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).

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The failure of Ephraim (Hos 5:5-5:7)

“Israel’s pride

Testifies against him.

Ephraim stumbles

In his guilt.

Judah also shall stumble

With them.

With their flocks,

With their herds,

They shall go

To seek Yahweh.

But they will not find him,

He has withdrawn

From them.

They have dealt faithlessly

With Yahweh.

They have borne

Illegitimate children.

Now the new moon

Shall devour them

With their fields.”

Israel’s pride would testify against them. Ephraim would stumble with guilt. But Judah would also stumble with them. They would go with their flocks and herds seeking Yahweh, but they would not find him. Yahweh has withdrawn from them, because they did not treat Yahweh faithfully. They, thus, bore illegitimate children, so that the new moon festivals would devour them with their fields.

The kitchen for the offerings (Ezek 46:20-46:20)

“He said to me.

‘This is the place

Where the priests

Shall boil

The guilt offering,

As well as the sin offering.

This is where

They shall bake

The grain offering.

Thus,

They will not bring them out

Into the outer court.

If they did,

They would communicate

Holiness

To the people.’”

Ezekiel saw the so-called holy kitchen. The bronze man explained that the priests boiled their guilt and sin offerings here. They also baked the grain offerings here. Thus, they would not bring out these offerings to the outer court. If they brought them out to the outer court, then the people would touch or see these holy offerings. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, did not want the people to come in contact with these holy offerings, less they become holy also.

Description of the false female prophetesses (Ezek 13:18-13:19)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

Say to them!

‘Woe to the women

Who sew bands

On all wrists!

Woe to the woman

Who make veils

For the heads of persons

Of every height,

In the hunt for human lives!

Will you hunt down lives

Among my people?

Will you maintain

Your own lives?

You have profaned me

Among my people

For handfuls of barley,

For pieces of bread.

You put to death

Persons

Who should not die.

You keep alive

Persons

Who should not live,

By your lies

To my people,

Who listen to lies.’”

Yahweh said to Ezekiel that these prophetesses should be cursed. Then he went into a description of their activities. One group of these female prophetesses sewed bands on the wrists of people. What exactly was that? Most commentators are not sure. It was some kind of band, pillow, or lucky charm on the arm by the wrist, elbow, or armpit. They also made veils or kerchiefs for the head. How they were hunting down human lives is not clear.   However, they were profaning Yahweh with their lies. Apparently, they received a few handfuls of barley or pieces of bread for their activities. More serious is the fact that these women were sometimes asked to be judges. They would judge the innocence or guilt of a person, leading to their free life or the death penalty of a person, perhaps wrongly as indicated in this passage. Whatever their lies, the people of Israel were listening to them.

The false visions of the prophets (Lam 2:14-2:14)

Nun

“Your prophets

Have seen

False visions

For you.

They have seen

Deceptive visions.

They have not exposed

Your iniquity

In order to restore

Your fortunes.

But they have seen

False oracles,

Misleading oracles

For you.”

Now we have an element of guilt. This author blames their situation in Jerusalem on the false and deceptive visions of Yahweh’s prophets. Jeremiah often called them the happy prophets, who saw no harm coming. These prophets never challenged the people and their iniquity. They kept talking about restoration with their false and misleading oracles. It almost seems like this is an attempt to say that the prophets had the wrong visions or oracles from Yahweh, rather than the prophets misunderstood these visions or oracles of Yahweh. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Nun. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

Israel and Judah have not been forgotten (Jer 51:5-51:6)

“Israel

Has not been forsaken!

Judah

Has not been forsaken

By their God,

Yahweh of hosts!

Even though their land

Is full of guilt

Against the Holy One

Of Israel,

Flee!

From the midst

Of Babylon!

Save your lives!

Each one of you!

Do not perish!

Because of her guilt!

This is the time

Of Yahweh’s vengeance.

He is repaying her

What is due.”

Yahweh declares, via Jeremiah, that the Israelites and Judeans should not worry. They have not been forsaken, left behind like widows, even though the land is full of guilty ones, who have sinned against the Holy One of Israel. They should flee Babylon. They should save their lives. They will not perish because of the guilt of Babylon. Yahweh would be bringing vengeance and repaying Babylon for what she had done.

The curse for David’s enemies (Ps 69:22-69:29)

“Let their own table be a trap for them!

Let their own table be a snare for their allies!

Let their eyes be darkened,

So that they cannot see!

Make their loins tremble continually!

Pour out your indignation upon them!

Let our burning anger overtake them!

May their camp be desolation!

Let no one live in their tents!

They persecute those

Whom you have struck down.

They persecute those

Whom you have wounded.

They attack still more.

Add guilt to their guilt!

May they have no acquittal from you!

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living!

Let them not be enrolled among the righteous!

But I am lowly.

I am in pain.

Let your salvation!

O God!

Protect me high!”

These are a series of curses or wishes against the enemies of David. His enemies’ tables should be a trap or snare to them and their friends. He wanted them to lose their sight and to tremble all the time. God’s indignation and anger should be upon them. Their camp should be desolate so that they could not live in their tents. They had persecuted and attacked those who had been wounded. Their guilt pilled on guilt. They should not be acquitted. They should be blotted out of the book of the living. They should not be listed among the righteous. They should die. Then there is the cry of David to protect him and bring him salvation.