Parable #35. Vineyard Workers, early & late (Kingdom of Heaven):
- Today is Day #35
- The Thirty-fifth Mashal of Messiah
- The First Wage Agreement (undesignated, likely the 1st Hour)
- The Second Wage Agreement (the 3rd Hour)
- New Workers required to accept the Second Wage Agreement (6th, 9th, & 11th Hours)
- The Righteous Landowner responds to the grumbling workers
- The Spokesperson who had Envy in his eyes
- The Man with the Good Eyes
- The Way of the Most Generous One
- The Great Irony of the Mashal
- The Mystery of the New Agreement of the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 11th Hours
- The Rest of the Story…Messiah’s Death, Burial and Resurrection foretold
Today is Day #35:
1. Today is “Day #35” in the forty-nine day Countdown to Shavuot.
2. Today is thirty-five days which are five weeks of the Omer.
.היום חמישה ושלושים יום, שהם חמישה שבועות בעומר
Haiyom chamishah ushloshim yom, shehaym chamishah shavuot ba’omer.
“You shall count for yourselves — from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving — seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days.” (Leviticus). “You shall count for yourselves seven weeks, from when the sickle is first put to the standing crop shall you begin counting seven weeks. Then you will observe the Festival of Shavu’ot for Adonai Eloheinu.” (Deuteronomy).
“Blessed are You, Adonai Eloheinu, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.”
ברוך אתה, אדוני אלוהינו, מלך העולם, אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וצוונו על ספירת העומר.פ
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sefirat ha’omer.
The Thirty-fifth Mashal of Messiah:
Early in the Morning
כִּי דוֹמָה מַלְכוּת הַשָׁמַיִם לְאִישׁ בַּעַל־בָּיִת אֲשֶׁר הִשְׁכִּים בַּבֹּקֶר וַיֵּצֵא לִשְׂכֹּר פֹּעֲלִים לְכַרְמוֹ׃ וַיִּפְסַק עִם הַפֹּעֲלִים דִּינָר לַיּוֹם וַיִּשְׁלָחֵם אֶל־כַּרְמוֹ׃
For the kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a man, the owner of a house, who got up early in the morning and went out to hire workers for his vineyard. He settled with the workers on one dinar (denarius) per day, and and he sent them into his vineyard.
The Third Hour
וַיֵּצֵא בַּשָׁעָה הַשְׁלִישִׁית וַיַּרְא אֲחֵרִים עֹמְדִים בְּטֵלִים בַּשּׁוּק׃ וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם לְכוּ גַם־אַתֶּם אֶל־כַּרְמִי וַאֲנִי אֶתֵּן לָכֶם כַּמִּשְׁפָּט וַיֵּלֵכוּ׃
He went out at the third hour and saw others standing idly in the marketplace. He said to them, “You too go to my vineyard, and I will give to you as decided (I will give you a just amount),” and they went.
The Sixth Hour & the Ninth Hour
וַיֵּצֵא גַּם בַּשָׁעָה הַשִׁשִׁית גַּם בַּתְּשִׁיעִית וַּיַעַשׂ כַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה׃
The Eleventh Hour
וַיֵּצֵא בִּשְׁעַת עַשְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה וַיִּמְצָא אֲחֵרִים עֹמְדִים וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם לָמָה אַתֶּם עֹמְדִים פֹּה בְּטֵלִים כָּל־הַיּוֹם׃ וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ כִּי לֹא־שָׂכַר אוֹתָנוּ אִישׁ וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם לְכוּ גַם־אַתֶּם אֶל־הַכֶּרֶם וְשְׂכַרְכֶם יֻתַּן לָכֶם׃
He went out at the eleventh hour and found others standing. He said to them, “Why are you standing here idly all day?” They said to him, “Because nobody has hired us.” He said to them, “You too, go to the vineyard, and your payment will be given to you.”
