The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
THE DESCENT: FROM THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION
INTO THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATION AND DEATH.
THE UNJUST STEWARD
DIVES AND LAZARUS
JEWISH AGRICULTURAL NOTES
PRICES OF PRODUCE
WRITING AND LEGAL DOCUMENTS
PURPLE AND FINE LINEN
JEWISH NOTIONS OF HADES.
(St. Luke 16.)
Although widely differing in their object and teaching, the
last group of Parables spoken during this part of Christ's Ministry are, at
least outwardly, connected by a leading thought. The word by which we would
string them together is Righteousness. There are three Parables of the Unrighteous:
the Unrighteous Steward, the Unrighteous Owner, and the Unrighteous Dispenser,
or Judge. And these are followed by two other Parables of the Self-righteous:
Self-righteousness in its Ignorance, and its dangers as regards oneself; and
Self-righteousness in its Harshness, and its dangers as regards others. But
when this outward connection has been marked, we have gone the utmost length.
Much more close is the internal connection between some of them.
We note it, first and chiefly, between the two first Parables.
Recorded in the same chapter,1
and in the same connection, they were addressed to the same audience. True, the
Parable of the Unjust Steward was primarily spoken 'to His disciples,'2
that of Dives and Lazarus to the Pharisees.3
But then the audience of Christ at that time consisted of disciples and
Pharisees. And these two classes in the audience stood in peculiar relation to
each other, which is exactly met in these two Parables, so that the one may be
said to have sprung out of the other. For, the 'disciples,' to whom the first
Parable was addressed, were not primarily the Apostles, but those 'publicans
and sinners' whom Jesus had received, to the great displeasure of the
Pharisees.4 Them He
would teach concerning the Mamon of unrighteousness. And, when the Pharisees
sneered at this teaching, He would turn it against them, and show that, beneath
which made them forget that now the Kingdom of God was opened to all,6
and imagine that they were the sole vindicators of a Law7
which in their everyday practice they notoriously broke,8
there lay as deep sin and as great alienation from God as that of the sinners
whom they despised. Theirs might not be the Mamon of, yet it might be
that for unrighteousness; and, while they sneered at the idea of such
men making of their Mamon friends that would receive them into everlasting
tabernacles, themselves would experience that in the end a terrible
readjustment before God would follow on their neglect of using for God, and
their employment only for self of such Mamon as was theirs, coupled as it was
with harsh and proud neglect of what they regarded as wretched, sore-covered
Lazarus, who lay forsaken and starving at their very doors.
1. St. Luke xvi.
2. ver 1.
3. ver. 15.
4. St. Luke xv. 1, 2.
5. St. Luke xvi. 15.
6. ver. 16.
7. ver. 17.
8. ver. 18.
It will have been observed, that we lay once more special
stress on the historical connection and the primary meaning of the Parables. We
would read them in the light of the circumstances in which they were spoken -
as addressed to a certain class of hearers, and as referring to what had just
passed. The historical application once ascertained, the general lessons may
afterwards be applied to the widest range. This historical view will help us to
understand the introduction, connection, and meaning, of the two Parables which
have been described as the most difficult: those of the Unjust Steward,9
and of Dives and Lazarus.
9. The reader who wishes to see the different views and interpretations of this Parable is referred to the modern commentaries, and especially to Archbishop Trench's
Notes on the Parables (13th ed.). pp. 427-452.
At the outset we must recall, that they were addressed to two
different classes in the same audience. In both the subject is Unrighteousness.
In the first, which is addressed to the recently converted publicans and
sinners, it is the Unrighteous Steward, making unrighteous use of what had been
committed to his administration by his Master; in the second Parable, which is
addressed to the self-justifying, sneering Pharisees, it is the Unrighteous
Possessor, who uses only for himself and for time what he has, while he leaves
Lazarus, who, in his view, is wretched and sore-covered, to starve or perish,
unheeded, at his very door. In agreement with its object, and as suited to the
part of the audience addressed, the first Parable points a lesson, while the
second furnishes a warning. In the first Parable we are told, what the sinner
when converted should learn from his previous life of sin; in the second, what
the self-deceiving, proud Pharisee should learn as regarded the life which to
him seemed so fair, but was in reality so empty of God and of love. It follows
- and this is of greatest importance, especially in the interpretation of the
first Parable - that we must not expect to find spiritual equivalents for each
of the persons or incidents introduced. In each case, the Parable itself forms
only an illustration of the lessons, spoken or implied, which Christ would
convey to the one and the other class in His audience.
I. The Parable of the Unjust Steward. - In accordance
with the canon of interpretation just laid down, we distinguish - 1. The
2. Its moral.11
3. Its application in the combination of the moral with some of the features of
10. St. Luke xvi. 1-8.
11. ver. 9.
12. vv. 10-13.
1. The illustrative Parable.13
This may be said to converge to the point brought out in the concluding verse:14
the prudence which characterises the dealings of the children of this world in
regard to their own generation, or, to translate the Jewish forms of expression
into our own phraseology, the wisdom with which those who care not for the
world to come choose the means most effectual for attaining their worldly
objects. It is this prudence by which their aims are so effectually secured, and
it alone, which is set before 'the children of light,' as that by which to
learn. And the lesson is the more practical, that those primarily addressed had
hitherto been among these men of the world. Let them learn from the serpent its
wisdom, and from the dove its harmlessness; from the children of this world,
their prudence as regarded their generation, while, as children of the new light,
they must remember the higher aim for which that prudence was to be employed.
Thus would that Mamon which is 'of unrighteousness,' and which certainly
'faileth,' become to us treasure in the world to come - welcome us there, and,
so far from 'failing,' prove permanent - welcome us in everlasting
tabernacles. Thus, also, shall we have made friends of the 'Mamon of
unrighteousness,' and that, which from its nature must fail, become eternal
gain - or, to translate it into Talmudic phraseology, it will be of the things
of which a man enjoys the interest in this world, while the capital remains for
the world to come.
13. vv. 1-8.
14. ver. 8.
It cannot now be difficult to understand the Parable. Its
object is simply to show, in the most striking manner, the prudence of a
worldly man, who is unrestrained by any other consideration than that of
attaining his end. At the same time, with singular wisdom, the illustration is
so chosen as that its matter (materia), 'the Mamon of unrighteousness,'
may serve to point a life-lesson to those newly converted publicans and
sinners, who had formerly sacrificed all for the sake, or in the enjoyment of,
that Mamon. All else, such as the question, who is the master and who the
steward, and such like, we dismiss, since the Parable is only intended as an
illustration of the lesson to be afterwards taught.
