Last group hired (Mt 20:6-20:7)

“About five o’clock,

The eleventh hour,

The landowner went out.

He found others standing around.

He said to them.

‘Why are you standing here

Idle all day?’

They said to him.

‘Because no one

Has hired us.’

He said to them.

‘You also go

Into the vineyard.’

 

περὶ δὲ τὴν ἑνδεκάτην ἐξελθὼν εὗρεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Τί ὧδε ἑστήκατε ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν ἀργοί;

λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἡμᾶς ἐμισθώσατο. λέγει αὐτοῖς Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew.  This landowner of the vineyard went (ἐξελθὼν) to the market square at about 5:00 PM, the eleventh hour (περὶ δὲ τὴν ἑνδεκάτην).  He found some people still standing around (εὗρεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας) in the square.  The landowner asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) why were they standing around idle all day (Τί ὧδε ἑστήκατε ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν ἀργοί).  They said to him (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ) that no one had hired them (Ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἡμᾶς ἐμισθώσατο).  Thus. he told them (λέγει αὐτοῖς) to go to work in his vineyard (Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα).  The Greek Orthodox text added the phrase about the earlier group.  He simply said that they would receive what was right, just, or fair (καὶ ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον λήψεσθε).  Remember, the first group had been working 11 hours before this last group began to work.

The first laborers hired (Mt 20:2-20:2)

“He agreed

With the laborers

For the usual daily wage.

He sent them

Into his vineyard.”

 

συμφωνήσας δὲ μετὰ τῶν ἐργατῶν ἐκ δηναρίου τὴν ἡμέραν ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew.  Jesus continued with his parable.  This land owner hired the first group of day laborers.  They came to a mutual understanding.  This land owner agreed and the day laborers also agreed to accept one denarius as payment for that day, the usual or common wage for a day’s work (συμφωνήσας δὲ μετὰ τῶν ἐργατῶν ἐκ δηναρίου τὴν ἡμέραν).  This Roman silver coin was worth about $.15 USA.  They would work all day for about 15 cents.  Then he sent them into his vineyard to pick the grapes (ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ).  So far, so good, nothing unusual here.  A land owner and some workers agreed on a day’s pay that was not extravagant, without any middle man.

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.