Tares (Darnel)
by Ed Tarkowski
STAND & COMFORT Newsletter
Email NEWSLETTER #44 (Vol 3 No 11)

A friend recently wrote to me about how prolific her garden was, but that the weeds were prospering as well. She said that because of the rains, the weeds would be easy to pull up. I thought how when we allow the rain of God's word into our life, the lies, untruths and deceptions are also easy to weed out. But if the word is not given its place of priority, then when those evils take root and the ground hardens, how hard it is to pull up the weeds! Have you ever tried to pull a weed out of a dry, caked, hardened piece of ground? What usually happens is you pull off the green foliage above the soil, but the root remains, only to quickly grow up again. Notice the word "quickly." Weeds don't grow slowly. But the trick in pulling them up successfully is to soak the ground with water, soften the soil and then weed-pulling becomes a pleasure again. I remember when I was a boy and I had to weed my Dad's garden. The tops of the weeds would come off and I would say to myself, "Oh, well, at least it LOOKS LIKE I got that weed out. Dad won't know," and I would leave it, being satisfied with that. In the spiritual realm, apathy towards the weeds in our life is just as deadly to us as the real weeds are to the future fruit of a vegetable garden. Water, or the word of God, plays a crucial part in both the natural realm and the spiritual in staying weed-free.

Jesus told the parable of the tares and the wheat in Matthew 13:24-30. The tares are a weed plant, but Jesus didn't say to pull up the tares. He said to let the wheat and the tares grow up together and the angels would deal with the tares at the end of the age. I sure would have liked to apply that to my Dad's idea of weeding. The difference between the garden I weeded and
the wheat field Jesus spoke of is this: my garden was vegetables, planted and grown in rows with dirt paths between. The weeds were easy to get to and pulling them without harming the good plants was easy enough. Wheat is grown in fields, each sheaf next to another with no paths, creating a carpet effect when looked at from a distance. Pulling up the tares in this situation would endanger the wheat stocks as well. You just don't weed wheat.

Jesus said,

Mat 13:24  Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25  But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26  But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27  So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28  He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29  But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30  Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Holman's Bible Dictionary defines TARES as follows:

"TARES KJV term for grassy weeds resembling wheat, generally identified as darnel (genus Lolium)"

It is pretty much accepted today that the tares Jesus spoke of are darnel of the genus Lolium. Cephalaria syriaca is also a possibility mentioned by some researchers, but based on archeological studies, its evident lack in Biblical times would seem to indicate it is not the tare of the Bible. Secular dictionaries also define the tare as most likely being darnel:

"Darnel is a weed grass (probably bearded darnel or Lolium temulentum) that looks very much like wheat until it is mature, when the seeds reveal a great difference. Darnel seeds aren't good for much except as chicken feed or to burn to prevent the spread of this weed" (World English Dictionary).

Easton's Bible Dictionary describes "tares" as follows:

"the bearded darnel, mentioned only in Matt. 13:25-30. It is the Lolium temulentum, a species of rye-grass, the seeds of which are a strong soporific poison. It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition 2000 defines "soporific: as:

ADJECTIVE: 1. Inducing or tending to induce sleep. 2. Drowsy.
NOUN: A drug or other substance that induces sleep; a hypnotic.

Smith's Bible Dictionary offers these comments on the "tares":

"There can be little doubt that the zizania of the parable, #Mt 13:25 denotes the weed called "darnel" (Lolium temulentum). . . . The grains of the L. temulentum, if eaten, produce convulsions, and even death."

A very interesting note I found on Botanical.com concerning darnel was this:

"The admixture of the grain with those of the nutritious cereals amongst which it is often found growing should be guarded against, as its properties are generally regarded as deleterious. Gerard tells us: 'the new bread wherein Darnel is eaten hot causeth drunkenness.' When Darnel has been given medicinally in a harmful quantity, it is recorded to have produced all the symptoms of drunkenness: a general trembling, followed by inability to walk, hindered speech and vomiting. For this reason the French call Darnel: 'Ivraie,' from Ivre (drunkenness); the word Darnel is itself of French origin and testifies to its intoxicating qualities, being derived from an old French word Darne, signifying stupefied. The ancients supposed it to cause blindness, hence with the Romans, lolio victitare, to live on Darnel, was a phrase applied to a dim-sighted person.

"The alleged poisonous properties of Darnel are now generally believed to be due to a fungus" (http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/g/grasse34.html#dar).

Interesting also is the fact that farmers in the modern wheatbelt of America have to take measures to control the effects of tares (in this case, lolium rigidum) on their cattle due to bacteria (ARGT, Annual Ryegrass Toxicity). In a 30 year study, 250,000 sheep and 600 cattle died because of ARGT, not to mention the effects of intoxification on a score of others. (See

Recapping the symptoms in the various definitions above concerning darnel and/or its fungus, they are:

1. Sleepiness, drowsiness
2. Hypnotic episodes
3. Convulsions
4. Drunkenness, intoxication
5. Trembling
6. Inability to walk
7. Hindered speech
8. Vomiting
9. Stupification
10. Dim-sightedness

Other sites I visited include giddiness, apathy and various abnormal sensations as effects of darnel.

In the early days of "the move of God," we saw all of these things and they are still happening today. Not only is there darnel in the Church, the darnel has apparently been affected by fungus. Not only that, but one must wonder how many cases of spiritual blindness and death have occurred.

Some say darnel in itself is not harmful, often being used for hay for livestock. They say that it's when the parasite fungus takes up residence within the seed head that it becomes deadly in the physical realm. But, in Jesus' parable, the analogy does not hold water. Spiritually, darnel has the destiny of being cast into the fire. Wheat is to be gathered into the barn. It may not appear that spiritual darnel is that dangerous, but when one looks at the end result, it is deadly:

30  Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

There is a time to distinguish between darnel and wheat. The fruit of the darnel is smaller than the fruit produced by true wheat. They say the difference is very distinguishable and obvious, and the difference in the sizes of the seeds makes separating them an easy task. There are those who have convulsed, been made drunk, trembled uncontrollably, stammered in their speech, were stupified, turned giddy, etc., who have tried to tell us that that was wheat. There are also those who have not fallen into such things, but have brought confusion into the Church with darnel such as the non-trinitarian doctrine, a watered-down gospel, and agendas that lead the Church off into corporate efforts God never sanctioned. Are these things wheat or darnel? Some are obviously darnel, while with others, it takes time to make the distinction. This I know for sure: the One who planted the good seed which bears fruit will come back to harvest His wheat, and not one grain of darnel will be found in the barn.