Monday, March 22, 2010

Word Plays

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Matthew 23:24

For centuries the Jews, like their surrounding Semitic neighbors, enjoyed making and hearing puns, or plays on words. …

In his condemnation of the inconsistency of scribes and Pharisees, Jesus charged them with “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel(Matt. 23:24).

Since in Aramaic the word for “gnat” or “louse” is qualma’ and the word for “camel” is gamla’, the pun provides added piquancy to the picturesque speech of Jesus: he is describing a Pharisee who, in view of Lev. 11:41 ff., which forbids the eating of things that swarm or crawl on the earth, is careful to strain out a qualma that may have fallen into his wine, but is quite unconcerned about gulping down a whole gamla!

Metzger, Bruce M. 1983. The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content. 2nd ed, enlarged. Nashville,TN: Abingdon Press., pg 138


  1. haha. Motes and beams...
    It's funny (and sad) because it's true.

  2. I've found myself sometimes doing this when I object to the immoral content in a piece of writing that I have to read for school, but then just nit-pick at the spelling or grammar. It's objecting to the little things because objecting to more glaring sins would provoke what you know would be an absolute firestorm.