The oldest son (Lk 15:25-15:25)

“Now his elder son

Was in the field.

When he came,

He approached

The house.

He heard music

And dancing.”

 

ἦν δὲ ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ὁ πρεσβύτερος ἐν ἀγρῷ· καὶ ὡς ἐρχόμενος ἤγγισεν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, ἤκουσεν συμφωνίας καὶ χορῶν,

 

This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the older or elder son (ἦν δὲ ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ὁ πρεσβύτερος) was in the field (ἐν ἀγρῷ) when his brother came back.  As he approached the house (καὶ ὡς ἐρχόμενος ἤγγισεν τῇ οἰκίᾳ), he heard music (ἤκουσεν συμφωνίας) and dancing (καὶ χορῶν).  Interesting enough, Luke once again was the only biblical writer to use these two words in his writings, συμφωνίας that means harmony of instruments or music, and χορῶν that means a dance, or dancing.  The older or elder son had worked hard on the farm, while his brother went and spent his fortune on wine, women, and song.  He knew nothing about the reconciliation of his brother and father.  Are you sometimes out of the loop?

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The lament about the desolation (Jer 12:10-12:13)

“Many shepherds have destroyed

My vineyard.

They have trampled down my portion.

They have made my pleasant portion

A desolate wilderness.

They have made it a desolation.

Desolate!

It mourns to me.

The whole land is made desolate.

But no one lays it to heart.

Upon all the bare heights

In the desert,

Spoilers have come.

The sword of Yahweh devours

From one end of the land

To the other.

No one shall be safe.

They have sown wheat.

They have reaped thorns.

They have tired themselves out

But they profit nothing.

They shall be ashamed of their harvests

Because of the fierce anger of Yahweh.”

Jeremiah continues with Yahweh’s lament about the desolation of his land. The shepherd leaders destroyed his vineyards. They have trampled his land from one end to the other end until it is a desolate wilderness, but no one seems to care. The spoilers have come from all over to devour the land. No one was safe from Yahweh’s sword. After they had sown wheat, they only harvested thorns. They worked hard, but without any gain. They were going to be ashamed of their harvests, because of the fierce anger of Yahweh.

The treatment of slaves (Sir 33:24-33:29)

“Fodder is for a donkey.

A stick is for a donkey.

A burden is for a donkey.

Bread is for a slave.

Discipline is for a slave.

Work is for a slave.

Set your slave to work.

You will find rest.

If you leave his hands idle,

He will seek liberty.

A yoke will bow his neck.

A thong will bow his neck.

A wicked servant should have

Rack and tortures.

Put him to work.

Thus he may not be idle.

Idleness teaches much evil.

Set him to work,

As is fitting for him.

If he does not obey,

Make his fetters heavy.

Do not be overbearing

Toward anybody.

Do nothing unjust.”

Sirach accepts slavery as a fact of life, not to be disputed. This was a common biblical theme, so that the slave owners who cited the Bible could not be faulted. Slaves were slaves, so what? There was no sense of the idea of an equal fellow human being. In fact, it was clear that they should work hard as there was a comparison of a slave to a donkey. Just as the donkey was fed, whipped, and burdened, so too the slave should be fed with bread, disciplined, and worked hard. If your slave worked hard, you could get some restful idleness time for yourself. You should put a yoke and thong around your slave’s neck. If he was bad, you could beat him up. The slave should never be idle because that would lead to evil and his possible escape. If the slave did not obey, he should be punished. However, there was a limit to this brutality. You should not be overbearing or unjust. Of course, it was your decision to evaluate the situation.