Parable of the Sower
Sowing as illustrated by the parable of JESUS. The process of sowing, and what happens to the seed, is well illustrated by the Parable of the Sower. No better picture could be given of the Oriental process of sowing the grain than that given by JESUS in this parable (Matthew 13:3-8; Mark 4:3-8; Luke 8:5-8).
"Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up" (Matthew 13:3, 4).
Israel had few roads in the modern sense of the word until the Romans built their roads, and these only connected the most important places. Because traveling was either on foot, or by means of donkeys, or camels. a simple footpath was usually all that was necessary. These paths were given over to public use by ancient custom. If a farmer had such a path running across his land. he would plough the earth to the edge of the narrow path. but would leave it for the use of travelers.
The Synoptic Gospels tell of JESUS and His disciples traveling in this manner through a grainfield (Matthew 12:1; Mark 2:23; Luke 6:1). Hedges or fences were seldom erected along such a footpath. When the farmer scattered his seed, some was quite apt to fall on this "way." and not being covered by the plough soon enough, the birds would discover it and eat it.
"Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away." (Matthew 13:5, 6).
The thought here is not of a soil that is mingled with stones. but rather a thin layer of mould covering a rock. Under such conditions, the grain would spring up quickly. but lacking depth of root. would be scorched by the sun. and fail to mature.
"And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them."
In Israel and Syria, there are many thornbushes present that are apt to grow adjoining the grainfields. and some of them will spring up in the midst of the grain. The native farmer uses these thornbushes in the summer for the outdoor fires for cooking the meals. Hence he is not so careful to get rid of them in the near vicinity. and so some of these will choke the wheat or barley shoots.
"But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit. some an hundredfold: some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold."
The native farmers of Bible lands often have poor returns on the seed they sow, because their methods are primitive. But there are instances of good crops in modern times. George Mackie, who was a missionary to Syria, has said: "The soil is in many places exceedingly fertile, and the return corresponds to the standard cited in the parable."
When Isaac farmed in the rich Negeb section of Southern Canaan. Scripture says:
"Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold" (Genesis 26:12).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]