The connection between this Parable and what the Lord had
previously said concerning returning sinners, to which our remarks have already
pointed, is further evidenced by the use of the term 'wasting' (diaskorpizwn), in the charge against
the steward, just as the prodigal son had 'wasted' (dieskorpise) his substance.15
Only, in the present instance, the property had been entrusted to his
administration. As regards the owner, his designation as 'rich' seems intended
to mark how large was the property committed to the steward. The 'steward' was
not, as in St. Luke xii. 42-46, a slave, but one employed for the
administration of the rich man's affairs, subject to notice of dismissal.16
He was accused - the term implying malevolence, but not necessarily a false
charge - not of fraud, but of wasting, probably by riotous living and
carelessness, his master's goods. And his master seems to have convinced
himself that the charge was true, since he at once gives him notice of
dismissal. The latter is absolute, and not made dependent on the 'account of
his stewardship,' which is only asked as, of course, necessary, when he gives
up his office. Nor does the steward either deny the charge or plead any
extenuation. His great concern rather is, during the time still left of his
stewardship, before he gives up his accounts, to provide for his future
support. The only alternative before him in the future is that of manual labour
or mendicancy. But for the former he has not strength; from the latter he is
restrained by shame.
15. St. Luke xv. 13.
16. St. Luke xvi. 2, 3.
Then it is that his 'prudence' suggests a device by which,
after his dismissal, he may, without begging, be received into the houses of
those whom he has made friends.17
It must be borne in mind, that he is still steward, and, as such, has full
power of disposing of his master's affairs. When, therefore, he sends for one
after another of his master's debtors, and tells each to alter the sum in the
bond, he does not suggest to them forgery or fraud, but, in remitting part of
the debt - whether it had been incurred as rent in kind, or as the price of
produce purchased - he acts, although unrighteously, yet strictly within his
rights. Thus, neither the steward nor the debtors could be charged with
criminality, and the master must have been struck with the cleverness of a man
who had thus secured a future provision by making friends, so long as he had
the means of so doing (ere his Mamon of unrighteousness failed).
17. A somewhat similar parable occurs in Vayyik. R. 5 (towards the close) about a 'prudent' farmer. When matters go badly with his farm, he dresses himself in his best, puts on a cheerful mien, and so appears before his landlord. By well turned, flattering replies to the inquiries about the cattle and the crops, he so conciliates favour, that when the landlord finally inquires what he wished,
and he requests a loan, he receives double the sum he had asked.
A few archśological notices may help the interpretation of
details. From the context it seems more likely, that the 'bonds,' or rather
'writings,' of these debtors were written acknowledgements of debt, than, as
some have supposed that they were, leases of farms. The debts over which the
steward variously disposed, according as he wished to gain more or less favour,
were considerable. In the first case they are stated at 'a hundred Bath
of oil,' in the second as 'a hundred Cor of wheat.' In regard to these
quantities we have the preliminary difficulty, that three kinds of measurement
were in use in Palestine - that of the 'Wilderness,' or, the original Mosaic;
that of 'Jerusalem,' which was more than a fifth larger; and that of Sepphoris,
probably the common Galilean measurement, which, in turn, was more than a fifth
larger than the Jerusalem measure.18
To be more precise, one Galilean was equal to 3/2 'Wilderness' measures.
Assuming the measurement to have been the Galilean, one Bath19
would have been equal to an Attic MetrÍtÍs, or about 39 litres.
On the other hand, the so-called 'Wilderness measurement' would correspond with
the Roman measures, and, in that case, the 'Bath' would be the same as
the Amphora, or amount to a little less than 26 litres.20
The latter is the measurement adopted by Josephus.2122
In the Parable, the first debtor was owing 100 of these 'Bath,' or, according
to the Galilean measurement, about 3,900 litres of oil. As regards the
value of a Bath of oil, little information can be derived from the statements
of Josephus, since he only mentions prices under exceptional
circumstances, either in particularly plentiful years,23
or else at a time of war and siege.24
In the former, an Amphora, or 26 litres, of oil seems to have fetched about 9d.;
but it must be added, that, even in such a year, this represents a rare stroke
of business, since the oil was immediately afterwards re-sold for eight times
the amount, and this - 3s. for half an Amphora of about 13 litres -
would probably represent an exceptionally high war-price. The fair price for it
would probably have been 9d. For the Mishnah informs us, that the
ordinary 'earthenware casks' (the Gerabh) held each 2 Seah, or 48 Log,
or about 26 litres.25
Again, according to a notice in the Talmud,26
100 such 'casks,' or, 200 Seah, were sold for 10 (presumably gold) dinars, or
250 silver dinars, equal to about 7l. 10s. of our money. And as
the Bath (= 3 Seah) held a third more than one of those 'casks,' or Gerabhin,
the value of the 100 Bath of oil would probably amount to about 10l. of
our money, and the remission of the steward, of course, to 5l.
18. See Herzfield, Handelsgesch, pp. 183-185. I have proceeded on his computation. I am bound to add, that there are few subjects on which the statements of writers are more inconsistent or confused. The statements made in the text are derived from Jewish
19. The writer in Smith's Bibl. Dict., vol. iii. p. 1740 b, is mistaken in saying that 'the Bath is the largest of liquid measures.' According to Ezek. xlv. 11, the Chomer or Cor = ten bath or ephah, was equally applied to liquid and dry measures. The Bath (one-tenth of the Chomer or Cor) = three seah; the seah = two hin; the hin = twelve log; the log = space
of six eggs. Further, one thirty-secondth of a log is reckoned equal to a large (table), one sixty-fourth to a small (dessert) spoon.
20. This difference between the 'Wilderness,' or 'Mosaic,' and the 'Galilean' measure removes the difficulty (raised by Thenius) about the capacity of the 'brazen sea' in Solomon's Temple (1 Kings vii. 23, 26). The Bath should be calculated, not according to the Galilean ( = MetrÍtÍs = about thirty-nine litres), but according to the 'Wilderness' measure ( = amphora = about twenty-six litres).
