Matthew 13:5 Some fell upon stony places,

KJV Verse: 

Matthew 13:5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

 

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Another, however, failed on the stoniness where it didn't hold a great deal of dirt. And it had risen up straight because of this, not apparently having a depth of the ground.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The plural "they" used often in this verse is a mistranslation of singular pronouns.  The Mark 4:5 version is from the the same Greek, but translates it more accurately. There is a key change of the form of negatives here from an objective negative to a subjective negative. This form indicates an appearance. This change indicates that Christ's meaning shift between objective facts, a lack of dirt, to an opinion, a lack of depth. This is, of course, a play on words where "depth" refers to a depth of mind. It also implies that this lack of depth comes from not thinking or not wanting it to be deep. There is also a mystery here about the word translated as "some," because it seems to be feminine singular, to match the verbs, but there doesn't seem to be any feminine singular noun to match it. The tossing of seed, from the previous verse, is neutral singular and, if referring to the seeds themselves, they are neutral plural.  To me, it suggests a woman playing the part of the seed.

KJV Analysis: 

untranslated Untranslated is the Greek word for "but" that joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

Some "Some" is a Greek adjective that means "another", "one besides", "of another sort", "different", and similar meanings. It also have the sense of "wrong" and "not right." This word is either singular and feminine or plural and neutral. It has the form of a subject.  If "seeds" were the reference, it would be neutral, plural. It is not clear what this adjective refers to.

fell "Fell" is translated from a Greek word that means "to fall" and "to fall down." 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 verb is singular, so the subject must be feminine.

upon The word translated as "upon" means "against", "before", "by" or "on."

stony places, Stony places" is from an adjective that means "rocklike" and "stony." It is used as a noun, being introduced by an article ("the"), so "the stoniness" or "the rockiness." The metaphor here is a hardness of mind.

where "Where" is an adverb that means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

they had The verb translated as "they had" means "to possess", "to hold," or "to keep". It is singular and in the past tense and the negative, "it didn't hold." The verb is singular, not plural.

not The Greek negative "not" here is the negative of fact. The negative later in the verse is the negative of opinion.

much The word translated as "much" means many in number, great in power or worth, and large in size.

earth: The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet and, generally, "the ground." Like our English word "earth," it means both the dirt and the planet.

and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

"Forthwith" is from an adverb that means "straight", "direct," and "straight away."

"Sprung up" is from a verb which means "to cause to spring from." It also it is singular, not plural. It is a form of the verb starting the next verse translated as "was up." This verb is singular, not plural.

The word translated as "because" means "through," in the midst of", "because of" or "by (a cause)."

The word translated as "they had" means "to possess", "to hold," or "to keep". However, it is an infinitive, introduced by an article, so it takes on the role of a noun in the negative, so "the lack." However, the verb is singular, not plural. It is also not an active verb. It is an infinitive, "to have." With the negative, it works like "want to have" because of the form of negative used or, more simply, "not having."

The negative "no" used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is about appearances not necessarily reality. The use of this form makes sense if Christ is addressing something that we cannot know for sure, that is, the depth of someone's mind, not the depth of soil.

"Deepness" is a Greek noun that means "height" or "depth" measuring up or down. In Greek, it was also used as a metaphor (as it is in English) for depth of mind, e.g. "He is deep." The exact phrase here is "no seeming depthwhich we would describe in English as "shallowness."

The word for "earth" appears again, but if we interpret it in the context of a persons mind, it becomes someone's "ground" or "grounding" in reality.

Greek Vocabulary: 

ἄλλα ( adj sg fem nom or adj pl neut nom) "Some" is from allos, which means "another", "one besides", "of another sort", "different", "other than what is true", "as well", "besides," {with numerals: "yet", "still", "further"), "of other sort", "other than what is", "untrue", "unreal", "other than right", "wrong", "bad", "unworthy," [with an article] "the rest", "all besides," and [in series] "one...another."

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").

 

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)."

ἐπὶ (prep) "Upon" is from epi. which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against." -

τὰ πετρώδη (adj pl neut acc) "Stony places" is from petrôdês, which is an adjective meaning "like rock" ""rocky," and "stony."

ὅπου (adv) "Where" is from hopou, which means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

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.

εἶχεν (verb 3rd sg imperf) "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."

γῆν (noun sg fem acc) "Earth" is from ge, which means "the element of earth", "land (country)", "arable land", "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet.

πολλήν, "Much" is from polus, which means "many (in number)", "great (in size or power or worth)," and "large (of space)." As an adverb, it means "far", "very much", "a great way," and "long."

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."

εὐθέως (adv) "Forthwith" is from eutheos, which is the adverb of euthus, which means "straight", "direct", "straightforward," and "frank." As an adverb, it means "straight", "simple", "straightway," forthwith", "immediately", "directly," and "at once."

ἐξανέτειλεν (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Sprung up" is exanatellô, which means "to cause to spring from" and "to spring up from." It is compound verb of the preposition ek ("out") and the verb anatello meaning "to rise."

διὰ (prep) "Because" is from the preposition dia which means (with gen.) "through", "in the midst of", "in a line (movement)", "throughout (time)", "by (causal)", "among," and "between." With the acc. it means "through," and causally, "because of", "by reason of," and "by aid of."

τὸ (article sg neut acc) Untranslated 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."

μὴ (partic) "Not" is from me , which is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.

ἔχειν (verb pres inf 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."

βάθος (noun sg neut acc) "Deepness" is bathos, which means "height" or "depth" measuring up or down. In Greek, it was also used as a metaphor (as it is in English) for depth of mind, e.g. "He is deep."

γῆς, (noun sg fem gen) "Of earth" is from ge, which means "the element of earth", "land (country)", "arable land", "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet.

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "fell" also means "failed." 

The word translated as "upon" also means "against." 

The word translated as "depth" is a metaphor for depth of mind. 

The word translated as "earth" also means "dirt" and "ground" including the sense of someone being "grounded." 

The Spoken Version: 

"Some, however," he said, disengaging himself from the children. "fell on rocky ground."
He bent down to the feel the dirt on the ground. "Where the wasn't much dirt."

"And they sprang up quickly," he said as he acted out their growing up from ground, "Because they apparently lacked any depth."

The crowd chucked at the play on words.

Related Verses: