What to do? (Lk 16:3-16:3)

“Then the house manager

Said to himself.

‘What shall I do?

My master

Is taking away

This position

Of house manager

From me.

I am not strong enough

To dig.

I am ashamed

To beg.’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὁ οἰκονόμος Τί ποιήσω, ὅτι ὁ κύριός μου ἀφαιρεῖται τὴν οἰκονομίαν ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ; σκάπτειν οὐκ ἰσχύω, ἐπαιτεῖν αἰσχύνομαι.

 

This parable story about the dishonest household manager or steward can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that this house manager said to himself (εἶπεν δὲ ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὁ οἰκονόμος).  What should he do (Τί ποιήσω)?  His master or lord was taking away his position as house manager from him (ὅτι ὁ κύριός μου ἀφαιρεῖται τὴν οἰκονομίαν ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ).  He was not strong enough to dig (σκάπτειν οὐκ ἰσχύω), but he was too ashamed to beg also (ἐπαιτεῖν αἰσχύνομαι).  What should he do with his unemployment?  What would you do if you were suddenly unemployed?

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Wait a year (Lk 13:8-13:8)

“The gardener replied.

‘Sir!

Let it alone

For one more year,

Until I dig

Around it.

I will put

Manure on it.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει αὐτῷ Κύριε, ἄφες αὐτὴν καὶ τοῦτο τὸ ἔτος, ἕως ὅτου σκάψω περὶ αὐτὴν καὶ βάλω κόπρια,

 

Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus continued with his parable of the fig tree with no fruit.  Jesus said that the gardener replied respectfully (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει αὐτῷ), calling him lord (Κύριε).  He wanted the owner to let the tree alone for one more year (ἄφες αὐτὴν καὶ τοῦτο τὸ ἔτος).  He was going to dig around it (ἕως ὅτου σκάψω περὶ αὐτὴν) and put manure on it (καὶ βάλω κόπρια).  There would be one more chance.  Maybe a little fertilizer would help.  Have you ever used fertilizers?

Go into exile with your baggage (Ezek 12:4-12:6)

“You shall bring out

Your baggage,

By day,

In their sight,

As baggage for exile.

You shall go out yourself

At evening,

In their sight,

As those do

Who go into exile.

Dig through the wall

In their sight.

Carry the baggage

Through it.

In their sight

You shall lift

The baggage

On your shoulder.

You shall carry it out

In the dark.

You shall cover

Your face.

Thus you may not see

The land.

I have made you

A sign

For the house of Israel.”

There is a great emphasis on the baggage during this symbolic exilic story, since it assumes that Ezekiel was still in Jerusalem. Everything was to be done in plain sight of everyone. Thus the baggage was prepared during the day so that everyone could see him getting ready to leave. However, Ezekiel was to leave in the evening, but in plain sight. He was to dig a hole in the wall, reminiscent of what King Zedekiah had done. He was to carry his baggage on his shoulder in the dark through the hole in the wall. He had to cover his face, so that he could not see the land he was leaving. Thus his action would become a sign for the house of Israel to see.

The hole in the wall (Ezek 8:7-8:9)

“God brought me

To the entrance

Of the court.

I looked.

There was a hole

In the wall.

Then he said to me.

‘Son of man!

Dig through the wall!’

When I dug

Through the wall,

There was an entrance.

He said to me.

‘Go in!

See the vile abominations

That they are committing here.’”

Next God in his glory brought Ezekiel to the entrance of the Temple court. There was a hole in the wall there. Then God told Ezekiel, the son of man, to dig through the wall where the hole was. When Ezekiel dug through the wall, there was another entrance. Then God told Ezekiel to go inside and see all the vile abominations that they were being committed here. This seemed like some sort of secret worship service that was behind this wall.

The response of Yahweh (Isa 6:11-6:13)

“Then I said.

‘How long?

O Lord!’

Yahweh said.

‘Until cities lie waste

Without inhabitants.

Until houses are

Without people.

Until the land is

Utterly desolate.

Until Yahweh sends

Everyone far away.

Until vast is

The emptiness

In the midst of the land.

Even if a tenth part remains in it,

It will be burned again.

It will be like a terebinth.

It will be like an oak

Whose stump remains standing

When it is felled.’

The holy seed is its stump.”

Isaiah wanted to know how long his prophetic work would have to be. Yahweh responded with an indication that the holy land would be destroyed. He would continue until the cities had nobody living in them, until there were houses abandoned, left empty. The land would be desolate. Everybody would be sent away, so that the land itself would be left bare. Probably a tenth of those would remain. Just like when an oak tree or a terebinth bush is burned, the stump still remained until someone came along to dig it up and chop it into pieces. Likewise, the holy seed of Israel is like a stump.

Paradoxes (Sir 27:25-27:27)

Whoever throws a stone straight up

Throws it on his own head.

A treacherous blow

Opens up many wounds.

Whoever digs a pit

Will fall into it.

Whoever sets a snare

Will be caught in it.

If a person does evil,

It will roll back upon him.

He will not know

Where it came from.”

Sirach then has a series of paradoxes. If you throw a stone straight up in the air, it will land on your head. A treacherous blow opens many wounds. If you dig a pit, you will fall into it. If you set a snare, you will be caught in it. Whenever you do evil, it will roll back on you. However, you will have no idea where it came from.

Be careful in what you do (Eccl 10:8-10:11)

“Whoever digs a pit

Will fall into it.

Whoever breaks through a wall,

Will be bitten by a snake.

Whoever quarries stones

Will be hurt by them.

Whoever splits logs

Will be endangered by them.

If the iron is blunt,

If one does not whet the edge,

Then more strength must be exerted.

But wisdom helps one to succeed.

If the serpent bites before it is charmed,

There is no advantage in a charmer.”

Here Qoheleth offers more wise advice. If you dig a pit, you probably will fall into it. If you break through a wall, you might find a snake ready to bite you on the other side. If you dig out stones, you might be hurt by them. If you split logs, they could hurt you. If you have a blunt edge and you do not sharpen it, you will have to use more force. Wisdom can help you to succeed. What is the advantage of being a snake charmer if the snake bites you before you can charm it?