21. The reading in Ant. xv. 9. 2: 'The Attic Medimni,' is evidently a copyist's error for 'MetrÍtai.'
22. Ant. viii. 2, 9; comp. ix. 4, 5.
23. Jewish War. ii. 21. 2.
24. Life, 13.
25. Terum. x. 8.
26. Jer. Baba M. iv. 2, p. 9 d.
The second debtor owed 'a hundred Cor of wheat' - that is, in
dry measure, ten times the amount of the oil of the first debtor, since the Cor
was ten Ephah or Bath, the Ephah three Seah, the Seah
six Qabh, and the Qabh four Log. This must be borne in
mind, since the dry and the fluid measures were precisely the same; and here,
also, their threefold computation (the 'Wilderness,' the 'Jerusalem,' and the
'Galilean') obtained. As regards the value of wheat, we learn27
that, on an average, four Seah of seed were expected to produce one Cor - that
is, seven and a half times their amount; and that a field 1,500 cubits long and
50 wide was expected to grow a Cor. The average price of a Cor of wheat,
bought uncut, amounted to about 25 dinars, or 15s. Striking an
average between the lowest prices mentioned28
and the highest,29
we infer that the price of 3 Seah or an Ephah would be from two shillings to
half-a-crown, and accordingly of a Cor (or 10 Ephah) from 20 to 25
shillings (probably this is rather more than it would cost). On this
computation the hundred Cor would represent a debt of from 100l. to 125l.,
and the remission of the steward (of 20 Cor), a sum of from 20l. to 25l.
Comparatively small as these sums may seem, they are in reality large,
remembering the value of money in Palestine, which, on a low computation, would
be five times as great as in our own country.30
These two debtors are only mentioned as instances, and so the unjust steward
would easily secure for himself friends by the 'Mamon of unrighteousness,' the
we may note, being derived from the Syriac and Rabbinic word of the same kind
(Nw$mmaf, from Nwm = ynm, hnm, to apportion).32
27. from Baba M. 105 b, about the middle.
28. Peah viii. 7; Erub. viii. 2; Baba B. 91b.
29. Baba B 91 a.
30. This will appear from the cost of living, labour, &c.
31. The word should be written with one m. See Grimm s. v.
32. Grimm (after Drusius) derives it from Nm), but this is most unlikely. The derivation of Lagarde (ap. Kautzsch, p. 173) seems very difficult. Buxtorf (s. v.) largely, but not very satisfactorily, discusses its etymology. The view in the text has the sanction of Levy.
Another point on which acquaintance with the history and habits
of those times throws light is, how the debtors could so easily alter the sum
mentioned in their respective bonds. For, the text implies that this, and not
the writing of a new bond, is intended; since in that case the old one would
have been destroyed, and not given back for alteration. It would be impossible,
within the present limits, to enter fully on the interesting subject of
writing, writing-materials, and written documents among the ancient Jews.33
Suffice it to give here the briefest notices.
33. I must here refer generally to the monograph of LŲw (Graphische Requis. u. Erzeugn., 2 vols.). Its statements require, however, occasionally to be rectified. See also Herzfeld, Handelsgesch. pp. 113 &c., and Note 17.
The materials on which the Jews wrote
were of the most divers kind: leaves, as of olives, palms, the carob, &c.;
the rind of the pomegranate, the shell of walnuts, &c.; the prepared skins
of animals (leather and parchment); and the product of the papyrus, used long
before the time of Alexander the Great for the manufacture of paper, and known
in Talmudic writings by the same name, as Papir34
but more frequently by that of Nayyar - probably from the stripes (Nirin)
of the plant of which it was made.36
But what interests us more, as we remember the 'tablet' (pinakidion) on which Zacharias wrote
the name of the future Baptist,37
is the circumstance that it bears not only the same name, Pinaqes or Pinqesa,
but that it seems to have been of such common use in Palestine.38.
It consisted of thin pieces of wood (the Luach) fastened or strung
together. The Mishnah39
enumerates three kinds of them: those where the wood was covered with papyrus,40
those where it was covered with wax, and those where the wood was left plain to
be written on with ink. The latter was of different kinds. Black ink was
prepared of soot (the Deyo), or of vegetable or mineral substances.41
Gum Arabic and Egyptian (Qumos and Quma) and vitriol (Qanqanthos)
seem also to have been used42
in writing. It is curious to read of writing in colours and with red ink or Siqra,43
and even of a kind of sympathetic ink, made from the bark of the ash, and
brought out by a mixture of vitriol and gum.44
We also read of a gold-ink, as that in which the copy of the Law was written
which, according to the legend, the High-Priest had sent to Ptolemy
Philadelphus for the purpose of being translated into Greek by the LXX.45
But the Talmud prohibits copies of the Law in gold letters,46
or more probably such in which the Divine Name was written in gold letters.4748
In writing, a pen, Qolemos, made of reed (Qaneh49)
was used, and the reference in an Apostolic Epistle50
to writing 'with ink and pen' (dia
melanoV kai kalamou) finds even its verbal counterpart in the Midrash,
which speaks of Milanin and Qolemin (ink and pens). Indeed, the public
'writer' - a trade very common in the East51
- went about with a Qolemos, or reed-pen, behind his ear, as a badge of
With the reed-pen we ought to mention its necessary accompaniments: the
inkstand (which, when double, for black and red ink, was sometimes made of
and the ruler56
- it being regarded by the stricter set as unlawful to write any words of Holy
Writ on any unlined material, no doubt to ensure correct writing and reading.5758
34. Sot. 49 b.
35. Kel. xxiv. 7.
36. LŲw, u. s. vol. i. pp.97, 98. It is curious to learn that in those days also waste paper went to the grocer. (Baba M. 56 b.)
37. St. Luke i. 63.
38. From earlier times comes to us notice of the Gillayon (Is. viii. 1) - a smooth tablet of wood, metal, or stone - and of the Cheret, or stylus
(Is. viii. 1), and the Et, which means probably not only a stylus but also a calamus (Ps. xlv. 2; Jer. viii. 8.)
39. Kel. xxiv. 7.
40. So Sachs, Beitr. z. Sprach u. Alterth. Forsch. vol. i. p. 165; but LŲw (u. s.) seems of different opinion.
41. The Deyo seems to have been a dry substance which was made into black ink. Ink from gall-nuts appears to be of later invention.
42. Shabb. xii. 4.
43. u. s.
44. Jer. Shabb 13 d. about the middle.
45. Jos. Ant. xii. 2. 10.
46. But the learned Relandus asserts that there were in his country such texts written in gold letters, and that hence the Talmudic prohibition could have only applied to the copies used in the Synagogues (Havercamp's ed. of Josephus,
vol. i. p. 593, Note e.)
