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PostEngineer_Joseph on Mon 12 Dec 2016, 8:22 am

As in virtually all traditional societies, education in ancient Israel was predominantly familiar, that is, it is based on the family, with the mother playing a very significant role in the education of the very young. In most cases, girls followed their mothers’ vocations while boys followed their fathers’ professions. Thus, farmers brought up their sons invariably as farmers, shepherds as shepherds, fishermen as fishermen (realise that the brother Simon and Andrew were working as fishermen with their father when Jesus called them).

A very important aspect of the Jewish education involved providing moral and religious education. Consider what God commanded Moses to tell the people: ‘These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when
you get up.’ (Deut. 6:6-7) In this task of bringing up children in the fear of God, parents were to regard their duty as never ending as they are to teach ‘their children and the children of their children’ (Deut. 4:9).

Education was rigid and exacting, as teaching was usually accompanied with corporal punishment. The book of Proverbs (13:24) indeed recommends this: ‘He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.’ This does not make the parent or teacher a wicked person, rather discipline is out of love for the child, (notice the
wording of the last part of the quoted passage. The word ‘rod’ is the same used by the psalmist (Psalm 23) where the sheep is supposed to say that the rod of the Lord comforts it.

Thus the rod is as much an instrument of discipline as it is of guidance and comfort. Throughout this period, the discipline system was the norm. Each great master had a number of disciples who learnt from him. Thus, Elisha learnt from and modeled his ministry on, Elijah; Jesus Christ had his 12 disciples, each of whom later had his own followers etc. In
most cases, these groups were not stationary in a formal institution, rather they moved from place to place, much like the Sophists, the itinerant teachers. The difference here was that this time they peddled religious morals rather than abstract philosophy.

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