Page images
PDF
EPUB

12 And the younger of them said to his , Bring forth the best robe, and put it on father, Father, give me the portion of goods him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes that falleth to me. And he divided unto

on his feet: them his living

23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and 13 And not many days after the younger | kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: son gathered all together, and took his jour- 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive ney into a far country, and there wasted his again; he was lost, and is found. And they substance with riotous living.

began to be merry. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose 25 Now his elder son was in the field : a mighty famine in that land; and he began and as he came and drew nigh to the house, to be in want.

he heard musick and dancing. 15 And he went and joined himself to a 26 And he called one of the servants, and citizen of that country; and he sent him | asked what these things meant. into his fields to feed swine.

27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is 16 And he would fain have filled his come; and thy father hath killed the fatted belly with the husks that the swine did eat: calf, because he hath received him safe and and no man gave unto him.

sound. 17 And when he came to himself, he said, 28 And he was angry, and would not go How many hired servants of my father's in: therefore came his father out, and inhave bread enough and to spare, and I pe- treated him. rish with hunger!

29 And he answering said to his father, 18 I will arise and go to my father, and Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neiwill say unto him, Father, I have sinned ther transgressed I at any time thy comagainst heaven, and before thee,

mandment: and yet thou never gavest me 19 And am no more worthy to be called a kid, that I might make merry with my thy son: make me as one of thy hired ser- friends : vants.

30 But as soon as this thy son was come, 20 And he arose, and came to his father. which hath devoured thy living with harBut when he was yet a great way off, his lots, thou hast killed for him the fatted father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, calf. and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I ever with me, and all that I have is thine. have sinned against heaven, and in thy 32 It was meet that we should make sight, and am no more worthy to be called merry, and be glad: for this thy brother thy son.

was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, 22 But the father said to his servants, and is found.

Verse 12. He divided unto them his living.”—This is a very remarkable circumstance, which does not appear to have obtained all the attention which it demands. A younger son claims of his father the portion he was entitled to expect; and as the father was no doubt acquainted with the dissipated inclinations of his son, he had every inducement to refuse compliance: but he does not do so; and the application looks more like a demand than a request. From this, we might almost be induced to infer, that the sons had in fact a legal claim to their portions which the father had no power to oppose. Yet it would be preposterous to suppose that the sons had power (by concurring to claim their several portions) to strip their father of all his possessions. The case therefore would seem to have been, that the younger son, having a right to expect a certain proportion of his father's moveable property ("goods ") on his death, was also entitled, by usage, to demand that portion before the demise of his father--probably that he might thus be enabled to establish himself in life, as not having that security for the future which the elder brother derived from his larger share in the inheritance. Thus we see, in patriarchal times, that Abraham in his lifetime gave his other sons their portions and sent them away, while Isaac (as does the elder son in this instance) remained with him and succeeded to the residue of the inheritance. Although the text seems to say that the father gave both his sons their portions, it is quite clear from what follows that the elder son did not receive his in the same manner as his younger brother: but it is easy to understand the transaction in the sense, that there was indeed a formal division, but that it had no further object than to ascertain the proportions to which each was entitled, so that after the claim of the younger had been discharged, the remainder should become the portion-not subject to any further deduction—which would form the future inheritance of the elder son, on the death of his father.

15. “ Sent him into his fields to feed swine.”-Here then we have a Jewish swineherd-a circumstance which corroborates the view taken hy us in the note on ch. viii. 32, where also we have shown that this was considered the most degrading of employments.

16. " Husks,xigatie, which was applied to the pods of the Carob tree, from their resemblance to xspæs, a horn. The name Carob seems to come from the Arabic khyrmib (j=), which in Syriae loses the n and becomes kharuba, (120:-) very like Carob. The Carob tree, or Ceratonia siliqua, is found abundantly in Western Asia, Southern Europe, and Northern Africa, and has a trunk sometimes of many feet in diameter. It belongs to the leguminous

family, and produces flat brown pods six or eight inches in length, which, like those of the tamarind tree, are very sou before they are ripe, but when arrived at a state of maturity, they contain a blackish kind of honey that makes them an object of research among the poor. They are produced in great abundance, since there are trees which yield eight or nine hundred pounds, so that they are not only eaten by human beings, but often given to mules and asses, and, as we are taught by the parable, to swine. Some of the Spaniards and Arabs live upon them in part, and find their taste like that of manna. If the tree mentioned by Theophrastus under the name of xsoweize be the same as Ceratonia suaqua, the Egyptians called the pods in his time “figs.” The flowers are white, and hang down with their weight. It is an evergreen, and has at the same time both old and new fruit, έχει δε άμα και τον έναν και τον νέον καρσον, for as soon as one is gathered, about midsummer, the other begins to bud and continues to unfold till the autumnal equinox, when it blussoms, whereof the germens are not ripe till the following summer. It has no other similarity to the Ficus sycamorus than in bearing its fruit upon the trunk. But such slight and accidental resemblances served, before butany was studied as a science, to connect trees and plants together that had no systematic relationship whatever. These · husks" are by the Mussulmans mixed with liquorice root, dry grapes, and other fruit, and made into sherbet, which forms with them an article of daily consumption. The leaves, which are large and pinnated, are used with the bark in tanning skins.

25. He heard musick and dancing."— It would appear that a party of musicians and dancers had been hired to enliven the rejoicing entertainment given on this occasion. This is still the custom of the East at entertainments and occasions of rejoicing. The guests and members of the family are spectators and auditors merely, and do not themselves dance or perform on musical instruments. In Oriental towns there are large numbers of musicians and dancers who derive their subsistence from their exertions on such occasions. The musicians are men, and the dancers females.

31. “ Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”—This strongly confirms the view which we took in the first note on this chapter.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XVI.

selves friends of the 8mammon of unrighte

ousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive 1 The parable of the unjust steward. 14 Christ

you into everlasting habitations. reproveth the hypocrisy of the covetous Pharisees.

10 He that is faithful in that which is 19 The rich glutton, und Luzurus the beggar.

least is faithful also in much: and he that And he said also unto his disciples, There is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. was a certain rich man, which had a steward; 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful and the same was accused unto him that he in the unrighteous mammon, who will comhad wasted his goods.

mit to your trust the true riches? 2 And he called him, and said unto him, 12 And if ye have not been faithful in How is it that I hear this of thee? give an that which is another man's, who shall give account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest you that which is your own? be no longer steward.

13 9 'No servant can serve two masters : 3 Then the steward said within himself, for either he will hate the one, and love the What shall I do? for my lord taketh away | other; or else he will hold to the one, and from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and beg I am ashamed.

mammon. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I 14 And the Pharisees also, who were coam put out of the stewardship, they may vetous, heard all these things: and they receive me into their houses.

derided him. 5 So he called every one of his lord's 15 And he said unto them, Ye are they debtors unto him, and said unto the first, which justify yourselves before men; but How much owest thou unto my lord ? God kňoweth your hearts : for that which is

6 And he said, An hundred 'measures of highly esteemed among men is abomination oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, in the sight of God. and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

16 The Law and the Prophets were until 7 Then said he to another, And how much John: since that time the kingdom of God owest thou? And he said, An hundred *mea is preached, and every man presseth into it. sures of wheat.

And he said unto him, 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

than one tittle of the law to fail. 8 And the lord commended the unjust 18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and steward, because he had done wisely: for marrieth another, committeth adultery: and the children of this world are in their gene- whosoever marrieth her that is put away ration wiser than the children of light. from her husband committeth adultery.

to
pass,

9 And I say unto you, Make to your- 19 9 There was a certain rich man, which 1 The word Batus in the original, containeth nine gallous three quarts. The word here interpreted a measure, in the original containeth

7 Matt. 3. 18.

about fourteen bushels and a pottle.

3 Or, riches.

5 Matt. 6. 24.

* Or, riches. 8 Matt. 5,32

6 Matt. ll. ll.

was clothed in purple and fine linen, and | but now he is comforted, and thou art torfared sumptuously every day:

mented. 20 And there was a certain beggar named 26 And beside all this, between us and Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of you there is a great gulf fixed : so that they sores,

which would pass from hence to you cannot; 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs neither can they pass to us, that would come which fell from the rich man's table: more from thence. over the dogs came and licked his sores. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore,

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar father, that thou wouldest send him to my died, and was carried by the angels into father's house : Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, 28 For I have five brethren; that he may and was buried;

testify unto them, lest they also come into 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being this place of torment. in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Lazarus in his bosom.

Moses and the prophets; let them hear 24 And he cried and said, Father Abra- | them. ham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: that he may dip the tip of his finger in wa- but if one went unto them from the dead, ter, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented they will repent. in this flame.

31 And he said unto him, If they hear 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember not Moses and the prophets, neither will that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good they be persuaded, though one rose from things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: | the dead.

Verse 5. He called every one of his Lord's debtors unto him.”—It is quite evident, from the debts being stated to consist of corn and oil, that these “ debtors” were the tenants of the steward's lord ; and consequently that the transaction refers to the terms on which the corn-fields and olive-grounds were held. The proprietor of a large estate necessarily left the management of the affairs between him and his tenants to his steward, who fixed the terms according to his knowledge of the character and capabilities of the several allotments assigned to particular tenants, and attended to the assessment and collection of the rents. The steward would appear in the present instance to have sought the good will of the tenants, not merely by lowering the existing claim for the year, but by granting a new contract under which the tenants were permanently to pay less than they had previously done. This was a far weightier obligation than the other, and better calculated for the object which the steward had in view. He directs the tenants to write out the contracts, but doubtless gave them validity by signing them himself; a method probably adopted to prevent those impositions and forgeries, which would have been easy, had it been customary for such a document to be entirely written by one of the contracting parties. It does not appear that the steward expected this transaction would be concealed from his lord, who would naturally inquire concerning the diminution of the payments he had been accustomed to receive. But we may conclude that all the parties knew that a contract entered into by the steward on the lord's behalf, was binding upon the proprietor for the term to which it extended, if any term were specified.

The passage derives an additional interest from the clear intimation which it offers as to the form in which tenants paid their rents to the owner of the land. This is still more distinctly announced in the parable of the landowner who sent first his servants, and finally his son, to receive from his tenants his share of the produce of the grounds which they rented from him. From this it appears that the system of rent was the same in substance as that which continues to operate throughont Asia, and which are called ryot rents, the cultivating tenants being called ryots. Under this system, the tenant agrees to pay as rent a certain proportion of the produce to the proprietor, and who by custom and prescription is generally irremoveable while he pays it. In most countries of Asia, the sovereign being the proprietor of the soil, the rent is paid as a tax to him. In this case there is generally the same proportion payable as rent, though not without some exceptions, on all kinds of land – the proportion being fixed and invariable. "Thus far the ryot knows what he has to do and to expect, and has no cause of complaint: but he is exposed to much suffering and oppression from the provincial governors, and the officers employed in the collection, who but too often take advantage, at the expense of the tenant, of their intermediate position. The sovereign is content while he receives the established payments, and does not concern himself about the exactions of his agents and officers, unless the complaints of the oppressed ryots come before him in such a manner that he does not find it convenient or expedient to neglect them. The state of things was, in one respect, considerably different among the Jews; for there was no sovereign proprietor of the soil, the whole of which was originally distributed in suitable proportions among the several tribes and families of Israel; and hence the relative position of the owner and tenant must have approached more nearly to its simple chaTacter, modified only by the form in which the rents were paid.

The amount of the proportion of the produce thus paid varies considerably in different countries of Asia. It never is less than one-tenth, and is often as much as one-fitth. The proportion seems very reasonable, and it really would be $0, were it not made much larger than its legal and nominal amount, by the exactions of those who stand between the tenant and his sovereign landlord. As, however, the distribution of land in Judea was so different to what it now is anywhere in the East, we may suppose that a system of rent, equitable and easy in its principle, operated there with fewer abuses than we now usually see connected with it-abuses, not by any means necessarily a part of the system, but arising from its connection with despotic governments

, and from the rapacity of those to whom the aythority of government is delegated. In Israel, the transaction lay between the private landowner and his tenants, with the intervention only of a steward, who might indeed be dishonest or rapacious, but against whom_it was easier to procure redress than against an officer of the government.

The difference among the Hebrews, seems to have operated as well for the landlord as for the tenant. For the latter, having only to deal with the owner, without his nominal rent greatly increased by intermediate exactors, was enabled to pay a higher rent than is now paid anywhere in the East to the proprietor in chief. For we learn from the Talmudists that one-fourth, one-third, or even one-half, were usual proportions payable to the owner of the land as reat; these very considerable differences being determined by the nature of the soil, its condition with respect to water and other circumstances, and the nature of the produce. The lowest proportion here stated is however larger than the highest nominal rate of payment required from the ryots of the East. That this was the general system of rent in Judea is further shown by the references, in the Talmud, to some difficulties which arose as to the payment of tithes-whether they should be paid by the owner or occupier of the soil, or in what manner they should be compounded between them It seems, however, that this matter was usually settled in the original agreement between the parties. Much valuable information on the ryot rents of the East, and on other systems of rent, may be found in • An Essay on Distribution of Wealth, and on the Sources of Taxation,' by the Rev. R'Jones ; to which we are indebted for some of the informatica embodied in this note. This author does not however advert to the Jews, although the operation of the ryot system, in a country where the land was distributed among a great number of independent proprietors, suggests an interesting subject of inquiry, on which our limits have allowed us to touch but lightly.

20. “ There was a certain beggar,&c.—This is a parable: yet, as with respect to some other parables, and with respect to every real circumstance detailed in the New Testament, the show-people at Jerusalem do not in the least hesitate to point out the localities of the transaction. We extract the following from Major Skinner's Adventures during : Journey overland to India.'

The house of the rich man at whose door Lazarus lay is pointed out “at the end of a street in the Turkish quarter of the town. We stood for a while to gaze at it, many of the pilgrims shaking their heaols and uttering expressions of scorn ; when, turning round, some one in a more softened tone proclaimed, • And this is the house of Lazarus himself. The people rushed towards it (for it is within sight of the spot where the dogs came and licked his sores'), and stood in nearly as much astonishment at it as I did. It is an exceedingly clean and neat building, of a middling size. I know not how old this tradition is; but if one of the monks had not assured me of its certainty with very great solemnity, I should have thought the whole affair had been meant as a joke.

" It is still a common custom throughout the East, and I observed it this morning in the streets of Jerusalem, to lay a cripple or a leper at the door of some wealthy man, or to place him in a public thoroughfare, stretched upon his mat o: wooden litter. The blind, too, line the approaches to the city, and cry out with a loud voice to the passers-by for mercy and for charity."

ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thy, CHAPTER XVII.

self, and serve me, till I have eaten and i Christ teacheth to avoid occasions of offence. 3 drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and

One to forgive anothor. 6 The power of faith. drink? 7 How we are bound to God, and not he to us.

9 Doth he thank that servant because he 11 He healeth ten lepers. 22 of the kingdom did the things that were commanded him? of God, and the coming of the Son of man.

I trow not. Then said he unto the disciples, 'It is im- 10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done possible but that offences will come: but woe all those things which are commanded you, unto him, through whom they come !

say, We are unprofitable servants: we have 2 It were better for him that a millstone done that which was our duty to do. were hanged about his neck, and he cast 11 | And it came to pass, as he went to into the sea, than that he should offend one Jerusalem, that he passed through the of these little ones.

midst of Samaria and Galilee. 3 Take heed to yourselves : 'If thy bro- 12 And as he entered into a certain vilther trespass against thee, rebuke him; and lage, there met him ten men that were leif he repent, forgive him.

pers, which stood afar off: 4 And if he trespass against thee seven 13 And they lifted up their voices, and times in a day, and seven times in a day said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou 14 And when he saw them, he said unto shalt forgive him.

them, 'Go shew yourselves unto the Priests. 5 And the Apostles said unto the Lord, And it came to pass, that, as they went, they Increase our faith.

were cleansed. 6 *And the Lord said, If ye had faith as 15 And one of them, when he saw that he a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto was healed, turned back, and with a loud this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by voice glorified God, the root, and be thou planted in the sea ; 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, and it should obey you.

giving him thanks: and he was a Sama7 But which of you, having a servant ritan. plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there by and by, when he is come from the field, not ten cleansed ? but where are the nine? Go and sit down to meat ?

