Matthew 13:32 Which indeed is the least

KJV Verse: 

Mat 13:32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

This is truly the smaller of all the offspring. When, however, they might have grown up, the greater of greater [one of] cultivated plants, and the tree becomes itself so that the universe's winged ones have the ability to come and to shelter among its twigs.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

A lot is hidden in this verse. Below the surface, almost everything in it refers to a child growing up in a family. It is also interesting because this verse uses a different vocabulary than the parallel version in Mar 4:32 The simple point here is that the value (i.e size) of knowledge does not depend on the size the source.

KJV Analysis: 

The word translated as "least" is the comparative not superlative form ("smaller") of the word for "small" and 'young." It is one of several words Christ uses to refer to children.

"Seeds" also means "source' and "offspring." They are Christ's symbol for the "source" of knowledge and of the offspring of families.

The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.

The word translated as "of all" is from the Greek word meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. As an adverb, it means "in every way", "on every side," and "altogether."

"It is grown" is from a passive form of a Greek verb that means "to grow large", "to increase in power," and "to grow up." It is phrased as something that might happen.

The term translated as "herbs" but generally means "garden plants" as an opposite of wild plants. The point here is cultivation. "Cultivation" was a sign of civilization rather than the wild state of things. Mustard plant are one of the oldest known cultivated plants. Cultivation is also symbolic of educating children.

The word translated as "becometh" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Christ, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. It is a verb where the subject affects itself as opposed to someone else changing it.

The word for "tree" most commonly means fruit bearing trees. The tree was a symbol for the naturally productive assets of nature as opposed to fields which must be planted each year and, as such, are symbolic of a skilled person. However, mustard plants are not "trees" in this sense, but bushes that must be replanted every year. Here, it is symbolic of the family tree with branches.

The Greek word translated as "birds" is normally an adjective means "able to fly" and "winged," but it is used as a noun here, so "those that can fly" or, more simply, "birds." Christ always uses this term when referring to birds rather than the actual Greek noun for "birds."

The word translated as "of the air is from a word that is almost always translated as "heaven" in te NT. It also means sky, the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. Though heaven is used in Christianity as the place of the afterlife, Christ never uses it that way though he does use it to mean the home of the Father.

The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but means both "to come" and "to go." It is in the form of an infinitive in It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway."

The word translated as "lodge" is a verb that means "to camp" and "to take up quarters" but specifically means "to settle" when applied to birds. The description is more

The word translated as "in" also means "within", "with," or "among."

The word translated as "branches" also means "twigs" or "offshoots."

Greek Vocabulary: 

(pron sg neut nom/acc ) "Which" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

μικρότερον (adv comp) Least" is from mikros, which means "small", "little," and "young." It is one of several words Christ uses to refer to children.

μέν "Indeed" is from men, which is generally used to express certainty and means "indeed", "certainly", "surely," and "truly."

ἐστιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" 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.")

πάντων (adj pl nuet/masc gen) "Of all" is from pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether."

τῶν σπερμάτων, (noun pl neut gen) "Seed" is from sperma (sperma), which means "seed", "sperm", "origin", "race", "descent," and "offspring."

ὅταν "When" is from hotan, which means "whenever (as a condition)," and "since (as a cause)." -- The Greek word translated as "when" introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition so "whenever" or "since."

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").

αὐξηθῇ (verb 3rd sg aor subj pass) "It is grown" is from auxano, which means to "increase", "increase in power", "strengthen", "exalt by one's deeds", "glorify", "exalt by one's deeds", "glorify", "amplify", "exaggerate", "bring up," and "sacrifice."

μεῖζον (adj sg neut acc comp) "The greatest" is from meizon which means "bigger," and "greater" and is the comparative form of megas, which means "big" and "great."

τῶν λαχάνων (noun pl neut gen) "Among herbs" is from lachanon, which generally means "garden plants" as an opposite of wild plants, "garden herbs," and "vegetables"

ἐστὶν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" 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.")

καὶ "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."

γίνεται (verb 3rd sg pres ind mp) "Becometh" is from ginomai, which means "to become", "to come into being", "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

δένδρον, (noun sg neut nom/acc) "A tree" is from dendron (more commonly spelled dendreon), which means "tree", "fruit-tree", "tall plants (such as rattan) ""stick," and "timber."

ὥστε "So that" is from hoste, which marks the power or virtue by which one does a thing, "as being", "inasmuch as," expresses the actual or intended result of the action in the principal clause: "as", "for," implying "on condition that," at the beginning of a sentence, to mark a strong conclusion, "and so", "therefore," and with subj. "in order that."

ἐλθεῖν (verb aor inf act) "Come" is from erchomai, which means "to start, ""to set out", "to come", "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

τὰ πετεινὰτοῦ (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."

οὐρανοῦ” (noun sg masc gen) "Of the air" is from the Greek 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."

καὶ "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.

κατασκηνοῖν (verb aor inf act)"Lodge" is from kataskênoô, which means "to camp" and "to take up quarters" but specifically means "to settle" when applied to birds.

ἐν "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

τοῖς κλάδοις (noun pl masc dat) "Branches" is from klados (klados ), which means "branches", "twig", "shoot," and "branch" of a blood vessel.

αὐτοῦ.” (adj sg neut gen)"thereof" 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 one's own accord."

Wordplay: 

The "smaller of all the seeds" also means "the younger of all offspring." 

A "tree" and its "branches" are symbolic of the family tree. 

The word for "of the air" is usually translated as "heaven" and also means "the universe." 
The word translated as "birds" means "winged one" and are symbolic of spirits, especially when coupled with the word for "heaven" or "universe." 

The word translated as "branch" also means "offshoot." 

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