Understanding Biblical Literary Devices– A Key to Correctly Interpreting Scripture

Psalm 57

Psalm 57:1, In the shadow of your wings. Other Scriptures that refer taking shelter under the shadow of YHVH’s wings in times of trouble (and all the time for that matter) include Psalms 17:8; 61:4 and 91:1. The wings of Elohim is an example of an anthropomorphism which is “the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal or object.” Obviously, Elohim is not a Bird-God, for he does not have wings like a bird. This is an example of a poetic or literary device that the writer employs to help us to understand  difficult spiritual concepts using physical analogies. 

Author’s note: At the end of this article, I will address the false concept that the earth is flat, which I refer to as “flat earth foolishness.” Those who believe that the earth is flat base this notion on a twisted understanding of the Scriptures. A basic, 101 level comprehension of the rules of logic, biblical interpretations (called hermeneutics) and understanding the literary devices and cultural contextual background of the biblical authors will summarily dispel this false notion, as this article will point out.

Furthermore, I am not open to debate about this issue. If you want to argue with me that the earth is flat, then take your nonsense and peddle it somewhere else, but not on MY blog. Your comments will not be allowed to be posted and they will be immediately deleted. So don’t waste your or my time trying. — Natan Lawrence

The Bible is full and running over with literary devices. This is because much of the Bible is poetry or literary prose. Understanding these many and varied literary devices will help one to correctly interpret Scripture, find the deeper meaning of a Scripture, understand the richness found therein, and enables one to better understand the true message and intent of the author. 

But why does the Bible employ so many literary devices from Genesis to Revelation as we are about to see from the examples below? There are specific reasons why YHVH Elohim inspired the writers of Scripture to employ various literary devices besides for the sake of making the Bible more interesting to read. There are definite and deep spiritual reasons for this that relate to our gaining a deeper, personal relationship with our Creator. We will discuss these reasons later.

In the mean time, having an understanding of the literary devices that YHVH inspired the biblical authors to employ will insure that one does not derive errant understanding from Scripture by, for example, understanding something in a literal sense that was meant to be figurative, symbolic, metaphorical or hyperbolic. Much of biblical prophecy, for example, has been written using literary devices and one can easily misconstrue something to be literal when it is figurative and end up with all sorts of bizarre interpretations and twisting of the Scriptures engendering false doctrines and heresies.

The following is a list of literary and figurative devices found in the Bible with definitions and examples:

Acrostic: A composition usually in verse in which sets of letters (such as the initial or final letters of the lines) taken in order form a word or phrase or a regular sequence of letters of the alphabet. An example of this is Psalm 119 in which the first words in successive units of the poem start with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In Psalm 145, the first word in each verse starts with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Allegory: A story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life. Parables are form of allegory where symbols are used to teach biblical principle. Yeshua employed this teaching method to convey deep spiritual truths by using everyday examples from life that his listeners, with a little reflection, could understand. Examples of this include:

  • The mustard seed in Matt 1331–33 and the leaven in Matt 13:33 are symbols for the kingdom of Elohim. 
  • In the Parable of the Prodigal son represents believers who backslide and come back to Elohim (Luke 15:11–32). 
  • The Parable of the Vine and Branches symbolizes the believer’s relationship with Yeshua (John 15:1–8). 
  • Paul compares of Hagar and Sarah in Galatians 4:21–31 to represent salvation by works versus salvation by grace. 
  • Ezekiel uses two sisters to represent apostate Judah and Samaria (Ezek 23:1–49). 
  • In Psalm 80, Israel is likened to a grape vine.
  • In Ezekiel 16, Israel is likened to a virgin bride and then an adulterous woman.

Alliteration: The use of the same initial consonants in a line. This biblical literary device is only noticeable in the original languages. 

Allusion: An indirect reference to something else. The referent and meaning are understood from cultural, personal context, or inside knowledge. Examples of this include:

  • The great sign in heaven in Revelation 12:1 refers back to Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9. In John 8:58 when Yeshua declared, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM,” his listeners knew that he was telling them that he was the I AM of Exodus 3:14. 
  • While hanging on the cross and Yeshua declared, “My Father, my Father, who have you forsaken me,” he was signalling to his hearers that he was fulfilling the Messianic prophecies of Psalm 22. 

