Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The curious noun σκανδαλον (skandalon) is thought to describe a kind of trap that was used by hunters. This device became proverbial to describe a verbal trap, and from there it became the source of our English words "scandal" and "slander". The noun itself stems from the Proto-Indo-European root "skand-", to climb or leap, from which also stems the Latin verb scando, to climb or leap, and several similar verbs in Sanskrit.
Every dictionary that discusses our noun σκανδαλον (skandalon) tells this origin story, but here at Abarim Publications we have a big problem with it, and so we've come up with our own. Our noun does not occur in Greek writing other than the New Testament, which demonstrates that it wasn't common to Greek but recently imported, probably from a Sanskrit derivative, possibly along with the post-exilic Persian wave that resulted in Pharisaism, which the gospel authors stylized as the eastern Magi who followed the star to Bethlehem to find Christ. And that brings us to a second and identical Proto-Indo-European root "skand-", which means to shine or glow and which supplied the Indo-European language basin with words like candescent, candle, candid, candor, candidate and incense.
Because we don't know what actual device our noun σκανδαλον (skandalon) originally described, its proverbial usage is variously translated with "a thing that causes offense" (KJV, Schlachter), "a thing that causes to stumble" (Young, ASV, NAS), "a thing that causes to sin" (NIV), "a snare" (Darby), "an irritation" (Luther). This suggests that it might have involved a kind of tripping wire, but the problem here is that no Greek or other ancient text describes a hunt by means of a tripping wire or comparable item that was purposed to cause some animal, presumably a large and running animal, to trip or stumble. Furthermore, if the device was intended to cause an animal to trip and fall, why was its name derived from an ancient root that meant to climb or leap?
Here at Abarim Publications we don't think that our noun σκανδαλον (skandalon) described an otherwise unmentioned device that was designed to make running animals trip. And we also don't think that this device, whatever it was, was known by a word that meant "a thing of climbing and jumping" as much as "a thing that glows and shines".
Instead we propose that our noun describes an instrument used for night-fishing. In the vast study Ancient Fishing Gear and Associated Artifacts from Underwater Explorations in Israel — A Comparative Study (Haifa, 2013) the authors Galili, Zemer and Rosen include a survey of the practice of fire-fishing, and mention an "iron fire basket for maintaining fire, probably a light-emitting device used to lure marine creatures" (see 2 Corinthians 11:29). They furthermore attest that "Fishing by fire was practiced since prehistoric times".
The whole idea of night-fishing was to dazzle fish, marine mammals and octopuses with a great and luring but synthetic light in the middle of the natural night. Particularly those zealous fish who had studied Isaiah 9:2 but not the mechanism of the solar system or the predictability of natural cycles, would rise in jubilation only to be met by the sharp end of a pronged harpoon.
The idea of a deadly false light in an intellectual darkness is of course warned about in the complex literary character of Lucifer (the natural one is the Morning Star who heralds the sun rise, the human one is synthetic and heralds breakfast) and most directly by Jesus when he warned: "if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:23-24). And as we explain in our article on the noun προφητης (prophetes), prophets relate to fish the way angels relate to birds — and to quickly clarify: in the classical world, fish were considered like grain and not like sheep. Fish were not slaughtered like animals but harvested like fruits from a tree that was meant to survive the harvest (see our article on the name Dagon). Proverbial fish do not relate to individual humans but rather to words that people speak and thoughts they have. The disciples were called to be fishers of men, which didn't make them cannibals but rather listeners to patterns of concern, plus their technological and philosophical solutions, that rippled and coursed freely through society.
A typical example of modern night-fishing is what happens on CNN and the likes: Incoherent hysteria by prominent experts creates in the viewer the subliminal conviction that all is lost and nobody is in control. This is designed to transform the viewer's worldview into a boundless darkness. Then, in sudden bright bursts of fanfare and celebration, the viewer is treated to visions of happy beautiful people who are in perfect control of their glorious lives. These are the fishing lights that are turned on and beam down the abyss. And they work fabulously, because entire schools of subliminally mesmerized consumers swarm up to them.
Our world is largely controlled by night-fishing collectives because most people lack the intellectual depth to voluntary invest in projects that will actually make the word a better place. This same majority of people thinks that our world is becoming increasingly secularized, while in fact our world is in the midst of a thunderous transition between the classical centralized governments of political alphas and the new decentralized smart-swarm government by networks of popular wisdom; the modern version of the old Republic in which inter-communicating clusters of local circles of elders created the strings that bound society together (compare Psalm 2:1 to Revelation 22:2, and also Haggai 2:7 and Matthew 28:19 while you're at it).
Our modern world is increasingly becoming an embodiment not of some single emperor, but of technology that derives from man's increasing communal understanding of natural law, which is the understanding of the Creator (Romans 1:20). The night-fishers have duped and looted our world for some time now, but fortunately for the rest of us, the horizon is glowing with the burgundy red of dawn (Isaiah 8:20, Matthew 16:3).
Our noun σκανδαλον (skandalon) means "night-fishing light" and is used 15 times in the New Testament; see full concordance. From it comes:
- The verb σκανδαλιζω (skandalizo), meaning to night-fish, to be or make use of a night-fishing light: to take advantage of a period of intellectual darkness by deploying an attractive synthetic point of insight that emulates the light of natural wisdom, which is wisdom that resonates with natural law. The Creator is One, which is why creation is One, which is why the laws that govern creation are One, which is why the Theory Of Everything that describes the laws that govern creation is One (John 1:18, Hebrews 1:3). Not all night-fishing is done by self-serving deluders, but any kind of insight or point of collective desire, from Relativity Theory to the latest model of Nike sneakers, that does not also declare its innate position relative to the Theory Of Everything, are like lights in the night sky that have no relation to the sun and are most probably put there by a dude with a prong (Matthew 16:23).
Archeologists are able to quickly distinguish the remains of a day-fishing boat and a night-fishing boat by looking for hooks or the tell-tale absence of them. A day-fishing boat would use nets and hooks to gather up fish that follow their natural appetites in a world illuminated by the sun. A night-fishing boat would use artificial lights to confuse the fish and draw the gullible into the nets. Hence, in Matthew 17:27, Jesus instructs Peter to cast out a hook in order not to engage in night-fishing. This verb is used 30 times; see full concordance.