The Fatherless

FATHERLESS, THE (יָתוֹם, H3846, ὀρφανός, G4003). The child depends upon his father to fill the many needs of his life. The relation of father and son appears to be, in the divine providence, a provision so greatly needed to secure the survival of the fatherless. Yet, there are the orphans, deprived of the care and protection of a father.

In Biblical times, as in modern times, the fatherless were considered as the most helpless and pitiable members of the human society. No clear-cut evidence is presented in the Scripture record in regard to established institutions founded for the purpose of defending their interests and caring for their needs. God has made provision for them, Mosaic law included (Deut 14:29; 24:19-21; 26:12; 27:19).

God proclaims Himself, in a special way, as “the father of the fatherless” (Ps 68:5) and their helper (10:14). The Scriptures reiterate again and again warnings given by God to those who mistreat the fatherless.

The orphan is generally coupled with the widow in the Scripture. God’s protection is equally extended over both. Oppression against them is equally forbidden (Deut 16:14; 24:17, 19, 21; 26:12, 13).

In the Talmudic period to give proper care to the orphans was commended as the most praiseworthy act. See Orphan.