Pay the day laborers (Mt 20:8-20:8)

“When evening came,

The owner of the vineyard

Said to his manager.

‘Call the laborers!

Give them their pay!

Begin with the last.

Then go to the first.’”

 

ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης λέγει ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος τῷ ἐπιτρόπῳ αὐτοῦ Κάλεσον τοὺς ἐργάτας καὶ ἀπόδος τὸν μισθόν, ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἕως τῶν πρώτων.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew.  When evening came (ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης), the owner or the lord of the vineyard told his manager, steward, or foreman (λέγει ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος αὐτοῦ) to call the laborers in (Κάλεσον τοὺς ἐργάτας) from the vineyard.  He was to pay them their day’s pay that day (καὶ ἀπόδος τὸν μισθόν).  Based on the Jewish Mosaic law in Leviticus, chapter 19:13, they were not to keep for themselves the wages of a laborer until the next morning.  The same can be found in Deuteronomy, chapter 24:14-15, but with a little more elaboration.  Poor laborers were to get their pay immediately every day before sunset.  Otherwise guilt would come upon the land owner.  There was a sense of justice that people who lived day to day should get their daily pay.  Thus, the manager was to pay the day laborers beginning with the last ones hired and work his way up to the first ones hired (ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἕως τῶν πρώτων).

Laborer’s wages (Deut 24:14-24:15)

“You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or alien who reside in your land in one of your towns. You shall pay them their wages daily before sunset, because they are poor. Their livelihood depends on them. Otherwise they might cry to Yahweh against you, and you would merit guilt.”

Poor laborers were to get their pay immediately every day before sunset. Otherwise guilt would come upon you. This applies both to your fellow Israelites and the resident aliens among you. There is a sense of justice that people who live day to day should get their daily pay.