Luke 9:58 Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests;

KJV Verse: 

Luk 9:58 Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

The foxes have dens and the winged ones of the sky, perches. However, the child of humanity doesn't really have anywhere. The head, he might drop it.

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse has a lot of uncommon words. This is common for Luke, but this is also one of the rare verses that agree word for word with Matthew. The use of uncommon words in a Matthew verse is usually an indication that the meaning is humorous or a play on words. It has both a literal meaning we offer above but metaphorically it means something more.

The word translated as "foxes" means "fox". The word can be used either in masculine or feminine forms. Here it is feminine. In Greek as in English, it is a metaphor for a sly, crafty man or woman.

The term translated as "holes" means "den," or "lair," and interestingly enough, "schoolhouse."

The word translated as "have" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb that the English "have" is.

The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, in a series, is best translated as "not only...but also.

The Greek word translated as "birds" is an adjective that means "able to fly" and "winged." When used as a noun, as it is here, it is used with an article ("the"), so "those that can fly" or, "winged ones" and, more simply, "birds." Christ always uses this term instead of the more common Greek words for "birds".

The Greek translated as "of the air" specifically means "sky". It is the word that the KJV translates most often as "heaven." It means the greater universe, God's creation outside of the planet. See this article for more on these words.

The term translated as "have nests" is a noun primarily "camping." When applied to birds, it means a perch. This is not any of the common Greek words for a bird's "nest".

The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. It almost always appears in the second position in a phrase, but it doesn't here. This is very unusual.

The word translated as "son" more generally means "child." It refers to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Christ also used it metaphorically to describe those that follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article.

The Greek word for "of man" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural.

The word translated as "hath" (like the "have" above) means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb that the English "have" is.

The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact.

The word translated as "where" is in a form that means "anywhere" or "somewhere."

The term translated as "to lay" doesn't mean "lay" but "to make lean." In the passive, it means "to lean", "decline," or "to lay down." It is the source of the English terms "incline", "decline," and "recline." It could be either active or passive form. It is an uncommon word for Christ, but a form of it was just used in Mat 8:11 to describe reclining at a meal.

The term translated as "head", it means "head" and "top" but also the completion of a thing (as we say, "bringing it to a head"). It is also a metaphor for life ("losing your head" in Greek doesn't mean an emotional outburst, but being killed).

Wordplay: 

Christ is using birds as a metaphor for angels in contrast with those foxes, the sly crafty women. 

The word for "head" also means "crowning". 

The word translated as "to lay" means "recline" and "put aside". 

"Sly, crafty women have their lairs. The angels of heaven have their camps. However, the son of man lacks anywhere to turn aside from his crowning." 

Vocabulary: 

Αἱ ἀλώπεκες [uncommon](noun pl fem nom) "Foxes" is from alopex, which means "fox", "Canis vulpes", "a large bat", "muscles of the loins", "mange," and "a type of dance."

φωλεοὺς [uncommon](noun pl masc acc) "Holes" is pholeos, which means "den", "caves," or "lair," referring to the homes of molluscs, serpents, and foxes, and animal homes in general. Interestingly enough, it also means "schoolhouse."

ἔχουσιν (3rd pl pres ind act) "Have" is from echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do."

καὶ (conj) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

τὰ πετεινὰ (adj pl neut nom ) "Birds" is from peteinon, which as an adjective means "able to fly", "full-fledged," and "winged," and, as a noun, "winged fowl," and "a bird."

τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (noun sg masc gen) "Of the air" is from ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky", "heaven as the seat of the gods", "the sky", "the universe," and "the climate."

κατασκηνώσεις, [uncommon](noun pl fem nom) "Have nests" is from kataskenosis, which means "encamping", "taking up one's quarters," and "resting place (of birds)."

  (article) "The" is the Greek article, "the," which usually proceeds a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." Here it is separated from its noun by a particle used as a conjunction.

δὲ (partic) "But" is from de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if"). --

υἱὸς (noun masc sg nom) "The Son" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." --

τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (noun masc sg gen) "Of man" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

οὐκ (partic) "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἔχει (3rd sg pres ind act) "Hath" is from echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do."

ποῦ (adv) "Where" is from pou, which means "somewhere", "anywhere", "where", "at what point," and [of manner] "how."

τὴν κεφαλὴν (noun sg fem acc) "Head" is from kephale, which means "head of a man or beast", "an extremity", "the top", "the capital (top) of a pillar", "the coping of a wall", "the source of a rivalry," and, metaphorically the "crowning" or "completion" of a thing.

κλίνῃ. [uncommon](3rd sg pres subj act or 3rd sg aor subj act or 3rd sg aor subj pass) "To lay" is from klino, which means to "cause to lean", "make to slope or slant", "turn aside", "make another recline", "make subservient," and "inflect. In the passive, it means to "lean", "stay oneself", "lie down", "fall," "decline," and "wane" and is a metaphor for "having devoted himself to," and "wander from the right course." It is the source of the English terms "incline," and "recline."

Related Verses: 

Dec 30 2017