Matthew 13:33 The kingdom of heaven is like

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

The rule of the heavens is like yeast dough, that a wife, having in hand, enfolds into a barrel full of flour in order that all of it becomes yeast dough.

KJV : 

Matthew 13:33 The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The symbols hidden here regard understanding, encrypting, and the spirit. Also hidden is the large amount of flour being converted, which is the central point of the verse. Virtually all Bible translations stick to the KJV formulation of three measures that we think of as three cups when it is really a barrel full. The point here is the a handful of yeast dough can turn a barrel of flour into more yeast dough.

The word translated as "the kingdom" can be the region, the reign, the rule, the castle or the authority of a ruler. Christ does not seem to use it to mean a physical region, so its translation as "rule" or "reign" seems more appropriate.

The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It is also plural here. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods.

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.

"Leaven" is sometimes translated as "yeast." It is from a root word meaning "to mix." This was a time when yeast didn't come in little packets, but was maintained as a live culture, in this case, in the uncooked bread dough itself. Some of this dough was set aside as a "starter," kept warm in a jar to grow. Then part of that starter mixture was mixed into the fresh dough, which was left to rise and grow the yeast. Interestingly, the earliest beer was made by putting yeast bread into water. Leaven was dough with "bubbles" of gas or "breath" in it. "Breath" is the meaning of the word that we translated as "spirit."

"Woman" is from the Greek noun meaning "woman" or "wife."

The word translated as "took" primarily means "take," but has many different uses as we use "take" in English among them, having something in hand. Also among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." Is not in the form of a verb, but an adjective modifying the noun," woman."

There is no "and" in the source. It is added because the word above is translated as an active verb instead of an adjective.

"Hid" is from a Greek verb meaning "to hide in" or "to conceal in." It is the Greek form of our word "encrypt." Here, "enfolds" is probably the closest literal translation though "encrypt" is the symbolic meaning.

"Measure" is very misleading here because we might think "a cup" of flour" but the Hebrew unit of measure is very large, a peck and a half, which works out to 24 cups of flour. Since there are three measures, the total is 72 cups of flour, which is like a small barrel full of flour.

The word translated as "until" means "until" but it also means "in order that."

"Whole" is a word that means "whole", "complete," and "whole in all its parts."

There is an untranslated word here that means "of it" or "of this."

The word translated as "was leavened' means "to leaven" or "to ferment." However, it also means "to foam or bubble up."


The word translated as "took" also means "understanding". It also means "to have in hand."  The sense is not only that the woman was holding the yeast-dough but that she understood it and how it worked.  

The word translated as "hid" means to "encrypt" or "encode." 

The not used in this verse, the Greek word for "spirit" also means "breath" or "wind." It was the general term for gas, like the gasses the bubble up during fermentation or bread when it rises. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ὁμοία (adj pl neut acc) Like is from homoios, which means "like", "resembling", "the same", "equal in force, "a match for one", "suiting", "of the same rank", "alike", "in like manner," and "equally."

ἐστὶν (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.")

βασιλεία (noun sg fem nom ) "The kingdom" is from basileia, which means "kingdom", "dominion", "hereditary monarchy", "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign." -

τῶν οὐρανῶν "Of Heaven" 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." --

ζύμῃ (noun sg fem dat) , "Leaven is from the Greek zumê, which means any kind of bread or beer "yeast."

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

λαβοῦσα (part sg aor act fem nom) "Took" is from lambano means to "take", "take hold of", "grasp", "seize", "catch", "overtake", "find out", "detect", "take as", "take [food or drugs]", "understand", "take in hand", "undertake", "take in", "hold", "get", "receive [things]", "receive hospitably", "receive in marriage", "receive as produce", "profit", "admit", "initiate", "take hold of", "lay hold on", "seize and keep hold of", "obtain possession of", "lay hands upon", "find fault with", "censure, ""to apprehend with the senses", "to take hold of," and "to seize." It is also specifically used to mean "seized with emotion."

γυνὴ (noun sg fem nom) "Woman" is from gyne, which means "woman (as opposed to man)", "wife", "spouse", "mortal woman (as opposed to a goddess)," and "female mate (among animals)."

ἐνέκρυψεν (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "And hid" is from enkruptô which literally means "to hide in ""to bank (a fire)," or "to conceal in."

εἰς "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)."

ἀλεύρου (noun sg neut gen) "Of meal" is from aleuron, which means "wheat-meal, ""barley-meal," or, generally, "meal," as in "coarse flour,"

σάτα (noun pl neut acc) "Measures" is from saton, which is a Hebrew dry measure of approximately three gallons or "a peck" and a half.

τρία "Three" is from treis, which means the number three.

ἕως "Until" is from heos which means "until", "till," and "in order that" and "up to the point that."

οὗ (pron sg masc gen) Untranslated is hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἐζυμώθη (verb 3rd sg aor ind pass) "Was leavened" is from zymoo, which means "to leaven" or "to cause to foam." In the passive, it means "to be leavened" or "to ferment."

ὅλον.(adj sg masc acc) "The whole" is from holos (holos), which means "the whole", "entire", "complete", "complete in all its parts", "wholly", "altogether", "on the whole", "speaking generally", "utter, ""actually", "really, "the universe," and "safe and sound."