Parabolic Images and Hebrew Idioms Are the Key to Understanding Parables
The key to understanding the meaning and significance of the parables of the Scriptures lies in understanding the meaning and significance of the parabolic images and Hebrew idioms that provide the foundation for those parables. Each parabolic image and Hebrew idiom gains its meaning and significance from the time when the Prophets of Israel first used it in a parable. Therefore, to understand the parables of the Scriptures, one must first understand the historical and cultural context from which each one derives its meaning and significance.
You see, Jesus Christ was not the first to speak in parables. The Truth is, Moses and the other Prophets of Israel began speaking in parables nearly 1500 years before Jesus Christ was born. Their prophecies are filled with all kinds of parables and parabolic imagery, which is exactly why Jesus Christ spoke in parables. He was merely talking about things that Moses and all the other Prophets of Israel had already explained. Moreover, He was speaking in terms of the meaning and significance of the parabolic imagery and Hebrew idioms He knew they had used in the Hebrew Scriptures. Matthew tells us that explicitly in Matthew 13:35, where he quotes Psalm 78:2:
All these things Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable, so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying,
“I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.”
(Matthew 13:34–35) —NASB
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
(Psalm 78:2–3) —NASB
The phrase “dark sayings of old” refers to “the words of the wise and their riddles” (Prov. 1:6) that Moses and the other Prophets of Israel referred to in their writings. All of the parables of Jesus Christ are tied directly to these “dark sayings,” which are, in turn, tied directly to the religious beliefs and practices of the various cultures with whom the sons of Israel had contact during the time that Moses and the other Prophets of Israel were writing.
Parables, Riddles, and “Dark Sayings” Explain God’s Purpose
At God’s behest, Moses and the other Prophets of Israel mocked the ancient beliefs and practices of these cultures by using the mythological imagery and Hebrew idioms associated with their beliefs and practices to create parables and riddles—that is, “dark sayings”—that explain God’s purpose in the birth, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For instance, the Egyptian culture, to which the sons of Israel had been exposed for four hundred years, had numerous mythological beliefs related to the resurrection of the dead. Moses was able to use the mythological imagery and Hebrew idioms related to these beliefs to teach the sons of Israel the Truth about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Here are a few of the things the Egyptians believed about the resurrection of the dead:
- The Pharaoh was the incarnate son of god, engendered by the supreme god himself.
- The deceased Pharaoh—who was considered to be the son of god—was the only person capable of attaining resurrection from the dead on his own.
- The ordinary layman could only attain resurrection from the dead through belief in and union with the deceased Pharaoh who had already been resurrected.
These beliefs form the basis for some of the parabolic images in The Teaching of Moses that explain God’s purpose in the birth, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God Who was engendered by God Himself. Yet all of these parabolic images have their origin in Egyptian beliefs concerning death and resurrection. Believe it or not, the Canaanites had similar mythological beliefs concerning their god Baal, whom they believed to be the divinely engendered son of god who died and was resurrected and whose worship the sons of Israel foolishly embraced after entering the land of Canaan.
Every time the Prophets of Israel tried to restore The Teaching of Moses, they mocked the Canaanite beliefs and practices associated with the worship of Baal, just as Moses had mocked the Egyptian beliefs and practices that were associated with the royal cult of the Egyptian Kings. The Prophets of Israel did so by using the mythological imagery and Hebrew idioms associated with the worship of Baal to create parables that explained the Truth concerning God’s purpose in the birth, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not surprisingly, the Prophets of Israel whom God sent during the period of Babylonian influence spoke in terms of parables and riddles based on Babylonian mythology.
Consequently, the key to understanding the parables, riddles, and “dark sayings” of the Prophets of Israel lies in a knowledge of the mythological beliefs and practices of the ancient cultures that influenced the sons of Israel during the time that Moses and the other Prophets of Israel were concealing the Mystery of the Word of God in their writings. The Truth is, the Prophets of Israel mocked and ridiculed these foolish religious beliefs and practices time after time, all the while using the mythological images and Hebrew idioms associated with them to speak in parables that explain what the Truth of the Word of God is like, comparatively speaking.
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