The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Do You Have Oil in Your Lamp?
James Scott Trimm
The Parable of the Ten Virgins is among one of the most interesting parables given by Yeshua. The parable was given by Yeshua as follows:
1 Then will the Kingdom of Heaven be comparable to ten virgins, which took their torches, and went out to meet the bridegroom.
2 Five of them were foolish, and five of them were prudent.
3 The five foolish, when they took the torches, took no oil with them:
4 But the prudent took the oil in their vessels, with the lamps.
5 And while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry, Behold! The bridegroom has come: go out now to meet Him!
7 Then all those virgins arose, and made ready their lamps.
8 And the foolish said to the prudent, Give us now of your oil, for our lamps are extinguished.
9 But the prudent answered and said to them, We may not give you, lest there suffice not for us and you. But go now therefore to them that sell, and buy for yourselves:
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came. And they that were ready, went in with Him to the marriage, and the door was shut.
11 And after that, came the rest of the virgins, saying, My Master, My Master: open to us!
12 But He answered, saying: Amen, I say to you, I know you not.
13 Be you alert therefore, for you know not the day and the hour when the Son of Man comes.
The ten virgins in this parable represent the ten tribes of the House of Israel and their state at Messiah's return.
In 2Esdras Ezra sees a figure parallel to the “Son of Man” of Daniel 7 who comes riding upon the clouds (Dan. 7:13):
1 And it came to pass after seven days, I saw a vision by night:
2 And, lo, there arose a great wind from the sea, that it moved all the waves thereof.
3 And I beheld, and, lo, that man flew with the clouds of heaven : that man was flying with the clouds of heaven. And when he turned his countenance to look, all the things trembled that were seen under him.
4 And when-so-ever the voice went out of his mouth, all they burned that heard his voice, like as the earth melts .
The nations make war with this figure, and after they are defeated he calls to himself a “peaceful multitude” (2Esdras 13:12). This peaceful multitude represented the “lost” ten tribes:
39 And whereas you saw that he called and gathered another peaceable multitude unto him;
40 Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Hoshea the king, whom Shal’man’eser the king of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the [Euphrates] River, and so came they into another land.
41 But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt,
42 That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land.
43 And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow places of the river.
44 For Elyon then showed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over.
45 For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is called Artzaret [at the end of the world] .
46 Then dwelt they there until the latter time; and again when they shall begin to come,
47 Elyon shall stop the springs of the stream again, that they may go through: therefore saw you the multitude with peace.
48 But those that are left behind of your people are they that are found within my set-apart borders shall be saved.
49 Now when he destroys the multitude of the nations that are gathered together, he shall defend his people that remain.
50 And then shall he show them great wonders.
(Artzaret is Hebrew for “another land”)
The Parable of the Ten Virgins illustrates this same event, with some unique insights. Especially significant is the point that half of the ten virgins have no oil in their lamps. What does this “oil” and lack of oil represent?
Oil for the Lamp
A clue as to the symbolism of the oil for the lamps can be found in the prophecy of Zechariah:
1 And the angel that spoke with me returned and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep.
2 And he said unto me: What see you? And I said, I have seen, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; there are seven pipes: yes seven, to the lamps, which are upon the top thereof.
3 And two olive trees by it: one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
4 And I answered and spoke to the angel that spoke with me, saying, What are these, my master?
5 Then the angel that spoke with me answered and said unto me: Know you not what these are? And I said, No, my master.
6 Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying: This is the word of YHWH unto Z’rubavel, saying: Not by might, nor by power: but by My spirit! says YHWH Tzva’ot.
7 Who are you, O great mountain before Z’rubavel? You shall become a plain. And he shall bring forth the top stone with shoutings of Grace! Grace! unto it.
8 Moreover the word of YHWH came unto me, saying:
9 The hands of Z’rubavel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it: and you shall know that YHWH Tzva’ot has sent me unto you.
10 For who has despised the day of small things? Even they, shall see with joy the plummet in the hand of Z’rubavel--even these seven, which are the eyes of YHWH, that run to and fro through the whole earth.
11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick, and upon the left side thereof?
12 And I answered the second time, and said unto him, What are these two olive branches, which are beside the two golden spouts, that empty the golden oil out of themselves?
13 And he answered me and said: Know you not what these are? And I said, No, my master.
14 Then said he: These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Adon of the whole earth.
(Zech. 4:1-14 HRV)
In this prophecy we see that oil that fills the lamps derives from two olive trees.
