Matthew 13:4 And when he sowed,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 13:4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

 

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

And, in that seeding of his these, certainly, it fell down beside the path and showing up, the winged ones, ate them up.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The verse has an interesting play on words.  The terms for "sowed", "way side," and "bird" all have double meanings here. However, this verse is odd because many verbs doesn't seem to match their supposed subjects. For most, the subject is a word that isn't translated correctly but which means "the sowing."  The other subject, the birds, are clearly plural but the verbs referring to them are singular.  This was clearly intentional. One explanation is that the "birds" are represented by a single actor in a portrayal of the parable.  There is also an untranslated word here that is the Greek equivalent of the Aramaic "amen."

KJV Analysis: 

And The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

when The word translated as "when" actually means in", "on," "within", "with," or "among."

he  The word translated as "he" is the Greek word commonly translated as pronouns in English.  The form is an object, but the infinitive form of a verb (see following words) takes an accusative subject.

untranslated This is the standard Greek definitive article. It gives the following verb the form of singular, neuter, indirect object. 

sowed, The Greek verb translated as "sowed" means specifically to "sow seeds" and "to scatter" as in sowing seeds. However, the form is not an active verb. It is an infinitive, preceded by an article. In Greek, this  making the verb into a noun describing its action,like an article with the gerund in English, "the sowing." The phrase is "in the sowing," which is translated as "in that sowing of his." However, this form is important here because all the following verbs refer to this verbal noun, not the seeds, a word that doesn't appear. 

some The word translated as "some" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause. Here, it is plural, which doesn't match any previous nouns.  This is different than the Mark 4:4 version, which uses the singular, referring to the "sowing." The form here is neutral plural, but the plural, again, doesn't refer to any noun. However, the form could be either a subject or an object.

seeds There is no Greek word for "seeds" in the original text. It was added by the KJV translators. The previous  verb, however, assumes the sowing of seeds.  This word is added to account for the plural pronoun, and perhaps can be assumed from the verb with assumes the tossing of seeds.

untranslated An untranslated Greek word appears in the text that is generally used to express certainty and means "indeed", "certainly", "surely," and "truly."

fell -- "Fell" 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. This verb is singular, "it fell." The tense indicates it happening at a specific time in the past, present, or future. This is typical for a story.

by The Greek preposition translated "by," primarily means "besides" and "beyond." It also has a number of specialized meanings. There is a play of words here on both "beside" and "beyond."

the This is the standard Greek definitive article.

way side, "The way" is from a word meaning "the way" or "the road" but which is used symbolically to mean "a way of doing things" or "a philosophy of life." In Acts, followers of Jesus are described as those "belonging to the way". This is where the double meaning of the previous preposition comes in. The phrase means "beside the path" but it has a philosophical sense of "beyond the proper way of thinking."

and The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

the This is the standard Greek definitive article. It appears to change the next adjective into a noun.

fowls This adjective means "winged." The sense with the previous article is "the winged ones."  Jesus always uses this word for bird, but it is conscious choice here not to use the Greek word for bird or its diminutive, both of which are common.  All the English scientific words referring to birds coming from common Greek forms not this unusual one.

came The word translated as "came" primarily means "to start out" but Jesus usually uses it to mean "come" but not always.  Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas.  This verb is not an active verb, but an adjective, "showing up." It is in the plural, matching "birds."

and The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

devoured "Devoured" is from a verb that means "to eat up" and "to devour." This verb doesn't match the plural form of the noun, "birds.  It is a term applied to animals of prey. It also means "to corrode" or "to be gnawed."  This verb to is singular though not matching "the birds," which seems to be the subject.

them  The word translated as "it" is the Greek word commonly translated as pronouns in English, but it has a few shades of meaning our pronouns do not have. Unlike the Mark version, this word is plural, but there is no pliral noun except "birds."

up This word doesn't exist in the Greek.

 

The Greek word translated as "the fowls" 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." There was clearly a conscious choice here not to use the Greek word for "bird," which is ornis. All the English words referring to birds coming from Greek begin with this "ornith" prefix, including ornithology, the study of birds. Christ uses "winged one" as a metaphor for ideas, thoughts, or "spirits" that are not limited to the earth.

The word translated as "came" primarily means "to start out." 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." Here, it is a verb of an adjective, so "being underway."

"Devoured" is from a verb that means "to eat up" and "to devour." It is a term applied to animals of prey. It also means "to corrode" or "to be gnawed."

Greek Vocabulary: 

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."

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

τῷ (article sg neut dat) "He" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

σπείρειν (verb pres inf act) "Sowed" is from speiro, which means "to sow a seed", "to beget offspring", "to scatter like a seed," and "to sow a field."

αὐτὸν (adj sg masc acc) "He" 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."

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

μὲν Untranslated is men, which is generally used to express certainty and means "indeed", "certainly", "surely," and "truly."

ἔπεσεν (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Fell" 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)." The verb is singular, so tthe "some" pronoun cannot be its subject.

παρὰ "By" is from para, which means "beside", "from the side of", "from beside,", "from", "issuing from", "near", "by", "with", "along", "past", "beyond", "parallel (geometry)", "like (metaphor)", "a parody of (metaphor)", "precisely at the moment of (time)," and "throughout (time)."

τὴν ὁδόν, "The way side" is from hodos, which means literally "the way" or "the road" but which is used symbolically to mean "a way of doing things" or "a philosophy of life."

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."

ἐλθόντα (part pl aor act neut nom) "Came" 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 πετεινὰ (adj pl neut nom) "The fowls" is from peteinon, which as an adjective means "able to fly", "full-fledged," and "winged," and, as a noun, "winged fowl," and "a bird."

κατέφαγεν (3rd sg aor ind act) "Devoured" is from katesthiô, which means "to eat up" and "to devour." It is a term applied to animals of prey. It also means "to corrode" or "to be gnawed."

αὐτα. (adj pl neut 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 one's own accord."

Wordplay: 

It is based on the word "seed" which is Christ symbol for the beginning or kernel of knowledge.

The word "way" also means "philosophy" and in a "way of thought" or a "way of life." 

"Winged one" is used instead of the Greek word for "bird." Christ always uses "winged one" instead of "bird." 

The Spoken Version: 

"And as he was, you know, scattering" he continued with gesture of scattering. "Some of those seed actually dropped onto a pathway.
"And coming in," he said as he made his arms into wings and swooped two a group of children sitting in from of this, "the birds...
" Gobbled them up!" He said as he reached out tickled two of the kids in their bellies.

The crowd laughed again and the children jumped on him, tickling him back.

 

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