18 There are not found that returned to 8 And will not rather say unto him, Make give glory to God, save this stranger. Matt. 19.7: ? Matt, 18.3!!

: * Matt. 17. 20.

.

• Levit. 14.2.

is within you.

man, and

19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy 28 'Likewise also as it was in the days of way: thy faith hath made thee whole. Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought,

20 q And when he was demanded of the they sold, they planted, they builded; Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should 29 But the same day that Lot went out come, he answered them and said, The of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from kingdom of God cometh not 'with observa- heaven, and destroyed them all. tion:

30 Even thus shall it be in the day when 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here ! or, the Son of man is revealed. lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God

31 In that day, he which shall be upon

the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let 22 And he said unto the disciples, The him not come down to take it away: and he days will come, when ye shall desire to see that is in the field, let him likewise not reone of the days of the Son of

ye

turn back. shall not see it.

32 "Remember Lot's wife. 23 'And they shall say to you, See here; 33 "Whosoever shall seek to save his life or, see there : go not after them, nor follow shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his them.

life shall preserve it. 24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth 34 "I tell you, in that night there shall out of the one part under heaven, shineth be two men in one bed; the one shall be unto the other part under heaven; so shall taken, and the other shall be left. also the Son of man be in his day.

35 Two women shall be grinding toge25 But first must he suffer many things, ther; the one shall be taken, and the other and be rejected of this generation.

left. 26 *And as it was in the days of Noe, so 36 "Two men shall be in the field; the shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. one shall be taken, and the other left.

27 They did eat, they drank, they mar- 37 And they answered and said unto him, ried wives, they were given in marriage, un- "Where, Lord? And he said unto them, til the day that Noe entered into the ark, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the and the flood came, and destroyed them all. eagles be gathered together. Or, with outward shew. 6 Or, among you. 7 Matt. 24. 23. 8 Gen. 7. 9 Gen. 19.

11 Matt. 16. 25. 13 This 36th verse is wanting in most of the Greek copies, ** Matt. 24. 28. Verse 6. “A grain of maustard seed.”—“A grain of mustard-seed” was a proverbial expression for any thing diminutively small. In other passages an illustration is derived from the contrast between its smallness and the largeness of the shrub or tree which proceeds from it. A discussion has lately been raised on this subject, a brief statement of which may be interesting to many of our readers.

In 1827 a paper was published under the title “Remarks on the Mustard-Tree mentioned in the New Testament; by John Frost." This writer, whose opinion on a botanical subject was justly considered to claim much respect, thought it a paradoxical statement that a mustardseed should become a tree; for what we know under the name is an annual plant (Sinapis nigra of Linnæus), which has an herbaceous siem; and to which, therefore, the description of a tree or shrub must be wholly inapplicable; nor indeed did he know of any species of Sinapis which could be called a shrub, much less å tree. He hence concluded it more likely that the crazı of the text was a species of Phytolacca—the Phytolacca dodecandra—which, while it grows abundantly in Palestine, has the smallest seed of any tree in that country, and attains as great an altitude as any. Mr. Frost then proceeds to show the analogy of natural properties between the two genera phytolacca and sinapis. The fresh sliced roots of the Phyl. dodecandra are used for the same purpose in America as we use mustard seed, as a cataplasm. Its seeds also afford what those of the sinapis does in abundance, nitrogenan element not found in any plants except those belonging to the natural orders cruciata and fungi. He was also informed that the plant is in America called the wild mustard. The drift of this argument appears to be, that from the analogy of properties, this or some other species

Mustard (Sinapis Orientalis).

10 Gen. 19. 26.

12 Matt. 24. 40.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »