We stand presently at a vital juncture in the history of the evangelical church. Statistics show that large numbers of the children of evangelical parents are turning away from their faith when they leave the home. On September 18, 2001, just one week after the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11, T. C. Pinckney made this shocking statement to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee: “We are losing our children. Research indicates that 70% of teens who are involved in a church youth group will stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation.”1
Few subjects bring as much joy to the hearts of parents than to see their children grow up and mature into a strong faith in Christ (2 John 4, 3 John 4). Conversely, few subjects bring as much grief to the hearts of parents as the apostasy of their children when they reach adulthood. The disintegration of the Christian family is a dire problem for the future of the evangelical church. God has made the family the centerpiece of his redemptive plan, from the creation of Adam, through the call of Abraham, through the establishment of the Davidic Covenant, through the lineage of David’s descendents that eventually brought the Christ to the earth, God has chosen to work in and through families. But now, our families are in serious trouble.
In this article, I am going to argue based on Deuteronomy 6 that God intends fathers to adopt a multigenerational vision to train their sons to love God with all their hearts and to keep his commandments, so that they, in turn, can train their own sons to lead their families in the same pattern. I am going to argue that this in no way shows a lack of concern for mothers or daughters, but rather upholds the structure for family leadership that God established from the beginning of humanity. I will describe in detail the practical steps Deuteronomy 6 commands fathers to take in training their sons. And I will conclude with a call to Christian fathers in the new covenant to take these words seriously and apply them to their own sons and families for the glory of Christ.
A Dramatic Moment in Redemptive History
It would be difficult to overstate the drama of the moment in redemptive history represented in the book of Deuteronomy. There stood Moses, the man of God, addressing Israel, the people of God, assembled on the plains of Moab after forty years of wandering in the desert (Num 36:13; Deut 34:1). This would be Moses’ final official address to the people he had led out of bondage in Egypt, since he was about to die. The people were about to cross the Jordan River and take possession of the Promised Land, the inheritance God had sworn on oath to give to Abraham and his descendents forever.
They had been in this same position forty years before. But because of the sin of the people, and especially of the men (fathers) who had led them, they had had to wander those forty years until that entire generation of fighting men had died out (Num 14:1-45). The poignancy of the moment was sharpened by these truths; a holy God was leading a sinful people by the power of his might in proportion to their obedience to his words. Because their fathers had not truly loved him they had refused to trust him and, thus, had disobeyed his commands. And so they died, every one of them, except Joshua and Caleb.
At this poignant moment, Israel’s greatest leader chose to give them a precious gift—the gift of words. Not just any words, but living words, the words of the living God. Moses would comment later on the immense importance of these words:
Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess (Deut 32:45-47 NIV).
In Deuteronomy 6, Moses was specifically charging fathers with the responsibility to train their sons to obey the law of God. I am not in any way minimizing the importance of mothers teaching their sons2 or of parents teaching daughters. However, the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy 6 puts an emphasis on sons, and the patriarchal structure of the whole book puts an emphasis on fathers. The emphasis on sons is, I believe, for the purpose of raising up future godly fathers who will themselves continue to teach this covenant to their families for the entire history of Israel. Thus, the father-son relationship is highlighted in Deuteronomy 6 specifically because godly leadership had proven to be so vital.
Words from God through a Mediator
Fundamental to my argument is the concept that God mediates his truth to his people by means of appointed messengers. Perhaps the clearest example in the Bible is in Rev 1:1-2: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (ESV). Here we see the book of Revelation given from God the Father to God the Son to an angel to John then to God’s servants. Three mediators stand between God and his beloved people.
God employed this kind of “relay race” of revelation in transmitting the old covenant itself. According to statements made in the New Testament, God gave his laws to Moses by means of an angel. Stephen spoke of the law that “was put into effect through angels” (Acts 7:53). Paul wrote that “(the law) was put in place through angels by an intermediary” (Gal 3:19). Even more significantly, in the passage immediately preceding this one, Moses reminded the people that they had begged God for a human mediator on Mount Sinai:
But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer. For what mortal man has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? Go near and listen to all that the LORD our God says. Then tell us whatever the LORD our God tells you. We will listen and obey (Deut 5:25-27 NIV).
