nomadic moving lifestyle as the Scriptures attest to on numerous occasions.
 
From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. (Genesis 12:8 ESV)

Now many of the customs that these early tent dwelling peoples who often lived in desert areas and practiced animal husbandry have come to the West from the East in the pages of the Bible.

No custom has reached more Western areas which claims an Eastern origin than that of corporal punishment/spanking/smacking. This idea is so well known in the Western world and people who today champion this practice point to the Bible and its history as the source for this ageless divine wisdom.

Today, Western religious leaders in particular take it upon themselves to tell their adherents what the Bible means and how to understand what it is that God wants them to do in raising their children.

These Western religious leaders continue the traditions of Western churchmen telling Eastern churchmen the truth. We have many examples of this in the early history of the Christian Church and it continues today. Those who symbolically dwell in houses continue to look down on those who dwell in tents.

But what do the tent dwellers have to say to those dwelling houses? What do the voices crying from the wilderness say to those dwelling in cities? This is the question we are asking in this post.

Now, before we ask this question, we have to have some basic orientations (a term which in itself tells us to look eastward) concerning how we are going to look at this issue.

1. I think that most of us will agree that Church leaders living in Western countries are going to have a very limited connection to Eastern culture and Eastern ways of life preserved in rural, desert dwelling communities of the Near East.

2. While those people who do live in Eastern regions and pursue lifestyles which are similar to ancient Biblical culture, we have to admit that there are some differences to the lifestyles that these people pursue today and how they connect to those of ancient times. However, having said that, it is obvious that as far as geography, custom, culture and lifestyle is concerned, those who pursue pastoral and patriarchal type lifestyles in the Near East today have a connection to Biblical culture which is more real than those people who live in modern cities in the developed world. I think most people would agree that this assertion is reasonable.

With these two points, let’s begin asking what can we moderns learn about raising our kids from these desert, pastoral nomads?

This was the question that I began to ask myself some 20 years ago when I first began to study the issue of what does the Bible mean in the book of Proverbs when it talks about "sparing the rod". (Proverbs 10:13, 13:24; 19:18; 23:13,14) Does it mean what Western Churchmen are telling us it means?

Now, I knew that the book of Proverbs itself was a very ancient book that had its roots in ancient Near Eastern Culture. Note the following, which I have quoted in my free ebook concerning a section of the book of Proverbs, which is very important to this issue and its Eastern origin. In this regard, I am going to refer to a part of Appendix Two written by my late father in his book, "Restoring the Original Bible,"(1) which speaks directly about the Eastern origins of one section of the book of Proverbs, which ancient Biblical scholars who study these matters are well aware of. The section under consideration is found in Proverbs 22:17 to 24:22.

"This is one of the most interesting sections in the whole of Proverbs. One who reads the King James Version would hardly realize that a new division was being introduced but it is clearly evident in the original text. Division Three actually begins in the middle of chapter 22. The title to it is found from Proverbs 22:17 to 21. Let us look at it. [It must be understood that the verses that now follow are not individual proverbs in themselves. They represent a superscription to Division Three.] 

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise [plural: wise ones], and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them [the following proverbs of Division Three] within thee; they [these particular proverbs] shall withal be fitted in thy lips. That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee excellent things [or, as the Revised Standard Version has it: thirty sayings] in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

After this long introduction, we then find the first proverb of Division Three. It is Proverbs 22:22,23.

"Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: for the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoil them."

There are actually thirty sections to this Third Division (Proverbs 22:22 to 24:22). The Revised Standard Version, the New English Bible, and most modern translations realize that this is the meaning of the key words in Proverbs 22:20. Why do they know this? The Hebrew of Proverbs 22:20 could be stretched to mean thirty from the use of the word excellent. But there is even a greater assurance that thirty sayings is the correct rendering because this section of Proverbs has been found to have existed even among the Egyptians.

There is an ancient document in the British Museum (a writing of the early Egyptian priests) which is a parallel to the Third Division of the Book of Proverbs. [A portion of the text is also found on a writing tablet now in Turin, Italy.] It is called The Instruction of Amen-em-opet (or, Amenophis). The date when the original Egyptian work was written has been disputed some say before the time of Solomon, others afterwards (See Ancient Near Eastern Texts, pages 421-424 for more information and the recording of the complete Egyptian text.) The Egyptian version differs in some respects from that in the Book of Proverbs, but there can be no question that the two documents are really the same. And interestingly, the Egyptian version says there are thirty parts to it.

