What does Matthew 13:5 mean?
ESV: Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,
NIV: Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
NASB: Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and they sprang up immediately, because they had no depth of soil.
CSB: Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn't have much soil, and it grew up quickly since the soil wasn't deep.
NLT: Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.
KJV: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
Sitting on a boat on the Sea of Galilee, facing a beach crowded with listeners, Jesus has begun to tell parables (Matthew 13:1–3). He is describing a farmer who is planting a field, sowing seed. The parable fits alongside of the attempts by Jesus and His disciples to teach the people of Israel about the coming kingdom of heaven.
The parable describes a farmer who scatters seed liberally across the entire field, hoping to produce as many fully-grown plants as possible. Some of the seed overlaps the edges of the field, falling along the hardpacked path (Matthew 13:4). The birds came and ate those seeds. This represents Satan snatching away the truth of the kingdom from those who do not understand it (Matthew 13:19).
Here Jesus describes seed that falls onto rocky spots in the field, covered by a thin layer of soil. Those seeds quickly germinate, with new plants springing up from the shallow dirt. The following verse will show, however, that they cannot survive. Jesus will describe later (Matthew 13:20–21) what these failed seeds represent.
Matthew 13:1–9 turns the focus back to Jesus' spiritual teachings, with the parable of the sower. As Jesus sits in a boat just offshore, He tells the crowd about a seed-thrower whose seed fell on a path, on rocky soil, among thorns, and on good soil. Only the seed on the good soil is productive. Jesus later explains the meaning of the parable to His disciples (Matthew 13:18–23), but He does not fully explain it for the crowds.
Matthew 13 focuses mainly on a series of parables. Jesus first describes these to a large crowd along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Later, in a house, He explains to the disciples the meanings of the parables of the sower, the weeds, and the fish caught in the net. Jesus then travels to Nazareth, teaches in the synagogue, and is rejected by the people of His original hometown.
Matthew 13 follows Jesus from the overcrowded house at the end of the previous chapter to a crowded beach on the Sea of Galilee. He teaches a large crowd in a series of parables, which He doesn't fully explain. However, He reveals their meaning to His disciples inside a nearby house. Jesus pictures the kingdom of heaven as a sower, a sabotaged field of wheat, a mustard seed, and a pearl dealer, among other things. He then travels to His original hometown of Nazareth where He is rejected by the people He grew up with. This leads Matthew back to depictions of Jesus' miracles, after sadly recording John the Baptist's death.
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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