When Evening Came
וַיְהִי בָעֶרֶב וַיֹּאמֶר בַּעַל הַכֶּרֶם אֶל־פְּקִידוֹ קְרָא אֶת־הַפֹּעֲלִים וְתֵן לָהֶם אֶת־שְׂכָרָם הָחֵל בָּאַחֲרוֹנִים וְכַלֵּה בָּרִאשׁוֹנִים׃ וַיָּבֹאוּ הַנִּשְׂכָּרִים בִּשְׁעַת אַחַת עֶשְׂרֵה וַיִּקְחוּ אִישׁ אִישׁ דִּינָר אֶחָד׃ וּבְבֹא הָרִאשׁוֹנִים דִּמּוּ בְנַפְשָׁם כִּי יִקְחוּ יוֹתֵר וַיִּקְחוּ גַּם־הֵם אִישׁ אִישׁ דִּינָר אֶחָד׃ וַיְהִי בְקַחְתָּם וַיִּלּוֹנוּ עַל־בַּעַל הַבַּיִת לֵאמֹר׃ אֵלֶּה הָאַחֲרוֹנִים לֹא עָשׂוֹּ כִּי אִם־שָׁעָה אֶחָת וְאַתָּה הִשְׁוִיתָ אֹתָם לָנוּ אֲשֶׁר סָבַלְנוּ אֶת־טֹרַח הַיּוֹם וְחֻמּוֹ׃ וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־אֶחָד מֵהֶם רֵעִי לֹא הוֹנֵיתִי אֹתָךְ הֲלֹא דִינָר פָּסַקְתָּ עִמִּי׃ קַח אֶת־שֶׁלְּךָ וָלֵךְ וַאֲנִי רְצוֹנִי שֶׁאֶתֵּן לָזֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן כָּמוֹךָ׃ הֲלֹא אוּכַל לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּשֶׁלִּי כִּרְצוֹנִי הַאִם־תֵּרַע עֵינְךָ עַל־אֲשֶׁר טוֹב אָנִי׃
In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his overseer (foreman):
“Call the workers and give them their payment. Begin with the last and end with the first.“
Those hired in the eleventh hour came, and each man got one dinar (denarius). When the first ones came, they imagined to themselves that they would get more, but each one of them also got one dinar. When they got it, they complained to the owner of the house, saying: “These last ones worked (only) for one hour, but you have made them equal to us, who have been bearing the day’s burden and its (scorching) heat!” But he answered and said to one of them, “My fellow, I have not cheated you. Did you not settle with me on one dinar? Take what is yours and go. But what I want is to give to this last one the same as to you. Am I not able to do as I want with what is mine? Is your evil eye (of envy) about the fact that I am good?” (generous)
כֵּן יִהְיוּ הָאַחֲרוֹנִים רִאשׁוֹנִים וְהָרִאשׁוֹנִים יִהְיוּ אַחֲרוֹנִים (כִּי־רַבִּים הֵם הַקְּרוּאִים וּמְעַטִּים הַנִּבְחָרִים)׃
“So the last shall be first, and the first last. (For many are called, but few are chosen).”
The First Wage Agreement (undesignated, likely the 1st Hour):
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.” In this mashal of the Vineyard Workers Early and Late the Messiah used an illustration of a man Rich in Adonai who owned a vineyard. The vineyard was a common feature of life in Israel. In fact, the most important distinction of the vineyard is its use as the national symbol of Israel. As the prophet Isaiah has said (Isaiah 5:7a):
כִּי כֶרֶם יְהוָה צְבָאֹות בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאִישׁ יְהוּדָה נְטַע שַׁעֲשׁוּעָיו
“Now the vineyard of Adonai Tseva’ot (the Lord of Hosts) is the House of Israel, and the men of Judah are the plant He delighted in.” Israel is the Vineyard of our Father in heaven. In seeking laborers at the break of day to work in his vineyard the landowner went to the customary place, the village market place. There he hired some temporary day laborers to work at the standard daily wage rate, a *denarius (a small silver coin). This first time of the landowner hiring workers is very likely at sunrise. However, for reasons that will be explained later the Messiah does not give this time of the first hiring of laborers a designated numerical time (i.e. the first hour of the day). Then the owner of the vineyard immediately put his newly selected and hired laborers to work.
*The denarius was a small Roman silver coin that equaled the customary daily wage of a Roman soldier or a common day laborer. In the first century (CE) the Roman denarius was worth slightly more than a Greek drachma.