47. Shabb. 103 b; Sopher. i. 9.
48. Not to make a distinction between any portions of Scripture, and also from the curious Kabbalistic idea that somehow every word in the Bible contained the Divine Name.
49. Shabb. viii. 5.
50. 3 John 13.
51. We read of one, Ben Qamtsar, who wrote four letters (the Tetragram) at once, holding four reeds (Qolemosin) at the same time between his four fingers (Yoma 38 b). The great R. Meir was celebrated as a copyist, specially of the Bible, at which work he is said to have made about 8s. weekly, of which, it is stated, he spent a third on his living, a third on his dress, and a third on charity to Rabbis (Midr. on Eccles. ii. 18, ed. Warsh. p. 83 b,
last two lines). The codices of R. Meir seem to have embodied some variations of the common text. Thus, in the Psalms he wrote Halleluyah in one word,
as it had been an interjection, and not in the orthodox way, as two words: Hallelu Yah (Jer. Meg. 72 a). His codices seem also to have had marginal notes. Thus, on the words 'very good' (d)m bw+), Gen. i. 31, he noted 'death is good' (twm bw+), a sort of word-play, to support his view, that death was originally of God and created by Him - a natural necessity rather than a punishment (Ber. R. 9.). Similarly, on Gen. iii. 21, he altered in the margin the rw(, 'skin,' of the text into rw), 'light,' thus rendering 'garments of light' (u. s. 20). Again, in Gen. xlvi. 23, he left out the y
from ynbw, rendering it 'And the son of Dan was Chushim' (u. s. 94.).
Similarly, he altered the words, Is. xxi. 11, xmwd )#m, 'the burden of Dumah' into Roma, ymwr (Jer. Taan. p. 64 a, line 10 from top.)
52. Shabb. i. 3.
53. Similarly, the carpenter carried a small wooden rule behind his ear.
54. Already mentioned in Jer. xxxvi. 23, and in the Mishnah called Olar, dlw). Kel. xii. 8.
55. Kel. ii. 7.
56. Kel. xii. 8.
57. Meg. 16 b.
58. Letters, other documents, or bales of merchandise, were sealed with a kind of red clay.
In all this we have not referred to the practice of writing on
leather specially prepared with salt and flour,59
nor to the Qelaph, or parchment in the stricter sense.60
For we are here chiefly interested in the common mode of writing, that on the Pinaqes,
or 'tablet,' and especially on that covered with wax. Indeed, a little vessel
holding wax was generally attached to it (Pinaqes sheyesh bo beth Qibbul
On such a tablet they wrote, of course, not with a reed-pen, but with a stylus,
generally of iron. This instrument consisted of two parts, which might be
detached from each other: the hard pointed 'writer' (Kothebh), and the
'blotter' (Mocheq) which was flat and thick for smoothing out letters
and words which had been written or rather graven in the wax.62
There can be no question that acknowledgments of debt, and other transactions,
were ordinarily written down on such wax-covered tablets; for not only is
direct reference made to it,63
but there are special provisions in regard to documents where there are such
erasures, or rather effacements: such as, that they require to be noted in the
what conditions and how the witnesses are in such cases to affix their
just as there are particular injunctions how witnesses who could not write are
to affix their mark.
59. Meg. 17 a; 19 a.
60. Shabb. viii. 3.
61. Kel. xvii. 17.
62. Kel. xiii. 2.
63. Ab. iii. 16.
64. Baba B. 161 b.
65. u. s. 163 a, b; 164 a.
But although we have thus ascertained that 'the bonds' in the
Parable must have been written on wax - or else, possibly, on parchment - where
the Mocheq, or blotter, could easily efface the numbers, we have also
evidence that they were not, as so often, written on 'tablets' (the Pinaques).
For, the Greek term, by which these 'bonds' or 'writings' are designated in the
is the same as is sometimes used in Rabbinic writings (Gerammation) for
an acknowledgment of debt;6768
the Hebraised Greek word corresponding to the more commonly used (Syriac) term Shitre
(Shetar), which also primarily denotes 'writings,' and is used
specifically for such acknowledgments.6970
Of these there were two kinds. The most formal Shetar was not signed by
the debtor at all, but only by the witnesses, who were to write their names (or
marks) immediately (not more than two lines) below the text of the document, to
prevent fraud. Otherwise, the document would not possess legal validity. Generally,
it was further attested by the Sanhedrin71
of three, who signed in such manner as not to leave even one line vacant.72
Such a document contained the names of creditor and debtor, the amount owing,
and the date, together with a clause attaching the property of the debtor. In
fact, it was a kind of mortgage; all sale of property being, as with us,
subject to such a mortgage,73
which bore the name Acharayuth (probably, 'guarantee'74)
When the debt was paid, the legal obligation was simply returned to the debtor;
if paid in part, either a new bond was written, or a receipt given, which was
or Tebhara, because it 'broke' the debt.
66. St. Luke xvi. 7.
67. Shem. R. 15.
68. The designations for the general formulary (Tophos, or Tiphos (Gitt. iii. 2), = typos), and for the special clauses (Toreph = Tropos) were of Greek derivation. For the full draft of the various legal documents we refer the reader to Note ix. at the end of Sammter's edition of Baba Mets. pp. 144-148. How many documents of this kind Jewish legalism must have invented, may be gathered from the circumstance that Herzfeld (u. s. p. 314) enumerates not fewer than thirty-eight different kinds of them! It appears that
there were certain forms of these and similar documents, prepared with spaces left blank to be filled in (Gitt. iii. .2)
69. Baba M. i. 8.
70. The more full designation was Shetar Chobh, a writing of debt (Baba M. i. 6), or Shetar Milvah (Gitt. iii. 2), a writing of loan.
71. The attestation of the court was called Qiyum Beth Din, 'the establishment of the court,' Ashra, or Asharta, strengthening, or Henpheq
(Baba Mez. 7 b), literally, the production, viz. before the court.
72. Baba B. 163 a, b.
73. Babha B. x. 8.
74. For the derivation and legal bearing of the term, see LŲw, vol. ii. p. 82.
75. Babha M. 7.
But in many respects different were those bonds which were
acknowledgements of debt for purchases made, such as we suppose those to have
been which are mentioned in the Parable. In such cases it was not uncommon to
dispense altogether with witnesses, and the document was signed by the debtor
himself. In bonds of this kind, the creditor had not the benefit of a mortgage in
case of sale. We have expressed our belief that the Parable refers to such
documents, and we are confirmed in this by the circumstance that they not only
bear a different name from the more formal bonds (the Shitre), but one
which is perhaps the most exact rendering of the Greek term (wdy btk,76
a 'writing of hand,' 'note of hand'77).
