Laid Down Their Clothes At A Young Man’s Feet.

From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”

[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.”  As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.

In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]

After a very remarkable presentation by Stephen to his accusers, the record in Acts 7 ends with those religious leaders executing this wonderful man.  They stoned him to death.  There is a part of verse 58 that is often misunderstood.

Verse 58 reads, “And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes

Paul’s Thorn In The Flesh

From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”

[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.”  As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.

In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]

In the last Eastern Eye post, we looked at a couple of idioms that Jesus used. In that article I said, “An idiom is a combination of words that has a figurative meaning owing to its common usage. An idiom’s figurative meaning is separate from the literal meaning. Every language and culture has its own idioms.

For example in my culture if someone is not speaking the truth, you might say, “you’re pulling my leg.” Or, if you paid a lot of money for something, you could say, “this item cost me an arm and a leg.”

Perhaps one of the simplest, yet most misunderstood idioms in the Bible is in II Corinthians 12, commonly referred to as “Paul’s thorn in the flesh.” Paul states in that chapter he was given “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan.” His thorn in the flesh was the messenger of, or from, Satan.

(A side note here: Some teach Paul’s thorn in the flesh was sent by God to keep Paul humble. Yet Scripture is very clear: it was a messenger from Satan. So either Satan is working for God, or, once again, God is blamed for what Satan does.)

In the Old Testament, similar idioms are used to describe people or nations that would potentially be harmful to God’s people. They are referred to as “pricks in your eyes, thorns in your sides, scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes.” Clearly the references were about people.

By reading the book of Acts and the Church Epistles, it is quite obvious to see how badly Paul was treated by various religious people who certainly weren’t sent by the One True God. Today, using idioms from my culture, I would say those people were “a pain in the butt” or “a pain in the neck.” One of the idioms from his culture was “a thorn in the flesh.”

The purpose of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, was to buffet Paul. Satan was trying to stop Paul from preaching the Gospel. Agents of Satan brought the beatings, the imprisonments, the shipwrecks, and the false brethren.

Paul prayed and asked God three times to get rid of his thorn in the flesh. God’s answer to him was that His grace was sufficient for Paul. While Paul did indeed endure many hardships, there was deliverance after deliverance from our loving God.

Until God sends His Son back, there is evil in this world; from Satan there will be persecutions. But God’s grace to help us in time of need is always there. Always!

II Corinthians 11:24-27
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, inperils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

II Corinthians 12:7-10
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Mike Verdicchio
2014

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Do you have some thoughts about this?  We’d love to hear what you think.  To leave a comment if you are receiving this post via email or RSS, just click the title above and scroll to the bottom of the post and type in your comment.  If not, just scroll to the bottom of this post and type in your comment.

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Resources
There are a number of books that you can read to get insight on customs, manners, idioms and meanings from the Eastern culture in which the Bible was written.  The best I know of were written by Bishop K. C. Pillai.  I have had the pleasure of listening to many recorded teaching by him.

He wrote three books, and they are hard to find, and are usually over priced.  But, if you want to you can check this link to see what Amazon has to offer. Light Through an Eastern Window

Another great resource that I have used for years is a book called, “Manners and Customs of the Bible,” by James Freeman. Mine was printed in 1972 and I know they have newer additions. For the newest edition, just click the link and it will take you to Amazon. The New Manners and Customs of the Bible (Pure Gold Classics)

More Eastern Eye Articles

Pluck Out Your Right Eye?

From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”

[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.”  As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.

In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]

Understanding the idioms in the Bible can be very helpful in not taking something that is idiomatic literally. One example is something Jesus said we should do. When he said we should pluck out our right eye, did he mean it, literally?

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said if our right eye offends, we should pluck it out and cast it away. That sounds really painful and drastic, wouldn’t you agree? Yet Jesus said to do it.

After that statement he said, “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee.” Again, painful and drastic. But breathe easy, they are both idioms.

An idiom is a combination of words that has a figurative meaning owing to its common usage. An idiom’s figurative meaning is separate from the literal meaning. Every language and culture has its own idioms.

For example, in my culture, if someone is not speaking the truth, you might say, “you’re pulling my leg.” Or, if you paid a lot of money for something, you could say, “this item cost me an arm and a leg.” Obviously in both cases, they are not literal statements; they are idioms.

In Bible times, “right eye offend you,” was an idiomatic way of saying not to be envious or jealous. The point Jesus was making was to avoid envy and jealousy. When he said, “pluck it out,” those hearing understood he was telling them to control their thinking so as not to be envious.

The idiom brought great emphasis to being determined to not be envious or jealous. Right eye offending is to be envious or jealous. Plucking out the right eye that offends is to absolutely determine you will not be envious or jealous.

When he followed with, “right hand offend you,” that meant to not steal. To show the degree of determination to not steal, he told them to cut it off. Right hand offending is to steal; cutting off the right hand that offends is to absolutely determine you will not steal.

Having an understanding of idioms used in the Bible gives us a clearer picture of what Jesus meant when he said to pluck out your right eye and cut off your right hand. Idioms are grammatical figures of speech that illuminate and emphasize what is written or spoken, and God employed many of them in His written Word.

Matthew 5:29.30
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Mike Verdicchio
2014

Leave A Comment!
Do you have some thoughts about this?  We’d love to hear what you think.  To leave a comment if you are receiving this post via email or RSS, just click the title above and scroll to the bottom of the post and type in your comment.  If not, just scroll to the bottom of this post and type in your comment.

Share This Article!
To share this article on social media, like Facebook, or, Twitter, there are links below.