The Second Wage Agreement (the 3rd Hour):
“And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went.” Three hours into the work day, about the “third hour” (around 9 AM), the landowner sees others idle in the marketplace. These men were passed over by the landowner at his first hiring. No doubt these laborers were even more eager to work than the first workers, for no one had yet hired them. The owner of the vineyard invited these men to join his laborers, however, unlike the hiring of the first workers there was no agreement as to how much these third hour workers would receive; except the promise that he would do “whatever was right.” In this case the newly hired workers agreed to be compensated according to the landowner’s own personal sense of what was right. Therefore, the new workers were hired under a new agreement where the new workers agreed to be paid entirely according to the will of the landowner and not according to any human convention.
New Workers required to accept the Second Wage Agreement (6th, 9th, & 11th Hours):
“Again he [the owner of the vineyard] went out about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’”
Later the landowner found others in the sixth and ninth hours (referring to noon and about 3 PM). The master gave these men, who were more desperate for work than the earlier hired workers, the same New Deal he did the workers at the third hour. Therefore, related to the sixth and ninth hour workers they too agreed to rely solely on the graciousness (grace) and generosity of the landowner, as to what their wages would be. Finally, at the concluding hour of the normal working day, the landowner found still more workers that had not been hired.
These workers were in the most desperate circumstance of all the workers for they had been without employment throughout the entire day. So, at the last (the final) hour of the day the generous vineyard owner also invited these last persons (אחרונים-acharonim, “last ones”) to work for him, on the basis of His New Second Wage Agreement that depended solely on His graciousness. Therefore, all of the workers who the landowner had hired at the 3rd hour, 6th hour and the 9th hour had agreed to receive whatever wages the landowner personally deemed to be right.
At nightfall, all of the laborers came to the foreman to be paid.
No doubt the labor group that had worked all day for the customary wage of one denarius had heard from the other workers about the unconventional agreement that the landowner had made with them. We expect some of the group of workers from the first agreement (the Old Agreement) may have communicated to the other workers of the second agreement (the New Agreement) that they would have never accepted such a risky wage contract: “What if the Master decides to pay way less than the customary minimum wage?”
Therefore, we believe when the workers were assembled at the close of the day, the earliest laborers of the first agreement were quite happy about their compensation but the latter laborers of the second agreement were nervous about the unknown amount that they would be paid. “When *evening came the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. When those hired first came at the very end of the payment session, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they “grumbled” (remember the people grumbling at Adonai and Moses?) at the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’”
לֹא־תַעֲשֹׁק שָׂכִיר עָנִי וְאֶבְיֹון מֵאַחֶיךָ אֹו מִגֵּרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בְּאַרְצְךָ בִּשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ׃ בְּיֹומֹו תִתֵּן שְׂכָרֹו וְֽלֹא־תָבֹוא עָלָיו הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ כִּי עָנִי הוּא וְאֵלָיו הוּא נֹשֵׂא אֶת־נַפְשֹׁו וְלֹֽא־יִקְרָא עָלֶיךָ אֶל־יְהוָה וְהָיָה בְךָ חֵֽטְא׃
“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to Adonai and it become sin in you.”
What a surprise: the foreman paid the last workers first and these men who had worked less than an hour were paid a full day’s pay!
This amazing generosity did not please everyone. The Master’s generosity only pleased the laborers who had signed on for the second agreement. As expected this caused complaints on the part of those laborers who had at the first hour (6 AM) accepted the first agreement, who had labored throughout all of the day. A spokesman for this group said to the master:
“These last workers have worked only one hour, and you have made them (the last ones) equal to us, who have labored throughout the entire day and have borne the burden of the scorching heat of the day.”
The Righteous Landowner responds to the grumbling workers:
“But he answered and said to one of them [the spokesman], ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ So the last shall be first, and the first last.” The landowner’s response to the spokesperson for those of the first agreement who had labored longest was simply:
“I did you no wrong. I have paid you exactly what my agreement with you required.”
Thereafter, the owner of the vineyard pointed out to the disgruntled (“grumbling”) workers that it was ‘none of their business’ what he voluntarily did with ‘his’ own money. He would be generous wherever he wanted, to whomever he wanted, whenever he wanted! Then the landowner confronted the spokesperson for the laborers as to whether he himself was the one who was engaging in wrongdoing:
“Was he, the spokesperson for the first agreement, not sinning by being envious of the good fortune of the latter group of laborers who had been treated so well?”