For completeness' sake we add, in regard to the farming of land, that two kinds
of leases were in use. Under the first, called Shetar Arisuth, the
lessee (Aris = ouroV78)
received a certain portion of the produce. He might be a lessee for life, for a
specified number of years, or even a hereditary tiller of the ground; or he
might sub-let it to another person.79
Under the second kind of lease, the farmer - or Meqabbel - entered into
a contract for payment either in kind, when he undertook to pay a stipulated
and unvarying amount of produce, in which case he was called a Chokher (Chakhur
or else a certain annual rental in money, when he was called a Sokher.81
76. Babha B. x. 8.
77. Although it is certain that letters of credit were used by the Jews of old, there is sufficient reason for believing that 'bills' were first introduced into commerce by the Italians, and not by Jews.
78. But Guisius (in Surenhusius' Mishna, vol. i. pp. 56, 57) gives a different derivation and interpretation, which the learned reader may consult for himself.
79. Babha B 46 b.
80. The difference between the Aris and the Chokher is stated in Jer. Bikkur. 64 b.
81. The difference between the Chokher and the Sokher is expressed in Tos. Demai vi. 2. Ugolini (Thes. vol. xx. pp. cxix., cxx.) not only renders but copies this passage wrongly. A more composite bargain of letting land and lending money for its better cultivation is mentioned in B. Mez. 69 b.
2. From this somewhat lengthened digression, we return to
notice the moral of the Parable.82
It is put in these words: 'Make to yourselves friends out of [by means of] the
Mamon of unrighteousness, that, when it shall fail,83
they may receive you into everlasting tabernacles.' From what has been
previously stated, the meaning of these words offers little serious difficulty.
We must again recall the circumstances, that they were primarily addressed to
converted publicans and sinners, to whom the expression 'Mamon of
unrighteousness' - of which there are close analogies, and even an exact
transcript84 in the
Targum - would have an obvious meaning. Among us, also, there are not a few who
may feel its aptness as they look back on the past, while to all it carries a
much needed warning. Again, the addition of the definite article leaves no
doubt, that 'the everlasting tabernacles' mean the well-known heavenly home; in
which sense the term 'tabernacle' is, indeed, already used in the Old
But as a whole we regard it (as previously hinted) as an adaptation to the
Parable of the well-known Rabbinic saying, that there were certain graces of
which a man enjoyed the benefit here, while the capital, so to speak, remained
for the next world. And if a more literal interpretation were demanded, we
cannot but feel the duty incumbent on those converted publicans, nay, in a
sense, on us all, to seek to make for ourselves of the Mamon - be it of money,
of knowledge, of strength, or opportunities, which to many has, and to all may
so easily, become that 'of unrighteousness' - such lasting and spiritual
application: gain such friends by means of it, that, 'when it fails,' as fail
it must when we die, all may not be lost, but rather meet us in heaven. Thus
would each deed done for God with this Mamon become a friend to greet us as we
enter the eternal world.
82. St. Luke xvi. 9.
83. This, and not 'they shall fail,' is the correct reading.
84. So in the Targ. on Hab. ii. 9, (#rd Nwmm.
85. Ps. xv. i.; xxvii. 5, the latter being realistically understood in Siphra.
86. Comp. SchŲttgen ad loc.
3. The suitableness both of the Parable and of its application
to the audience of Christ appears from its similarity to what occurs in Jewish
writings. Thus, the reasoning that the Law could not have been given to the
nations of the world, since they have not observed the seven Noachic
commandments (which Rabbinism supposes to have been given to the Gentiles), is
illustrated by a Parable in which a king is represented as having employed two
administrators (Apiterophin); one over the gold and silver, and the
other over the straw. The latter rendered himself suspected, and - continues
the Parable - when he complained that he had not been set over the gold and
silver, they said unto him: Thou fool, if thou hast rendered thyself suspected
in regard to the straw, shall they commit to thee the treasure of gold and
silver?87 And we
almost seem to hear the very words of Christ: 'He that is faithful88
in that which is least, is faithful also in much,' in this of the Midrash: 'The
Holy One, blessed be His Name, does not give great things to a man until he has
been tried in a small matter;' which is illustrated by the history of Moses and
of David, who were both called to rule from the faithful guiding of sheep.89
87. Yalkut, vol. i. p. 81 a, lines 19 &c, from top.
88. No doubt the equivalent for the Rabbinic Nm)n accreditus, and used in the same sense.
89. Shem. R., ed. Warsh., p. 7 b, about the middle.
Considering that the Jewish mind would be familiar with such
modes of illustration, there could have been no misunderstanding of the words
of Christ. These converted publicans might think - and so may some of us - that
theirs was a very narrow sphere of service, one of little importance; or else,
like the Pharisees, and like so many others among us, that faithful
administration of the things of this world ('the Mamon of unrighteousness') had
no bearing on the possession of the true riches in the next world. In answer to
the first difficulty, Christ points out that the principle of service is the
same, whether applied to much or to little; that the one was, indeed, meet
preparation for, and, in truth, the test of the other.90
'He that is faithful' - or, to paraphrase the word (pistoV), he that has proved himself, is accredited
(answering to Nm)n) - 'in the least, is also faithful [accredited] in much;
and who in the least is unjust is also in much unjust.' Therefore, if a man
failed in faithful service of God in his worldly matters - in the language of
the Parable, if he were not faithful in the Mamon of unrighteousness - could he
look for the true Mamon, or riches of the world to come? Would not his
unfaithfulness in the lower stewardship imply unfitness for the higher? And -
still in the language of the Parable - if they had not proved faithful in mere
stewardship, 'in that which was another's,' could it be expected that they
would be exalted from stewardship to proprietorship? And the ultimate
application of all was this, that dividedness was impossible in the service of
God.91 It is
impossible for the disciple to make separation between spiritual matters and
worldly, and to attempt serving God in the one and Mamon in the other. There is
absolutely no such distinction to the disciple, and our common usage of the
words secular and spiritual is derived from a terrible
misunderstanding and mistake. To the secular, nothing is spiritual; and to the
spiritual, nothing is secular: No servant can serve two Masters; ye
cannot serve God and Mamon.
90. St. Luke xvi. 10.
91. ver. 13.
