Matthew 21:19 The Quarrel With The Fig Tree – A Living Poem By Jesus

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by clontzjm, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. Have you ever wondered why Jesus went to so much effort to find “grounds for quarrelling” with the fig tree in Matthew 21:19? It just so happens that the Hebrew word for fig tree is spelled the same as the Hebrew word used in Judges 14:4 for “occasion [ground of quarrel].” According to Mark 11:13, it wasn’t the season for figs - so the pretense by Jesus is obvious. Jesus uses the double entendre for “fig tree/occasion [ground of quarrel]” as the theme of a poem that includes rhymes for “found” and “come forth” and also “leaves” and “forever.”

    “Fig Tree” תאנה
    “Occasion [Ground of Quarrel]” תאנה

    “Found” מצא
    “Come Forthיצא

    “Leaves” העלים
    “Forever” לעולם

    “18 In the morning, returning to the city, he was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road he went to it, and found {“Found” (מצא)} nothing on it but leaves {“Leaves” (העלים)} only. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come {“Come Forth” (יצא)} from you again {“Forever” (לעולם)}!” And immediately the fig tree withered.” [Matthew 21:18-19 The Passion: The Poetry of God]

    J. Clontz – Editor of the Comprehensive New Testament
  2. You are missing the symbolism behind His actions. In Biblical symbolism, Israel (Judaism) is represented by the Fig tree.
    When Jesus cursed the fig tree with "may no fruit be found on thee henceforth forever", He was stating that no more prophets would be sent to the Jews ever, and none have. When the fig withered, it showed that Judaism was now empty and lifeless.
  3. I agree. The fig tree episode was symbolic of Jesus finding an occasion against Judaism since it had not produced good fruit. By the way, the word for fig tree and "occasion - ground for quarrel" is very similar to the Hebrew word "breach of contract." The implication being that Jesus had found an occasion against Judaism since they were in breach of contract by not providing good fruit.

  4. I don't want to fig tree with anyone, but I believe you are all missing the point.
    Jesus spoke mostly Aramaic not Hebrew. So the fig tree was not linguistically related to quarreling.
    It is a difficult event to understand, however we should not overlook Jesus' response to being asked about it by His disciples.
    Did He say anything about the Fig Tree representing Israel or Judaism, or that there would be no more prophets so Judaism would wither and die?? No! He just pointed out the power of faith. Strange that a teacher of God's purpose would miss that opportunity and go off on a tangent.
  5. In Matthew 24:12-34, Jesus is expounds on a poem in Amos 8:1-2 that uses the same rhyme and the same theme. Amos states that his passage is about Israel. Jesus links the passage in Amos about the end of Israel with the fig tree (Matthew 24:32). So it would appear that when you consider Amos 8:1-2 and Matthew 24:12-34 the fig tree is linked to Israel.

    “The End” (קץ)
    “Summer Fruit” (קיץ)

    “Wickedness” (הרשעות)
    “Saved” (יושע)
    “Gates” (לשערים)
    “Shall be done” (יהיו עשוים)

    8:1 “Thus the Lord GOD showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit {“Summer Fruit” (קיץ)}. 2 And he said, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A basket of summer fruit {“Summer Fruit” (קיץ)}." Then the LORD said to me, "The end {“The End” (קץ)} has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass by them.” [Amos 8:1-2 RSV]

    24:12 And because wickedness {“Wickedness” (הרשעות)} will increase, the love of most will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end {“The End” (קץ)} will be saved {“Saved” (יושע)}. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end {“The End” (קץ)} will come.
    24:32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer {Summer” (קיץ) or “Summer Fruit” (קיץ)} is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door {“Gates” (לשערים)}. 34 Truly, I tell you that this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place {“Shall be done” (יהיו עשוים)}. [Matthew 24:12-14, 32-34 The Passion: The Poetry of God]

    J. Clontz – Editor of the Comprehensive New Testament
  6. Is there a point in there somewhere ?
  7. Yes, the fig tree is symbolic of Israel
  8. As I am sure you are aware, most people believe that Jesus spoke either Aramaic or Hebrew or both. These two languages are very similar and often can be understood by speakers from either language. Our four gospels depict both Aramaic and Hebrew terminology being used by Jesus and the disciples. Distinguishing between the two languages is often problematic since words ostensibly from one language or the other were used by both groups of speakers at the time of Jesus. So words that were once clearly used only by one group were being used by both.

    For instance, the word “mammon” is ostensibly Aramaic but it is used by rabbinic authors as if it were Hebrew. At the time of Jesus, the word “mammon” was used by both groups. Similarly the term “rabbi” is ostensibly Hebrew and “rabboni” is ostensibly Aramaic however at the time of Jesus the term “rabbi” was often used by Aramaic speakers.

