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CORBAN (Heb. qorbān, an offering). The word occurs in the Hebrew text of the OT and refers to an offering or sacrifice, whether bloody or unbloody, made to God (Lev.1.2-Lev.1.3; Lev.2.1; Lev.3.1; Num.7.12-Num.7.17). It is found in our English versions in the NT in Mark.7.11, where it refers to money dedicated to God. The Talmud says that the Jews were much given to making rash vows to God, without any intention of carrying them out. By Christ’s time there arose the reprehensible practice of children avoiding the responsibility of looking after their parents’ material needs by telling them that their money was dedicated to God and that it would be wrong to divert it from this sacred purpose. This could be done by simply pronouncing the votive word “Corban.” Ideally, the money thereafter belonged to God, but actually the one who made the vow might keep it in his possession. By referring to this custom Christ demonstrated the sophistry of tradition that enabled the Jews to disregard plain commandments of God, like the one requiring children to honor their parents.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

An expression frequently used in the original text of the Old Testament; in the English Bible it occurs in Mr 7:11; compare also Mt 15:5. It is the most general term for a sacrifice of any kind. In the course of time it became associated with an objectionable practice. Anything dedicated to the temple by pronouncing the votive word "Corban" forthwith belonged to the temple, but only ideally; actually it might remain in the possession of him who made the vow. So a son might be justified in not supporting his old parents simply because he designated his property or a part of it as a gift to the temple, that is, as "Corban" There was no necessity of fulfilling his vow, yet he was actually prohibited from ever using his property for the support of his parents. This shows clearly why Christ singled out this queer regulation in order to demonstrate the sophistry of tradition and to bring out the fact of its possible and actual hostility to the Scripture and its spirit.