This is the beginning of the prophetic office, for the Lord later said he would raise up a prophet like Moses to speak to the people (Deut 18:15). It also lays the foundation for the concept I desire to establish here—God wills that husbands/fathers should be priests and prophets to their own families and teach the words of God to them. Therefore, God specifically commands fathers to teach the stipulations of the covenant to their sons: “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut 6:7 NASB, emphasis added). God desires men to play this mediatorial role of relaying the words of God to their families, and here in Deuteronomy 6, he makes clear provision for the training of the next generation of mediators, of men who will so instruct their own families.
Fathers as Representative Leaders
It is God’s pattern, established from creation, to lead families through the husband/father. He established this by first creating Adam alone, with no wife, and giving him the original prohibition concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16-17). This patriarchal pattern is relatively easy to prove in Deuteronomy; the words of God given first to Moses, then to men as leaders, then through them to all the people of Israel. A series of indicators is sufficient to make our point, such as the following:
(2) God specifically holds Israel accountable for the sins of the fathers, even to the third and fourth generation (Deut 5:9); it was because of the sins of their fathers that Israel had to wander in the desert for forty years.
(3) The consistent use of “brother” to represent Israelites in case studies; again and again it is the case of a brother that the judges must judge (Deut 1:16), brothers to whom God gives rest in the Promised Land (Deut 3:20), brothers who must be released from debt every seven years (Deut 15:1-3), a brother’s ox or sheep that strays and needs to be returned (Deut 22:1-3).3 The Hebrew word “sister” only appears once in the entire book, and that only concerning a sexual prohibition (Deut 27:22).
(4) The language of the Ten Commandments specifies that one must not covet a neighbor’s wife, not husband (Deut 5:21).
(5) The warning against being led astray into idolatry by loved ones, even by the “wife you embrace” (Deut 13:6).
(7) Levirate marriage shows the patriarchal structure of Israelite society as envisioned in Deuteronomy; the clear assumption is that the family lineage is carried on through sons who bear their father’s name in the next generation and inherit his portion of the Promised Land (Deut 25:5-10).
(8) A father has special responsibility for his daughter’s purity. If an Israelite daughter was found to have committed premarital sexual immorality, then the woman would be taken to the door of her father’s house and stoned to death, “because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house” (Deut 22:21). The location of the stoning (the door of her father’s house) and the reason for the stoning (whoring in her father’s house) show the responsibility the father has for protecting the purity of his daughter.
By way of balance, it is as easy to prove that God intends to bless all of his people with his word as it is to prove that he intends patriarchal structure. Many commands in Deuteronomy are clearly given for the benefit of women and of daughters. For example, daughters are specifically mentioned as being as free from labor on the Sabbath as are sons (Deut 5:14); daughters are invited to rejoice before the Lord and share in the offerings at the one place of worship God will choose from among the tribes (Deut 12:18); daughters are also to participate joyfully in the annual Feast of Weeks and Feast of Booths (Deut 16:11, 14). And clearly both males and females stand under what Jesus called “the first and greatest commandment” (Matt 22:36-38), to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength (Deut 6:5).
In fact, whenever God says “Hear O Israel,” as he does in the “greatest commandment,” he is addressing all his people, male and female, young and old. All of God’s word is for all of God’s people, even if the commandments are given to Levites or Aaronic priests. It is beneficial for those who are in the new covenant and no longer required to circumcise their sons or to offer animal sacrifice to read the laws concerning those things.
However, God speaks his covenant words first to the leaders of Israel, the fathers, who must transmit those words faithfully to their families.
Sons in Deuteronomy: Future Representative Leaders
Pivotal to my argument is the handling of the word translated “children” inDeut 6:7 in the KJV, RSV, NIV, ESV, but “sons” in the NASB. The verse reads as follows: “You shall teach them diligently to your children (banîm), and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut 6:7 ESV). The Hebrew word, ben in the singular, banîm (plural) here, is the most common term of relationship in the Old Testament, used some 4850 times.4 It is used 127 times in Deuteronomy alone. There are some clear instances in which the word must stand for both sons and daughters. Concerning the Feast of Booths, God gave this command:
Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess (Deut 31:12-13 ESV).
Clearly God wants both genders to assemble, as he says in verse 12. But in verse 13, he gives the reason for it: “that their children (banîm)… may hear and learn to fear the LORD.” Since both males and females are to be assembled, then the word banîm must refer to both sons and daughters.5
Why, then, does God use the same word for both male offspring and for all offspring regardless of gender? The same question is raised concerning the use of the Hebrew word ‘adam commonly translated “man.” The word means “man,” “husband,” or the first man, Adam. But the word also refers to the human race as a whole: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27); “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created” (Gen 5:1-2, emphasis added). God named the whole race collectively, both male and female, by the same name he gave the male. I believe this reveals God’s intention for male representational leadership. Therefore, the use of the word “son” or “sons” to represent both male children and all children is a reasonable corollary.
