The hidden treasure and the kingdom of heaven (Mt 13:44-13:44)

“The kingdom of heaven is

Like a treasure

Hidden in a field.

Someone found it.

He hid it.

Then in his joy

He goes

And sells

All that he has.

Then he buys that field.”

 

Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν θησαυρῷ κεκρυμμένῳ ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ, ὃν εὑρὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔκρυψεν, καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς αὐτοῦ ὑπάγει καὶ πωλεῖ ὅσα ἔχει καὶ ἀγοράζει τὸν ἀγρὸν ἐκεῖνον.

 

Only Matthew has this parable about the treasure in the field.  Jesus. via Matthew, compared the kingdom of heaven to a hidden treasure in a field (Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν θησαυρῷ κεκρυμμένῳ ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ).  If a man found it (ὃν εὑρὼν ἄνθρωπος), he would re-hide it again (ἔκρυψεν).  Then with great joy or gladness (καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς αὐτοῦ), he would sell everything that he had (ὑπάγει καὶ πωλεῖ ὅσα ἔχει), so that he could buy that field (καὶ ἀγοράζει τὸν ἀγρὸν ἐκεῖνον).  In Jewish law, if you owned the property, you were entitled to everything on that property.  In other words, this man would give up everything for this treasure.  Thus, you should give up everything for the heavenly kingdom treasure.

 

The open land use in the city (Ezek 48:17-48:20)

“The city shall have

Open land.

It shall be

On the north side,

Two hundred fifty cubits,

On the south side,

Two hundred fifty cubits,

On the east side

Two hundred fifty cubits,

On the west side

Two hundred fifty cubits.

The remainder of the length

Alongside the holy portion

Shall be

Ten thousand cubits

To the east,

Ten thousand cubits

To the west.

It shall be alongside

The holy portion.

Its produce shall be

Food for the workers

Of the city.

The workers of the city,

From all the tribes of Israel,

Shall cultivate it.

The whole portion

That you shall set apart

Shall be

Twenty-five thousand cubits square.

That is

The holy portion together

With the property of the city.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, had plans for the area around the holy land with the Temple in it. The city would have 250 cubits of open space land on each side of the property, about 400 feet on the east, west, north, and south sides. The remainder of the land alongside the holy portion would be 10,000 cubits or about 16,000 feet on both the east and west side for producing food for the city workers. These city workers, from all the different tribes of Israel, would cultivate and farm this land. The total amount of land set aside for the holy portion and the city land around it would be 25,000 cubits square or about 40,000 square feet.

The prince can give only his own property (Ezek 46:18-46:18)

“The prince

Shall not take

Any of the inheritance

Of the people,

Thrusting them

Out of their property.

He shall give

His sons

Their inheritance

Out of his own property.

Thus,

None of my people

Shall be dispossessed

Of their property.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was also insistent that the prince could not take the property of others, and then give it to his sons. He could only give property to his sons from his own inheritance. He could not throw people off their own property to give to his children as gifts. No one in Israel would be dispossessed of their own property, because their property was safe from the prince or ruler.

The prince can give to his sons (Ezek 46:16-46:16)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘If the prince

Makes a gift

To any of his sons,

Out of his inheritance,

It shall belong

To his sons.

It is their property

By inheritance.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, got into the question of inheritances. If the prince wanted to give a gift to any of his sons, it would then become the property of that son by inheritance, since it was out of the prince’s inheritance.

They have strayed from Yahweh (Ezek 11:14-11:15)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Your kinsfolk,

Your own relatives,

Your fellow exiles,

The whole house of Israel,

All of them,

Are those of whom

The inhabitants of Jerusalem

Have said.

‘They have gone far

From Yahweh.

To us

This land is

Given for a possession.’”

As usual, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel. He reminded him that all his relatives, his household, his fellow exiles, and the whole house of Israel had strayed from Yahweh. However, there is an unusual twist as the people left in Jerusalem said that since these others had sinned, they would take possession of the land and the property of those who had died or were taken captive.

Unacceptable sacrifices (Sir 34:21-34:27)

“If one sacrifices ill-gotten goods,

The offering is blemished.

The gifts of the lawless

Are not acceptable.

The Most High is not pleased

With the offerings of the ungodly.

He does not forgive sins

For a multitude of sacrifices.

Like one who kills a son,

Before his father’s eyes,

Is the person

Who offers a sacrifice

From the property of the poor.

The bread of the needy

Is the life of the poor.

Whoever deprives them of it

Is a murderer.

To take away a neighbor’s living

Is to commit murder.

To deprive an employee of his wages

Is to shed blood.”

There are some sacrifices that are not acceptable to the Lord. Sirach points out that stolen or ill-gotten goods sacrificed are blemished and thus unacceptable. Even good gifts from the lawless and the ungodly will not be acceptable. A lot of sacrifices do not forgive sins. If you sacrifice the property of the poor, you are like a person killing a son before his own father. The bread of the poor is needed for their life. You are a murderer when you take bread from the poor. If you take away the living of your neighbor, you are a murderer. To deprive anyone of their wages is like shedding their blood. In other words, to steal from the poor or take away their livelihood is like murdering them.