Exodus 21:17

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Exodus 21

Law Analysis overview

17 “Anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. Exodus 21:17WEB


The Command

This passage contains a positive command, directed toward Israel: "Anyone who curses his father or mother shall be put to death".


This command is part of the Civil/Judicial Law.

This law fits in with other laws related to Human Judicial Response. It contributes to an understanding of Capital Punishment, Family, and Cursing a parent.


This command is understood to present an abiding obligation for modern governments.

Notes on Interpretation/Application

What is a curse?

A brief examination of blessings and curses in the Bible finds that they are effective, and that they can impact the target person and his progeny for several generations. A prominent example is the curse on Ham, coupled with the blessings on Shem and Japheth in Genesis 9, which are understood to impact their role and lot for the rest of human history; Ham's descendants were Canaan, a target for annihilation by God's command. A curse on one's own parents is effectively a curse on one's own self and all of one's own children. It's a frightening expression of self-destruction.

Interpretation 2