How should Deuteronomy 6:7 be translated? And how should it be applied? These are two different questions. While the NASB translates banîm “sons,” thus following the more literal translation, I think the rest of the English translations (KJV, NIV, RSV, ESV) have it right, translating banîm “children” rather than sons. The reason for this is the universality of the command that Jesus called “the first and greatest command” in the Bible. However, the issue goes beyond merely how best to translate banîm. Rather, it is to see the primary responsibility a generation of fathers has to train (1) their own children (banîm) generally; and (2) the next generation of family leaders, their sons (banîm) specifically. I am arguing here that we should not merely translate it “children” without acknowledging the principle of male headship and leadership in the home that God is intending thereby. In our own age, when the father’s primary role as evangelist and disciple-maker of his children is being openly attacked, the primacy of fathers in Deuteronomy generally and of sons in Deuteronomy 6 specifically is a helpful remedy.
How Israelite Fathers Should Prepare Their Sons to Lead Their Families
(1) Begin with the fear of the Lord. The timeless wisdom of Deuteronomy 6 begins where Proverbs will later begin, with the fear of the Lord: “That you may fear the LORD your God” (Deut 6:2). This is the very lesson God sought to establish in the hearts of his people at Sinai with such a terrifying display of his power and wrath, with a dark cloud and an earthquake, with lightning and thunder, with a trumpet blast and his own powerful and deafening voice (Exod 19:18-19). God said very plainly that his whole purpose was to generate a holy fear of the Lord: “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin” (Exod 20:20). In other words, God was saying to Israel, “If you fear me properly, you need fear nothing else the rest of your lives.” The fear of the Lord was the beginning of the wisdom a godly Israelite should pass on to his son.
(2) Know God’s commandments thoroughly. “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you” (Deut 6:1). The whole purpose of Deuteronomy is to exhort obedience to the law of God by which the people would be permitted to remain in the Promised Land. If the people do not know the law, they cannot keep it. Therefore, the most important thing a father can do is teach his son the very words of God. God does not speak a single “empty word” (Deut 32:47), and man lives on “every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deut 8:3). Thus, godly fathers in Israel needed to make the study of the entire law of God their central concern.
(3) Develop a multigenerational view of spiritual protection and prosperity. Deut 6:2: “that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.” Given that verse 3 speaks of the “God of your fathers” and that this verse speaks of “you, your son, and your son’s son” we have at least four generations in view here. Israelite fathers knew already how faithful God is to multiple generations, keeping his promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, through the enslaved generations in Egypt, to the point of bringing this generation into the Promised Land. Conversely, from the time of Adam onward, godly fathers have recognized that their sins will greatly affect future generations; thus, they must carefully train their sons. In this alone will Israel find their spiritual protection (that “your days may be long”), and prosperity (“that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey,” v. 3) for generations to come.
(4) Hear and obey. “Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them” (Deut 6:3). Godly fathers must hear these precious words that God is speaking through Moses, and not merely hearing with the ears but with the heart, resulting in obedience. If they are truly not empty words, then they must be taken to heart and lived out in daily life. The Shema of verse 4 takes its name from the command to “Hear, O Israel,” and this upholds God’s intention to create a nation the same way he created the universe, by the word of his power.
(5) Make loving God with all your heart your highest end. The “greatest command” in the Bible is found in verses 4-5: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” It is a genuine love relationship that God is seeking from his people, nothing less. In this relationship, God is the leader, the initiator. He declares to his people who and what he is, and, based on that, he commands worship, love, and reverence. Ideas about God do not originate with man; therefore, the greatest command begins with “Hear, O Israel.” Israel is in a passive stance, allowing God to reveal himself as he sees fit. From that revelation, God commands love from the heart. Without this heart relationship, the people will most certainly degenerate from compulsory obedience to hypocrisy and eventually to idolatry. Godly fathers in Israel must begin here, by setting God up as their greatest treasure, and by cherishing his name and his word above all things.
