The first hired are upset (Mt 20:10-20:12)

“Now when the first group came,

They thought that

They would receive more.

But each of them

Also received a denarius.

When they received it,

They grumbled

Against the landowner.

They said.

‘These last laborers worked

Only one hour.

You have made them

Equal to us.

We have borne

The burden of the day

And the scorching heat.’”

 

καὶ ἐλθόντες οἱ πρῶτοι ἐνόμισαν ὅτι πλεῖον λήμψονται· καὶ ἔλαβον τὸ ἀνὰ δηνάριον καὶ αὐτοί.

λαβόντες δὲ ἐγόγγυζον κατὰ τοῦ οἰκοδεσπότου

λέγοντες Οὗτοι οἱ ἔσχατοι μίαν ὥραν ἐποίησαν, καὶ ἴσους αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν ἐποίησας τοῖς βαστάσασι τὸ βάρος τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ τὸν καύσωνα.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew, as Jesus continued his parable story.  When the first group of hired laborers came (καὶ ἐλθόντες οἱ πρῶτοι) to get their pay as the last ones, they thought that they would receive more than the one denarius that all the later hired laborers had received (ἐνόμισαν ὅτι πλεῖον λήμψονται).  However, each of them received one denarius (καὶ ἔλαβον τὸ ἀνὰ δηνάριον καὶ αὐτοί), what they had agreed to in the early morning.  When they got this pay (λαβόντες δὲ), they grumbled against the landowner (ἐγόγγυζον κατὰ τοῦ οἰκοδεσπότου).  They complained that the last hired laborers had worked only 1 hour (λέγοντες Οὗτοι οἱ ἔσχατοι μίαν ὥραν ἐποίησαν).  This land owner had made them equal to those who had worked 12 hours (καὶ ἴσους αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν).  They had been picking grapes all day long in the scorching heat (ἐποίησας τοῖς βαστάσασι τὸ βάρος τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ τὸν καύσωνα).  This seemed grossly unfair.  If the last hired got one denarius (15 cents) for 1 hour of work, why were they not paid 12 denarii ($1.80) for 12 hours of work.  They seemed to have a good argument.  However, so did those who started at 9 AM, noon, and 3 PM.  They all got one denarius but did not grumble.  Remember it is a story or parable.

The second group of laborers (Mt 20:3-20:4)

“When the landowner

Went out

About nine o’clock,

The third hour,

He saw others standing idle

In the market place.

He said to them.

‘You also go

Into the vineyard.

I will pay you

Whatever is right.’

Thus,

They went out

To the vineyard.”

 

καὶ ἐξελθὼν περὶ τρίτην ὥραν εἶδεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ ἀργούς,

καὶ ἐκείνοις εἶπεν Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον δώσω ὑμῖν.

οἱ δὲ ἀπῆλθον.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew.  Jesus continued with this parable.  About 9 AM, the third hour (καὶ ἐξελθὼν περὶ τρίτην ὥραν), this land owner saw other people standing around idle in the market place (εἶδεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ ἀργούς).  He asked them if they wanted to work in his vineyard (καὶ ἐκείνοις εἶπεν Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα).  He did not promise them a specific wage for the day.  He simply said that he would pay them whatever was right, just, or fair (καὶ ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον δώσω ὑμῖν).  Some of them agreed and went out (οἱ δὲ ἀπῆλθον) into the vineyard fields to pick the grapes.

The first laborers hired (Mt 20:2-20:2)

“He agreed

With the laborers

For the usual daily wage.

He sent them

Into his vineyard.”

 

συμφωνήσας δὲ μετὰ τῶν ἐργατῶν ἐκ δηναρίου τὴν ἡμέραν ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew.  Jesus continued with his parable.  This land owner hired the first group of day laborers.  They came to a mutual understanding.  This land owner agreed and the day laborers also agreed to accept one denarius as payment for that day, the usual or common wage for a day’s work (συμφωνήσας δὲ μετὰ τῶν ἐργατῶν ἐκ δηναρίου τὴν ἡμέραν).  This Roman silver coin was worth about $.15 USA.  They would work all day for about 15 cents.  Then he sent them into his vineyard to pick the grapes (ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ).  So far, so good, nothing unusual here.  A land owner and some workers agreed on a day’s pay that was not extravagant, without any middle man.

Jesus wants to be baptized (Mt 3:15-3:15)

“But Jesus answered him.

‘Let it be so now.

It is proper for us

In this way

For us

To fulfill

All righteousness.’

Then he consented.”

 

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἄφες ἄρτι·οὕτως γὰρ πρέπον ἐστὶν ἡμῖν πληρῶσαι πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην. τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτόν.

 

Why did Jesus need to be baptized, since he was not a sinner?  Some of the early Christians were not pleased about this baptismal action, since it seemed to show that John was more important.  Jesus responded to John (ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ).  He wanted his baptism by John to be done now (Ἄφες ἄρτι·οὕτως), because it was a proper and a fitting thing to do (γὰρ πρέπον ἐστὶν ἡμῖν).  The purpose of this baptismal action was to show that Jesus was obedient to the divine will as a complete righteous person (πληρῶσαι πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην).  Jesus had come to proclaim his higher ethical judgment of righteousness.  He was willing to submit to the baptism of John.  John the Baptist no longer hesitated, as he agreed to baptize Jesus (τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτόν).  There was no discussion like this in Mark, chapter 1:9 and Luke, chapter 3:21, just Jesus being baptized.

 

The conception of Jesus (Mt 1:18-1:18)

“Here is how the birth

Of Jesus,

The Messiah Christ,

Took place.

