Word Nerd Wednesday – Corban

I’m excited to share Kelly Baker’s wise words with you for this week’s Word Nerd Wednesday post on a word you might not have noticed in the Bible – Corban. Her ministry leads women to thrive in Christ.


What the Bible Says About Corban

Have you ever heard of the term corban from the Bible before? Maybe you don’t remember reading it. 

Trust me—it’s in there.

And the great thing about studying the Bible is we get to dig in and find out just what it says about corban.

Read the following passage and look for the word corban.

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”‘ (that is, given to God)– then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

Mark 7:9-13 (ESV)

Jesus used this as a specific example of how the Pharisees and scribes upheld men’s traditions over the commandment of God.

God‘s law says that parents are to be honored. If the parents had needs and requested their children to help, the priests told them to answer corban.

What is Corban?

“Rather, ‘Let it be a Corban,’ a formula common among the Jews on such occasions; By which the Pharisees released a child from supporting his parents; and even deemed it sacrilege if he afterwards gave anything for their use. Matthew 15:5, Matthew 23:18, 1 Timothy 5:4-8.” [Source: Blue Letter Bible]

This exchange began as a response from Jesus to a judgemental question presented by the Pharisees and scribes. Jesus cut straight to their heart in the matter:

• You are a hypocrite

• This is what you do – you hold to men’s traditions over God‘s commands

• Here’s a specific example: corban

So corban is basically saying, “I can’t come support you, Parents, because I’ve already committed to give my time/resources in this ministry or that—for God.”

Yikes. Can you feel the love? But I’m pretty sure somewhere in time I have said as much to my parents.

Are you guilty of practicing corban? Maybe. Read here to find out! @KellySinging #corban #wordnerdwednesday Click To Tweet

Fast Facts About Corban

• The word corban is only found one time in the Bible (Mark 7:11)

• The Greek word for corban is κορβᾶν, pronounced kor-bä’n (Strong’s G2878) is translated “a votive offering and the offering; a consecrated present (to the Temple fund); by extension (the latter term) the Treasury itself, i.e. the room where the contribution boxes stood:—corban, treasury.”

• Another translation for G2878 is “treasury“ found in Matthew 27:6 (however the word corban is not used there)

• The Greek lexicon defines corban as “a gift offered (or to be offered) to God”

The corban was a consecrated gift to God, but in this instance being elevated above loving others.

But didn’t Jesus come to teach us to love one another?

The whole reason Jesus mentioned this tradition at all is because the Pharisees were elevating the tradition of washing before eating, and judgmentally noticed that Jesus’ disciples didn’t follow said tradition.

Jesus wrapped up the discussion with the Pharisees by saying in verse 15:

“There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”

It is what is in our hearts that makes us (spiritually) defiled.

And Jesus showed them what was in their hearts: sidestepping God‘s law by making a tradition of men more important than loving and honoring their parents.

Today the Holy Spirit shows us what’s in our hearts and how we need to realign our thinking.

How does corban apply to us today? 

How do our traditions today take precedence over God‘s commands?

What can you learn from a word used only once in the Bible? Come find out! #corban #wordnerdwednesday @KellySinging Click To Tweet


Meet Kelly

Kelly R. Baker is a Bible study teacher, writer, and mentor. She serves with her husband in leading the worship ministry at their church. You will probably find her sneaking a bite (or more) of organic dark chocolate in between wrangling her four kids. Her greatest passion is helping women thrive in Christ. Connect with her at www.kellyrbaker.com.

11 thoughts on “Word Nerd Wednesday – Corban

  1. Clearly, Jesus parachuted onto this planet during a time when the law had become an end in itself.
    What God had given as a means of showing up our sin and making humanity long for a sin-bearer had become the whole show, and people’s hearts reflected that mindset.
    May we never become so enamored with our spiritual practices that we fail to uphold the Great Commandments to love.

  2. I am so glad I stopped by here today and was a willing student to learn something so wonderful . Thank you Liz for sharing Kelly’s words with us .

    Blessings to the both of you
    CORBAN !


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