Take a discount (Lk 16:7-16:7)

“Then the manager

Asked another debtor.

‘How much do you owe?’

He replied.

‘A hundred containers

Of wheat.’

The manager said to him.

‘Take your bill!

Make it eighty!’”

 

ἔπειτα ἑτέρῳ εἶπεν Σὺ δὲ πόσον ὀφείλεις; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἑκατὸν κόρους σίτου. λέγει αὐτῷ Δέξαι σου τὰ γράμματα καὶ γράψον ὀγδοήκοντα.

 

This parable story about the dishonest household manager or steward can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the house manager asked another debtor (ἔπειτα ἑτέρῳ εἶπεν) how much did he owe his master (Σὺ δὲ πόσον ὀφείλεις).  This debtor replied (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν) that he owed 100 cors or containers of wheat (Ἑκατὸν κόρους σίτου).  Once again, Luke was the only biblical writer to use this term κόρους that means a cor, about 15 bushels, a dry measure, equivalent to 120 gallons.  This dishonest manager then told him (λέγει αὐτῷ) to take his bill (Δέξαι σου τὰ γράμματα) and make it 80 cors (καὶ γράψον ὀγδοήκοντα).  This was only a 20% discount or a reduction from 1,500 bushels to 1,200 bushels of wheat.  This corrupt manager was not as kind to this debtor, compared to the first debtor.  Is debt a good thing to have?

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The harvest is coming (Lk 3:17-3:17)

“His winnowing fork

Is in his hand,

To clear

His threshing floors.

He will gather

The wheat

Into his granary.

But he will burn

The chaff

With an unquenchable fire.”

 

οὗ τὸ πτύον ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ διακαθᾶραι τὴν ἅλωνα αὐτοῦ καὶ συναγαγεῖν τὸν σῖτον εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην αὐτοῦ, τὸ δὲ ἄχυρον κατακαύσει πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ.

 

Luke has John give this menacing saying that can be found almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 3:12.  Thus, this might be a Q source saying, since it is not found in Mark or JohnLuke has God, the Lord, as a farmer at harvest time.  Luke had John say that this famer has his winnowing fork ready in his hand (οὗ τὸ πτύον ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ).  He was going to clear the threshing floors (διακαθᾶραι τὴν ἅλωνα αὐτοῦ).  He was going to gather his wheat into his barn or granary (καὶ συναγαγεῖν τὸν σῖτον εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην αὐτοῦ).  He would then burn up the leftover chaff (τὸ δὲ ἄχυρον κατακαύσει) with an everlasting or unquenchable fire (πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ).  This last phrase was a little different than that of Matthew.  Nevertheless, this was a clear warning against the useless ones, who like chaff, would burn in an unstoppable fire.

The defeat of the enemies of Zion (Mic 4:11-4:13)

“Now many nations

Are assembled against you.

Saying.

‘Let her be profaned!

Let our eyes gaze upon Zion!’

But they do not know

The thoughts of Yahweh.

They do not understand

His plan.

He has gathered them

As sheaves

To the threshing floor.

Arise!

Thresh!

O daughter Zion!

I will make your horn iron.

I will make your hoofs bronze.

You shall beat in pieces

Many people.

You shall devote their gain

To Yahweh.

You shall devote their wealth

To Yahweh,

The lord of the whole earth.”

Yahweh, via Micah, warned that many nations and people would attack Jerusalem, Mount Zion.  Perhaps this is allusion to the Assyrians around 700 BCE.  However, as they came to gaze at Jerusalem, Yahweh had other plans.  He was going to treat these enemies of Israel as if they were wheat to be grinded down on the threshing floor.  Yahweh wanted the people of Zion to wake up and get ready.  They were to get the threshing machines ready.  The horses would have bronze hoofs and strong iron to do this grinding.  They were to beat these enemies into pieces.  Then they were to take their wealth to devote and donate it to Yahweh, the lord of the whole world.

The fraudulent traders (Am 8:4-8:6)

“Hear this!

You trample

On the needy!

You bring to ruin

The poor of the land!

Saying!

‘When will the new moon

Be over?

Then we may sell grain.

When will the sabbath

Be over?

Then we may offer wheat

For sale.

We will make the ephah

Small.

We will make the shekel

Great.

We will practice deceit

With false balances.

We will buy

The poor

For silver.

We will buy

The needy

For a pair of sandals.

We will sell

The sweepings

Of the wheat.’”

This was a very strong indictment against the commercial traders in Israel.  These traders trampled on the needy and ruined the poor people.  They complained about the new moon and Sabbath services, since these worship services interfered with their trading activities.  They wanted these services to be over so that they could continue selling their grain and wheat.  They used false balances or deceptive scales, as they made the ephah smaller and the shekel greater.  They would buy poor people with silver to make them slaves.  They would even buy the needy people with a pair of sandals.  They also sold the left-over wheat sweepings to make even more money.

The defeat of Ephraim (Hos 10:11-10:12)

“Ephraim was a trained heifer

That loved to thresh.

I spared her fair neck.

But I will make Ephraim

Break the ground.

Judah must plow.

Jacob must harrow

For himself.

Sow for yourselves righteousness!

Reap the fruit of steadfast love!

Break up your fallow ground!

It is time

To seek Yahweh.

Thus,

He may come.

He may rain

Salvation upon you.”

Ephraim was like a trained young cow that would thresh or grind wheat. Although Yahweh had spared her neck, now he was going to send her out to plow the fields, like Judah and Jacob. If they were to sow in righteousness, then they would reap steadfast love. It was time for them to seek good ground, to seek Yahweh. Then Yahweh would come and rain salvation down on them.

Judah (Ezek 27:17-27:17)

“Judah,

With the land of Israel,

Traded with you.

They exchanged

For your merchandise

Wheat from Minnith,

Olives,

Honey,

Oil,

Balm.”

Judah and northern Israel traded with Tyre also. Apparently the wheat from Minnith on the east side of the Jordan River was extra special. They also traded olives, honey, oil, and balm.

Ezekiel’s bread (Ezek 4:9-4:10)

“You take wheat.

You take barley.

You take beans.

You take lentils.

You take millet.

You take spelt.

Put them into

One vessel!

Make bread

For yourself!

During the number of days

That you lie

On your side,

Three hundred ninety days,

You shall eat it.

The food

That you eat

Shall be twenty shekels

A day,

By weight.

You shall eat it

At fixed times.”

The voice of Yahweh continued telling Ezekiel how to make his bread. It will be a combination of wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt. These last two were grains and flours. This sounds more like a stew or a soup, than rich bread. Ezekiel was to be put this combination of ingredients into one pot or vessel to make bread for himself. He was to eat this bread while he was laying on his side for the 390 days. He could eat 20 shekel weight of food daily at specific times, maybe once a day. It is not clear who was preparing his food.