The Connection Between Chinese Parables and Biblical Proverbs

Have you heard the 2,000 year old parable of the Chinese farmer?

A Chinese farmer gets a horse, which soon runs away. The neighbor says that it is bad news, but the farmer replies, “Good news, bad news, who can say?”

The horse comes back and brings another horse with him. Good news, some might say.

The farmer gives the second horse to his son, who rides it, then is thrown and badly breaks his leg. “So sorry for your bad news,” says the concerned neighbor. “Good news, bad news, who can say?” the farmer replies.

In a week or so, the emperor’s men come and take every able-bodied young man to fight in a war. The farmer’s son is spared.  Good News, some might say.

This ancient Chinese parable illustrates that we do not have the full picture of events in our lives, but if we know G-d, we understand that Scripture promises us that something better is in store.

We don’t need to be too deeply philosophical to be shaken over the recent events of the last year. The pandemic, inflation, war in Ukraine – good news, bad news, who can say?  Only the Lord knows and has promised that all things work out for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28).

Jewish proverbs are like Chinese parables in that they are stories that are told by Rabbis, including Jesus. They are used to teach lessons about religion, life, and morality.

It seems we have lost sight of how Jewish Jesus’ teaching methods were. Many Rabbis were using parables to teach at that time and we know Jesus used them as well. During the time of Jesus and since, rabbis have taught using parables. The whole Talmud (oral tradition) is a compilation of parables. This connection between the Chinese people and the Jewish people and their traddition of parables is phenomenal and we can learn so much from it.

Parables have been a way for Jewish rabbis to teach for a very long time; over a thousand have been recorded. Like Chinese parables, these Jewish proverbs teach theological truths that use physical images to express theological abstractions and can lead us to a clear and simple understanding of Truth.

I am a Messianic Jewish believer that felt the tug of the L-rd towards the unreached. I decided I would go to China. My love for the Chinese people grew while I was there, but when I learned of the Back to Jerusalem movement, I knew the L-rd wanted me to be proclaiming His gospel message to the unreached people between China and Jerusalem. Let’s unite and complete the great commission. We need to accept the challenge Jesus has given us so that we can feel the exhilaration of victory.

One Comment

  1. Mary Ellen Gilvey

    Parables and Proverbs are great to read and contemplate over and theologize over. Chinese proverbs had words for wisdom. They were simple to teach someone something to learn a lesson and contemplate over it. Like Confusius says . . .Where you go, go where your heart is . . .We should feel sorrowful but not sink under its oppression.. Wisdom is a gift from God. Some people have it and some don’t. You can also do a popular contemplative thought process in Reading the Bible a passage you either select or God tells you where to go called Lectio Divina and you read the passage one or 2 times and think about what is the meaning of the passage and what is God saying to you with this passage and how does it relate to me and my life. If you do it in a group with people after everyone is silent and has read the passage then you can do a round Robin and ask each person what they got out of rhe Bible Passage and how it relates to them in their life and what is God telling them personally as they read the passage and was in deep thought about it. All hear God’s voice tell them a message that they can share with the group. Psalms are also excellent to read and everyone who reads Psalms can relate them to their own day and life and situation.


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