Resources
There are a number of books that you can read to get insight on customs, manners, idioms and meanings from the Eastern culture in which the Bible was written.  The best I know of were written by Bishop K. C. Pillai.  I have had the pleasure of listening to many recorded teaching by him.

He wrote three books, and they are hard to find, and are usually over priced.  But, if you want to you can check this link to see what Amazon has to offer. Light Through an Eastern Window

Another great resource that I have used for years is a book called, “Manners and Customs of the Bible,” by James Freeman. Mine was printed in 1972 and I know they have newer additions. For the newest edition, just click the link and it will take you to Amazon. The New Manners and Customs of the Bible (Pure Gold Classics)

More Eastern Eye Articles

Nicodemus Went To See Jesus At Night

From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”

[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.”  As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.

In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]

You may be familiar with the record from John’s Gospel of Nicodemus going to see Jesus at night. Many have speculated that he used the cover of darkness so no one would know he had been with Jesus. The culture of Bible times helps us understand why he went to see Jesus at night.

Ten Virgins

From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”

[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.”  As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.

In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]

Without an understanding of eastern customs, the meaning of a record in Matthew 25 about the five wise and five foolish virgins is

Parables

From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”

[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.”  As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.

In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]

I thought it might be helpful to offer a brief explanation of parables, since many times parables are used in discussions here in the Eastern Eye category. Just like it is important to understand customs, idioms and manners of Bible times, it is also important to understand parables.

A number of years ago someone got rather upset with me

Washed His Feet With Her Tears

From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”

[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.”  As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.

In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]

woman cryingThere is a record in the Gospel of Luke that tells of a woman washing the feet of Jesus with her tears. Without understanding the customs of Bible times, one might think she was crying pretty hard. While she was indeed weeping, those were not the tears she used to wash his feet.

A Stone Instead of Bread?

From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”

[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.”  As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.

In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]

In the last Eastern Eye article, I discussed the parable Jesus spoke about a man waking his neighbor at midnight to borrow three loaves of bread. I pointed out the loaves in Bible times were different than our loaves today. The bread in the Bible was round and flat, like a pancake, about the size and thickness of a plate.

The point of the parable was how to pray, as Jesus then said, “And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asks, receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.”

This article is a follow up to that record from the Gospel of Luke. Jesus then said to those who were dads if a son asked for bread, would you give him a stone; or a fish, would you give him a serpent; or an egg would you give him a scorpion? Considering those three questions through our western minds one might wonder if Jesus was asking them if they were really, really stupid. He wasn’t.

Bread

Again, the bread in the Bible was round and flat. They stacked these “loaves” on a round stone about the size of the bread and many times they put another flat round stone on top of the bread. Over time, the oil from the bread discolored the stones, and from a distance, they looked like bread. No father would reach over and grab the stone and mistake it for bread and give it to his son.

Fish

In Bible times, they caught quite a variety of fish in their nets, and sometimes more than just fish. The serpents Jesus referred to are water serpents that at a glance could look like a fish. A closer examination would reveal if it was a fish or a water serpent. No dad would be so careless as to not make sure it was indeed a fish before giving it to his son.

Scorpion

Scorpions in Bible times were white, black and brown. A full grown scorpion’s body was shaped like an egg. It was white and yellow on the inside. What father whose son requested an egg would mistakenly give him a scorpion?

After asking these three rhetorical questions, those hearing would answer, “Of course not!” Then, Jesus went on and asked, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy spirit to them that ask him?”

When Jesus said, “you being evil,” he did not mean they were bad people. But on the other hand, none of us are perfect. Jesus once said, “There is none good but one, and that is God.” He was making the point that as a dad, as imperfect as we are, we still give good things to our children and not things that will harm them.

But our loving heavenly Father is the great Giver. Our heavenly Father is good and far surpasses any dad in giving us good things to us when we ask, even to the point of giving the holy spirit.

Having a little understanding of the Biblical culture really opens up this section where Jesus taught about prayer.

Luke 11:9-13
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if [he ask] a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Mark 10:18
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Mike Verdicchio
2013

Leave A Comment!
Do you have some thoughts about this?  We’d love to hear what you think.  To leave a comment if you are receiving this post via email or RSS, just click the title above and scroll to the bottom of the post and type in your comment.  If not, just scroll to the bottom of this post and type in your comment.

Share This Article!
To share this article on social media, like Facebook, or, Twitter, there are links below.

Resources
There are a number of books that you can read to get insight on customs, manners, idioms and meanings from the Eastern culture in which the Bible was written.  The best I know of were written by Bishop K. C. Pillai.  I have had the pleasure of listening to many recorded teaching by him.

He wrote three books, and they are hard to find, and are usually over priced.  But, if you want to you can check this link to see what Amazon has to offer. Light Through an Eastern Window

Another great resource that I have used for years is a book called, “Manners and Customs of the Bible,” by James Freeman. Mine was printed in 1972 and I know they have newer additions. For the newest edition, just click the link and it will take you to Amazon. The New Manners and Customs of the Bible (Pure Gold Classics)

More Eastern Eye Articles

Lend Me Three loaves

From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”

[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.”  As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.

In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]

Today, if someone from far away visits you, whether by car or plane, you generally have a pretty good idea when they will arrive. But in Bible times, especially with their mode of transportation,

Devouring Widows’ Houses

From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”

[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.”  As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.

In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]

There are a number of places in the Gospels where Jesus criticizes the Scribes and Pharisees.  They, as the religious leaders of their day and time, should have