Being Fed by the Root
One of the most beautiful prophecies of the reunion of the two houses of Israel is the “two sticks” prophecy in Ezekiel 37:15-20. In this prophecy each of the two houses of Israel are symbolized by two “sticks” which are brough together and made as one (Ezek. 37:15-18) the text goes on to specify that YHWH will:
…take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim,
and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him,
even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick,…
Now lets look at another prophecy in Zech. 8:23:
Thus said YHWH of hosts, ‘In those days ten men
from all languages of the nations take hold,
yea, they shall take hold of the edge of the garment of a man,
a Yehudite, saying, “Let us go with you,
for we have heard that Elohim is with you .”
Now lest anyone think that the “Jew” (Yehudite) in this passage is a certain Jew, such as the Messiah, I must point out that in the Hebrew the word “you” in “let us go with “you” and “Elohim is with you” is PLURAL and therefore refers not to an individual Jew, but to the House of Judah. No doubt the number “ten” here implies the lost ten tribes of Ephraim. Not that Ephraim says to Judah:
“let us [Ephraim] go with you [Judah]
for we [Ephraim] have heard that YHWH is with you [Judah].”
Finally let us look at the olive tree prophecy of Romans 11. This prophecy parallels the two “sticks” prophecy of Ezekiel 37 (note that the word STICK in Ezek. 37 is ETZ which also means “tree”).
17 And if some branches were broken off, and you who are a wild olive [tree], were grafted into their place and became partakers of the root and of the oil of the olive [tree],
18 Do not boast against the [natural] branches. But if you boast, you are not bearing the root, but the root bears you!
19 And perhaps you should say of the branches that were broken off, I will be grafted in their place.
20 These [matters] are beautiful. They were broken off because they did not have trust, but you stand, by trust. Do not be exalted in your mind, but fear:
21 For if Eloah did not spare the natural branches, perhaps He will also not spare you.
22 See then the gentleness and the harshness of Eloah: upon those who fell, harshness, but upon you, gentleness, if, you remain in the gentleness. And if not, you will also be broken off.
23 And those, if they do not remain in their lack of trust, also will be grafted in: for Eloah is able to graft them in again.
24 For if you, who are from the olive [tree] that was wild by your nature, were cut off and were grafted--contrary to your nature--into the good olive [tree], how much more then, those, if they be grafted in their natural olive [tree]?
25 For I want you to know this mystery, my brothers, so that you will not be wise in the thought of your nefesh: that blindness of the heart, in part, has happened to Yisra'el until the fullness of the Goyim should come,
26 And then all Yisra'el will have Life. Thus it is
(Rom. 11:15-26 HRV)
Rom. 9 begins the contrast of the “Jews” and “Gentiles” by quoting Hosea 2:25(23); 2:1 (1:10) in Rom. 9:25-26. But if we look up the context of the people “which were not my people” which he calls “my people” in Hosea we find that they are the “children of Israel” (Hosea 2:1 (1:10)) as opposed to “the children of Judah” (Hosea 2:2 (1:11)) So if Paul is quoting Hosea in context and contrasting Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 9:24) using Hosea 2:1-2 (1:10-11) then the “Jews” of Rom. 9:24 are the “Children of Judah” of Hosea 2:2 (1:11) and the “Gentiles” of Rom. 9:24 are the “children of Israel” of Hosea 2:1 (1:10). If this is true then as this contrasting pair advances into Rom. Chapter 11 the two trees are the two Houses.
The Aramaic for the phrase “fullness of the Goyim” (Rom. 11:25) could also be translated “multitude of nations” as we read the blessing of Yoseph in Genesis:
18 And Yosef said unto his father, Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn: put your right hand upon his head.
19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Howbeit, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
20 And he blessed them that day, saying, By you shall Yisra’el bless, saying, Elohim make you as Efrayim and as M’nasheh, and he set Efrayim before M’nasheh.
(Gen. 48:18-20 HRV)
Now the uncultivated olive tree in Romans 11 is clearly therefore Ephraim and the cultivated olive tree is clearly that of Judah. This prophecy tells us that branches from the tree/stick of Ephraim will be broken off and grafted into the tree/stick of Judah, are to be fed by the root of the tree/stick of Judah and are not to boast against the natural branches (Jews).”
This brings us back, full circle, to the Parable of the Ten Virgins. The Ten Virgins represent the Ten Tribes of the House of Israel, the Ephaimites. Half of the Ephraimites have oil and half of them do not have oil. Half of them have been fed by the root and half of them have not been fed by the root, but have instead boasted against the natural branches.
The virgins that have oil in their lamps represent Ephraimites who have been fed by the root of the House of Judah, while the virgins without oil represent Ephraimites who have instead boasted against the House of Judah.
Do you have oil in your lamp?
Have you been fed by the cultivated olive tree (Judah)?
Or do you boast against the Jewish people?
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