Did you know that the Jerusalem Bible uses the word ‘darnel’ instead of ‘tares’? After all, to fully understand this parable, we need to know what tares look like in Israel where the parable was given by Jesus, right?
Darnel [Lolium temulentum, a.k.a., poison darnel or cockle] usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so extensive that in some regions, cockle is referred to as “false wheat”. It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. The ears on the real wheat are so heavy it makes the entire plant droop downward, but darnel whose ears are light, stands up straight.
The wheat will also appear brown when ripe, whereas the darnel is black. If you were to bake some bread with the Darnel mixed in, you would be feeding your family poisonous bread, so it’s important to know the difference.
In this parable, wheat represents true followers of Christ, and Darnel represents the false followers, who look almost exactly alike. One is pure, the other, poisonous. One is alive in Christ, the other, dead in their sins. True wheat and false wheat or true discipleship and false discipleship may appear to be the same, but ‘you will know them by their fruits’ (Matthew 7:16, from the Sermon on the Mount).
Just like when the ear appears, you will know the difference between the wheat and tares. At harvest time, the wheat is a healthy brown, however, the Darnel is black, making it very easy to tell the difference.
What does the Bible say about the harvest?
Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.
“And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”
-- By Judah Ayling