The parables (Mt 13:3-13:3)

“Jesus told them

Many things

In parable sayings.”

 

αὶ ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς πολλὰ ἐν παραβολαῖς λέγων.

 

A similar statement can be found in Mark, chapter 4:2.  This is the beginning of the parable section in Matthew.  Jesus told them many things in parables (αὶ ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς πολλὰ ἐν παραβολαῖς λέγων).  Parables were one of the many literary forms in the biblical literature.  These parables of Jesus can be found in all the synoptic gospels since they represent about 1/3 of Jesus’ teachings.  These simple and memorable stories conveyed important messages, central to the teachings of Jesus.  Many of Jesus’s parables refer to simple everyday events.  The word “parable” can also refer to a riddle, as it was used in the Old Testament.  The use of parables was a natural teaching method that fit into the tradition of the time of Jesus.  Matthew has 23 parables of which 11 are unique.  There are 2 unique parables in Mark and 18 unique parables in LukeMatthew and Luke share 4 parables, while Matthew, Mark and Luke share 6 parables.  Many of these parables have been subjects of art and literature, especially during the Middle Ages.

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Jonah runs away to Tarshish (Jon 1:3-1:3)

“But Jonah set out

To flee

To Tarshish,

From the presence

Of Yahweh.

He went down

To Joppa.

There he found a ship

Going to Tarshish.

He paid the fare.

He went on board,

To go with them

To Tarshish.

He wanted to get away

From the presence

Of Yahweh.”

Unlike all the other prophets, Jonah refused his mission.  He decided to run away to Tarshish, probably in Spain, as far away as he could get from Yahweh and Israel at that time.  Most of the ancient people considered it to be the end of the world.  Tarshish was often mentioned in the biblical literature as a rich ship building area, as in Isaiah, chapter 23 and Ezekiel, chapter 27.  Jonah went to Joppa, a seacoast town on the Mediterranean Sea.  There, he had enough money to purchase a fare to board a ship headed for Tarshish.  He really wanted to get away from the presence of Yahweh, as far as he could go.