II. The Parable of Dives and Lazarus.92
- Although primarily spoken to the Pharisees, and not to the disciples,
yet, as will presently appear, it was spoken for the disciples. The
words of Christ had touched more than one sore spot in the hearts of the
Pharisees. This consecration of all to God as the necessary condition of high
spiritual service, and then of higher spiritual standing - as it were
'ownership' - such as they claimed, was a very hard saying. It touched their
covetousness. They would have been quite ready to hear, nay, they believed that
the 'true' treasure had been committed to their trust. But that its condition
was, that they should prove themselves God-devoted in 'the unrighteous Mamon,'
faithful in the employment of it in that for which it was entrusted to their
stewardship, this was not to be borne. Nor yet, that such prospects should be
held out to publicans and sinners, while they were withheld from those who were
the custodians of the Law and of the Prophets. But were they faithful to the
Law? And as to their claim of being the 'owners,' the Parable of the Rich Owner
and of his bearing would exhibit how unfaithful they were in 'much' as well as
in 'little,' in what they claimed as owners as well as in their stewardship -
and this, on their own showing of their relations to publicans and sinners: the
Lazarus who lay at their doors.
92. St. Luke xvi. 14-31.
Thus viewed, the verses which introduce the second Parable
(that of Dives and Lazarus) will appear, not 'detached sayings,' as some
commentators would have us believe, but most closely connected with the Parable
to which they form the Preface. Only, here especially, must we remember, that
we have only Notes of Christ's Discourse, made years before by one who had
heard it, and containing the barest outline - as it were, the stepping-stones -
of the argument as it proceeded. Let us try to follow it. As the Pharisees
heard what Christ said, their covetousness was touched. It is said, moreover,
that they derided Him - literally, 'turned up their noses at Him.'93
The mocking gestures, with which they pointed to His publican-disciples, would
be accompanied by mocking words in which they would extol and favourably
compare their own claims and standing with that of those new disciples of
Christ. Not only to refute but to confute, to convict, and, if possible, to
convince them, was the object of Christ's Discourse and Parable. One by one
their pleas were taken up and shown to be utterly untenable. They were persons
who by outward righteousness and pretences sought to appear just before men,
but God knew their hearts; and that which was exalted among men, their
Pharisaic standing and standing aloof, was abomination before Him.94
These two points form the main subject of the Parable. Its first object
was to show the great difference between the 'before men' and the 'before God;'
between Dives as he appears to men in this world, and as he is before God and
will be in the next world. Again, the second main object of the Parable
was to illustrate that their Pharisaic standing and standing aloof - the
bearing of Dives in reference to a Lazarus - which was the glory of Pharisaism
before men, was an abomination before God. Yet a third object of the
Parable was in reference to their covetousness, the selfish use which they made
of their possessions - their Mamon. But a selfish was an unrighteous use; and,
as such, would meet with sorer retribution than in the case of an unfaithful
93. St. Luke xvi. 14.
94. ver. 15.
But we leave for the present the comparative analysis of the
Parable to return to the introductory words of Christ. Having shown that the
claims of the Pharisees and their standing aloof from poor sinners were an
abomination before God, Christ combats these grounds of their bearing, that they
were the custodians and observers of the Law and of the Prophets, while those
poor sinners had no claims upon the Kingdom of God. Yes - but the Law and the
Prophets had their terminus ad quem in John the Baptist, who 'brought
the good tidings of the Kingdom of God.' Since then 'every one' had to enter it
by personal resolution and 'force.'95
Yes - it was true that the Law could not fail in one tittle of it.96
But, notoriously and in everyday life, the Pharisees, who thus spoke of the Law
and appealed to it, were the constant and open breakers of it. Witness here
their teaching and practice concerning divorce, which really involved a breach
of the seventh commandment.97
95. Comp. St. Matt. xi. 12 and our remarks on the passage.
96. St. Luke xvi. 16, 17.
97. ver. 18.
Thus, when bearing in mind that, as previously stated, we have
here only the 'heads,' or rather the 'stepping stones,' of Christ's argument -
from notes by a hearer at the time, which were afterwards given to St. Luke -
we clearly perceive, how closely connected are the seemingly disjointed
sentences which preface the Parable, and how aptly they introduce it. The
Parable itself is strictly of the Pharisees and their relation to the
'publicans and sinners' whom they despised, and to whose stewardship they
opposed thoughts of their own proprietorship. With infinite wisdom and depth
the Parable tells in two directions: in regard to their selfish use of the
literal riches - their covetousness - and in regard to their selfish use of the
figurative riches: their Pharisaic righteousness, which left poor Lazarus at
their door to the dogs and to famine, not bestowing on him aught from their
supposed rich festive banquets.
On the other hand, it will be necessary in the interpretation
of this Parable to keep in mind, that its Parabolic details must not be
exploited, nor doctrines of any kind derived from them, either as to the
character of the other world, the question of the duration of future
punishments, or the possible moral improvement of those in Gehinnom. All
such things are foreign to the Parable, which is only intended as a type, or
exemplification and illustration, of what is intended to be taught. And, if
proof were required, it would surely be enough to remind ourselves, that this
Parable is addressed to the Pharisees, to whom Christ would scarcely have
communicated details about the other world, on which He was so reticent in His
teaching to the disciples. The Parable naturally falls into three parts.
1. Dives and Lazarus before and after death,98
or the contrast between 'before men' and 'before God;' the unrighteous use of
riches - literal and figurative; and the relations of the Pharisaic Dives to
the publican Lazarus, as before men and as before God: the 'exalted among men'
an 'abomination before God.' And the application of the Parable is here the
more telling, that alms were so highly esteemed among the Pharisees, and that
the typical Pharisee is thus set before them as, on their own showing, the
98. vv. 16-22.
The Parable opens by presenting to us 'a rich man' 'clothed in
purple and byssus, joyously faring every day in splendor.' All here is in
character. His dress is described as the finest and most costly, for byssus and
purple were the most expensive materials, only inferior to silk, which, if
genuine and unmixed - for at least three kinds of silk are mentioned in ancient
Jewish writings - was worth its weight in gold. Both byssus - of which it is
not yet quite certain, whether it was of hemp or cotton - and purple were
indeed manufactured in Palestine, but the best byssus (at least at that time99)
came from Egypt and India. The white garments of the High-Priest on the Day of
Atonement were made of it.100
To pass over exaggerated accounts of its costliness,101
the High-Priest's dress of Pelusian linen for the morning service of the Day of
Atonement was said to have cost about 36l.; that of Indian linen for the
evening of the same day about 24l. Of course, this stuff would, if of
home-manufacture, whether made in Galilee or in Judśa,102
be much cheaper. As regarded purple, which was obtained from the coasts of
Tyre,103 wool of
violet-purple was sold about that period by weight104
at the rate of about 3l. the Roman pound, though it would, of course,
considerably vary in price.
