KJV Mark 7 : 11

But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.

KJV Leviticus 27 : 28

Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD.

In the above texts it seem both texts are referring to pledges devoted to God which should not be violated

Is there any difference between the two?

2 Answers 2


Technically, there is no difference because Mark 7:11 directly alludes to a voluntary gift devoted to God as referenced in the Torah in places like Lev 2:1, 5, 7:3, 5, Num 28:2, etc - the Hebrew is קָרְבָּן (qorban) = "offering". The Helps study summarizes the meaning well:

2878 korbán (see OT 7133/quārbān) – Corban; properly, a gift (offering) dedicated to God, and misused by the Jews as a way to evade their rightful duty to God to care for aged parents (etc.).

The original intent of such gifts was as a thank offering or similar - given out of one's own possessions in gratitude to God for something.

In Jesus' time, this Levitical law was used of one's possessions so as to evade responsibility, but the owner kept possession of the items, thus completely avoiding the gift to God!! That is, if something were dedicated to God, then it could no longer be used by the owner but should have been given to God in some sense; this might include:

  • a sacrifice by fire
  • a gift to the priesthood
  • a gift to the poor
  • etc

However, the greedy Jews were "dedicating" their possessions to God and retaining their use so as to avoid supporting aged parents or family. The NLT translation shows this well:

But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’

The Pulpit commentary observes:

Now, this the scribes and Pharisees did for their own covetous ends. For most of them were priests, who received offerings made to God as his ministers, and then converted them to their own uses. In this they greatly erred; because the obligation of piety by which children are bound to support their parents when they need it, is a part of the law of nature, to which every vow, every oblation, ought to yield. Thus, if any one had devoted his goods to God, and his father or his mother became needy, those goods ought to be given to his parents and not to the temple. The word "corban" is a Hebrew word, meaning "that which is brought near," "a gift or offering to God." Hence, figuratively, the place where these offerings were deposited was called the "corbanas," or, "sacred treasury" (see Matthew 27:6, κορβανᾶν). Hence to say of anything, "It is Corban," was to say that it had a prior and more sacred destination. And when it was something that a parent might need, to say, "It is Corban," i.e. it is already appropriated to another purpose, was simply to refuse his request and to deny him assistance, and so to break one of the first of the Divine commandments. Thus the son, by crying "Corban" to his needy parents, shut their mouths, by opposing to them a scruple of conscience, and suggesting to them a superstitious fear. It was as much as to say, "That which you ask of me is a sacred thing which I have devoted to God. Beware, therefore, lest you, by asking this of me, commit sacrilege by converting it to your own uses." Thus the parents would be silenced and alarmed, choosing rather to perish of hunger than to rob God. To such extremities did these covetous scribes and Pharisees drive their victims, compelling a son to abstain from any kind offices for his father or his mother.


I would suggest that based on what Jesus is describing, the difference is purpose and intent. Jesus does call their practice of Corban a tradition rather than something given of Moses, which might suggest that it is not the same gift seen

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