The lost silver coin (Lk 15:8-15:8)

“A woman,

Had ten silver coins.

If she loses

One of them,

Does she not

Light a lamp,

Sweep the house,

And search diligently

Until she finds it?”

 

Ἢ τίς γυνὴ δραχμὰς ἔχουσα δέκα, ἐὰν ἀπολέσῃ δραχμὴν μίαν, οὐχὶ ἅπτει λύχνον καὶ σαροῖ τὴν οἰκίαν καὶ ζητεῖ ἐπιμελῶς ἕως οὗ εὕρῃ;

 

Next Luke had Jesus present 3 unique parables that do not appear elsewhere in the canonical gospels.  The first one is a short story about a lost coin, while the other two unique parables are longer.  Jesus said that this woman (Ἢ τίς γυνὴ) had 10 drachma silver coins (δραχμὰς ἔχουσα δέκα).  If she lost one of them (ἐὰν ἀπολέσῃ δραχμὴν μίαν), would she not light a lamp (οὐχὶ ἅπτει λύχνον), sweep the house (καὶ σαροῖ τὴν οἰκίαν), and search diligently or carefully (καὶ ζητεῖ ἐπιμελῶς), until she found it (ἕως οὗ εὕρῃ).  In this story, a woman with 10 drachmas lost one of them.  The Greek drachma was worth about a day’s pay so that 10 would have been about 2 weeks’ salary.  Thus, this lost drachma would roughly be about a day’s pay.  Would she not search her house with a lamp, sweeping everywhere?  Do you search for things when you lose them?

The oil should have been given to the poor (Mk 14:5-14:5)

“‘This ointment

Could have been sold

For more

Than three hundred denarii.

The money

Could have been

Given to the poor.’

They scolded her.”

 

ἠδύνατο γὰρ τοῦτο τὸ μύρον πραθῆναι ἐπάνω δηναρίων τριακοσίων καὶ δοθῆναι τοῖς πτωχοῖς· καὶ ἐνεβριμῶντο αὐτῇ.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 26:9, and somewhat similar to John, chapter 12:4-6, where Judas Iscariot complained about wasting money, but John then made other derogatory remarks about Judas.  Mark said here that these unnamed disciples said that this was a waste of this precious “oil (μύρον)” that could have been sold for a large sum (ἠδύνατο γὰρ τοῦτο τὸ μύρον πραθῆναι), more than 300 denarii (ἐπάνω δηναρίων τριακοσίων), worth about $450.00 US.  This must have been a very expensive small jar of nard oil imported from the Indian Himalayan mountains.  They complained that this large sum of money could have been given to the poor (καὶ δοθῆναι τοῖς πτωχοῖς).  Giving to the poor at the time of Passover was a common custom.  Thus, these disciples angrily scolded her (καὶ ἐνεβριμῶντο αὐτῇ).

The poor widow (Mk 12:42-12:42)

“One poor widow came.

She put in

Two small copper coins,

That are worth

A penny.”

 

καὶ ἐλθοῦσα μία χήρα πτωχὴ ἔβαλεν λεπτὰ δύο, ὅ ἐστιν κοδράντης.

 

Only Luke, chapter 21:2, has something similar, while Matthew did not mention this incident.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that one poor widow came to the treasury (καὶ ἐλθοῦσα μία χήρα πτωχὴ).  She put in two small copper coins (ἔβαλεν λεπτὰ δύο).  A λεπτὰ “lepton” copper coin was the smallest Greek coin and often called a “mite”.  2 of these “lepton” copper coins was worth a penny or a κοδράντης (ὅ ἐστιν κοδράντης).  This κοδράντης “quadrans” was the smallest Roman copper coin.  This was a very small amount of money that this poor widow put into the Temple treasury.

Lawful to pay taxes (Mk 12:14-12:14)

“‘Is it lawful

To pay taxes

To the emperor Caesar?

Or not?

Should we pay them?

Or should we not?’”

 

ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ; δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν;

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 22:17, and Luke, chapter 20:22, but slightly different.  These Pharisees and these Herodians tried to trick Jesus.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax law.  Mark said that they asked him whether it was lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  They wanted to know the practical answer about whether they should pay this tax or not (δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν)?  Rome had an annual personal census tax of one denarius, worth about $1.50 USA, not that much.  However, many of the Roman tax collectors were considered sinners.  As the political party of the Romans, the Herodians, and the religious Israelite Pharisees were both there.  Thus, his answer might offend someone.  In fact, some Jewish zealots refused to pay any civil tax to the emperor.

