Corban is a term used in the Hebrew Bible to signify literally "the thing brought near," or "offered to God." In general the Hebrew word qorbān refers to any kind of sacrifice or offering. The word appears in the Old Testament only in Leviticus, Numbers, and Ezekiel.
In the Septuagint the Greek term corban does not appear anywhere, the Hebrew equivalent being translated by a number of other words, such as gift, sacrifice, or offering.
In the New Testament, the term κορβ[symbol omitted]ν appears only in Mk 7.11, where Jesus condemns an abuse of the practice of corban. In later Judaism, corban had acquired the meaning of consecration. But in the gradual evolution of the practice the invocation no longer meant that the objects had really been dedicated as an offering to God. The person invoking "corban" did not believe himself obliged to give it to the Temple. Rather, the sense is that the goods were now to be considered as if they had been dedicated. Thus, the invocation had the effect of a sacred oath isolating property from any claims, even those of filial piety. It was just such a situation that Our Lord condemned, probably referring to some contemporary cause célèbre.
Bibliography: Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963), from a. van den born Bijbels Woordenboek 418. r. de vaux, Ancient Israel, Its Life and Institutions, tr. j. mc hugh (New York 1961) 417.
[r. j. flynn]