If the Egyptian text is earlier than that of Solomon, it could well be that it was a product of the time when Joseph and the sons of Zerah were in Egypt and writing many of the wise sayings of the past. It is well within reason that many of these early philosophical works of the Israelites (while they were in Egypt) or of other wise Egyptians could have been maintained for long periods of time among the Egyptians. There is another Egyptian proverbial text called The Instruction of the Vizier (the chief minister) Ptah-Hotep that sounds so much like the writing of Joseph both in its teaching and the subjects of the text and a historical identification may in some manner be possible. We are told that the time of Joseph and the sons of Zerah was that of much literary activity in Egypt. And since The Instruction of Amen-em-opet has found inclusion within the biblical Book of Proverbs (22:22 to 24:22), it may well be that this section of Proverbs may date back to the time of Joseph as well as Division One (Proverbs 1:7 to 9:18). This would mean that the Book of Proverbs is truly an international collection of many wise sayings from a number of ancient philosophers and sages of the past.

It could be interesting to compare some of the statements in our Book of Proverbs with those found in the Egyptian version, [It must be recalled that there is not exact agreement in every detail. This shows that editing of material was done on a wide scale so that the messages within the Proverbs could be maintained in a particular context.] In the introduction of Division Three in the Book of Proverbs there is the statement (in the King James Version) concerning excellent things (verse 20). There is a vague connection with the word three or possibly thirty associated with the original Hebrew word. But in the Egyptian version it is clearly thirty sayings. This agreement has even helped scholars to know what the biblical book means.

There are other parallels.

The Book of Proverbs compared to The Instruction of Amen-em-opet

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the
afflicted in the gate (Proverbs 22:22).

Guard thyself against robbing the oppressed and against
overbearing the disabled (Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), p.421a).

Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man
thou shalt not go (Proverbs 22:24).

Do not associate to thyself the heated man, nor visit him for
conversation (ANET, p.423a).

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before
kings (Proverbs 22:29).

As for the scribe who is experienced in his office, he will find
himself worthy to be a courtier (ANET, p.424b).

When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what
is before thee (Proverbs 23:1).

Do not eat bread before a noble, nor lay on thy mouth [be not
gluttonous] at first (ANET, p.424a).

Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom (Proverbs
23:4).

Cast not thy heart in pursuit of riches, for there is no
ignoring Fate and Fortune (ANET, p.422b).

These are just a few of the parallels that can be found between the biblical Book of Proverbs and this papyrus document found in Egypt. These remarkable points are valuable in showing that there was much interchange of proverbial material among those of the Middle Eastern countries. Indeed, there is an Aramaic work (in the language of the Syrians) which dates to the fifth century before Christ which has a section very similar to that of Division Three of our Book of Proverbs. It is from The Words of Ahiqar.

The Book of Proverbs compared to The Words of Ahiqar

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him
with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod,
and shalt deliver his soul from hell [from the grave.]
          (Proverbs 23:13,14)

Withhold not thy son from the rod, else thou wilt not be able to
save him from wickedness. If I smite thee, my son, thou wilt not
die, but if I leave thee to thy own heart thou wilt not live.
     (ANET, p.428b)

It is not known whether Solomon got his proverbial statements (besides the ones he composed himself) from The Instruction of Amen-em-opet, but it is clear from what the Book of Proverbs says itself that he gathered together many of the wise sayings of ancient wise men. It could well be that Solomon, and later editors of the Bible, simply garnered together the most valuable of what they considered to be the divine wisdom of the ancients. One thing is for certain. The whole of Division Three has been found in the literary collections of the early Egyptians. This shows that the Bible is far more in line with the philosophical teachings of many ancient wise men than we may have imagined." (Ernest L. Martin, Restoring the Original Bible, Appendix Two: ASK Publications: Portland, OR,1994)

Proverbial collections today found in the Bible have been found in other Near Eastern texts and the similarities are obvious. Considering that there are these regional exchanges and similarities in proverbial statements perhaps other opportunities in looking at proverbial materials even present today in Near Eastern society will yield some interesting information for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear?

Now, today's Western religious leaders are so quick to tell us what God means in the book of Proverbs and this fits into so nicely with what so many are teaching. However, do other points of view regarding these same texts exist in the East? This is a question that I have been asking myself for 20 years and today I am asking it from scholars and experts who have devoted their lives to studying Near Eastern lifestyles. But before we get into some of the answers I have heard, let me give a little bit of my own experience. 

My experiences with nomadic herders here in Israel

When I was a small boy, I lived in Jerusalem for five summers consecutively from 1969-1973. I was quite small at that time, but I still remember it quite well. To learn about why I was there, check out this link from the September 3 1973 issue of Time Magazine -  http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,910753,00.html

Where I live today in northern Jerusalem (since 2001) is exactly where I lived when I was a small kid. Of course, the area has grown quite a lot since then and houses have been built all around us today, but when I was a small kid, it was not that way. It was much less developed and had much more wide open land and on some of those wide open spaces, nomadic pastoral herders lived as our neighbors. 

Today, we still have a few of these neighbors living near my house and I have had some contacts with them as they are my neighbors and I have no apprehension to go and talk to any neighbor.

In addition, we encounter these pastoral nomads in other contexts when visiting other locales here in the Holy Land. One experience I had involved being invited into the tent of a leading tribal leader here near where I live for a short visit. 

