Parallels: Parable of the Laborers (Sifra Vayiqra, Matthew 20)

Workers in Vineyard

Workers in Vineyard

Once in a while one will notice the similarities that exist between Rabbinic parables and those preserved of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. Note the two parables of laborers.

Sifra Vayiqra Behuqotai Parasha 1 Pereq 2.
ופניתי אליכם ,משלו משל למה הדבר דומה למלך ששכר פועלים הרבה והיה שם פועל אחד ועשה עמו מלאכה ימים הרבה, נכנסו הפועלים ליטול שכרם ונכנס אותו הפועל עמהם אמר לו המלך לאותו הפועל בני אפנה לך הרובים הללו שעשו עמי מלאכה ממועטת ואני נותן להם שכר מועטאבל אתה חשבון רב אני עתיד לחשב עמך (Bar-Ilan Responsa)

“And I will have regard for you” (Lev 26:9).  A parable is told, to what may the matter be compared?  To a king who hired many laborers, but there was one laborer who did work for him for many days.  When the laborers entered to receive their wages, this laborer entered with them.  The king said to him, “My son, I shall have [special] regard for you. These many who have worked for me have done minimal labor.  I will give to them [accordingly] a minimal wage, but for you I will grant a great amount. (Notley Translation)

Matthew 20: 8-16: The Parable of the Vineyard

Maqqai√on 20:8 ojyi÷aß de« genome÷nhß le÷gei oJ ku/rioß touv aÓmpelw◊noß twˆ◊ e˙pitro/pwˆ aujtouv: ka¿leson touß e˙rga¿taß kai« aÓpo/doß aujtoi√ß ton misqon aÓrxa¿menoß aÓpo tw◊n e˙sca¿twn eºwß tw◊n prw¿twn. 9 kai« e˙lqo/nteß oi˚ peri« thn e˚ndeka¿thn w‚ran e¶labon aÓna» dhna¿rion. 10 kai« e˙lqo/nteß oi˚ prw◊toi e˙no/misan o¢ti plei√on lh/myontai: kai« e¶labon [to] aÓna» dhna¿rion kai« aujtoi÷. 11 labo/nteß de« e˙go/gguzon kata» touv oi˙kodespo/tou 12 le÷gonteß: ou∞toi oi˚ e¶scatoi mi÷an w‚ran e˙poi÷hsan, kai« i¶souß hJmi√n aujtouß e˙poi÷hsaß toi√ß basta¿sasi to ba¿roß thvß hJme÷raß kai« ton kau/swna. 13 oJ de« aÓpokriqei«ß e˚ni« aujtw◊n ei•pen: e˚tai√re, oujk aÓdikw◊ se: oujci« dhnari÷ou sunefw¿nhsa¿ß moi; 14 a°ron to son kai« u¢page. qe÷lw de« tou/twˆ twˆ◊ e˙sca¿twˆ douvnai wJß kai« soi÷: 15 [h£] oujk e¶xesti÷n moi o§ qe÷lw poihvsai e˙n toi√ß e˙moi√ß; h£ oJ ojfqalmo/ß sou ponhro/ß e˙stin o¢ti e˙gw» aÓgaqo/ß ei˙mi; 16 ou¢twß e¶sontai oi˚ e¶scatoi prw◊toi kai« oi˚ prw◊toi e¶scatoi. (Nestle-Aland 27th ed.)

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, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they grumbled 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 ascorching heat of the day.’ But he answered and said to one of them, ‘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.'” (NASB 95)

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