For Bible Study Nerds

“Broad is the road that leads to destruction,” Jesus said near the end of his Sermon on the Mount. As with other references in this sermon, Jesus likely used a literal, visual cue as a symbolic example when he made this statement.

In a general sense, most roads in ancient Palestine were common travelling paths, worn smooth over the years from travelers (and their livestock) walking the shortest distances between towns, cities, and nations. “Narrow roads” were a different from common paths; they typically referred to difficult to traverse mountain pathways used by local travelers instead of more well-traveled roads used by outsiders.

Meanwhile, the Romans of Jesus’ time had created and maintained an impressive series of international trade routes that could accommodate all kinds of merchant and tourist traffic—and even legions of soldiers. These “broad roads” were well-traveled, well-kept, and commonly-known to anyone living in Israel. One of these Roman trade routes was laid out over the coastal plains and valleys of the Middle East, connecting Israel to Africa, Asia, and Europe.

A section of that Roman highway, situated in the plain of Magdala, was actually visible to Jesus and his hearers at the time when he delivered his Sermon on the Mount. Thus, when he said, “Broad is the road that leads to direction,” Jesus may have gestured toward that Roman road for visual emphasis.


Works Cited:

[VGG, 64-65]



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