point clear. However, the Ammonite and Moabite were precluded, not, as some say, because their forefathers were born of incest, but because they opposed Israel on their journey toward the Promised Land.—Deut. 23:3-6; see AMMONITES.
Fornication, adultery and incest were detestable to Jehovah. The adulterer and the incestuous one were to be put to death, and none of the daughters of Israel were to become prostitutes. (Lev. 18:6, 29; 19:29; 20:10; Deut. 23:17) Furthermore, it would cause confusion and a breakdown of the family arrangement for the illegitimate son to inherit; he could have no inheritance in Israel.
Jephthah has been charged by some commentators as being an illegitimate son, but this is not correct. The Bible does not say that he was illegitimate, but that “he was the son of a prostitute woman.” (Judg. 11:1) Like Rahab, who was a prostitute, but who married the Israelite Salmon, Jephthah’s mother doubtless married honorably, and Jephthah was no more an illegitimate son than was the son of Salmon and Rahab, who was a fleshly ancestor of Jesus Christ.—Matt. 1:5.
Likely Jephthah’s mother was a secondary wife of Gilead, and Jephthah may even have been Gilead’s firstborn. He could not have been a member of the congregation of Israel had he been illegitimate, and his half brothers, who had driven him out, could not legally have asked him to become their head. (Judg. 11:2, 6, 11) That Jephthah may have been the son of a secondary wife would not make him illegitimate. The son of a secondary wife had the same inheritance rights as the son of a favorite wife, as the Law states at Deuteronomy 21:15-17.
In the Christian Greek Scriptures the word noʹthos, meaning an illegitimate child, one born out of lawful wedlock, is used once, at Hebrews 12:8. As shown by the context, the writer likens God to a father who disciplines his son out of love. The writer therefore says, “If you are without the discipline of which all have become partakers, you are really illegitimate children, and not sons.” Those claiming to be spiritual sons of God but practicing sin and disobedience are cut off from the congregation of God and do not receive the discipline that God gives his legitimate sons to bring them to perfection.
ILLEGITIMATE FIRE AND INCENSE
At Leviticus 10:1 the Hebrew word za·rahʹ is used with regard to the presenting before Jehovah by Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu of “illegitimate fire, which he had not prescribed for them,” for which Jehovah executed them by fire. (Lev. 10:2; Num. 3:4; 26:61) Subsequently, Jehovah said to Aaron: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating liquor, you and your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, that you may not die. It is a statute to time indefinite for your generations, both in order to make a distinction between the holy thing and the profane and between the unclean thing and the clean, and in order to teach the sons of Israel all the regulations that Jehovah has spoken to them by means of Moses.”—Lev. 10:8-11.
This seems to indicate that Nadab and Abihu were in a state of intoxication, which condition emboldened them to offer fire not prescribed. Such fire was likely illegal as to its time, place or manner of offering, or it could have been incense other than of the composition described at Exodus 30:34, 35. Their inebriated condition did not excuse their sin.
The same word, za·rahʹ, is used at Exodus 30:9, with reference to the burning of illegitimate incense on the altar of incense in the Holy Place.
[Gr., pa·ra·bo·leʹ, a placing beside or together].
The Greek expression has a wider latitude of meaning than our English words “proverb” and “parable.” Therefore pa·ra·bo·leʹ can well be translated “illustration,” an English word that likewise covers a wide range that can include “parable” and, in many cases, “proverb.” A “proverb” embodies a truth in expressive language, often metaphorically, and a “parable” is a comparison or similitude, a short, usually fictitious narrative from which a moral or spiritual truth is drawn.
That the Scriptures use the word pa·ra·bo·leʹ with a wider meaning than the English “parable” is shown at Matthew 13:34, 35, where Matthew points out that it had been foretold concerning Jesus Christ that he would speak with “illustrations” (NW), “parables” (AV, RS). Psalm 78:2, quoted by Matthew in this connection, refers to “a proverbial saying” (Heb., ma·shalʹ), and for this term the Gospel writer employed the Greek word pa·ra·bo·leʹ. As the literal meaning of the Greek term implies, the pa·ra·bo·leʹ served as a means of teaching or communicating an idea, a method of explaining a thing by ‘placing it beside’ another similar thing. (Compare Mark 4:30.) Most English translations simply use the anglicized form “parable” to render the Greek term. However, this translation does not serve to convey the full meaning in every instance.
For example, at Hebrews 9:9 and 11:19 most translations find it necessary to resort to expressions other than “parable.” In the first of these texts the tabernacle or tent used by Israel in the wilderness is called by the apostle Paul “an illustration [pa·ra·bo·leʹ, “figure,” AV; “similitude,” Ro; “symbolic,” AT, RS] for the appointed time.” In the second text Abraham is described by the apostle as having received Isaac back from the dead “in an illustrative way” (NW) (pa·ra·bo·leʹ, “figuratively speaking,” JB, RS). The saying, “Physician, cure yourself,” is also termed a pa·ra·bo·leʹ. (Luke 4:23) In view of this, a more basic term such as “illustration” (NW) serves for a consistent rendering of pa·ra·bo·leʹ in all cases.
Another related term is “allegory” (Gr., al·le·go·riʹa), which is a prolonged metaphor in which a series of actions are symbolic of other actions, while the characters often are types or personifications. Paul uses the Greek word for “allegorize” at Galatians 4:24, concerning Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. It is translated “allegory,” “allegorical utterance” (AV, AT), virtually a transliteration of the word, but is also rendered “symbolic drama” (NW).
The apostle John also used a distinct term (pa·roi·miʹa) as denoting “comparison” (John 10:6; 16:25, 29); it is variously translated “figure,” “figurative language,” “parable,” “proverb” and “comparison” (AT, AV, NW). Peter employed the same term with regard to the “proverb” of the dog returning to its vomit and the sow to rolling in the mire.—2 Pet. 2:22.
Illustrations or parables as a powerful teaching device are effective in at least five ways: (1) They arrest and hold attention; few things command interest like an experience or a story. Who is not familiar with the illustrations of the prodigal son and of the one lost sheep? (2) They stir up the thinking faculty; one of the best mental exercises is to search out the meaning of a comparison, to get the abstract truths thus presented. (3) They stir emotions and, by the usually evident practical application of the truths to the hearer, reach the conscience and the heart. (4) They aid memory; one can later reconstruct the story and make application of it. (5) They preserve the truth, for they are always applicable and understandable in any time and age. This is because they deal with life and natural things, whereas mere words may change in meaning. This is one reason why the Bible truths remain in full clarity today, just as they were at the time they were spoken or written.
The primary purpose of all illustrations is, as shown in the foregoing, to teach. But the illustrations of the Bible also serve other purposes: (1) The fact that a person sometimes has to dig to get their full,