Matthew 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders

KJV Verse: 

Matthew 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Drop them! Blind are the guides. A blind person, however, if he guides a blind person, both into the pit. are going to fall

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse responds to the apostles telling him that the Pharisees being offended by Christ statements. On the surface, this is just good advice about following those who do not understand where they are. However, the Greek is simpler that the KJV translation. Interestingly, most more modern translations follow the KJV even though it has some serious conflicts in form with the Greek, if not the meaning.

The verb translated as let...go" primarily means "to let go" or "to send away." This same word is usually translated as "leave", "forgive", "suffer," and "let" in the New Testament. this is a rare example of it being translated in its primary sense but it is a little confusing.

The Greek word translated as "and" joins phrases in an adversarial way, usually transalted as "but". Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

The verb phrase "they be" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. The "they" comes from the form of the verb but adding it isn't called for it another noun is acting as the subject of the sentence. Here, the word translated as "the leaders" is clearly the subject here.

"Blind" is a word that means both physically and mentally blind. It also means all things that are obscure. It is also a metaphor for disabilities of the other senses.

"Leaders" is a noun, which means "guide." It is in the form of a subject of the sentence and immediately follows the verb "to be."

The second occurrence of "blind" here is translated as "of the blind" It is not "the blind" referring to a group, but "a blind" with the sense of "a blind person". 

The word translated as "lead" is the verb form of the noun "leaders" used before. It means "to lead one upon his way," and "to guide." These concepts were also used for those who helped those ignorant of a given area.

The third occurrence of "the blind" it again singular, but the object of the sentence. Again it refers to a single person. 

The Greek word translated as "and" joins phrases in an adversarial way and is usually translated as "but." However, it also is translated as "so" to explain a cause, which is how it seems to be used here.

The Greek word meaning "if " indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone and it more accurately translated as "if might."

Both the previous occurrence of "blind" that acts as the object of the verb "guide" and the next "blind" are in the singular, matching the form of the verb translated as "lead" which means "guide."

The word translated as "both" means "both sides" and "both ways" as well as "both together." It is chosen because unlike the common word for "both," it implies two different ways or sides together.

"Shall fall" is translated from a Greek word that means "to fall" and "to fall down." It is the root word for dozens of Greek terms involving moving from a higher state to a lower one. Like our word "to fall" it has a number of special meanings including "to fall into a given class", "to prostrate", "to fall from power", "to perish," and so on.

The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

"Ditch" is a Greek noun that means any hole or pit dug into the earth. It is also a term used to to refer to graves and a pit from offering sacrifices.

Wordplay: 

There are three repetitions of "blind," each in a different form and two repetitions of "guide," once as a noun and again as a verb. 

Vocabulary: 

ἄφετε (verb 2nd pl aor imperat act) "Let...alone" is from aphiemi, which means "to let fall", "to send away", "give up", "hand over", "to let loose", "to get rid of", "to leave alone", "to pass by", "to permit," and "to send forth from oneself." --
αὐτούς: (adj pl masc acc)"Them" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of ones own accord."

τυφλοί (adj pl masc nom) "Blind" is from typhlos, which means "blind", "lacking vision of the future," [of things]"dim", "obscure", "dark," [of passages] "blind", "enclosed", "with no outlet," and is a metaphor for lacking sense."

εἰσιν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act ) "They be" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

ὁδηγοί: (noun pl masc nom) "Leaders" is from hodegos, which means "guide" and "pilot."

τυφλὸς (adj sg masc nom) "Of the blind" is from typhlos, which means "blind", "lacking vision of the future," [of things]"dim", "obscure", "dark," [of passages] "blind", "enclosed", "with no outlet," and is a metaphor for lacking sense."

δὲ "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").

τυφλὸν (adj sg masc acc) "The blind" is from typhlos, which means "blind", "lacking vision of the future," [of things]"dim", "obscure", "dark," [of passages] "blind", "enclosed", "with no outlet," and is a metaphor for lacking sense."

δὲ "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").

ἐὰν "If" is from ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if)and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

ὁδηγῇ, (verb 3rd sg pres subj act or verb 2nd sg pres ind mp) "Lead" is from the verb form, hodêgeô, which means "to lead one upon his way," and "to guide." These concepts were also used for those who helped those ignorant of a given area.

ἀμφότεροι  (adj pl masc nom) "Both" is from amphoteroi, which means "either", "both of two", "both together", "towards both sides", "both ways", "on both sides," and "all together."

εἰς (prep) "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

βόθυνον  (noun sg masc acc) "Ditch" is from bothunos, a form of bothros, which means "hole", "trench", "pit dug in the ground", "trough," generally, "hollow," also "a grave", "ritual pit for offerings."

πεσοῦνται. (verb 3rd pl fut ind mid) "Shall...fall" is from the verb pipto, which means "to fall", "to fall down", "to be cast down," "fall upon", "intersect (geometry)", "meet", "pass through", "fall violently upon", "attack", "fall in battle", "sink{in water)", "fall short i.e. fail", " fall out of", "lose a thing", "escape from", "fall asleep", "to be accessible to perception", "to fall (between her feet, i.e. to be born)", "to let fall[dice)", "turn out," and "fall under (belong to a class)."

Related Verses: