Understanding the parables (Lk 8:10-8:10)

“Jesus said.

‘To you

It has been given

To know the secrets

Of the kingdom

Of God.

But to others,

I speak in parables.

Thus,

Looking,

They may not perceive!

Listening,

They may not understand!’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ὑμῖν δέδοται γνῶναι τὰ μυστήρια τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦ, τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς ἐν παραβολαῖς, ἵνα βλέποντες μὴ βλέπωσιν καὶ ἀκούοντες μὴ συνιῶσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν) to his disciples that they would be able to understand the secrets (Ὑμῖν δέδοται γνῶναι τὰ μυστήρια) of the kingdom of God (τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦ).  But to others (τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς), he would be speaking in parables or riddles (ἐν παραβολαῖς).  Thus, these people might look (ἵνα βλέποντες), but not see (μὴ βλέπωσιν).  They might listen (καὶ ἀκούοντες), but not understand (μὴ συνιῶσιν).  This response of Jesus about the meaning of parables can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:11-12, and Matthew, chapter 13:11-15, and here.  Matthew and Mark also said that Jesus told his disciples that they had been given knowledge concerning the secret mysteries about the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God.  However, this was not granted to others.  Matthew had Jesus explain that those who had more knowledge, even more abundant knowledge would be given to them.  However, those who had nothing, even what little they had would be taken away.  The reason that Jesus spoke in parables was that some people might see, but not perceive what they saw, while other people might hear but not understand what they have heard.  For people outside their disciple group, everything was still in parables or riddles.  Only those on the inside would understand these parables, while those outside the inner circle of Jesus would not understand these riddles.  This was almost like a gnostic interpretation of knowledge, where only the elite insiders had a true secret knowledge about the mysteries and the kingdom of God and heaven.  Matthew also had a long citation from Isaiah, chapter 6:9-10, about the people unable to understand, while Luke, and Mark had only a short summary statement.  Isaiah told the Israelite people that they were listening without comprehending.  They were looking without understanding.  Their hearts were dull and their eyes and ears were closed.  They were experiencing and listening, but they could not hear or understand.  Do you understand what you see and hear?

The prayerful cry of Susanna (Dan 13:42-13:43)

“Then Susanna cried out

With a loud voice.

She said.

‘O eternal God!

You know

What is secret!

You are

Aware of all things

Before they come to be!

You know

That these men

Have given

False evidence

Against me!

Now I am to die!

Yet I have done none

Of the wicked things

That they have charged

Against me!’”

Susanna that cried out loud in a prayer to God. She said that God knew all secrets. He knew what was going to happen before it happened. He knew that this was a false witness that these two elders had rendered. He knew that she had not done any of the wicked things that she was accused of. He knew that she was about to die.

The proud prince of Tyre as a wise trader (Ezek 28:3-28:5)

“You are indeed wiser

Than Daniel.

No secret

Is hidden

From you.

By your wisdom,

By your understanding,

You have amassed wealth

For yourself.

You have gathered

Gold,

With silver,

Into your treasuries.

By your great wisdom

In trade,

You have increased

Your wealth.

Your heart

Has become proud

In your wealth.”

Ezekiel’s reference to Daniel may be a Canaanite judge named Daniel who gave out wise decisions for orphans and widows, not the prophet Daniel. Thus, the prince of Tyre was wiser than this Daniel, since he knew all kinds of secrets. With his great wisdom and understanding, he had amassed great wealth for himself and his treasury full of gold and silver. This Tyre prince or leader was a very wise trader. His wealth, however, made his heart very proud.

Secrets (Sir 8:17-8:19)

“Do not consult with fools!

They cannot keep a secret.

In the presence of strangers,

Do nothing that is to be kept secret!

You do not know

What they will divulge.

Do not reveal your thoughts to anyone!

You may drive away your happiness.”

Sirach’s recommendations continue with some words about secrets. Do not consult with fools, which is obvious. They cannot keep a secret. Do not let strangers know what you are doing. You have no idea who or what they will tell about your actions. Do not let anyone know your thoughts because that could lead to your unhappiness.

The history of wisdom (Wis 6:22-6:25)

“I will tell you

What wisdom is.

I will tell you

How she came to be.

I will hide no secrets from you.

But I will trace her course

From the beginning of creation.

I will make knowledge of her clear.

I will not pass by the truth.

I will not travel in the company

Of sickly envy.

Envy does not associate with wisdom.

The multitude of the wise

Is the salvation of the world.

