The parable of the vineyard (Mk 12:1-12:1)

“Jesus began

To speak to them

In parables.

‘A man planted

A vineyard.

He put a fence

Around it.

He dug a pit

For the wine press.

He built

A watchtower.

Then he leased it

To tenants.

He went away

To another country.”

 

Καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοῖς ἐν παραβολαῖς λαλεῖν. ἀμπελῶνα ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν, καὶ περιέθηκεν φραγμὸν καὶ ὤρυξεν ὑπολήνιον καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον, καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς, καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν.

 

This parable of the absentee vineyard landowner can be found in Matthew, chapter 21:33, and Luke, chapter 20:9, almost word for word.  Mark said that Jesus began to speak to them in parables or stories (Καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοῖς ἐν παραβολαῖς λαλεῖν).  This story was about a male landowner who planted a vineyard (ἀμπελῶνα ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν).  He then put a fence around this vineyard (καὶ περιέθηκεν φραγμὸν).  Then he dug a wine press (καὶ ὤρυξεν ὑπολήνιον).  He even built a fortified watchtower (καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον), so that it was a very nice vineyard.  This story is reminiscent of the allegory of the vineyard from Isaiah, chapter 5:1-2.  Isaiah had a song about a friend’s fertile field.  He also dug out stones and planted choice vines.  He put a tower in the middle to look over the vineyard with a carved wine vat there also.  However, he got bad grapes instead of good grapes.  Clearly, he did not get what he expected.  However, this landowner here leased his land or rented it to farmer tenants (καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς).  Then he left that region and went away to another country (καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν).  These last two things, renting and leaving the land, will cause him a problem.

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The absentee land owner of the vineyard (Mt 21:33-21:33)

“Listen to another parable!

There was a landowner

Who planted a vineyard.

He put a fence around it.

He dug a wine press in it.

He built a watchtower.

Then he leased it

To tenants.

He went away

To another country.”

 

Ἄλλην παραβολὴν ἀκούσατε. Ἄνθρωπος ἦν οἰκοδεσπότης ὅστις ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν καὶ ὤρυξεν ἐν αὐτῷ ληνὸν καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον, καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς, καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν.

 

This parable of the absentee landowner can be found in Mark, chapter 12:1, word for word, and Luke, chapter 20:9, almost word for word.  Jesus wanted them to listen to another parable or story (Ἄλλην παραβολὴν ἀκούσατε) about a male landowner (Ἄνθρωπος ἦν οἰκοδεσπότης), who planted a vineyard (ὅστις ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα).  He then put a fence around it (καὶ φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν) and dug a wine press in it (καὶ ὤρυξεν ἐν αὐτῷ ληνὸν).  He even built a fortified watchtower (καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον).  This seemed like a very nice vineyard.  This was reminiscent of the allegory of the vineyard of Isaiah, chapter 5:1-2.  Isaiah had a song about a friend’s fertile field.  He also dug out stones and planted choice vines.  He put a tower in the middle to look over the vineyard with a carved wine vat there also.  However, he got bad grapes instead of good grapes.  Clearly, he did not get what he expected.  However, this landowner here leased his land or rented it to farmer tenants (καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς).  Then he left that region and went away to another country (ἀπεδήμησεν).  These last two things, renting and leaving the land will cause him a problem.

Hire people (Mt 20:1-20:1)

“The kingdom of heaven is

Like a landowner

Who went out

Early in the morning

To hire laborers

For his vineyard.”

 

Ὁμοία γάρ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ἀνθρώπῳ οἰκοδεσπότῃ, ὅστις ἐξῆλθεν ἅμα πρωῒ μισθώσασθαι ἐργάτας εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew.  Jesus, via Matthew, explained that the kingdom of heaven was like (Ὁμοία γάρ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν) a wealthy vineyard owner, the man who owned and was in charge of his land (ἀνθρώπῳ οἰκοδεσπότῃ).  He needed his grapes picked at the harvest time.  He would hire day laborers or daily workers to do this difficult work.  He went out early in the morning (ὅστις ἐξῆλθεν ἅμα πρω), probably around 6 AM.  He wanted to hire some daily grape picker field laborers (μισθώσασθαι ἐργάτας) to work on his land in his vineyard (εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ).  This vineyard would have been a symbol of the prophets working in the vineyard of Israel.

Yahweh’s people (Zech 9:16-9:17)

“On that day,

Yahweh their God

Will save them.

They are the flock

Of his people.

Like the jewels

Of a crown,

They shall shine

On his land.

What great goodness is his!

What great beauty is his!

Grain shall make

The young men flourish.

New wine shall make

The maidens flourish.”

There was no doubt that Yahweh, their God, would save the Israelites.  They were his flock.  They would shine like jewels on a crown in his land.  There was no limit to the goodness and beauty of God.  Grain and new wine would help the young men and the young maidens to flourish.

The prophecy against Amaziah (Am 7:16-7:17)

“Therefore,

Hear the word of Yahweh!

You say.

‘Do not prophesy

Against Israel!

Do not preach

Against the house of Isaac!

Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Your wife shall become

A prostitute in the city.

Your sons,

Your daughters,

Shall fall by the sword.

Your land

Shall be parceled out

By line.

You yourself shall die

In an unclean land.

Israel shall surely

Go into exile

Away from its land.’”

Amos wanted Amaziah to hear the word of Yahweh that he had heard. While Amaziah had said not to prophesize in Israel or against the house of Israel, Yahweh, via Amos, responded by telling him that his wife would become a prostitute in the city. Both his sons and daughters would die by the sword. His land would be parceled out by the line. Finally, Amaziah would die in a foreign unclean land, because Israel was going to be sent into exile into a land far from there. This was a very strong rebuke of Amaziah.

The attack of the locusts (Joel 1:5-1:7)

“Wake up!

You drunkards!

Weep!

Wail!

All you wine-drinkers!

The sweet wine

Is cut off

From your mouth.

A nation has invaded

My land.

It is powerful.

It is innumerable.

Its teeth are

Lions’ teeth.

It has the fangs

Of a lioness.

It has laid waste

My vines.

It has splintered

My fig trees.

It has stripped off

Their bark.

It has thrown it down.

Their branches

Have turned white.”

Joel noted that the attack of the locust grasshoppers was very severe, like the invasion of another country. He wanted the drunkards to wake up and weep. All those wine-drinkers should wail. They were going to have their sweet wine cut off from them. The powerful, innumerable invasion of the grasshoppers in his land was like the fangs of a lion’s teeth. This attack had laid waste the vines and the fig trees. This plague of locusts had splintered and stripped off the bark of the trees. They had thrown the trees to the ground, as the branches of the trees turned white.