Matthew 7:10

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Matthew 7:10 is the tenth verse of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. This verse presents the second of a pair of metaphors explaining the benefits of prayer.

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a serpent?

For a collection of other versions see BibRef Matthew 7:10

The first comparison was bread and stones, this second one has the same metaphor but with a different pair of objects. The basic metaphor of this verse, as with the previous one is that a human father would not refuse a basic desire from his son, so God too would not refuse a basic need of one of his followers. Second to bread fish would have been the main food source for the communities around the Sea of Galilee where Jesus was preaching, and fish and fishing metaphors appear a number of times in the New Testament. As with stones and loaves fish and snakes are somewhat similar in appearance. Both are long thin scaled creatures. France notes that a common catch in the sea was the eel-like Clarias lazera, a type of catfish, which looks very much like a snake. Unlike rocks, which were of little use but inoffensive, snakes were considered a dangerous and evil creature. A snake is the form of the tempter in Genesis, and other negative snake metaphors appear in the New Testament. This metaphor is thus somewhat stronger than the previous one.

In Luke there is a third metaphor of a scorpion and an egg, which does not continue the pattern of similar appearances. This metaphor does not appear in Matthew.


  • France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.

Preceded by
Matthew 7:9
Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 7
Succeeded by
Matthew 7:11