A Proverb On Trauma

The one bitten by a snake is afraid of a black and white string.

Regional Oral Tradition

Fear is a slippery thing. Harmless situations can trigger overpowering responses of fear and anxiety if the mind and body connect them to past experiences. This proverb gets at the background of one who seems unnecessarily afraid of something. In the Middle East and Central Asia, nearly everyone is carrying around some kind of deep pain and trauma. Suspicion, fear, and anxiety then are to be expected.

He Must Manage His Household Well

A name great and renowned, but a village broken down.

Local Oral Tradition

This Central Asian proverb speaks to the importance of a leader’s immediate circle and responsibilities. He may have an impressive reputation, but the state of his household and village tell a lot about his real character and leadership. If teaching locals on the eldership qualifications from 1st Timothy chapter 3, I would use this local proverb as one way to illustrate the statement that an overseer must “manage his own household well” (1st Timothy 3:4). Ground the teaching in the text, illustrate it with the culture. In this case, with the oral tradition.

Photo by Sergey Pesterev on Unsplash

A Proverb on Honor and Community

A stone in its own place is weighty

Local Oral Tradition

This proverb means that a person is honored most in his own community. We have greater influence and “weight” where we are known and we feel the loss of that reputation when we are outsiders somewhere.

But as my eight-year-old son pointed out, this proverb may be generally true, but it is not true of prophets, those honored everywhere but their hometown (Matthew 13:57).

Photo by Gustavo on Unsplash

A Proverb About Home

The Levant is like sugar, but the homeland is sweeter still.

Local Oral Tradition

This proverb recalls a time before the Levant became a war zone, when it was a region full of lore and luxury. Many Middle Easterners and Central Asians from rugged and remote areas would travel there for business or while on pilgrimage. Yet even in the Levant, they still sensed that nowhere quite compares to home.