The obvious answer was “yes” but the convicted spokesperson gave no answer. He just silently stood there with the cold, angry, glaring stare of envy projecting out from his covetous eyes onto the owner of the vineyard.
The Spokesperson who had Envy in his eyes:
The ancient Hebrew belief about the “eye of envy” was that the eye (ayin) is the conduit to the soul. Since the Hebrew word “ayin” is used to refer to both the words “eye” and “well,” the term eye of envy, in word picture form, would best be described as a “wellspring of envy.” In other words, in the depiction of the wellspring of envy it could be said that whatever evil comes out of the eye springs forth from the evil that is sourced in that person’s soul. In this way the envy that is seen drawn from the eyes, like the mouth of a well, is proof positive that there exists deep within the person’s soul a constant and abiding well-spring of envy.
The eye of envy is also referred to in some ancient cultures as being an “evil eye” (in Hebrew, ayin ha-ra). The evil eye was believed to be a malevolent disposition and look that possessed within itself the power to project upon another actual injury or misfortune (at the very least, fear, guilt and shame). In the Book of Proverbs ayin ha-ra denotes a person who practices “ill will,” “grudge” and “greed.” We are instructed not to be friends and business partners with such a person who possesses ayin ha-ra (the evil eye); therefore, one who is a “stingy” deceitful person who self-promotes himself as being a kind, generous and giving person, when the truth is he is neither giving nor gracious (Proverbs 23:6-7).
The Man with the Good Eyes:
In stark contrast to the deceitful, grudging, ‘stingy’ man who is Poor in Adonai, there is the man who possesses ayin ha-tov (the man with the good eye) who is Rich in Adonai. We see in the life of the man with the “good eye” that he possesses a wellspring of goodness in his spirit and soul.
The inherent goodness of such a person, at the depths of his being, is due to the Indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit. The Presence of the Spirit of Holiness is the source of the “bountiful,” “generous” behavior that compels a Man with the Good Eye to be generous and “give his bread to the poor” (Proverb 22:9).
Therefore, it is only through the helping Presence and assistance of the Holy Spirit that anyone may possess a good eye. Those who have a good eye (ayin ha-tov) are doubly blessed to possess a humble spirit and a lowly soul. The Man with the Good Eye is said to possess the right middot ha-lev (qualities of the heart). In Proverbs 22:9 it is written:
טֹֽוב־עַיִן הוּא יְבֹרָךְ כִּֽי־נָתַן מִלַּחְמֹו לַדָּֽל׃
“The one with a good eye will be blessed! For He gives a portion of His bread (fig. of all that he owns) to the poor.”
No doubt the spokesman with the ‘envy in his eyes’ and his cohorts were exceedingly angry and even incensed at the conclusion of the landowner’s response. In their zeal to create self-advantage at the expense of the landowner, they only succeeded in losing face. At the end of the day the irony was that the disgruntled, grumbling workers who happily had negotiated their Old Agreement at the start had left the vineyard very embittered and unhappy; while the other workers who had no agreement other than to trust their Master’s good and gracious judgment (the New Agreement), left the Vineyard very grateful and happy.
The Way of the Most Generous One:
In this scriptural way we can discern the two different paths that have been taken. The first path was taken by the elite religious establishment led by the self-proclaimed Holy Ones, the Prushim rabbinate (the Pharisees) and the Righteous Ones, the Tzedukim (the aristocratic priestly class (the Sadducees) who had each gone their hyper-legalistic—-way of the Ayin Ha-ra. Their labors had, like the previous depiction of them as the Elder Brother in the mashal of the “Lost Son,” borne the heat of the day.
In truth, they were not the truly pious ones that they so proudly claimed to be. They were the stingy ones. These elite ones had depicted Abba Avinu, the One to whom belongs “all of the earth and everything that is in it,” as being a “stingy one” (just like them). In stark contrast, the Man with the Good Eye, as an advocate for his spiritually impoverished Hebrew brothers and sisters (the Messiah), depicts the Landowner Abba Avinu as a Loving, Gracious, Generous Father. The Messiah describes our heavenly Father as being the Most Generous One who equally loves in an unqualified way all of His Hebrew (and Gentile) children.