Should they buy food? (Mk 6:37-6:37)

“But Jesus

Answered them.

‘You give them

Something to eat!’

They said to him.

‘Are we to go

And buy

Two hundred denarii

Worth of bread?

Then give it

To them

To eat.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Δότε αὐτοῖς ὑμεῖς φαγεῖν. καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ἀπελθόντες ἀγοράσωμεν δηναρίων διακοσίων ἄρτους, καὶ δώσομεν αὐτοῖς φαγεῖν;

 

The fact that Jesus wanted to feed everyone is recorded in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:16, Luke, chapter 9:13, and John, chapter 6:5-7, plus here in a more elaborate fashion.  Despite the fact that the disciples wanted to send the crowds home, Jesus wanted to feed them there.  Mark indicated that Jesus answered his disciples (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) telling them to give the people something to eat (Δότε αὐτοῖς ὑμεῖς φαγεῖν).  Only Mark has this response of the disciples asking about buying food.  The disciples said to Jesus (καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ) if they were to go to buy food (Ἀπελθόντες ἀγοράσωμεν), that it would cost about 200 denarii to buy bread enough (δηναρίων διακοσίων ἄρτους) for all these people to eat (καὶ δώσομεν αὐτοῖς φαγεῖν).  A denarius was worth one day’s pay, so that that 200 denarii would be nearly a year’s pay, a large amount of money.  The disciples thought that Jesus wanted them to buy some bread for the crowd.  In John, there was a conversation between Jesus and Philip about this.

Thirty pieces of silver (Mt 26:15-26:16)

“Judas said.

‘What will you give me

If I betray

Jesus to you?’

The chief priests

Paid him

Thirty pieces of silver.

From that moment on,

He began to look

For an opportunity

To betray him.”

 

εἶπεν Τί θέλετέ μοι δοῦναι, κἀγὼ ὑμῖν παραδώσω αὐτόν; οἱ δὲ ἔστησαν αὐτῷ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια.

καὶ ἀπὸ τότε ἐζήτει εὐκαιρίαν ἵνα αὐτὸν παραδῷ.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 14:11, and Luke, chapter 22:5-6, but there is no mention of the exact amount of money there.  Matthew said that Judas wanted to know what these chief priests were willing to give him (εἶπεν Τί θέλετέ μοι δοῦναι) if he betrayed or handed over Jesus to them (κἀγὼ ὑμῖν παραδώσω αὐτόν).  Matthew said that these chief priests paid him 30 pieces of silver (οἱ δὲ ἔστησαν αὐτῷ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια).  This Roman silver coin was worth about 4 denarii each, so that these silver pieces were worth about 120 denarii or about $180.00 US, not an unbelievable number, but still a substantial amount since one denarius was equivalent to a day’s wages.  From that moment on (καὶ ἀπὸ τότε), Judas began to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus (ἐζήτει εὐκαιρίαν ἵνα αὐτὸν παραδῷ).

He gave money to his slaves (Mt 25:15-25:15)

“He gave to one slave

Five talents.

He gave to another slave

Two talents.

He gave to another slave

One talent.

He gave to each slave

According to his ability.

Then he went away

Immediately.”

 

καὶ ᾧ μὲν ἔδωκεν πέντε τάλαντα, ᾧ δὲ δύο, ᾧ δὲ ἕν, ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν δύναμιν, καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν. Εὐθέως

 

This parable is unique to Matthew, but there is something similar in Luke, chapter 19:13, where this nobleman gave 10 minas to 10 slaves.  A mina was a gold coin worth about 100 drachmas or about $65,000 US.  Here they are dealing with talents, which was even more valuable.  There were 3,600 shekels in a talent.  There were 60 minas to a talent.  So that one talent was worth nearly $4,000,000 US.  Thus, these talents were a lot of money.  The first slave would have gotten around $20,000,000 US and the 2nd one about $8,000,000, enormous sums of money.  This rich man gave to one of his slaves 5 talents (καὶ ᾧ μὲν ἔδωκεν πέντε τάλαντα) or about 20 million dollars.  He gave 2 talents (ᾧ δὲ δύο) or about 8 million dollars to the 2nd slave and 1 talent (ᾧ δὲ ἕν) about 4 million dollars to the 3rd slave.  They received this according to their ability (ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν δύναμιν).  Then he went away immediately (καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν. Εὐθέως).  He was a very trusting person.