Mary,

His mother,

Had been engaged

To Joseph.

However,

Before they lived together communally,

She was found

To be pregnant with a child

From the Holy Spirit.”

 

Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ γένεσις οὕτως ἦν. μνηστευθείσης τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρίας τῷ Ἰωσήφ, πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου.

 

Matthew was going to explain how the birth (ἡ γένεσις) of Jesus Christ (δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ), the anointed Messiah, took place. His mother (τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ), Mary (Μαρίας), was engaged or betrothed (μνηστευθείσης) to Joseph (τῷ Ἰωσήφ). In this arranged marriage, these were two engaged people. Perhaps the father of Mary had agreed to the marriage of his young daughter to Joseph, the son of Jacob. There was no mention of Mary’s father or mother here. This was the common engagement process where the girl stayed with her parents for as long as a year. However, before they came to live together in marriage (πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς), Mary was found to be pregnant. Literally, there was a child in the womb (εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα). However, this pregnancy was from the Holy Spirit (ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου), not from Joseph or another man. Right from the beginning, Jesus was in the womb of Mary because of the Holy Spirit. This divine presence was different in many ways,

Do not be like your ancestors (Zech 1:4-1:6)

“Do not be like your ancestors!

The former prophets

Cried out

Against them.

Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Return from your evil ways!

Return from your evil deeds!

But they did not hear.

They did not heed me.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Your ancestors,

Where are they?

The prophets,

Do they live forever?

But my words,

My statutes,

That I commanded

My servants,

The prophets,

Did they not overtake

Your ancestors?

Thus,

They repented.

They said.

‘Yahweh of hosts

Has dealt with us

According to our ways,

According to our deeds,

Just as he planned to do.’”

Yahweh, via Zechariah, wanted the people of Israel not to be like their ancestors.  They should return from their evil ways and deeds.  Their ancestors had not listened to the former prophets proclaiming the word of Yahweh.  What happened to their ancestors?  Neither they nor these prophets would live forever.  However, the statutes and commands of Yahweh as pronounced by his servants, the prophets, overtook them.  They repented and agreed that Yahweh had treated them fairly according to their ways and deeds.

The Bel priests versus Daniel (Dan 14:8-14:9)

“Then the king

Was angry.

He called the priests

Of Bel.

He said to them.

‘If you do not tell me

Who is eating

These provisions,

You shall die.

But if you prove

That Bel is eating them,

Daniel shall die.

Because he has spoken

Blasphemy

Against Bel.

Daniel said to the king.

‘Let it be done

As you have said.’”

Then King Cyrus became angry at Daniel. He called in the priests of the idol god Bel. He told them to tell him who was eating the provisions that were set out for this god Bel. If they did not tell him, they would die. However, if they could prove that Bel was eating these provisions, then Daniel would die. One way or other, someone was going to die. The king accused Daniel of blasphemy with his statements about Bel. Daniel agreed to this proposition, death for him or the Bel priests.

The power of foreign gods (Dan 11:38-11:39)

“He shall honor

The god of fortresses,

Instead of these,

A god whom his ancestors

Did not know.

He shall honor

With gold,

With silver,

With precious stones,

With costly gifts.

He shall deal

With the strongest fortresses

By the help

Of a foreign god.

Those who acknowledge him,

He shall make more wealthy.

He shall appoint them

As rulers over many.

He shall divide

The land

For a price.”

Gabriel went on to tell Daniel about how King Antiochus IV worshiped foreign gods, probably the Greek gods of Jupiter at Olympus, not the Syrian gods of his ancestors. Apparently, King Antiochus IV had more respect for these Greek gods. Jupiter was a god of strength. His ancestors knew nothing about these Greek gods. However, he honored them with gold, silver, precious stones, and costly gifts. He relied on these foreign gods to maintain his stronghold positions. King Antiochus made people wealthy, if they agreed with him. In fact, he may have practiced a form of bribery, by dividing up the land for a price.

The new decree (Dan 6:7-6:9)

“All the presidents

Of the kingdom,

The prefects,

The satraps,

The counselors,

The governors,

All agreed.

The king

Should establish

An ordinance.

He should enforce

An interdict.

‘Whoever prays

To anyone,

Divine,

Or human,

For thirty days,

Except to you,

O king!

Shall be cast

Into a den of lions.

Now,

O king!

Establish the interdict!

Sign the document!

Thus,

It cannot be changed,

According to the law

Of the Medes,

Of the Persians.

It cannot be revoked.’

Therefore,

King Darius signed

The document.

He signed

The interdict.”

Thus, the two other presidents of the kingdom, with the prefects, the satraps, the counselors, and the governors all agreed that the king should establish an ordinance to be enforced as an interdict. This ordinance would say that anyone who prayed to any divine or human for the next 30 days, except to the king himself, should be cast into a den of lions. Then the king established this interdict and signed the document that could not be changed, according to the laws of Medes and Persia. This is somewhat reminiscent of the story of the king in Book of Esther, chapters 3-4 and 8-9, against the Jews.

The ten-day test (Dan 1:14-1:16)

“Thus,

The guard agreed

To this proposal.

He tested them

For ten days.

At the end of ten days,

It was observed

That they appeared better,

As well as fatter,

Than all the young men

Who had been eating

The royal rations.

Thus,

The guard continued

To withdraw

Their royal rations.

He took away

Their wine

That they were to drink.

Instead,

He gave them vegetables.”

The guard agreed to Daniel’s request for 10 days. Then after 10 days, he observed that they were fatter and in better shape than the other young men who had been eating and drinking the royal food and wine. Thus, the guard continued to give them only vegetables instead of the rich royal food and wine.