(6) Cherish the commands of God in your own life. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (v. 6). Godly fathers must show a deep reverence for the words of God by taking them into their very being, saturating their minds with them, memorizing them, repeating them to themselves every day. If an Israelite boy discovers his father fervently praying over and meditating deeply on God’s word, he will find all the motivation he needs to hide God’s word in his own heart as well. Herein we find the absolute importance of role modeling for good parenting. Sons can spot hypocrisy in their fathers, and will more likely follow their true path than their sham path. These commandments must find deep root in the hearts and lives of godly fathers or they will not likely be passed on to the next generation.
(7) Teach by consistent repetition, in everyday life situations, and by physical reminders. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (vv. 7-9). Here is where the advice to Israelite fathers becomes the most practical and down-to-earth. Here is a workable plan for discipleship that extends to the details of daily life.
The first verb, translated “teach diligently” is fascinating, a word that is usually used for the sharpening done to metal weapons. For instance, God uses it again in Deut 32:41 in the Song of Moses for the whetting of his glistening sword for vengeance on his adversaries. The whetting of a sword, like the sharpening of an arrowhead (cf. Ps 64:4; Isa 5:28), is done by constant repetition, a circular motion on a whetstone. Thus, an Israelite father was to “sharpen” these commandments into the hearts of his sons, repeating them again and again until they have been worked into the very structure of their minds. They were to talk about them constantly, in everyday life situations, “sitting, walking, lying, rising.” An Israelite father should skillfully weave these commandments into life in the promised land, while sowing and reaping, while threshing and gathering grain into barns. There would be no daily life situation in which the father would not mentor his constantly present sons, preparing them for the future leadership of their own homes. He would even write these commands on the doorposts of the home, a command taken literally by Jews in the form of the mezuzah, a small bit of parchment on which was written the Shema and fastened to their doorposts. Jewish sons would be hearing and seeing the commands of God everywhere, “sharpened” into their hearts by godly fathers for the future protection and prosperity of Israel.
(8) Develop a disposition of constant vigilance, especially in prosperity. In verses 10-19, Moses specifically warned Israelite fathers to beware of allowing their hearts to be drawn away from obedience to the Lord by the easy abundance and gracious prosperity of the Promised Land, an abundance and prosperity they did not earn. The same sins that led Sodom astray, “pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease” (Ezek 16:49), threatened the very existence of Israel in the Promised Land. Godly Jewish fathers needed to train their sons to guard their hearts against this slothful, self-sufficient arrogance.6 The luxurious sensuality of idolatrous worship will be singing its siren song of destruction into the ears of the Israelites for generations to come, for the land is rich and prosperous, a “land flowing with milk and honey.” Godly fathers had to prepare their sons to keep pure, eating and being satisfied while not forgetting that all these blessings are from God, and he is a jealous God who will tolerate no rivals (vv. 14-15).
(9) Seize teachable moments when your son’s heart is open. With a godly father’s constant teaching and repetition, with his clear love for the Lord as manifested by a lifestyle of comprehensive obedience to these pervasive commands, undoubtedly teachable moments will come when the son will ask his father about their religion: “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son…” (vv. 6:20-21). Notice that the son is asking the father, confirming the father-son relationship assumed throughout this chapter. (Please note that this in no way means a mother should not seize such teachable moments with her son or daughter, either. Simply that the patriarchal system in which Deuteronomy was written is assumed here.) Notice also that the son is asking the father about the commands God had commanded the father. It is the father’s consistent lifestyle under the law that has prompted the question, just as it is clear that on Mount Moriah, young Isaac asked his father Abraham based on years of observation, “Here is wood and fire, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Gen 22:7). The natural curiosity of a young son was assumed in verse 20, and it would be the foundation of ongoing training. A wise father will make the most of those precious and strategic opportunities.
(10) Saturate your son in the history of God’s faithfulness. The answer the godly father gives at that moment is to saturate the son in the redemptive history of God’s dealings with his covenant people.
Then you shall say to your son, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers” (vv. 21-23).
Amazingly, this is precisely the instruction that this very generation of Israelite fathers failed to give their sons, thus initiating the cycle of sin, judgment and restoration that characterized the period under the Judges.7 What an obscene tragedy, the failure of this very generation of fathers to whom God had first given these commands on the plains of Moab to train their sons in the mighty works of God in the Exodus. Fathers and sons formed a key link in redemptive history, and it was the father’s responsibility to make this clear.
How Christian Fathers Should Prepare Their Sons to Lead a Family
It is important for Christian fathers under the new covenant to understand how to apply the practical spiritual advice of Deuteronomy 6 for their own families. There is a clear difference between the righteousness of Israelites under the old covenant and that we enjoy now in Christ. A godly father in the old covenant was to instruct his sons saying, “And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us” (v. 25). It would be based on this obedience to the law that the Israelites would maintain their righteous standing in the sight of God and be blessed in the Promised Land.
