11 Then Jesus said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that will belong to me.’ So he divided his assets between them. 13 After a few days, the younger son gathered together all he had and left on a journey to a distant country, and there he squandered his wealth with a wild lifestyle. 14 Then after he had spent everything, a severe famine took place in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and worked for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He was longing to eat the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food enough to spare, but here I am dying from hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired workers.”’20So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran and hugged his son and kissed him.21Then his son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’22But the father said to his slaves, ‘Hurry! Bring the best robe, and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet!23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let us eat and celebrate, 24 because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again—he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field. As he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the slaves and asked what was happening. 27 The slave replied, ‘Your brother has returned, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he got his son back safe and sound.’ 28 But the older son became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and appealed to him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look! These many years I have worked like a slave for you, and I never disobeyed your commands. Yet you never gave me even a goat so that I could celebrate with my friends! 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything that belongs to me is yours. 32 It was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.’”
Date: 75-85 C.E. (based on scholarly estimates)
Deuteronomy Rabbah 2:24
Another explanation: THOU WILT RETURN TO THE LORD THY GOD. R. Samuel Pargrita said in the name of R. Meir: This can be compared to the son of a king who took to evil ways. The king sent a tutor to him who appealed to him saying, ‘Repent, my son.’ The son, however, sent him back to his father [with the message], ‘How can I have the effrontery to return? I am ashamed to come before you.’ Thereupon his father sent back word, ‘My son, is a son ever ashamed to return to his father? And is it not to your father that you will be returning?’ ‘Similarly, the Holy One, blessed be He, sent Jeremiah to Israel when they sinned, and said to him: ‘Go, say to My children, ‘Return.’ Whence this? For it is said, Go and proclaim these words, etc. (Jer. 111, 12). Israel asked Jeremiah: ‘How can we have the effrontery to return to God?’ Whence do we know this? For it is said, Let us le down in our shame, and let our confusion cover us, etc. (ib. 25). But God sent back word to them: ‘My children, if you return, will you not be returning to your Father?’ Whence this? [For it is said], For I am become a father to Israel, etc. R. ‘Azariah said: God said to Jeremiah: ‘Go, tell Israel, I will not prove false to you. At Sinai you declared, My heart yearneth for Him (S.S. v, 4); I too say the same to you.’ Whence this? For it is said, Is Ephraim a darling son unto Me . . . therefore My heart yearneth for him (Jer. XXXI, 20).