Page images

12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired ser


20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

22 But the father said to his servants,

Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us cat, and be merry:

24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, 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 by us in the note on ch. viii. 32, where also we have shown that this was considered the most degrading of employments.

16. "

Husks," ngaria, which was applied to the pods of the Carob tree, from their resemblance to xspas, a horn. The name Carob seems to come from the Arabic khyrmub (→), which in Syriac loses the n and becomes kharuba, (—) 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 sour 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 xiv be the same as Ceratonia siliqua, 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, ἔχει δὲ ἅμα καὶ τον ἔνον καὶ τὸν νέον καρπον, for us soon as one is gathered, about midsummer, the other begins to bud and continues to unfold till the autumnal equinox, when it blossoms, 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 botany 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.


1 The parable of the unjust steward. 14 Christ reproveth the hypocrisy of the covetous Pharisees. 19 The rich glutton, and Lazarus the beggar.

AND he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away | from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

6 And he said, An hundred 'measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred 'measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

9 And I say unto you, Make to your

1 The word Batus in the original, containeth nine gallons three quarts.
about fourteen bushels and a pottle.
Or, riches.

selves friends of the 'mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and


14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.


16 "The Law and the Prophets were until
John: since that time the kingdom of God
is preached, and every man presseth into it.
17 And it is easier for heaven and earth
pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
18 "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and
marrieth another, committeth adultery: and
whosoever marrieth her that is put away
from her husband committeth adultery.

19¶There was a certain rich man, which
The word here interpreted a measure, in the original containeth
5 Matt. 6. 24. 6 Matt, 11. 11. 7 Matt. 5. 18.

* Or, riches. 8 Matt. 5, 32.

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

20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of


21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.


26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:

28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: 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 throughout 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 character, 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-fifth. The proportion seems very reasonable, and it really would be so, 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 authority 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 rent; 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 information 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 a 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 heads 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 or 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.”



1 Christ teacheth to avoid occasions of offence. One to forgive another. 6 The power of faith. 7 How we are bound to God, and not he to us. 11 He healeth ten lepers. 22 Of the kingdom of God, and the coming of the Son of man.

THEN said he unto the disciples, 'It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come !

2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

3 Take heed to yourselves: "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

5 And the Apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?

8 And will not rather say unto him, Make

ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?

9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.

10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

11 ¶ And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, 'Go shew yourselves unto the Priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

[blocks in formation]

19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

20 ¶ And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not 'with observation:

21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.

23 'And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow


24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.

25 But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

Or, with outward shew.
12 Matt. 24. 40.

28 'Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.

30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.

32 10Remember Lot's wife.

33 "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.

35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

37 And they answered and said unto him, 14Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

6 Or, among you.
7 Matt. 24. 23. 8 Gen. 7. 9 Gen. 19.
13 This 36th verse is wanting in most of the Greek copies.

Verse 6. "A grain of mustard 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 stem; and to which, therefore, the description of a tree or shrub must be wholly inapplicable; or indeed did he know of any species of Sinapis which Could be called a shrub, much less a tree. He hence conluded it more likely that the war of the text was a species of Phytolacca-the Phytolacca dodecandra-which, while it grows abundantly in Palestine, has the smallest eed of any tree in that country, and attains as great an ltitude as any. Mr. Frost then proceeds to show the anaogy of natural properties between the two genera phytocca and sinapis. The fresh sliced roots of the Phyt, dodeandra are used for the same purpose in America as we se mustard seed, as a cataplasm. Its seeds also afford what those of the sinapis does in abundance, nitrogenn element not found in any plants except those belonging o the natural orders cruciata and fungi. He was also inFormed that the plant is in America called the wild musard. The drift of this argument appears to be, that From the analogy of properties, this or some other species

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Mustard (Sinapis Orientalis).

« PreviousContinue »