99. In later times Palestinian byssus seems to have been in great repute. See Herzfeld,
Handelsgesch. p. 107.
100. Yoma iii. 6, 7.
101. Jer. Yoma iii. 6, p. 40 d.
102. Jer. Kidd. 62 c.
103. Shabb.26 a.
104. Kel. xxix.
Quite in accordance with this luxuriousness - unfortunately not
uncommon among the very high-placed Jews, since the Talmud (though, no doubt,
exaggeratedly) speaks of the dress of a corrupt High-Priest as having cost
upwards of 300l.105
- was the feasting every day, the description of which conveys the impression
of company, merriment, and splendour. All this is, of
course, intended to set forth the selfish use which this man made of his
wealth, and to point the contrast of his bearing towards Lazarus. Here also
every detail is meant to mark the pitiableness of the case, as it stood out
before Dives. The very name - not often mentioned in any other real, and never
in any other Parabolic story - tells it: Lazarus, Laazar, a
common abbreviation of Elazar, as it were, 'God help him!' Then
we read that he 'was cast'106
(ebeblhto) at his gateway, as if
to mark that the bearers were glad to throw down their unwelcome burden.107
Laid there, he was in full view of the Pharisee as he went out or came in, or
sat in his courtyard. And as he looked at him, he was covered with a loathsome
disease; as he heard him, he uttered a piteous request to be filled with what
fell from the rich man's table. Yet nothing was done to help his bodily misery,
and, as the word 'desiring' (epiqumwn)
implies, his longing for the 'crumbs' remained unsatisfied. So selfish in the
use of his wealth was Dives, so wretched Lazarus in his view; so self-satisfied
and unpitying was the Pharisee, so miserable in his sight and so needy the
publican and sinner. 'Yea, even the dogs came and licked his sores' - for it is
not to be understood as an alleviation, but as an aggravation of his ills, that
he was left to the dogs, which in Scripture are always represented as unclean
105. Jer. Yoma iii. 6.
106. The better reading of ver. 20 is that adopted in the Revised Version: 'And a certain beggar named Lazarus' - only that we should render 'was cast.'
107. I cannot agree with Dean Plumptre that the name Lazarus had been chosen with special reference, and as a warning, to the brother of Martha and Mary. If Lazarus of Bethany was thus to be warned in regard to the proper use of his riches, his name would have been given to Dives, and not to the beggar. But besides, can we for one moment believe that Christ would in such manner have introduced the name of Lazarus of Bethany into such a Parable, he being alive at the time? Nothing, surely, could be further from His general mode of teaching than the introduction of such personalities.
So it was before men. But how was it before God? There the
relation was reversed. The beggar died - no more of him here. But the Angels
'carried him away into Abraham's bosom.' Leaving aside for the present108
the Jewish teaching concerning the 'after death,' we are struck with the
sublime simplicity of the figurative language used by Christ, as compared with
the wild and sensuous fancies of later Rabbinic teaching on the subject. It is,
indeed, true, that we must not look in this Parabolic language for Christ's
teaching about the 'after death.' On the other hand, while He would say nothing
that was essentially divergent from, at least, the purest views entertained on
the subject at that time - since otherwise the object of the Parabolic
illustration would have been lost - yet, whatever He did say must, when
stripped of its Parabolic details, be consonant with fact. Thus, the carrying
up of the soul of the righteous by Angels is certainly in accordance with
Jewish teaching, though stripped of all legendary details, such as about the
number and the greetings of the Angels.109
But it is also fully in accordance with Christian thought of the ministry of
Angels. Again, as regards the expression 'Abraham's bosom,' it occurs, although
not frequently, in Jewish writings.110111
On the other hand, the appeal to Abraham as our father is so frequent, his
presence and merits are so constantly invoked; notably, he is so expressly
designated as he who receives (lbqm) the penitent into Paradise,112
that we can see how congruous especially to the higher Jewish teaching, which
dealt not in coarsely sensuous descriptions of Gan Eden, or Paradise,
the phrase 'Abraham's bosom' must have been. Nor surely can it be necessary to
vindicate the accord with Christian thinking of a figurative expression, that
likens us to children lying lovingly in the bosom of Abraham as our spiritual
109. Kethub. 104 a; Bemidb. R. 11, ed. Warsh. p. 42 b; Targ. on Cant. iv. 12.
110. 4 Macc. xiii. 16; Kidd. 72 b, 1st line.
111. But I cannot think with Grimm (Kurzgef. Exeg. Handb. z. d. Apokr. Lief. iv. p. 347) that the expression refers to a feast of fellowship.
112. Erub. 19 a.
2. Dives and Lazarus after death:113
The 'great contrast' fully realised, and how to enter into the Kingdom. - Here
also the main interest centres in Dives. He also has died and been buried. Thus
ends all his exaltedness before men. The next scene is in Hades or Sheol,
the place of the disembodied spirits before the final Judgment. It consists of
two divisions: the one of consolation, with all the faithful gathered unto
Abraham as their father; the other of fiery torment. Thus far in accordance
with the general teaching of the New Testament. As regards the details, they
evidently represent the views current at the time among the Jews. According to
them, the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life were the abode of the blessed.114
Nay, in common belief, the words of Gen. ii. 10: 'a river went out of Eden to
water the garden,' indicated that this Eden was distinct from, and superior to,
the garden in which Adam had been originally placed.115
With reference to it, we read that the righteous in Gan Eden see the
wicked in Gehinnom, and rejoice;116
and, similarly, that the wicked in Gehinnom see the righteous sitting
beautified in Gan Eden, and their souls are troubled.117
Still more marked is the parallelism in a legend told118
about two wicked companions, of whom one had died impenitent, while the other
on seeing it had repented. After death, the impenitent in Gehinnom saw the
happiness of his former companion, and murmured. When told that the difference
of their fate was due to the other's penitence, he wished to have space
assigned for it, but was informed that this life (the eve of the Sabbath) was
the time for making provision for the next (the Sabbath). Again, it is
consonant with what were the views of the Jews, that conversations could be
held between dead persons, of which several legendary instances are given in
The torment, especially of thirst, of the wicked, is repeatedly mentioned in
Jewish writings. Thus, in one place,121
the fable of Tantalus is apparently repeated. The righteous is seen
beside delicious springs, and the wicked with his tongue parched at the brink
of a river, the waves of which are constantly receding from him.122
But there is this very marked and characteristic contrast, that in the Jewish
legend the beatified is a Pharisee, while the sinner tormented with thirst is a
Publican! Above all, and as marking the vast difference between Jewish ideas
and Christ's teaching, we notice that there is no analogy in Rabbinic writings
to the statement in the Parable, that there is a wide and impassable gulf
between Paradise and Gehenna.
