The parable of the mustard seed (Mt 13:31-13:32)

“Jesus presented them

Another parable.

‘The kingdom of heaven is

Like a mustard seed.

Someone took it.

He sowed in his field.

It is the smallest of all seeds.

But when it has grown,

It is the greatest of shrubs.

It becomes a tree,

So that the birds of the air

Come.

They make nests

In its branches.’”

 

Ἄλλην παραβολὴν παρέθηκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν κόκκῳ σινάπεως, ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔσπειρεν ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ αὐτοῦ·

ὃ μικρότερον μέν ἐστιν πάντων τῶν σπερμάτων, ὅταν δὲ αὐξηθῇ, μεῖζον τῶν λαχάνων ἐστὶν καὶ γίνεται δένδρον, ὥστε ἐλθεῖν τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ κατασκηνοῖν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ.

 

This parable of the mustard seed can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:30-32, and Luke, chapter 13:18-19.  The mustard seed was the symbol of small things.  However, it could grow to become a tree or shrub where birds could nest.  There is no explanation of this parable except the clear indication that the kingdom of heaven may start out small but would grow to hold many people.  Jesus, via Matthew, explicitly presented them with another short parable (Ἄλλην παραβολὴν παρέθηκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων).  He said that the kingdom of heaven was like a mustard seed (Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν κόκκῳ σινάπεως).  A man planted this seed in his field (ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔσπειρεν ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ αὐτοῦ).  When planted, it is the smallest of all seeds (ὃ μικρότερον μέν ἐστιν πάντων τῶν σπερμάτων).  But when it has grown, it is the greatest of garden plants or shrubs (ὅταν δὲ αὐξηθῇ, μεῖζον τῶν λαχάνων).   It then becomes a tree (καὶ γίνεται δένδρον).  Thus, the birds of the air could come and perch or build nests in its branches (ὥστε ἐλθεῖν τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ κατασκηνοῖν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ).  What starts out small can become quite large.

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Against the Assyrians (Zeph 2:13-2:14)

“Yahweh will stretch out

His hand

Against the north.

He will destroy

Assyria.

He will make

Nineveh

A desolation,

A dry waste,

Like the desert.

Herds shall lie down in it.

Every wild animal

Shall lie down in it.

The desert owl,

The screech owl

Shall lodge

On its capitals

The owl shall hoot

At the window.

The raven shall croak

On the threshold.

Its cedar works

Will be laid bare.”

Yahweh was going to stretch out his hand to destroy the enemy of Israel to the north, the Assyrians.  He had just punished the people on the west, the Philistines, the people on the east, the Moabites and the Ammonites, and the people to the south, the Ethiopians.  Yahweh was going to make northern Nineveh a desolate wasteland desert.   Every kind of wild animal and various herds would live there.  A variety of owls would nest in their ornate towers.  Owls would hoot at their windows, while ravens would croak at their doorsteps.  All their cedar wood work would be open to the weather.

The planted sprig in Israel (Ezek 17:23-17:23)

“I will plant it

On the mountain height

Of Israel.

Thus it may produce

Boughs.

It will bear fruit.

It will become

A noble cedar.

Under it,

Every kind of bird

Will live.

In the shade

Of its branches,

Will nest

Winged creatures

Of every kind.”

Yahweh said that he was going to plant this tender sprig on a high mountain in Israel. There it would produce branches and fruit. It would become a large noble cedar tree. Every kind of bird would live under its shade. All kinds of winged creatures would nest in its branches. It almost sounds like a bird sanctuary in Israel.

The menacing wild animals in Edom (Isa 34:13-34:15)

“Thorns shall grow over Edom’s strongholds.

Nettles shall be in its fortresses.

Thistles shall be in its fortresses.

It shall be the haunt of jackals.

It shall be an abode for ostriches.

Wildcats shall meet with hyenas.

Goat-demons shall cry to each other.

There too Lilith shall repose.

It shall find a place to rest.

There shall the owl nest.

The owl lays there.

The owl hatches its brood in its shadow.

There too the buzzards shall gather.

Each one shall have her mate.”

This terrible place of Edom will have thorn bushes growing in its strongholds, with nettles and thistles in these fortresses. A number of menacing odd animals will live there, the jackal wolf dogs, the ostriches, the wildcats, and the hyenas. On top of that there will be demon like goats and the ancient monster female demon Lilith. Strangely enough, the menacing owls are also there to rest and nest their young ones. Of course, there would be the ever threatening buzzards with their mates.