As explained at Mark 7:11, “corban” is “a gift dedicated to God.” The Greek word there rendered “corban” is kor·banʹ, the equivalent of the Hebrew word qor·banʹ, meaning an offering. Qor·banʹ is used in Leviticus and Numbers and applies both to offerings containing blood and to those that are bloodless. (Le 1:2, 3; 2:1; Nu 5:15; 6:14, 21) This Hebrew word is also employed at Ezekiel 20:28 and 40:43. Akin to the Greek word kor·banʹ is kor·ba·nasʹ, appearing at Matthew 27:6, where the chief priests are reported to have said that it would not be lawful to take the betrayal money Judas had thrown into the temple and drop these silver pieces into “the sacred treasury [a form of kor·ba·nasʹ],” because they were “the price of blood.”
By the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth, a condemnable practice had developed in connection with gifts dedicated to God. In regard to this, Jesus denounced the Pharisees as hypocrites because they put their own tradition ahead of God’s law. Professing to safeguard for God what had been declared “corban,” they set aside the divine requirement to honor one’s parents. (Mt 15:3-6) A person might simply say, ‘Be it corban,’ or, ‘It is corban,’ regarding his property or some part of it. Pharisees at that time taught that once a person declared his possessions to be “corban,” or a gift dedicated to God, he could not use these to satisfy the needs of his parents, however needy they might be, though he could make use of such possessions himself until his own death if he chose to do so. Thus, although these Pharisees professed to honor God, their hearts were not in accord with his righteous requirements.—Mr 7:9-13.
The historian Josephus associated “corban” with persons, stating: “Those who describe themselves as ‘Corban’ to God—meaning what Greeks would call ‘a gift’—when desirous to be relieved of this obligation must pay down to the priests a fixed sum.” (Jewish Antiquities, IV, 73 [iv, 4]) However, the term “corban” was more generally used for property dedicated as a gift to God.