Anthropomorphism: This is a type of personification where human characteristics (physical form, human-like emotion, or other human characteristics) are attributed to Elohim, in order to make his spiritual qualities more understandable to finite and limited human understanding and linguistics. An example of this is found in Genesis 6:6 where YHVH is grieved, or in Jeremiah 3:12 where YHVH is angry. Other examples from Scripture include

  • So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. (Exod 33:23)
  • For thus says YHVH of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. (Zech 2:8)
  • Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications. (Ps 130:2)
  • …[N]o one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. (John 10:29).

Aposiopesis: The leaving of a thought incomplete usually by a sudden breaking off in mid-sentence. Examples include:

  • Then the YHVH Elohim said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—therefore the YHVH Elohim sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. (Gen 3:22–23)
  • Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written. (Exod 32:32)
  • But if we say, “From men”—they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed. (Mark 11:32)
  • And if it bears fruit—but if not, after that you can cut it down. (Luke 13:9)

Apostrophe: The addressing of a usually absent person or a usually personified thing rhetorically. This is a type of indirect type of personification where the speaker addresses an inanimate object including him or others who cannot respond to the statement or question. For example, sometimes a psalmist addresses his soul or commands mountains and rivers to praise Elohim. Examples of this include:

  • Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? (Ps 43:5)
  • Sing, O heavens, for YHVH has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! (Isa 44:23)
  • Then he cried out against the altar by the word of YHVH, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says YHVH…” (1 Kgs 13:2
  • Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! (Isa 1:2)
  • Open your doors, O Lebanon, That fire may devour your cedars. Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, because the mighty trees are ruined. Wail, O oaks of Bashan… (Zech 11:1–2)
  • O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! (Matt 23:37)

Assonance:  This is poetic literary device where the internal sounds of words are repeated. This biblical literary device is only noticeable in the original languages. 

Chiasmus: A figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through the reversal of the lines of a poetic structure in order to make a larger point. Examples of this include:

  • Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed. (Gen 9:6)
  • But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Matt 19:30)
  • Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart… (Isa 6:10)
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A Homeschooling Mama Bear Speaks Out

Thanks William for bringing my attention to T.E. Solomon and her video entitled, “NOT all Hebrew roots Christians are “Flat Earthers.” I encourage everyone to watch it as I just did. It’s balanced, passionate and biblical. It’s just plain good old basic common sense, which seems to have scarce among many Hebrew roots teachers as it is elsewhere in the world.

Enjoy and be edified.


The Apostolic Faith Vs Eartickling Teachings (Flat Earth Foolishness 2)

What was the orignal, first-century apostolic faith gospel message that Yeshua preached and his apostles preached? How does this compare with what Paul called “another gospel,” eartickling message that was being preached, and was “bewitching” the foolish or stupid believers of his day? Is the same thing happening in our day as some Bible teachers are no longer preching a gospel-centered message, but eartickling teachings often for financial gain?


Make my day!

Growling Grizzly Bear

With all this flat earth talk, consider these points:

Why are we getting sidetracked about the shape of the earth when the lost sheep of Israel need to be gathered in as Yeshua commanded us to do?

Why are people so passionate about the shape of the earth enough to bombard my blog and YouTube channel with all kinds of emotionalism, when we can hardly get anyone excited about Yeshua and the gospel message?

Of the hundreds of topics I have covered on my YouTube channel and on this blog, no subject has generated so much rancor. Why? What’s the deal?

Yeshua rebuked the church at Ephesus (Rev 2) for losing their first love (i.e. for Yeshua), although they were faithful in the works of Torah-obedience. Yeshua also rebuked the Laodiceans for being lukewarm. How is it that people can get so worked up over the shape of the earth, but can’t get excited about winning the lost, preaching the gospel, making disciples for Yeshua, and generally doing the great commission? What’s this all about? Something is wrong with this picture!