    The main linguistic wordplay in the gospel of Matthew involves the words “son,” “stone,” “build/building/will build” and is dependent on the Hebrew word for “son” pronounced “ben” as opposed to the Aramaic word for “son” pronounced “bar.” However, this is also somewhat ambiguous since both words are used in the Hebrew language and appear on the Old Testament. Nonetheless, the wordplay using “son (ben),” “stone,” “build/building/will build” appears about ten times in the gospel of Matthew and Jesus is depicted as using this wordplay multiple times including the Sermon on the Mount, the Confession of Peter, the Olivet Discourse, The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen and the Vineyard. The continuous use of this Hebrew wordplay by Jesus and the author of Matthew indicates that while Jesus may have spoken Aramaic he definitely spoke Hebrew and was fluent enough to create complex wordplay in Hebrew. Below is a listing of the instances where the main wordplay occurs as listed in “The Passion: the Poetry of God”:

    03:09 “Stones” (אבן) and “Sons” (בן)

    04:03 “Son of God” (אלקים בן) and “Stones” “Bread” (לחם אבן)

    04:06 “Stone” (אבן) and “Son” (בן)

    07:09 “Stone” (אבן), “Son” (בנו) and “Prophets” (הנביאים)

    07:23-25 “Built” (שבנה), “Stone” (אבן) and “Built” (בנה)

    16:12 “Understand” תבינו))
    16:14 “Prophets” מהנביאים))
    16:16 “Son” (בן)
    16:18 “Stone” (אבן)
    16:18 “Will Build” (אבנה)

    21:35-46 “Son” (בנו), “Stone” (אבן), “Builders” (הבונים) and “Prophet” (נביא)

    23:29 “You Build” (שתבנו) and “Prophets” (נביאים)
    23:30 “Prophets” (נביאים)
    23:31 “Sons” (שבנים) and “Sons” (שבנים)
    23:34 “Prophets” (נביאים)
    23:37 “Prophets” (הנביאים) and “Sons” (בניך)
    24:01 “Buildings” (בניני)
    24:02 “Stone” (אבנ)
    24:11 “Prophets” (נביאי)
    24:15 “Understand” (יבין)
    24:22 “Chosen (נבחריו)”
    24:24 “Prophets” (נביאי)

    27:40 “Build” (לבנות) and “Son” (בן)

    27:51“Stones” (האבנים)
    27:54 “Son” (בן)
    27:60 “Stone” (אבן)
    28:02 “Stone” (אבן)
  9. Well let me put it this way:
    Jesus is real not symbolic.
    The life Jesus lived on Earth is real not symbolic.
    The life Jesus lives with the Father is real not symbolic.
    What Jesus teaches us is real not symbolic.
    The Shed Blood of Jesus is real not symbolic.
    Our sin is real not symbolic.
    Our need for forgiveness is real not symbolic.
    The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus is real not symbolic.
    Apostolic authority is real not symbolic.
    God's Mercy and Grace in Christ Jesus is real not symbolic.
    The promised return of Christ is real not symbolic.
    The promise of eternal life for believers is real not symbolic.
    The promise of eternal damnation for unbelievers is real not symbolic.

    Now.... Jesus' hunger after leaving Bethany was real not symbolic.
    Matt 21:18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry.
    Matt 21:19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once.
    Matt 21:20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?"
    Given that He became hungry, we can not argue that this refers to His hunger for Israel to produce fruit...What! did Israel stop bearing fruit just at that moment when Jesus passed by the Fig tree? No, Jesus hunger was real. Jesus and His company had just spent the night out in the open in Bethany. Perhaps they left without adequate breakfast. But what ever, the fact is that His hunger was real, not symbolic.

    The question ask by His disciples was real not symbolic.
    Jesus' answer was real not symbolic.
    Matt 21:21 And Jesus answered them, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen.
    Matt 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."

    Symbolism has a place in Apocalyptic literature, but not in gospel narrative.
    Even then some people's take on apocalyptic literature reads more like a 'Frank Herbert' novel.
    If Fig trees are symbolic of Israel, then what are the leaves of Israel in
    Mark 13:28 "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.
    Mark 13:29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
    Fine, so what are the 'these things'? I don't see Israel suddenly becoming a super nation of converts and evangelical in what Jesus has just taught, I see great tribulation, I see the stars and stuff given a good shaking, I see false prophets and messiahs that what a fig tree is like when its branches become tender and start sending out leaves?

    But if you want to seek out the mysterious, the symbolic, then go for it. I just hope you don't loose sight of the real Jesus and the real salvation deal.
    Because even if the gold colored leaves represent the men and the red/brown leaves represent the women of Israel, knowing that will never enable you to attain salvation, no, not by that knowledge.

Share This Page