Matthew 20:16

New Testament

10 And when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each one also received the standard wage. 11 When they received it, they began to complain against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day.’ 13 And the landowner replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage? 14 Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last man the same as I gave to you. 15 Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Ruth Rabbah 3


This is what the scripture says: 'Small and great alike are there, and the slave is free of his master'. Rabbi Simon said: 'this is one of four verses which are like to one another. 'Small and great alike are there': this is the world, who is small is able to be made great and who is great is able to be made small, but in the one that is going to come, who is small will not be able to be made great and who is great will not be able to be made small. 'And the slave is free of his master': this is the one who does the will of his creator (yotzer) but displeases his yetzer (inclination); death becomes his freedom, as it is said 'And the slave is free of his master'. Rabbi Meyasha son of Bereh of Rabbi Joshua was insensate for three days because he was sick, and after the three days his sense revived itself, and his father said to him 'where were you?'. He said to him: 'I was in a confused world'. And his father said to him: 'And what did you see there?' And R. Meyasha said to him: 'I saw the multitude of the sons of man now in glory and then in disgrace'. And when Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish heard they came to visit him. He said to them 'Did you really hear what this youth said?'. And they said to him: 'What did he say?'. He told them of the matter. Reish Lakish said: 'And is that not a whole verse: 'thus said the Lord God: Remove the turban and lift off the crown! This shall not remain as it is; exalt the low and abase the high?'. Rabbi Yochanan said: 'Were I not to have come up except to his the matter, this would be enough'. Rabbi Huna, the Exilarch, asked Rabbi Chisdai: 'What is this that is written 'Remove the turban and lift off the crown!'? And he said to him 'Remove the turban' from our rabbis, and 'lift off the crown' from the kingdoms of the world. He said to him 'you are named chesed (i.e. Chisdai) and what you have is chased.

 Notes and References

"... Myron Bialik Lerner gave in his Hebrew academic dissertation some concrete examples about the stylistic devices in the New Testament and in Midrash Ruth. They concern the good works, the merits which are valid also in the world to come and the evil inclination. There is always the same old literary pattern in both of them. The antithesis between this world and the coming one is expressed as follows ... Matthew shows a similar model too ... a certain extract of the Sermon on the Mount proves that this pattern typical to Amoraic era was used already in the Gospel. Jesus said according to the translation of Lerner that a) every good tree a) bears good fruit, b) but every bad tree b) bears bad fruit and a) a good tree cannot b) bear bad fruit b) nor can a bad tree a) bear a good fruit ..."

Santala, Risto The Midrash of the Messiah: The Messiah and His Meal in Midrash Ruth Chapters 5, 7, and 8 (pp. 170-171) Tummavuoren Kirjapaino Oy, Finland, 2002

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