Gave his slaves money (Lk 19:13-19:13)

“This nobleman

Summoned

Ten of his slaves.

He gave them

Ten minas.

He said to them.

‘Do business

With these

Until I come back.’”

 

καλέσας δὲ δέκα δούλους ἑαυτοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς δέκα μνᾶς, καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς Πραγματεύσασθε ἐν ᾧ ἔρχομαι.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that this nobleman summoned 10 of his slaves (λέσας δὲ δέκα δούλους ἑαυτοῦ).  He gave them each 10 minas (ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς δέκα μνᾶς).  Luke had this nobleman give 10 minas to 10 slaves.  Luke was the only biblical writer to use this term μνᾶς, that means a mina, a Greek monetary unit equal to 100 drachmas.  He used this word 9 times, mostly in this parable.  A rough equivalent would be $20.00 USA.  In ancient times, it was worth about a quarter of a year’s salary.  This nobleman told them (καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς) to do business (Πραγματεύσασθε) with these minas until he came back (ἐν ᾧ ἔρχομαι).  Once again, Luke used a word that is not found in any of the other Greek biblical writers, Πραγματεύσασθε, that means to busy oneself, or transact business trades.  Matthew, chapter 25:15, has something similar, perhaps this is a Q source.  In Matthew, the rich owner was dealing with talents, which was even more valuable.  There were 3,600 shekels in a talent.  There were 60 minas to a talent.  Thus, these talents were a lot of money.  This very trusting rich person gave to one of his slaves 5 talents (καὶ ᾧ μὲν ἔδωκεν πέντε τάλαντα).  He gave 2 talents (ᾧ δὲ δύο) to the 2nd slave and one talent (ᾧ δὲ ἕν) to the 3rd slave.  They received this according to their ability (ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν δύναμιν).  Then he went away immediately (καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν Εὐθέως).  In each case, money was given to slaves in the household.  Luke had 10 slaves, but Matthew only had 3.  In Luke, there was an explicit saying to do business, while it was only implicit in Matthew, where some received more than others.  Luke had all of them receive the same amount, with a greater emphasis on equality.  Has someone ever entrusted you with some money?

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Foundation stories

Some stories are foundational.  The American founding fathers had their stories.  The Irish often speak of the “Faith of our Fathers”.  These stories give us a vision of reality.  There is a master narrative around which we organize and give meaning to our lives.  In the same way, we live the Christian story about Jesus.  Each one of us has a foundation story that gives us an identity in our community.  Each business has a foundation story that is part mythic, yet operative.  The American Manifest Destiny shows how the story justified the expansion.  We are a land of opportunity, based on many stories, maybe within your own family.  Everyone can live out their dreams.  Creation stories show how we belong to the world and what our purpose for being here is.  Isolated reading is not right either.  This is not a naive reading, since the stories are inspired blended accounts.

Against the commercial traders (Zeph 1:10-1:11)

“Says Yahweh.

‘On that day,

A cry will be heard

From the Fish Gate.

A wail will be heard

From the Second Quarter.

A loud crash will be heard

From the hills.

The inhabitants

Of the Mortar

Wail.

All the traders

Have perished.

All who weigh out

Silver

Are cut off.’”

Yahweh was clear about the consequences on the Day of Yahweh.  A cry would come from the north Fish Gate and the Second Quarter of Jerusalem, probably the entrance and the market place of business near this gate.  The Jerusalem traders may have sold fish there.  The northern hills around Jerusalem would also cry out, as would the wailing people of Mortal, those in the valley.  They would all wail and cry because of the lack of commerce.  All the traders would die.  Anyone involved with the weighing of silver would be wiped out.

Stay away from these consultants (Sir 37:10-37:11)

“Do not consult anyone

Who regards you with suspicion!

Hide your intentions

From those who are jealous of you!

Do not consult with

A woman about her rival!

Do not consult with

A coward about war!

Do not consult with

A merchant about business!

Do not consult with

A buyer about selling!

Do not consult with

A miser about generosity!

Do not consult with

A merciless person about kindness!

Do not consult with

An idler about any work!

Do not consult with

A seasonal laborer about completing his work!

Do not consult with

A lazy servant about a big task!

Pay no attention

To any advice they give!”

Now Sirach is specific about whom you should avoid as counselors. Avoid anyone who is suspicious or jealous of you. Don’t consult with a woman about her rivals, a coward about war, a merchant or a buyer about business selling, a miser about generosity, a merciless person about kindness, an idler, seasonal laborers, or lazy servants about completing big work tasks. Pay no attention to any of these people and their advice.

The foolish search (Eccl 1:13-1:14)

“I applied my mind

To seek

To search out

By wisdom

All that is done under heaven.

It is an unhappy business

That God has given to human beings

To be busy with.

I saw all the deeds

That are done under the sun.

See!

All is vanity.

All is a chasing after wind.”

Qoheleth applied his mind with wisdom. He wanted to seek and search out everything under the heavens. He wanted an encyclopedic mind, or as we would say a Wikipedia mind. However, he thought that this is an unhappy business that God allows humans to be involved with, the search for knowledge. Notice that throughout this work, God and not Yahweh is used. Qoheleth boasts that he has seen all the deeds that were done under the sun. His response is that it is all in vain. All is vanity, useless, or temporary. Once the wind came, it would be gone. Searching for knowledge was like chasing the wind. You would never catch it

The good wife works hard (Prov 31:16-31:19)

Zain

“She considers a field.

She buys it.

With the fruit of her hands,

She plants a vineyard.

Het

She girds herself with strength.

She makes her arms strong.

Tet

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

Yod

She puts her hands to the distaff.

Her hands hold the spindle.”

The good wife does not sit around all day and gossip. She goes out and buys fields, just like men do. She plants a vineyard, just like other workers. She has strength with strong arms. She buys and sells merchandise like her husband. She stays up late figuring things out. She even knows how to handle the spindle. She is like a super woman. She even has contact with others in business doings. Thus she is not a stay at home wife, but really a business partner.

Nicanor plans to attack Judas Maccabeus (2 Macc 15:1-15:5)

“When Nicanor heard that Judas and his troops were in the region of Samaria, he made plans to attack them with complete safety on the day of rest. The Jews who were compelled to follow him said.

‘Do not destroy so savagely and barbarously,

But show respect for the day

That he who sees all things

Has honored and hallowed above other days.’

The thrice-accursed wretch asked if there were a sovereign in heaven who had commanded the keeping of the Sabbath day. They declared.

‘It is the living Lord himself,

The Sovereign in heaven,

Who ordered us to observe the seventh day.’

He replied.

‘I am a sovereign also, on earth,

I command you to take up arms.

I command you to finish the king’s business.’

Nevertheless, he did not succeed in carrying out his abominable design.”

Nicanor found out that Judas Maccabeus and his troops were in Samaria. He wanted to attack them on the Sabbath day, the day of rest. However, his Jewish followers, the renegades, told him that this was not a good idea. It would not be a good idea to kill Judas on the Sabbath because the living God had told them to observe the Sabbath. However, Nicanor responded that he was a sovereign also. He was commanding them to take up arms and finish the king’s business. However, this wretched fellow’s plans were not successful. Now this biblical author has an extremely negative view of Nicanor.