It probably doesn’t need to be said, but the bible is not just another book. There is depth to the bible and there is doctrine that is hidden that is in plain sight. This post started from the reading of John 6:9.
John 6:9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
That’s it. “Five barley loaves, and two fishes.” Really simple. How could there be anything more in this passage than just what it says?
Hidden meaning in the bible Jewish scholars would call Midrash. Midrash is doctrine that is distributed across the bible through the use of allegory and pattern. A fragment of a passage by itself does not convey enough information to tell a story, but similar passage fragments put together start to form a picture that is deeper than the surface text. Each passage is a “hint,” only a piece of a puzzle. Now a warning. You cannot make up the meaning of a passage. The bible has to interpret itself. You can easily go off the rails into gnosticism and invent meaning when it isn’t there, but because there is danger, it doesn’t negate the fact that there is meaning spread across the bible in this way.
Getting back to the five barley loaves, and two fishes. When reading John 9:6 I noticed that there was this pattern. I’ll call it the “Five-two.” I made a mental note to myself that there were five-twos in other passages:
Luke 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
See? Five sparrows for two farthings.
The five-two connects the two passages together.
Examining the passage in John:
In John there is the story of the feeding of five thousand: In sequence: 1) People are in a deserted place hearing Jesus preach. 2) They are hungry. 3) Jesus feeds everyone with five barley loaves and two fishes (the five two). 4) They gather twelve baskets of left overs. 5) Jesus sends them away and gets into a boat. 6) There is a storm at sea. 7) The disciples are saved.
Summarizing the passage yields the following pattern.
I have listed below a number of passages that are Five-two and have put the pattern below each story. I have only quoted a few verses, but I will put the pattern in that summarizes the passage.
Gen 45:6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Pattern: Famine-Food-Remnants-Salvation (trial is there because of famine in the land) the remnant of Israel was ultimately preserved.
Jud 20:45 And they turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them.
Pattern: Remnants-Trial-Salvation The remnant of Benjamin was ultimately preserved.
1 Sam 25:18 ¶ Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.
Pattern: Hunger-Food-Remnants-Trial-Salvation Abigail and her male servants were ultimately preserved.
2 Sam 21:8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:
Pattern: Remnants-Trial-Salvation Mephibosheth was ultimately preserved
2 King 7:13 And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see.
14 They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see.
Pattern: Hunger-Food-Trial-Salvation The Israelites were ultimately preserved.
Matt 14:17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
18 He said, Bring them hither to me.
19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
Pattern: Hunger-Food-Remnants-Trial-Salvation Twelve baskets were preserved. The disciples were ultimately preserved.
Matt 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his
several ability; and straightway took his journey.
Mark 8:19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.
20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.
21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?
As a side note. This passage in Mark is very interesting. Jesus is saying that there is meaning in the number of baskets that were gathered up, and to whether the disciples understood that meaning. In this passage there is a five-two, but there is also another pattern that has to do with the number seven. Putting aside the seven and just concentrating on the overall meaning, in the first case of the five thousand, twelve were preserved. In thee second case of the four thousand, seven were preserved. So in both cases the emphasis is on the fragments that were preserved. Given the common theme of the passages we have already looked at. The idea of preservation is present as theme in all the passages.
Lk 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
Lk 14:19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
Acts 20: 6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.
Rev 17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
Putting all the passage patterns together:
- Pattern: Hunger-Food-Remnants-Trial-Salvation
- Pattern: Famine-Food-Remnants-Salvation (trial is there because of famine in the land) the remnant of Israel was ultimately preserved.
- Pattern: Remnants-Trial-Salvation The remnant of Benjamin was ultimately preserved.
- Pattern: Hunger-Food-Remnants-Trial-Salvation Abigail and her male servants were ultimately preserved.
- Pattern: Remnants-Trial-Salvation Mephibosheth was ultimately preserved
- Pattern: Hunger-Food-Trial-Salvation The Israelites were ultimately preserved.
- Pattern: Hunger-Food-Remnants-Trial-Salvation Twelve baskets were preserved. The disciples were ultimately preserved.
- Pattern: Talents-Multiplication-Accounting-Reward-Judgement
- Pattern: Preservation
- Pattern: Feast-Judgement
- Pattern: Hunger-Food-Trial-Preservation
- Pattern: Judgement
So now I ask the question: Is this gnostic or is there something really going on here? Why do all of these five-two passages have similar patterns? I would say that there is something here that is beyond mere coincidence.
The common theme seems to be that during a famine the people are fed and the remnants are collected so nothing is lost. And there is also an element of trial.
The overall lesson is that God feeds and preserves those he loves through trial, and that none will be lost.
Now if you examine the narrative of the passages a story emerges, which seems to be related to an end-time trial.
The story of Joseph brings in Benjamin as a character. In the story, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers to be ruler of Egypt and preserves the Israelites though the famine. Benjamin, Joseph’s brother is bestowed extra blessings. The story in Judges shows a civil war with Benjamin at its center. Benjamin is almost wiped out, but a few escape to the Rock of Rimmon and are preserved. They are allowed to take wives from the other Israelite tribes. In the story of Abigail, David almost wipes out all of Abigail’s male servants, but through her intercession, they are preserved. Nabal dies and she marries David. In the story of Mephibosheth–a Benjamite again, all of his brothers are killed, but he is preserved. He is brought to David’s household and eats at his table. In the story of the feeding of the five thousand, twelve baskets are preserved. Then there is a storm at sea where Jesus saves them. An finally skipping to Revelation, the story is about the final end-time trial revolving around the last world empire.
Now keep in mind that Midrash is only a hint. It is like looking at a shadow. You don’t get the detail, but you do get a fuzzy picture. It seems as though the passages are pointing to an end-time trial with Benjamin at its center. Benjamin will almost be destroyed by the Antichrist, but the remnant of Benjamin will be preserved by the return of Jesus himself. As in the story of Joseph–a type of Jesus. Jesus will reveal himself to the twelve tribes, that is, all of Israel.