Deuteronomy 21 gives a rule regarding rebellious sons.
When a man has a wayward, rebellious son, who does not obey his father and mother, they shall have him flogged. If he still does not listen to them, then his father and mother must grasp him and bring him to the elders of his city, to that area's supreme court. [The parents] must declare to the elders of his city, 'Our son here is wayward and rebellious. He does not listen to us, and is an [exceptional] glutton and drunkard.' — Deuteronomy 21:18–20 (Kaplan's Translation)
Like the two preceding rules, its purpose seems to be to put restrictions on what I presume used to be standard practices, in this case, parents unilaterally making the decision.
I'm not asking about anything related to ethics, morals, etc., but I'm curious as to the circumstances where parents could follow this route.
A 1-year-old could meet all the criteria, except "drunkard"; a 50-year-old with 75-year-old parents could meet all the criteria; but I doubt they were intended to be covered by this situation.
So exactly what age range was it meant to cover?
I see that Kaplan's has foot notes that are extremely restrictive:
- This rule applies only to a boy between the ages of 13 and 13¼ (Sanhedrin 68b; Yad, Mamrim 7:5). It does not apply to a girl (Yad, Mamrim 7:11).
- The boy is flogged only if he eats the 'meal of a rebellious son', which is forbidden by Leviticus 19:26 (Hagahoth Maimonioth ad loc.; Sanhedrin 63a)
- There must be two witnesses to the 'meal of the rebellious son' besides the parents (Yad, Mamrim 7:7).
- glutton: This alludes to the 'meal of the rebellious son.' By tradition he must steal money from his father, and buy 50 dinars of meat, eating it rare outside his father's property and in bad company. This is the act that must be witnessed for the son to be put to death (Yad, Mamrim 7:2; Sanhedrin 70a).
- drunkard: He must also drink ½ log (5oz.) of wine with the meal (Ibid.). It is therefore forbidden for a boy of this age to eat such a meal at any time (Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 195).
These are so restrictive that the boy would have to be suicidal to explicitly meet all the requirements.
What ages would have been considered at the time, 3000 years ago?
Those who professed Judaism felt no doubt that the Talmud was equal to the Bible as a source of instruction and decision in problems of religion, and every effort to set forth religious teachings and duties was based on it …
I mean no disrespect to this position, but for my question I was looking for an answer as to how this law was understood 3000+ years ago. The Talmud explains how one should interpret it, but I was hoping for more of an historical answer, how it was interpreted, say before the time of King David.