But a godly father in the new covenant has a different message for his children. He will teach them that our righteousness cannot come from obedience to the Law, as clearly proven by the tragic history of Israel. Rather it will come only from faith in Christ, the “righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Phil 3:8-11; cf. also Rom 3:21-24).
Indeed, Deuteronomy was not merely pessimistic about the future generations of Israelite sons being able to keep the covenant, but rather openly prophetic that they would not do so. Moses introduced his prophetic song with these words:
I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands (Deut 31:28-29).
And in that Song of Moses, they learned what they would do in the future: “Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation. They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger” (Deut 32:15-16).
But a new covenant father can be not merely optimistic but openly prophetic based on the promises of God that any who are justified by faith in Christ will have the law of God written on the hearts (Heb 8:10) and be enabled by the power of the Spirit to walk consistently (although not perfectly) in its righteous requirements (Rom 8:4), and afterward to be received into glory.
Other than this, however, Christian fathers today are facing the same challenges that Israelite fathers did then. The basic concept of this article is that fathers must prepare their sons to take the spiritual leadership of their families. That concept is upheld in the central passage on parenting in the New Testament, Eph 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The Greek word for “children” in the verse implies both sons and daughters, but it is the fathers who are clearly given the final responsibility for bringing the children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. These two words imply that fathers must give their children a complete, whole life training in the things of God, with heavy emphasis on warnings concerning the dangers of sin. What better passage to turn to than Deuteronomy 6?
And though new covenant fathers are not seeking to prepare their children for generations in the physical Promised Land, yet the relevance of this type of training is upheld, even in Ephesians 6. In Eph 6:1-3, Paul admonishes children in the new covenant: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.'” Thus, Paul uses an old covenant commandment with an old covenant blessing attached to it (cf. Deut 5:16) to motivate new covenant children to obedience.
A wise Christian father, therefore, will see the word “fathers” in Eph 6:4, take his own responsibility seriously toward his children, and turn to Deuteronomy 6 for practical insights into how to bring up his children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. But he will do more than that. He will develop the multigenerational vision clearly taught in Deut 6:2 and will prepare his sons to lead their own families into spiritual obedience and lasting fruitfulness for the glory of Christ. And he will prepare his daughters to delight in and choose such a man as her prospective husband and to embrace and submit to his leadership as the head of the family (Eph 5:22-24). The future health and spiritual prosperity of the church of Jesus Christ depends on fathers who will delight in the multigenerational vision of family leadership laid out in Deuteronomy 6 and confidently trust in God’s Spirit to prepare their sons and daughters to walk in a law now written on their hearts by faith.
1 T. C. Pinckney, “We Are Losing Our Children: Remarks to Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, 18 September 2001” n.p. [accessed 1 Feb 2007]. Online: http://www.nehemiahinstitute.com/articles/index.php?action=show&id=8. See also a disturbing survey in Josh McDowell, Right from Wrong: What You Need to Know to Help Youth Make Right Choices (Dallas: Word, 1994). The survey results of 3795 Christian children shows very little difference in the way they think compared with the views of non-Christians on the nature of the family, on definitions of marriage, on sexuality, and on other vital issues. Perhaps most shocking of all was that fifty-seven percent of the youth surveyed did not think that an objective standard of truth exists
2 Proverbs 1:8 reads, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”
3 That the word “brother” refers to both males and females in many cases is clear from Deut 15:12, which says “If your brother, a hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free.”
4 Eduard Schweizer, “υἱός” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament(ed. Gerhard Kittel; trans. Geoffrey Bromiley; 10 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964-76), 8:340.
5 Another example is in Deut 32:19-20: “The LORD saw it and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons (banîm) and his daughters. And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children (banîm) in whom is no faithfulness.” Both male and female offspring are mentioned in verse 19, but only banîm in verse 20. And again, in Exod 21:4-6, a slave is given a wife by his master, and his wife bears him sons and daughters. In Exod 21:5, he declares that he loves his “children” (banîm) and decides to become his master’s slave for life. Here banîm must refer to the “sons and daughters” his slave wife has borne him.
6 Moses will sound the same warning in Deut 8:11-14: “Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God.”
7 “And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals” (Judg 2:10-11).
Article from The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood