The parable about the rented vineyard (Lk 20:9-20:9)

“Jesus began

To tell the people

This parable.

‘A man planted

A vineyard.

He leased it

To tenants.

He went to another country

For a long time.’”

 

Ἤρξατο δὲ πρὸς τὸν λαὸν λέγειν τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην. ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς, καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν χρόνους ἱκανούς.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus began to tell the people another parable (Ἤρξατο δὲ πρὸς τὸν λαὸν λέγειν τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην) about a certain man who planted a vineyard (ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα).  He then leased it to farmer tenants (καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς).  However, he went abroad to another country for a long time (καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν χρόνους ἱκανούς).  This parable about the absentee vineyard landowner can also be found in Matthew, chapter 21:33, and Mark, chapter 12:1, with more details about this vineyard.  Mark said that Jesus began to speak to them in parables (Καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοῖς ἐν παραβολαῖς λαλεῖν).  This story was about a male landowner who planted a vineyard (ἀμπελῶνα ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν).  He then put a fence around this vineyard (καὶ περιέθηκεν φραγμὸν) and dug a wine press (καὶ ὤρυξεν ὑπολήνιον).  He even built a fortified watchtower (καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον), so that it was a very nice vineyard.  This story is reminiscent of the allegory of the vineyard from Isaiah, chapter 5:1-2.  Isaiah had a song about a friend’s fertile field.  He also dug out stones and planted choice vines.  He put a tower in the middle to look over the vineyard with a carved wine vat there also.  However, he got bad grapes instead of good grapes.  Clearly, he did not get what he expected.  However, this landowner here leased his land or rented it to farmer tenants (καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς).  Then he left that region and went away to another country (καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν).  Matthew also indicated that Jesus wanted them to listen to another parable (Ἄλλην παραβολὴν ἀκούσατε) about a male landowner (Ἄνθρωπος ἦν οἰκοδεσπότης), who planted a vineyard (ὅστις ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα).  He then put a fence around it (καὶ φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν) and dug a wine press in it (καὶ ὤρυξεν ἐν αὐτῷ ληνὸν).  He even built a fortified watchtower (καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον).  This seemed like a very nice vineyard, much like in Mark.  However, this landowner also leased or rented this land to farmer tenants (καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς).  Then he left that region and went away to another country (ἀπεδήμησεν).  These last two things, renting and leaving the land, will cause him a problem.  Have you had a problem with tenants?

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The parable of the vineyard (Mk 12:1-12:1)

“Jesus began

To speak to them

In parables.

‘A man planted

A vineyard.

He put a fence

Around it.

He dug a pit

For the wine press.

He built

A watchtower.

Then he leased it

To tenants.

He went away

To another country.”

 

Καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοῖς ἐν παραβολαῖς λαλεῖν. ἀμπελῶνα ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν, καὶ περιέθηκεν φραγμὸν καὶ ὤρυξεν ὑπολήνιον καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον, καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς, καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν.

 

This parable of the absentee vineyard landowner can be found in Matthew, chapter 21:33, and Luke, chapter 20:9, almost word for word.  Mark said that Jesus began to speak to them in parables or stories (Καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοῖς ἐν παραβολαῖς λαλεῖν).  This story was about a male landowner who planted a vineyard (ἀμπελῶνα ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν).  He then put a fence around this vineyard (καὶ περιέθηκεν φραγμὸν).  Then he dug a wine press (καὶ ὤρυξεν ὑπολήνιον).  He even built a fortified watchtower (καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον), so that it was a very nice vineyard.  This story is reminiscent of the allegory of the vineyard from Isaiah, chapter 5:1-2.  Isaiah had a song about a friend’s fertile field.  He also dug out stones and planted choice vines.  He put a tower in the middle to look over the vineyard with a carved wine vat there also.  However, he got bad grapes instead of good grapes.  Clearly, he did not get what he expected.  However, this landowner here leased his land or rented it to farmer tenants (καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς).  Then he left that region and went away to another country (καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν).  These last two things, renting and leaving the land, will cause him a problem.

The fruitful vine (Ezek 19:10-19:11)

“Your mother was

Like a vine

In a vineyard,

Transplanted

By the water.

She was fruitful.

She was full of branches

From abundant water.

Her strongest stem

Became

A ruler’s scepter.

It towered aloft

Among the thick boughs.

It stood out

In its height

With the mass

Of its branches.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel has another allegory about a vine. This vine was like their mother, large and fruitful. The reference here is to Judah as the mother of the people. This vine had been taken from a normal vineyard and planted near a large water supply. It had long stems so that one became a ruler’s scepter. It was tall with thick branches as it stood out because of its height and massive branches.

Wood as fuel for the fire (Ezek 15:4-15:5)

“The wood of the vine

Is put in the fire

For fuel.

When the fire

Has consumed

Both ends of it,

The middle of it

Is charred.

Is it useful

For anything?

When it was whole,

It was used

For nothing.

How much less,

When the fire

Has consumed it?

It is charred.

Can it ever

Be used

For anything!”

The allegory or parable of the piece of vine wood continued. What if someone put the wood in a fire for fuel? The fire then would consume both ends with the middle charred. Was it useful for anything? Even before it was put into the fire, it was not used for anything, so that it was useless before it was put in the fire. Now that the fire had consumed and charred this piece of vine wood, it was even more useless. It would never be able to be used for anything.

The wood of the vine (Ezek 15:1-15:3)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

How does the wood

Of the vine

Surpass

All other wood?

Is the vine branch

Among the trees

Of the forest?

Is the wood

Taken from it

To make anything?

Does one take a peg

From it

To hang

Any object?’”

The word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man, about an allegory or parable of the wood of the vine. Yahweh wanted to know how the wood of the vine surpassed all other kinds of wood. These vines were not grown in the forest like the other trees, but they were usually cultivated. What could you do with the wood from the vine? There were many uses, but apparently one of the most important uses was to make pegs to hang things on.

The song of the vineyard (Isa 5:1-5:2)

“Let me sing

For my beloved.

My love song

Concerns his vineyard.

My beloved had

A vineyard

On a very fertile hill.

He dug it out.

He cleared it of stones.

He planted it

With choice vines.

He built a watchtower

In the midst of it.

He hewed out

A wine vat in it.

He expected it

To yield grapes.

But it yielded wild grapes.”

The allegory about a vineyard can be found among many other biblical prophets and even Jesus Christ himself. Either this was at the beginning of Isaiah’s prophetic career, or it was part of the festival of booths. Certainly it was a song about a friend’s vineyard, a common biblical theme. Isaiah was singing for his beloved friend, who had a vineyard on a fertile hill. This friend of Isaiah’s took great care to get this vineyard ready. He dug out stones and planted choice vines. He put a tower in the middle to look over the vineyard with a carved wine vat there also. He was expecting good grapes, but he only got wild grapes. Clearly, he did not get what he expected.

The invitation (Song 4:8-4:8)

Male lover

“Come with me

From Lebanon!

My bride!

Come with me

From Lebanon!

Depart

From the peak of Amana,

From the peak of Senir,

From the peak of Hermon,

From the dens of lions,

From the mountains of leopards.”

This female lover seems to be from the northern mountain country of Lebanon. This male lover asks her twice to leave there. He invites her to depart from the northern mountain peaks of Amana, Senir, and Hermon. She was to pass through the mountain caves where lions and leopards lived. There is, of course, a later allegory of Christ descending from the heavenly peaks to go through the sufferings of the lions and the leopards.