The Great Irony of the Mashal:
The great irony of the mashal is that those who embraced the “conventional” orthodox agreement ended up being the last ones to be paid, even though they had worked considerably longer and harder than everyone else; whereas those who worked less, who accepted the New Agreement to just trust in the goodwill and generosity of the Landowner, were dealt with more generously and were the first to be paid.
The Mystery of the New Agreement of the *3rd, 6th, 9th, and 11th Hours:
Did you look for and discover the key rabbinical “hint” of the Messiah in the mashal of the Vineyard Workers early and late? The Messiah, who is rich in the Mercy and Compassion of our heavenly Father, who labors for others and not for Himself, was telling us what would happen to Him in the future. He was telling us before it even happened at what hours of the day he would unselfishly and generously labor for you and me in the scorching “Heat of the Day.”
The Messiah’s specific choice of the four numbered hours that He selected to be numerically represented in His teaching is His rabbinical hint that tells us that His life is the generous means that Abba Avinu uses to credit His righteousness to us (old versus new agreement); that is all of us who have accepted His second agreement, the Besorah of the Endowment of the Grace of Adonai (cf. fathers Abarham and David). In the scorching heat of the day, on the fourteenth day of Nisan (in the spring): the Lamb of Adonai was nailed to the accursed tree at the 3rd hour (9 AM); at the 6th hour darkness descended upon the earth (at noon); and at the 9th hour (3 PM) the Messiah completed His work of redemption for you and me and committed His Spirit into the care of His Father and our Father who dwells in heaven.
As to the 11th hour, the fourth (designated) time given by the Messiah, at the 11th hour (5 pm) the body of Messiah was transferred from the accursed tree to His tomb. It was there at the tomb that Messiah was raised from the dead on the third day. Therefore, after securing for us redemption and cleansing for our sins at the 3rd (9 AM), 6th (12 Noon) and 9th (3 PM) hours. Then at the final 11th hour (5-6 PM) the Messiah’s body was relocated to His final resting place where, just three days later, His body would be resurrected from the dead (at the 1st hour, 6 AM) so that He might also secure for us the gift of eternal life.
This narrative of specific times prophetically means that in the four different numbered hours of time that Messiah gave us in this mashal of the Vineyard Workers, early and late, we can see a supernatural glimpse into the (then yet future) exact times of Messiah’s death and burial. Therefore, miraculously Ha-Mashiach accurately predicted the four specific key times (Hebrew hours 3, 6, 9 & 11) that are related to His sacrificial death (9 AM, 12 Noon, 3 PM) and burial in the grave (6 PM) “before” any of these events actually happened!
The Rest of the Story…Messiah’s Death, Burial and Resurrection foretold:
The Messiah’s comments immediately following His teaching on the above mashal of the ‘Vineyard Workers, early and late’ confirms our assertion that the central mystery meaning (Hebrew “sod”) of the mashal/parable was about the Messiah’s New Covenant (Brit Chadashah). This New Covenant of the Endowment of the Grace of Adonai (represented in the Second Wage Agreement) was put into effect through the redemptive death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah. Messiah’s follow-up comments immediately after teaching His mashal of the Vineyard Workers, early and late, are: as (the Messiah) Yeshua was about to go up to Yerushalayim, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them:
הִנְנוּ עֹלִים יְרוּשָׁלָיְמָה וּבֶן־הָאָדָם יִמָּסֵר לְרָאשֵׁי הַכֹּהֲנִים וְלַסּוֹפְרִים וְהִרְשִׁיעֻהוּ לָמוּת׃ וּמָסְרוּ אוֹתוֹ לַגּוֹיִם לְהָתֵל בּוֹ וּלְהַכּוֹת אוֹתוֹ בַּשּׁוֹטִים וְלִצְלֹב אוֹתוֹ וּבַיּוֹם הַשְׁלִישִׁי יָקוּם׃
“Look, we are going up to Yerushalayim, and Ben Ha’adam will be handed over to the leading priests and the scholars (scribes), and they will condemn Him to die. They will hand Him over to the Goyim (Gentiles, i.e. the Romans) to mock Him, to strike Him with whips (to be scourged) and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up!” (וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי יָקוּם)