It’s this: People are passionate for the wrong things because of their lukewarmness and because they don’t really love Yeshua as they should. Their priorities are all wrong. When someone points out their sin, they shoot the messenger! Many have come under a strong delusion. They have turned from a passion for the Continue reading


Flat Earth Madness: Comments

On the Hoshana Rabbah YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/HoshanaRabbah?feature=mhee), I have been getting a lot of comments (both pro and con) on my video entitled “Flat Earth Foolishness.” A few people are so caught up in this madness that they have even dropped their subscription to the HR channel. Personally, I could care less.

Here are some comments that I have posted on my channel pertaining to my flat earth video that you might find interesting:

First comment:

YHVH Elohim has called me to preach the gospel of Yeshua the Messiah and to connect it to the pro-Torah Hebrew roots of the faith. This is where the spiritual life and power of Elohim to transforms lives is to be found. This is the river of life, and it centers on the Written Torah-Word of Elohim and Yeshua the Messiah, the Living Torah-Word of Elohim. To me, anything else is a distracting (and sometimes a doctrine of demons) side issue. I have to be obedient to the instructions given to me from my Heavenly Commander and Chief. The only time I address side issues (like the flat earth debate) is not for the purpose of debating, but to bring people back to the centrality of the pro-Torah gospel message. This is what Yeshua and the apostles preached; this is what I preach. Period. The main purpose of this video was not to debate the pros and cons of the flat earth theory. You all know where I stand on this. I think its silliness—and I have looked into the evidence on both sides of the issue, so I’m not bigoted. My main point is that Hebrew roots teachers are to be following the example of Yeshua and the apostles and to be preaching the gospel. Flat earth vs. spherical earth IS NOT preaching the gospel. By in large, these kinds of topics distract people away from the gospel message. As Hebrew roots folks we’re to be preaching the commandments of Elohim and the testimony of Yeshua as per Rev 12:17 and 14:12. This is the mark of the true end time saints, bride of Yeshua. The gospel is what convicts of sin, redeems and saves and brings one to eternal life, and not these other side issues. Yet side issues like flat earth is what some teachers largely base their teaching ministries on. This is not following the command of Yeshua to preach the gospel or to make disciples. This is not following the examples of the apostles who did the same. I will go so far as to say that those Hebrew roots teachers whose ministries aren’t primarily gospel oriented are teaching another gospel—one that is foreign to that of Yeshua and the apostles. Unless you like to have your ears tickled with irrelevant nonsense, AVOID THESE TEACHERS LIKE THE PLAGUE. To the degree that they get caught up on these side issues, they are not doing the will of Yeshua. They are walking in disobedience and rebellion to Yeshua! That is the big point I am trying to make on this video. Those of you who don’t get this or who are so naive and ill-informed about the true message of the Scriptures that you think subjects like the flat earth are actually important, salvational and part of the trunk of the tree of biblical doctrine—sorry, but I don’t think I can help you. Nothing I say will make much difference to you.

Second comment:

I don’t care if you believe in a flat earth or not. Personally, I think it’s foolishness, but that’s your freewill choice. Whether you believe in a flat or spherical earth IS NOT a salvational issue. What I have a problem with is Bible teachers who make this a spiritual trunk of the tree issue when they should be preaching the message of the gospel and lifting up Yeshua as the path of salvation and the way to the Father and to eternal life. This is the gospel message the Yeshua and the apostles taught, and the Scriptures command us to imitate him in everything. There is no record in the Scriptures of Yeshua and the apostles DID NOT getting caught up in tangential side issues like the flat earth. They stuck to the main message of the gospel. So why do some so-called Hebrew roots teachers veer away from the truth of the Scriptures by failing to make the preaching of the gospel the main thing and get caught up in things like conspiracies, aliens, the Book of Enoch, the Illuminati and the flat earth? Is preaching the gospel message not sufficient in their eyes? Why? Do they really think that their method of winning the spiritually lost is better than that used by Yeshua and the apostles? If so, then the methodologies of these teachers need to be, at least, seriously questioned if not totally rejected as being unbiblical! Humans, sadly, are always wanting to hear something new and exciting. Sensationalism sells. It tickles the ears. Moreover, it often brings great financial profits and popularity to the promoters of it as well. The problem is that sensationalistic teachings like the flat earth can’t save you spiritually. It can’t help you to overcome sin and to walk more perfectly in the righteous ways of the Torah. It cannot deliver you from the guilt and shame of a sinful past. It cannot bring you into a right relationship with your heavenly Father. It cannot heal broken relationships and help you to overcome sinful addictions and bad moral behavior. It cannot carry you past the dark veil of death and into the glorious light of Yeshua’s immortal and eternal kingdom. ONLY YESHUA THROUGH THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE WITH THE HELP OF HIS SPIRIT CAN!! This is why the gospel message must remain the main focus of our attention. This is the apostolic message of the New Testament/Testimony of Yeshua. Those Hebrew roots teachers who don’t focus on this should be rejected as spiritual advisors, teachers, wise counselors and leaders. Period. This is my main point. I hope the reader can receive this.



