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FIGURES OF SPEECH IN THE BIBLE
Victor M. Eskew
A. Most of have heard of Aesop’s Fables.
1. Aesop lived from 620 – 560 BC.
2. He collected many fables and also told many fables.
3. One of the most famous fables of Aesop is: “The Tortoise and the Hare.” (Lesson: Slow and steady wins the race).
4. Aesop’s fables were first printed in English in 1484 by William Claxton.
B. The word “fable” is found five times in the New Testament. It is never mentioned in a favorable way.
C. There are two fables recorded in the Old Testament. Let’s look at this figure of speech in this lesson.
I. FABLES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
A. The word “fables” is found five times in the New Testament.
1. I Timothy 1:4
Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
2. I Timothy 4:7
But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
3. II Timothy 4:4
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
4. Titus 1:14
Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
5. II Peter 1:16
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
1. Strong (3454): a tale that is fiction (“myth”)
2. Thayer: an invention, falsehood
a. Fable, fiction
b. Use of gnostic errors and of Jewish tales
c. Muthos (fables, setting forth fiction) is contrasted with alethia (truth, setting forth facts)
II. FABLES: POSITIVE USE
1. Short stories which illustrate a particular moral and teach a lesson to adults and children
2. Tales and yarns which have a message in their narrative.
3. Most of the time fables are highly fictitious.
a. Animals can talk.
b. Plants can talk.
B. There are two fables in the Old Testament.
1. One is very short. Some call it “The Cedar of Lebanon” (II Kings 14:9).
And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.
1) Jehoash looked upon himself as the cedar of Lebanon.
2) He referred to Amaziah as the thistle in Lebanon.
3) Amaziah (the thistle) requested of Jehoash (the cedar) that his son be able to marry Jehoash’s daughter.
4) The wild beast that tread the thistle down was the mighty army of Jehoash.
b. NOTE: This fable falls short of the strict definition of a fable because no moral lesson is attached to the story.
2. The fable of “The Trees” is found in Judges 9:8-15.
The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.
a. Notice that the trees are talking to one another in this discourse. This is the fictitious part of the narrative.
b. There is a lesson. If good, godly men will not assume positions of leadership, then ungodly men, like the bramble, will. Their rule comes with some very harsh consequences.
A. Fables are much like parables, they are fun to hear and contain a lesson to learn.
B. Jesus never taught using fables.
C. Parents often wonder where to begin with their children. They should teach them principles using the parables and fables.