113. St. Luke xvi. 23-26.
114. Jer. Targ. on Gen. iii. 24.
115. Ber. 34 b.
116. Vayyik. R. 32, beginning.
117. u.s. p.48 b, lines 8 and 9 from top.
118. Midr. on Eccles. i. 15, ed. Warsh. p. 81 b. about the middle.
119. Ber. 18 b.
120. According to some of the commentators these were, however, dreams.
121. Jer. Chag. 77 d.
122. Comp. also Jer. Sanh. 23 c about the middle.
To return to the Parable. When we read that Dives in torments
'lifted up his eyes,' it was, no doubt, for help, or, at least, alleviation. Then
he first perceived and recognised the reversed relationship. The text
emphatically repeats here: 'And he,' - literally, this one (kai autoV), as if now, for the first
time, he realised, but only to misunderstand and misapply it, how easily
superabundance might minister relief to extreme need - 'calling (viz., upon =
invoking) said: "Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus."' The
invocation of Abraham, as having the power, and of Abraham as 'Father,' was
natural on the part of a Jew. And our Lord does not here express what really
was, but only introduces Jews as speaking in accordance with the popular
notions. Accordingly, it does not necessarily imply on the part of Dives either
glorification of carnal descent (gloriatio carnis, as Bengel has
it), nor a latent idea that he might still dispose of Lazarus. A Jew would have
appealed to 'Father Abraham' under such or like circumstances, and many
analogous statements might be quoted in proof. But all the more telling is it,
that the rich Pharisee should behold in the bosom of Abraham, whose child he
specially claimed to be, what, in his sight, had been poor Lazarus, covered with
moral sores, and, religiously speaking, thrown down outside his gate - not only
not admitted to the fellowship of his religious banquet, but not even to be fed
by the crumbs that fell from his table, and to be left to the dogs. And it was
the climax of the contrast that he should now have to invoke, and that in vain,
his ministry, seeking it at the hands of Abraham. And here we also recall the
previous Parable about making, ere it fail, friends by means of the Mamon of
unrighteousness, that they may welcome us in the everlasting tabernacles.
It should be remembered that Dives now limits his request to
the humblest dimensions, asking only that Lazarus might be sent to dip the tip
of his finger in the cooling liquid, and thus give him even the smallest relief.
To this Abraham replies, though in a tone of pity: 'Child,' yet decidedly -
showing him, first, the rightness of the present position of things; and,
secondly, the impossibility of any alteration, such as he had asked. Dives had,
in his lifetime, received his good things; that had been his things, he
had chosen them as his part, and used them for self, without communicating of
them. And Lazarus had received evil things. Now Lazarus was comforted, and
Dives in torment. It was the right order - not that Lazarus was comforted
because in this world he had suffered, nor yet that Dives was in torment
because in this world he had had riches. But Lazarus received there the comfort
which had been refused to him on earth, and the man who had made this world his
good, and obtained there his portion, of which he had refused even the crumbs
to the most needy, now received the meet reward of his unpitying, unloving,
selfish life. But, besides all this, which in itself was right and proper,
Dives had asked what was impossible: no intercourse could be held between
Paradise and Gehenna, and on this account123
a great and impassable chasm existed between the two, so that, even if they
would, they could not, pass from heaven to hell, nor yet from hell to those in
bliss. And, although doctrinal statements should not be drawn from Parabolic
illustrations, we would suggest that, at least so far as this Parable goes, it
seems to preclude the hope of a gradual change or transition after a life lost
in the service of sin and self.
123. The exact rendering in ver. 26 is; 'in order that (opwV,
so also in ver. 28) they who would pass from hence to you,' &c.
3. Application of the Parable,124
showing how the Law and the Prophets cannot fail, and how we must now press
into the Kingdom. It seems a strange misconception on the part of some
commentators, that the next request of Dives indicates a commencing change of mind
on his part. To begin with, this part of the Parable is only intended to
illustrate the need, and the sole means of conversion to God - the appeal to
the Law and the Prophets being the more apt that the Pharisees made their boast
of them, and the refusal of any special miraculous interposition the more
emphatic, that the Pharisees had been asking for 'a sign from heaven.' Besides,
it would require more than ordinary charity to discover a moral change in the
desire that his brothers might - not be converted, but not come to that place
124. St. Luke xvi. 27-31.
Dismissing, therefore, this idea, we now find Dives pleading
that Lazarus might be sent to his five brothers, who, as we infer, were of the
same disposition and life as himself had been, to 'testify unto them' - the
word implying more than ordinary, even earnest, testimony. Presumably, what he
so earnestly asked to be attested was, that he, Dives, was in torment; and the
expected effect, not of the testimony but of the mission of Lazarus,125
whom they are supposed to have known, was, that these, his brothers, might not
come to the same place. At the same time, the request seems to imply an attempt
at self-justification, as if, during his life, he had not had sufficient
warning. Accordingly, the reply of Abraham is no longer couched in a tone of
pity, but implies stern rebuke of Dives. They need no witness-bearer: they have
Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them. If testimony be needed, their has
been given, and it is sufficient - a reply this, which would specially appeal
to the Pharisees. And when Dives, now, perhaps, as much bent on
self-justification as on the message to his brothers, remonstrates that,
although they had not received such testimony, yet 'if one come to them from
the dead,' they would repent, the final, and, as, alas! history has shown since
the Resurrection of Christ, the true answer is, that 'if they hear not [give
not hearing to] Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be influenced126
[moved: their intellects to believe, their wills to repent], if one rose from
125. ver. 30.
126. This is the real meaning of the verb peiqw
in the passive voice. The rendering 'persuade' is already Targumic - giving it the sense of moving or influencing the intellect. To us the other sense, that of influencing the will to repentance, seems more likely to have been intended.
And here the Parable, and the warning to the Pharisees,
abruptly break off. When next we hear the Master's voice,127
it is in loving application to the disciples of some of the lessons which were
implied in what He had spoken to the Pharisees.