Zacchaeus defends himself (Lk 19:8-19:8)

“Zacchaeus stood there.

He said

To the Lord.

‘Look!

Lord!

I will give

To the poor

Half of my possessions.

If I have defrauded

Anyone of anything,

I will pay back

Four times as much.’”

 

σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσειά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, Κύριε, τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι, καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν.

 

Luke indicated that Zacchaeus stood there (σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος).  He then said to the Lord Jesus (εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον), calling him Lord (Κύριε) that he was willing to give to the poor (τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι) half of his possessions (Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσειά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων).  He said that if he had defrauded anyone of anything (καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα), he was willing to pay it back 4 times as much (ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν).  Once again, Luke used the Greek word ἐσυκοφάντησα, that means to accuse falsely or defraud people, that was not found in any of the other Greek biblical writers.  Zacchaeus made a big deal about how he was not like the other tax collectors.  Despite his wealth, he was willing to give half of it away to some unnamed poor people.  Anytime, he was accused of defrauding people, he would give them 4 times what they were claiming.  This restoration of 4 times goes back to Exodus, chapter 22:1, about stealing sheep.  The thief had to pay four sheep for any one stolen sheep.  Thus, Zacchaeus seemed like a very fair person, leaning over backwards to help people.  Yet he was still wealthy.  Luke was the only synoptic with this story of Zacchaeus.  How do you treat people who claim that you are defrauding them?

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The land for all the Israelites (Ezek 45:6-45:6)

“Alongside the portion

Set apart

As the holy district,

You shall assign

As a possession

For the city

An area

Five thousand cubits wide,

Twenty-five thousand cubits long.

It shall belong

To the whole house

Of Israel.”

Besides the holy district in the city of Jerusalem, there was to be another portion of the land set aside for all the people of Israel. In fact, it is rather small, only half the size of the land set apart for the Levites. This is a long strip of land 25,000 cubits long, but only 5,000 cubits wide. It would seem that there were more Levites than regular people in Jerusalem.

The problems in lending money (Sir 29:4-29:7)

“Many persons regard a loan

As a windfall.

This causes trouble

To those who help them.

One kisses another’s hands

Until he gets a loan.

He is very deferential

In speaking of his neighbor’s money.

But at the time

For repayment,

He delays.

He pays back

With empty promises.

He finds fault with the time.

If he can pay,

His creditor

Will hardly get back half.

The borrower will regard

That as a windfall.

If he cannot pay,

The borrower has robbed

The other of his money.

He has needlessly

Made him an enemy.

He will repay him

With curses.

He will repay him

With reproaches.

Instead of glory,

He will repay him

With dishonor.

Many refuse to lend,

Not because of meanness,

But from fear of being defrauded needlessly.”

Sirach says that this ideal of lending money to your neighbor as giving a helping hand has a few hiccups. Some people think that the loan is a gift, so that they never pay it back. They go around being very deferential to the people with money, kissing their hands. However, when it comes time to repay the loan all they give back are empty promises. They say that they need more time. Sometimes they only pay half of it back, since they think the rest of it was a gift to them. If they do not pay it back, they have robbed their neighbor. They have needlessly made him an enemy. Curses and reproaches will follow with dishonor and anger on all sides. This had led many people to refuse to lend money because they are afraid of being defrauded. Thus there are less and less no interest loans happening.

How much should they give Raphael? (Tob 12:1-12:5)

“When the wedding celebration was ended, Tobit called his son Tobias.

‘My child,

See to the paying the wages of the man who went with you.

Give him a bonus as well!’

He replied.

‘Father, how much shall I pay him?

It would do no harm to give him half of the possession

That I brought back with me.

He has led me back to you safely.

He cured my wife.

He brought the money back with me.

He also healed you.

How much extra shall I give him as a bonus?’

Tobit said.

‘He deserves,

My child,

To receive half of all that he brought back.’

So Tobias called him.

‘Take for your wages half of all that you two brought back.

Farewell!’”

After the big celebration, Tobit called his son aside and asked him if he had paid the man who went with him. They both agreed that he should be paid a bonus. However, Tobias wanted to know how much he should pay him. He wanted to give him half of all the possessions he had brought back with him. After all, he had done a lot. Besides bringing him back safely, he also cured his wife, and his father, as well as got the money from Rages. Then Tobit agreed to give him half of what had come back to the house. Tobit called Raphael and told him to take half the possessions. Then he simply said “farewell.”

Protecting the work (Neh 4:21-4:23)

“So we labored at the work. Half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time. ‘Let every man and his servant pass the night inside Jerusalem. That way, there may be a guard for us by night so that we may labor by day.’ I, my brothers, my servants, and the men of the guard who followed me, never took off our clothes. Each one kept his weapon in his hand.”

There was a new plan. Half of the workers had spears all day. It must have been difficult to work with a sword. Nehemiah wanted everyone to spend the night in Jerusalem. That way, there would a guard for the night. Then in the daytime, they could do the labor work. No one ever took off their clothes. Everyone kept a weapon in their hand.

Rebuilding the wall (Neh 4:6-4:6)

“So we rebuilt the wall. The entire wall was joined together to half its height because the people had a mind to work.”

Despite the taunts, the work continued until they had built a wall half as high as the original wall. However, it was joined together all around the whole city of Jerusalem. Clearly Nehemiah was part of this “we” that rebuilt the wall around the city.