Examples of Deluding Lies in the Hebrew Roots Movement


15125293I got this comment from Bill in response to my recent blog post entitled “Will you be deluded into following the big lie?” It is so excellent and expresses my exact thoughts so well that I have decided to post it in its entirety without editing. My response follows. — Natan

Bill’s comment:

Would this explain the phenomena of those being deluded by the “flat-Earth” movement? It seems to be a very strong “heart idol” to those who have succumbed to it. It’s way more than just an errant understanding of astronomy and the natural world. It involves interpreting selective parts of Scripture to “prove” a “flat-Earth” and it gets wrapped around the axial of “righteously” endeavoring to expose the vast, conspiratorial lie of NASA and Science which has satanicly been deceiving the world about a “flat-Earth” – because, their delusion asserts, if the spherical Earth “deception” was exposed, then people would know YHWH is real, He would be “proved.” The focus of these adherents shifts away from The Way of Yahshua and becomes supplanted with endless “witnessing” that the earth is “flat” and that we must awaken those deceived by a “ball Earth.” They actually think they are in alignment with His will by pursuing such a quest (and some, too, pursue side-tracking, itching ear topics like the Nephelim (with emphasis on the Book of Enoch), etc.). Even worse, there are some self-appointed leaders of our Hebraic Roots understanding, who get empaneled at conferences, who spout-off such side-tracking issues and get carried away by them. When others who are considered legitimate leaders of Hebraic Roots are informed about this delusion coming upon, and being propagated by, fellow “teachers,” instead of rebuking it, they just evade the matter under the concept of “echad,” unity….go along to get along…we can still fellowship and break bread with one another even though we have different opinions; as if this were the same kind of “difference of opinion” matter as the cslendar. It’s not, imo. The hyper Conspiracism inflicting the hearts, minds, and souls of a growing number of those in the Hebrew Roots movement is alarming. It needs sine very bold rebuking by legitimate leaders and teachers who are truly inspired by Elohim and not self-promoting false teachers inciting intrigue about matters such as the “flat-Earth” and distorted emphases on the Nephelim, etc. / Natan, are you aware of this developing delusion coming over a growing segment of our brothers and sisters?

Natan’s response:

Thank you for your post. Yes, I am aware of these issue and totally agree 1000 percent with everything you have said and have been trying to deal with these things behind the scenes with people who contact me about the flat earth and hyper-conspiratorial viewpoints. THE FLAT EARTH, BOOK OF ENOCH AND OTHER SUCH SUBJECTS ARE A GREAT DISTRACTION TO TAKE OUR EYES OFF YESHUA AND THE BASIC GOSPEL MESSAGE! I can’t emphasize this point enough! These side topics DO NOT bring us into a closer walk with Elohim through Yeshua; therefore, they are not edifying the body of Yeshua in anyway. Rather they are taking us away from him. They are moving us into the area of Hebrew roots gnosticism! Satan is having a heyday as he spews out his flood of deceptive words (see Rev 12:15) through the vehicle of the internet’s tree of knowledge of good and evil.