I took part in this visit with some other people and we were invited to have tea and speak to this tribal leader about what was taking place in his tribe and community.

He was a very simple but dignified man who had two wives and 19 children. During my visit, the women in his family generally kept out of sight, but later we did meet his wives and his many daughters.

When we were invited into his tent, we sat down and were served by some of his many younger sons who were in there late teens. He sat with his eldest son next to him who generally speaking was being groomed to take his place. 

It was a very interesting experience because this man, who was at least 75, was very much the leader in his home and community and you could see that the society and cultural environment had great influence on the upbringing and socialization of his young sons.

However, then something very interesting to me happened. 

While all of the men in his house were in the tent where the men normally met with other men from his surrounding community meeting with us, a very small girl aged no more than 18 months walked into the tent and started to walk around among the people assembled there.

We all thought she was a very cute little girl and certainly thought that this little girl was a relative of the tribal leader, but after only a minute of her paying attention to us, she then walked over to the tribal leader and he picked her up and said: "my youngest daughter" and smiled.

After visiting more with the tribal leader, we learned from him that he had never visited a doctor one time in his life and relied solely on natural herbs from the desert region where he lived for what ailed him. He was an amazing, very simple and extremely dignified man, but the way he treated his little daughter and how she was allowed to freely walk around even the men's tent was very telling to me. He seemed not to be too worried about controlling that little girl too much and allowed her to walk around even in the presence of guests in his tent. 

I never forgot this experience and it provided the impetus for me to seek out more information concerning how these nomads raised up their kids. So, when the opportunity to do this came yesterday, I took full advantage of it.

A meeting with Professor Clinton Bailey

Many of you many known that I am pursuing my graduate level education here in Jerusalem at www.uhl.ac. For more information, please check out their website. 

One of the courses I have been attending is a graduate seminar course which for the last six semesters has been dealing with the topic "Daily Life in Ancient Times." This weekly seminar course brings the top lecturers from around the world to give lectures on topics related to the seminar.

Yesterday, the speaker was Professor Clinton Bailey. Professor Bailey is one of the world's leading experts on Bedouins and Near Eastern Nomadic culture. He came to speak on the issue of tribal laws relating to murder in modern Near Eastern Nomadic culture. 

Now, Professor Bailey has been studying these Near Eastern Tribal Nomadic cultures since 1958. He is one of the world's leading authorities on these peoples who are today still scattered all over the Middle East and he has travelled far and wide studying these peoples. He is well known and highly respected and one of his areas of particular expertise is in ancient poetry and proverbial statements among these peoples. 

In fact, he has authored a number of books on these subjects and they are available on Amazon. Check out the following:

http://www.amazon.com/Culture-Desert-Survival-Bedouin-Proverbs/dp/0300098448/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370544525&sr=8-1&keywords=clinton+bailey

After a very interesting lecture, I had a chance to meet Professor Bailey and I got to ask him some questions. 

I, of course, was very interested in his experience with these Eastern peoples and in particular how they raised their children.

First, I asked him, considering his expertise on ancient proverbial texts among these people, how did they treat and bring up their children? Now keep in mind that this scholar has been working with these people for over 50 years. His answer staggered me.

What he told me to summarize his opinion, he got out his book and quoted a proverb which he said really captured his fifty years plus experience with these peoples covering numerous countries all over the Near East.

He told me that generally speaking, these peoples were not in any way rough or strict so much with their small children! This was exactly what I had experienced with the tribal leader that I had met in his own tent!

Then, Professor Bailey quoted to me the following proverb (from his own book) which he said captured well his view and experience. It goes something like this.

He said the proverb divided the raising of children into three periods of seven years each.

It said the following:

The first seven years, treat your son mildly
The second seven years, treat him strictly
The third seven years, keep him close to you (to teach him and prepare him for adulthood)
After that, lose the reins and let him run free (like a horse)

This to me was a revelation, but not a surprise. This, in fact, is exactly what I have proposed in my free ebook showing that the Biblical texts in Proverbs were never intended to be implemented on small children (or girls also according to the Biblical texts) and that to apply them to small children under the age of ten or so is just mistaken.

This is Eastern Wisdom and how the Eastern Wise men and women today understand child raising.

How do Western Wise men and women understand it? We all know the stories of those dear misguided people in the spanking/smacking crowd (we all know who they are) who suggest that the time to start the corporal punishment/spanking/smacking is when babies are in arms and still nursing at the breast. This is so disconnected to reality.

This is so far away from Near Eastern wisdom. This is just child abuse in Church dress! 

Let's be clear. Western Church leaders have been getting it wrong for so long and have urged their followers not to look East. However, today, times are changing and the fruit that these dear misguided people have reaped is rotten and people are looking for sustenance on other trees and in other tents. Let us continue to look East back to the land and region where the Bible came from in the first place.

Download Samuel Martin's free ebook - Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy here - http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/