The Fifth Commandment: Honour Thy Father and Mother

Honour Thy Father and mother is a very famous Commandment out of the 10 Commandments present in the Hebrew Bible. All these commandments were enforced in the form of laws and jurisdiction many centuries ago and are still considered enforceable by law.

The fifth Commandment of the Hebrew Bible is regarded to be originated from the protestant and Jewish sources which are listed in the Exodus & the Deuteronomy. The eutherians and the Catholics account this particular Commandment as the fourth.

Overview of Fifth Commandment

The first four Commandments of the Hebrew Bible are believed to involve the relationship of the people which they share with the god. These people believe in God but do not believe in the concept of having idols and not having the graven images along with not taking the name of the god in vain.

Overview of Fifth Commandment
Overview of Fifth Commandment

They believe that one should rest on the Sabbath. The fifth Commandment of the Hebrew Bible requires very creative and free interpretations for making it fit with the particular group.

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Parents should be honoured is something which this particular Commandment tells. It also tells that one should also respect the relationship of a person with another person.

It also gives a metaphorical interpretation which argues that this particular Commandment includes honouring the authorities in the general terms and also honouring the relationship of one human with the other and not only with God.

Some of the theologians have argued about the fact that one should fulfil the obligations to God as a ritual for honouring the parents.

The people should be given the responsibility of teaching good and bad to their children and making them functional members of the community so that they can move on the path of God.

This argument is not considered to be entirely specious but it is stretched a bit as it is offered by some of the other commandments also.

All the orthodox and the Catholic Christian theologians have placed this particular Commandment with the other regulating relationships existing between the people.

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History of Fifth Commandment

The original form of the fifth Commandment in the Hebrew Bible is believed to have been originated from the first five words honour thy father and mother. This has been consistent with the flow and rhythm of the other commandments.

History of Fifth Commandment
History of Fifth Commandment

The rest of the verses have also added this particular idea into the Hebrew Bible. When and where was this particular thought added is still unclear.

But if this particular Commandment might not have been followed by the people then someone could have decided that promising the fortune of long life to those people who do not follow it might rectify this particular situation.

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It is very easy to argue that when talking in terms of general principle, honouring the parents is always a good idea. It would have been true in ancient times when the life was simple and honouring the parents was considered to be a good way of ensuring that the social bonds are maintained.

One of the most interesting fact to note is that both the father and the mother are given equal status according to the fifth Commandment. The people are commanded to honour both the father and the mother and not simply only the father or only the mother.

This particular Commandment stands in contrast with the other Commandments present in the Hebrew Bible which states that women are given a subordinate status when compared with the man.

This particular Commandment also contrasts with the other near east cultures which believe that the women were given subordinate status even within the household.

The Ten Commandments

The ten commandments are very famous and are followed by the majority of Christians present all around the world. These are listed below in the table:

The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments
S No.Name of the Commandment
1 Thou shalt have no other gods before me
2 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
3 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
4 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy
5 Honour thy father and thy mother
6 Thou shalt not murder
7 Thou shalt not commit adultery
8 Thou shalt not steal
9 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
10 Thou shalt not covet
Name of the 10 Commandments

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Hebrew Bible Beliefs

A lot of historical beliefs are related to the Hebrew Bible & the ten Commandments. It is believed that the fifth Commandment was associated with the people who were living in Israel because they could remain in the land of the god who was leading them.

Hebrew Bible Beliefs
Hebrew Bible Beliefs about the fifth commandment

According to the Torah, cursing the father or mother of someone was considered to be a punishable offence and resulted in immediate death.

In the Deuteronomy, this particular procedure is described as for the parents to bring a persistently disobedient son to the city and then the elders stoning him to death.

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Honouring the parents has also been described by the Torah as an analogue to honouring God. According to the prophet Jeremiah, God has referred to himself as the father of Israel and all the people living in the country are referred to as his son and daughter.

God has blessed the descendants of Rechab for obeying the orders of their father and mother to not drink the wine and use the family as encounter example for the failure of Israel to obey his command of not worshipping other gods.

The same scenario is mentioned in the lines given below:

“Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?” declares the LORD. “Jonadab son of Recab ordered his sons not to drink wine and this command has been kept.

To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me. Again and again, I sent all my servants the prophets to you.

They said, ‘Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your fathers.’

But you have not paid attention or listened to me. The descendants of Jonadab son of Recab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.”

— Jeremiah 35:12–16 (NIV)

Historical Beliefs of Honour thy Father and thy Mother

In the Torah, the fifth Commandment is associated with the individual benefit and also with the ability of the nation of Israel for remaining in the land of the god who was leading the people in the right direction in their lives.

Historical Beliefs of Honour thy father and thy mother
Historical Beliefs of Honour thy father and thy mother from the fifth commandment

Dishonouring the parents would result in the death of the child as all the relatives and the near and dear ones would remove him from the family and disown him. According to the great Prophet Malachi, God can make the analogy himself.

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The above sentence is explained in the lines given below:

“A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honour due to me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?'”

— Malachi 1:6 (NIV)


The fifth commandment of the Hebrew Bible explains the concept that a child should always respect and honour his or her mother and father.

If the child does not obey the orders of his or her mother and father or dishonors them, then the family has the full authority to sentence him or her to death and remove their name from the family history.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What is the opening line of the fifth commandment in the Hebrew Bible?

The opening line of the fifth commandment is Honour Thy father and Thy mother.

How many commandments are present in the Holy Hebrew Bible version?

The holy Hebrew Bible contains 10 commandments which are religiously followed by the Hebrew people and the Christians present all around the world.