The parable of the fig tree (Lk 13:6-13:6)

“Then Jesus

Told this parable.

‘A man had a fig tree

Planted in his vineyard.

He came

Looking for fruit

On it.

But he found none.’”

 

Ἔλεγεν δὲ ταύτην τὴν παραβολήν. συκῆν εἶχέν τις πεφυτευμένην ἐν τῷ ἀμπελῶνι αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἦλθεν ζητῶν καρπὸν ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ οὐχ εὗρεν.

 

Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus told this parable (Ἔλεγεν δὲ ταύτην τὴν παραβολήν) about a barren fig tree.  Although, Matthew, chapter 21:18-20, and Mark, chapter 11:12-14, had Jesus find a barren fig tree and curse it, they did not have this barren fig tree parable.  Jesus said that a man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard (συκῆν εἶχέν τις πεφυτευμένην ἐν τῷ ἀμπελῶνι αὐτοῦ).  He came looking for fruit on it (καὶ ἦλθεν ζητῶν καρπὸν ἐν αὐτῇ).  However, it did not have any (καὶ οὐχ εὗρεν), because it was barren.  Pure and simple, this fig tree did not have any figs on it, when the owner tried to get some figs.  Have you ever looked for fruit on a tree and found none?

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The fruit of the tree (Lk 6:44-6:44)

“Each tree

Is known

By its own fruit.

Figs are not gathered

From thorns.

Grapes are not picked

From a bramble bush.”

 

ἕκαστον γὰρ δένδρον ἐκ τοῦ ἰδίου καρποῦ γινώσκεται· οὐ γὰρ ἐξ ἀκανθῶν συλλέγουσιν σῦκα, οὐδὲ ἐκ βάτου σταφυλὴν τρυγῶσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus continued with his metaphor about fruits.  He said that each tree was known by its own fruit (ἕκαστον γὰρ δένδρον ἐκ τοῦ ἰδίου καρποῦ γινώσκεται).  Figs are not gathered from thorn bushes (οὐ γὰρ ἐξ ἀκανθῶν συλλέγουσιν σῦκα).  Neither are grapes picked or gathered from a bramble or thorn bush.  This saying of Jesus was somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 7:16, perhaps indicating a Q source.  There Jesus told his disciples that they would know or discern people by their fruits.  Then he asked the question whether grapes could be gathered from thorn bushes or figs gathered from thistles?  Certain kinds of fruits only come from certain kinds of trees.  Thus, you can tell what kind of tree it is by its fruit.  The thorn bushes were not going to produce figs or grapes.  What kind of tree are you?

The fig tree (Mk 11:13-11:13)

“Seeing

In the distance,

A fig tree in leaf,

Jesus went to see

Whether perhaps

He could find

Anything on it.

When he came to it,

He found nothing

But leaves.

It was not the season

For figs.”

 

καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἔχουσαν φύλλα ἦλθεν εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ, καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐπ’ αὐτὴν οὐδὲν εὗρεν εἰ μὴ φύλλα· ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων.

 

This story about Jesus seeing the fig tree can be found in Matthew, chapter 21:19.  Luke, chapter 13:6-9, also has a parable about a fig tree that would not bear fruit.  The stories in Matthew and Mark are slightly different.  Mark said that Jesus saw a fig tree from a distance (καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν), not by the side of the road, as in Matthew.  This fig tree had leafy branches (ἔχουσαν φύλλα).  Jesus went to see if he could find any fruit on it (ἦλθεν εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ).  When he came over to the tree (καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐπ’ αὐτὴν), he found no fruit (οὐδὲν εὗρεν), only leaves (εἰ μὴ φύλλα), the same as Matthew had indicated.  However, here Mark pointed out that it was not the season for figs (ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων).

 

Know them by their fruits (Mt 7:16-7:16)

“You know them

By their fruits.

Are grapes gathered

From thorn bushes?

Are figs gathered

From thistles?”

 

ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς. μήτι συλλέγουσιν ἀπὸ ἀκανθῶν σταφυλὰς ἢ ἀπὸ τριβόλων σῦκα;

 

This saying of Jesus is somewhat similar to Luke, chapter 6:44-45, perhaps indicating a Q source.  Jesus told his disciples, via Matthew, that they would know or discern people by their fruits (ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς).  Then he asked the question whether grapes could be gathered from thorn bushes (μήτι συλλέγουσιν ἀπὸ ἀκανθῶν σταφυλὰς) or figs gathered from thistles (ἢ ἀπὸ τριβόλων σῦκα).  Certain kinds of fruits only come from certain kinds of trees.  Thus, you can tell what kind of tree it is by its fruit.

No grapes on the vine (Jer 8:13-8:13)

“Says Yahweh.

‘When I wanted to gather them,

There are no grapes on the vine.

There are no figs on the fig tree.

Even the leaves are withered.

What I gave them

Has passed away from them.”

Yahweh compared Judah to a vine that had no grapes, as well as a fig tree than had no figs. Even the leaves were withered up. Whatever Yahweh had given to them was gone. They were barren.

The righteous Tobit (Tob 1:6-1:9)

“But I alone went often to Jerusalem for the festivals, as it is prescribed for all Israel by an everlasting decree. I would hurry off to Jerusalem with the first fruits of the crops and the firstlings of the flock, the tithes of the cattle, and the first shearings of the sheep. I would give these to the priests, the sons of Aaron, at the altar. Likewise, I would give a tenth of the grain, wine, olive oil, pomegranates, figs, and rest of the fruits to the sons of Levi who ministered at Jerusalem. Also for six years I would save up a second tenth in money and go and distribute it in Jerusalem. A third tenth I would give to the orphans and widows, and to the converts who had attached themselves to Israel. I would bring it and give it to them in the third year. We would eat it according to the ordinance decreed concerning it in the Law of Moses and according to the instructions of Deborah, the mother of my father Tobiel. My father had died and left me an orphan. When I became a man I married a woman named Anna, a member of our family. By her I became the father of a son I called Tobias.”

Tobit goes on to explain why he is righteous. He went alone to the festivals at Jerusalem. The fact that he could take time to go to Jerusalem meant that he might have been among the rich of his area. He brought his tithes with him. He explained that he gave the tithes to the priests and Levites in Jerusalem. Every 3rd year, he would give a 10th to the orphans, widows, and converts to Judaism. This is one of the mentions of converts to Judaism. He followed the ordinances of the Law of Moses and his grandmother Deborah since his father had died and left him an orphan. Finally, he married Anna, from his family, and had a son called Tobias.

Profaning the Sabbath (Neh 13:15-13:18)

“In those days I saw in Judah people men treading wine presses on the Sabbath. They were bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys. I saw also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. I warned them at that time against selling food. Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of merchandise. They sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I remonstrated with the nobles of Judah. I said to them.

‘What is this evil thing that you are doing?

You are profaning the Sabbath day.

Did not your ancestors act in this way?

Did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city?

Yet you bring more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.’”

Nehemiah was astonished to see that the Sabbath was no longer being observed. Everything that he had set up was falling apart. He could not believe his own eyes when he saw what was happening. They were working the wine presses on the Sabbath. They were bringing in grain on the Sabbath. They were bringing wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of stuff on donkeys into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. He warned them against selling food on the Sabbath. The people from Tyre, who lived in Jerusalem, also brought in fish and merchandise to sell on the Sabbath. Then Nehemiah told the nobles of the city that they were profaning the Sabbath. This was the very thing that made God angry. This was the reason that disaster had hit Jerusalem.