A sensible king

Is the stability of any people.

Therefore

Be instructed by my words.

You will profit.”

Assuming the first person singular, probably as King Solomon, this author sets out to tell the developing history of wisdom (σοφία καὶ πῶς ἐγένετο). He was not going to hide any secrets or mysteries (μυστήρια). He was going to trace all of wisdom from the beginning of creation (γενέσεως). He was going to point this out clearly and truthfully. Envy (φθόνῳ) does not associate with wisdom (οὐ κοινωνήσει σοφίᾳ). The multitude of the wise will bring salvation to the world. A sensible king brings stability to the people. Therefore all can be instructed and gain from his words.

Disputes with neighbors (Prov 25:7-25:10)

“What your eyes have seen

Do not hastily bring into court.

What will you do in the end?

What if your neighbor puts you to shame?

Argue your case with your neighbor directly.

Do not disclose another’s secret.

Or else someone who hears you

Will bring shame upon you.

Your ill repute will have no end.”

Do not be hasty to bring your neighbor to court, even if you have seen the offense with your own eyes. What will be the gain for you if you are put to shame by your neighbor? Settle the dispute with your neighbor directly. Do not reveal any secrets because someone might hear them. They might bring shame to you and lead to a bad reputation for you.

City life (Prov 11:10-11:14)

“When it goes well with the righteous,

The city rejoices.

When the wicked perish

There is jubilation.

By the blessing of the upright,

A city is exalted.

But the city is overthrown

By the mouth of the wicked.

Whoever belittles another

Lacks sense.

But an intelligent person remains silent.

A gossip goes about telling secrets.

But one who is trustworthy in spirit

Keeps a confidence.

Where there is no guidance,

A nation falls.

But in an abundance of counselors

There is safety.”

The city dwellers are happy with the righteous. They rejoice when all goes well with them. However, they are just as happy when the wicked perish. The city dwellers exalt at the blessings of the upright. However, the words of the wicked can overthrow a city. Anyone who belittles another lacks sense because the intelligent person keeps silent. You cannot trust gossips that go about telling secrets because they are not trustworthy. If there is no guidance, a city or country will fall. It is much better when there are many counselors, since they will keep the city or country safe.

The apologia of Job (Job 31:1-31:4)

“I have made a covenant with my eyes.

How then could I look upon a virgin?

What would be my portion from God above?

What would be my heritage from the Almighty Shaddai on high?

Does not calamity befall the unrighteous?

Does not disaster fall on the workers of iniquity?

Does he not see my ways?

Does he not number all my steps?”

Now Job goes into high drive as he proclaims why he is right and the others are wrong. This is an apologia for his life. It is a kind of negative confession as he explains what he did and why it is not wrong. His covenant is with his eyes. Somehow the eyes reveal all the secrets of a person. As for the virgin, did he have any evil intentions? What is God going to give him? What will be his heritage from the almighty high Shaddai? He agreed that calamity and disaster fall on the unrighteous and the iniquitous people. However, he asked God to see his ways. He recognized that God had numbered his steps.

Raphael reveals that he is an angel (Tob 12:11-12:15)

“I will now declare the whole truth to you. I will conceal nothing from you. Already I have declared to you when I said.

‘It is good to conceal the secret of a king,

But to reveal with due honor the works of God.’

So now, when you and your daughter-in-law Sarah prayed,

It was I who brought and read the record of your prayer

Before the glory of the Lord.

Likewise, whenever you would bury the dead,

I was present with you.

That time when you did not hesitate to get up

And leave your dinner to go and bury the dead,

I was sent to test you.

At the same time,

God sent me to heal you and Sarah your daughter-in-law.

I am Raphael,

One of the seven angels who stand ready

And enter before the glory of the Lord.’”

Raphael said that he would reveal the whole truth and conceal nothing. He had hinted at that when he said that it was good to conceal the secrets of the king. He told Tobit and Tobias that when Tobit and Sarah had prayed in despair, he was the one who recorded this and brought it to the Lord. He was present when Tobit buried the dead. He was sent to test him. God sent him to heal both Tobit and Sarah. Then he revealed that he is the angel Raphael. However, he is not just any angel, but one of the 7 who stand before the glory of the Lord. Literally, his name means, “God heals,” so that this was a perfect project for him. The naming of angels did not take place until after the Persian captivity, in the Second Temple time, so there is a Persian influence here. Sometimes, he is referred to as an archangel, because of his place among the top 7 angels. Perhaps he might have a place among the guardian angels as he protected Tobias here.