The third and fourth group of laborers (Mt 20:5-20:5)

“When the landowner

Went out again

About noon,

The sixth hour,

And about three o’clock,

The ninth hour,

He did the same.”

 

πάλιν δὲ ἐξελθὼν περὶ ἕκτην καὶ ἐνάτην ὥραν ἐποίησεν ὡσαύτως.

 

Jesus continued with this parable that is unique to Matthew.  This landowner needed more workers so that every 3 hours, he went into the marketplace to see if there were any day workers available.  Thus, this landowner of the vineyards went out again (πάλιν δὲ ἐξελθὼν) about noon, the sixth hour (περὶ ἕκτην), and about 3:00 PM, the ninth hour (καὶ ἐνάτην ὥραν).  He did the same (ἐποίησεν ὡσαύτως) as he had done at the third hour or 9 AM.  He asked them to work in the vineyard and he would pay them whatever was right, fair or just, without a specific agreed wage.

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Yahweh keeps them safe from locusts (Mal 3:11-3:11)

“‘I will rebuke

The locust

For you.

Thus,

It will not destroy

The produce

Of your soil.

Your vine

In the field

Shall not be barren.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh, via Malachi, said that he was going to hold back the locusts from them.  These locusts would not destroy the products that they planted.  In fact, their vineyards would not be barren, but fruitful.

Against Samaria (Mic 1:5-1:7)

“All this is for

The transgression

Of Jacob.

This is for

The sins

Of the house of Israel.

What is the transgression

Of Jacob?

Is it not Samaria?

What is the high place

Of Judah?

Is it not Jerusalem?

Therefore,

I will make Samaria

A heap in the open country.

I will make it

A place for planting vineyards.

I will pour down

Her stones

Into the valley.

I will uncover

Her foundations.

All her images

Shall be beaten to pieces.

All her wages

Shall be burned with fire.

I will lay waste

To all her idols.

She gathered them

As the wages of a prostitute.

They shall again be used

As the wages of a prostitute.”

Yahweh was coming because of the transgressions of Jacob, the sins of the house of northern Israel at the very place of Samaria.  The high place of Judah was Jerusalem.  Thus, Yahweh, was going to make Samaria like a heap in an open field or a place for vineyards.  He was going to take all their stones and throw them in the valley, as he would uncover their foundations.  All the idol images would be smashed to pieces, so that all their idols gods would be destroyed.  The wages of the temple prostitutes would be burned.  Whatever wages they had gained would be used against them.

Wailing and lamentation (Am 5:16-5:17)

“Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

The Lord!

‘In all the squares.

There shall be wailing.

In all the streets,

They shall say.

‘Alas!

Alas!’

They shall call

The farmers

To mourning.

They shall call

Those skilled

In lamentation,

To wailing.

In all the vineyards,

There shall be wailing.

I will pass through

The midst of you.’

Says Yahweh.”

Amos has this oracle of Yahweh that talks about the coming wailing and mourning all over the place. Yahweh, the God of the heavenly army or hosts is the Lord who speaks to them. In the streets and the squares of the town, there will be wailing and mourning. They will cry out, “alas, alas.” The farmers will mourn. They will need skilled mourners because of the great grief that they face. The people with vineyards will wail and mourn also. Yahweh was going to pass through them the middle of them.

The failure of the gardens (Am 4:9-4:9)

“‘I struck you

With blight.

I struck you

With mildew.

I laid waste

Your gardens.

I laid waste

Your vineyards.

The locusts devoured

Your fig trees.

The locusts devoured

Your olive trees.

Yet you did not

Return to me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Amos has this oracle of Yahweh repeat the same theme, that despite the failure of their gardens and vineyards, they did not return to Yahweh. He had struck them with blight and mildew. Yahweh had laid waste their gardens and vineyards. Locusts devoured their fig trees and olive trees. Despite all this devastation, the Israelites of the northern kingdom did not return to Yahweh.

The punishment for the people of Jerusalem (Jer 39:8-39:10)

“The Chaldeans burned

The king’s house

With the houses of the people.

They broke down

The walls of Jerusalem.

Then Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Exiled to Babylon

The rest of the people

Who were left in the city.

This included

Those who had deserted to him,

As well as the people who remained.

Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Left in the land of Judah

Some of the poor people

Who owned nothing.

He gave them vineyards.

He gave them fields

At the same time.”

Once again, this is similar to 2 Kings, chapter 25. However, here there is no mention of an exact date. The Chaldean fighters burned the palace of the king and other houses in Jerusalem. There is no mention about the burning of the Temple as in 2 Kings. They also broke down the walls of Jerusalem. The king of Babylon did not come himself, but he sent the captain of his bodyguard, Nebuzaradan, to take all the people as captives. This included those who had deserted to the Chaldeans as well as those left in the city. However, he gave the poor people the vineyards and fields. This might be a problem when the exiles return. Thus, the Judean kingdom lasted 134 years after the fall of the northern Israelite kingdom at Samaria.

The live style of the Rechabites (Jer 35:7-35:10)

“‘You shall not

Build a house!

You shall not

Sow seed!

You shall not

Plant a vineyard!

You shall not

Own a vineyard!

You shall live

In tents

All your days!

Thus you may live many days

In the land where you reside.’

We have obeyed

This charge

Of our ancestor Jonadab

The son of Rechab,

In all that he commanded us.

Thus we ourselves,

Our wives,

Our sons,

Our daughters

Do not drink wine

All our days.

We do not build houses

To live in.

We have no vineyard.

We have no field.

We have no seed.

But we have lived in tents.

We have obeyed Jonadab.

We have done

All that our ancestor Jonadab

Commanded us.”

These Rechabites followed the commandments of Jonadab the son of Rechab. Thus they lived a unique nomad live style. Jonadab had commanded them not to build houses or sow seeds. They were to live in tents. They did not practice any kind of agriculture, so that they neither planted nor owned any vineyards or fields. They would live a long life, as long as they abstained from intoxicants, as they, their wives, and their children did not drink any wine. Since they did not cultivate grapes, they drank the milk of their animals. Thus they seem to be closer to the Hebrew Nazirites, who vowed a sacred separate life style, but only for a set time period, not cutting their hair, not drinking intoxicating liquids, and not touching unclean things. These Rechabites seem to be like a religious order or communal monks, actually like wandering desert Arabs.