For Bible Study Nerds

It’s natural to think that the “house built upon the rock” and the “house built upon the sand” in Jesus’ parable of Matthew 7: 24-27 refer to houses in different locations—but geography of ancient Palestine leads some Bible historians to think otherwise. In fact, Jesus was probably referring to two houses built side by side, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee.

In this familiar first-century location, “The sand ringing the lake was rock hard during the hot summer.” Thus, the temptation for a foolish builder would be to build a house on that sand, assuming it would stay rock-hard all year long. A wiser person, though, would understand the vagaries of the seasons and, regardless of outward appearances in summer, would dig through the sand until reaching bedrock (about 10 feet down). Then the wise builder would use that bedrock as the foundation for his house.

The house anchored to the bedrock would last for decades, regardless of stormy weather, high winds, or flooding. The one built on summertime’s rock-hard sand would likely fall before a year passed, simply because that sand would moisten and crumble during rough-weather seasons, eroding the home’s foundation and causing a spectacular collapse.

If the Sea of Galilee was the location Jesus had in mind, it’s easy to see that two houses could literally be built right next to each other on the edges of the lake, with one house on a firm foundation and the other on shaky ground—even though they sat on the same land!


Works Cited:

[ASB, 1570]



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