The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleMatthew 21:33
Hear another parable…
Which, though Luke says was
spoken to the people, who, were gathered round about him, yet was
directed to, and against the chief priests; who continued with him
till it was delivered, and the application of it made; when they
perceived it was spoken of them. The design of it is, to set forth
the many favours and privileges bestowed on the Jewish nation; their
unfruitfulness, and the ingratitude of the principal men among them;
and their barbarous usage of the servants of the Lord, and
particularly of the Son of God himself: the consequence of which
would be, the removal of the Gospel from them, and the miserable
destruction of them. So that this parable is partly a narrative, of
some things past, and partly a prophecy of some things to come:
there was a certain householder:
by whom the great God of heaven and
earth is meant; who may be so called, either with respect to the
whole world, which is an house of his building, and the inhabitants
of it are his family, who live, are nourished, and supplied by him;
or to the church, the house of the living God, the family in heaven
and in earth, called the household of God, and of faith; or to the
people of Israel, often called the house of Israel, the family,
above all the families of the earth, God took notice of, highly
favoured, and dwelt among.
Which planted a vineyard:
of the form of a vineyard, the manner of
planting it, and the size of it, the Jews say many things in
their Misna F6.
``He that plants a row of five vines, the school of Shammai
say, "it is a vineyard"; but the school of Hillell say, it
is not a vineyard, unless there are two rows--he that
plants two vines over against two, and one at the tail or
end, (Mrk hz yrh) , "lo! this is a vineyard"; (it was a
little vineyard;) but if two over against two, and one
between the two, or two over against two, and one in the
midst, it is no vineyard, unless there are two
over against two, and one at the tail or end.''
``a vineyard that is planted with less than four cubits
(between every row), R. Simeon says, is no vineyard; but
the wise men say it is a vineyard.''
And the decision is according to them. Now by this vineyard is
meant, the house of Israel and the men of Judah, the nation of the
Jews, as in (Isaiah 5:7) from whence our Lord seems to have taken many
of the ideas expressed in this parable; who were a people separated
from the rest of the world, and set with valuable plants, from whom
fruit might reasonably be expected: the planting of them designs the
removing them out of Egypt, the driving out the natives before them,
and settling them in the land of Canaan, where they were planted
with choice vines, such as Joshua, Caleb… and where they soon
became a flourishing people, though for their iniquities, often
exposed to beasts of prey, the neighbouring nations, that were
suffered at times to break in upon them. The Jews often speak F8 of
the house of Israel, as the vineyard of the Lord of hosts, and even
call their schools and universities vineyards: hence we read F9 of
(hnbyb Mrk) , the vineyard in Jabneh, where the scholars were placed in
rows, as in a vineyard.
And hedged it round about;
as it was usual to set a hedge, or make a
wall round a vineyard, which according to the Jewish writers, was to
be ten hands high, and four broad; for they ask F11,
``(rdg hz ya) , "what is a hedge?" That which is ten hands,
And elsewhere F12,
``An hedge that encompasses a vineyard, which is less than
ten hands high, or which is ten hands high, but not four
hands broad, it has no circuit (or void place between that
and the vines)--an hedge which is ten hands high, and so a
ditch which is ten hands deep, and four broad, lo! this is
lawful to plant a vineyard on one side of it, and herbs on
the other; even a fence of reeds, if there is between the
reeds the space of three hands, lo! this divides between
the vineyard and the herbs, as an hedge.''
By this "hedge" is designed, either the law, not the oral law, or
the traditions of the elders, which the Jews F13 call (hrwtl gyo) , "an
hedge for the law", which was none of God's setting, but their own;
but either the ceremonial law, which distinguished them from other
people, was a middle wall of partition between them, and the nations
of the world, and kept them from coming among them, and joining
together; or the moral law, which taught them their duty to God and
man, and was the means of keeping them within due bounds; or else
the protection of them by the power of God, which was an hedge about
them, is here intended; and which was very remarkable at the time of
their three feasts of passover, pentecost, and tabernacles; when
all their males went up to Jerusalem, and the whole country was,
left an easy prey to the nations about them; but God preserved them,
and, according to his promise, suffered not their neighbours to have
any inclination or desire after their land.
And digged a winepress in it;
which is not (Uyrx) , "the ditch", that
went through a, vineyard; for this cannot be said of a winepress,
and is Dr. Lightfoot's mistake F14; but (tg) , "the winefat", in which
they squeezed the grapes and made the wine, and this used to be in
the vineyard: the rule about it is this,
``(Mrkbv tgh) , the winepress that is ten hands deep and four
broad, R. Eliezer says, they may set in it; but the wise
men do forbid it F15.''
By this may be meant, the altar where the drink offerings of wine were
poured forth; and so the Targumist F16 renders it by (yxbdm) , "my
altar I have given them, to atone for their sins": though one of their
commentators F17, by it, understands the prophets, who taught Israel
the law, that their works might be good before God and men; they urged
and pressed them to the performance of them, as grapes are squeezed in
and built a tower;
the same the Jews call (hrmwv) , "the watch house";
which was an high place, in which the watchman stood to keep F18 the
vineyard, and which was built in the vineyard; of this they say,
``(Mrkbv hrmwv) , the "watch house which is in the vineyard",
that is ten hands high and four broad, they set in it F19.''
By this is meant, either the city or Jerusalem, which stood in the
midst, and on the highest part of the land of Israel; or the temple,
which stood on the highest part of Jerusalem, where the priests and
Levites kept their watch every night; and so the Targumist F20
interprets it, by (yvdqm) , "my sanctuary I built among them": that is,
and let it out to husbandmen;
of which there were different sorts, as
there were different methods of hiring and letting out fields and
vineyards among the Jews: one sort was called (rkwvh) , and such was
he, who hired of his neighbour a field to sow in it, or a vineyard to
eat of the fruit of it, for a certain sum of money yearly; see
(Song of Solomon 8:11) another sort was called (rkwxh) , and this was one that
hired a field, or a vineyard, and agreed to give the proprietor of it
yearly, so many measures of the fruit thereof, whether it yielded more
or less; and there was a third sort, called (oyra) , or (lbqm) , and
such was he, who agreed to give the owner half, or a third, or a
fourth part of the increase of the field, or vineyard F21. Now it is
not of the former, but of the latter sort of letting out and farming,
that this is to be understood; not of letting it out for money, but
for fruit, as appears from (Matthew 21:34) and by the husbandmen are
meant, the rulers of the Jews, civil and ecclesiastical, especially
the latter; the priests, Levites, and Scribes, who were intrusted with
the care of the Jewish people, to guide and instruct them, and
cultivate the knowledge of divine things among them, that they might
bring forth fruits of righteousness; and to offer their gifts and
sacrifices, and the like, which are meant by letting out the vineyard
to them: and went into afar country; which must be interpreted
consistent with the omnipresence of God, who is every where, and
cannot be said properly to move from place to place; but fills heaven
and earth with his presence, and cannot be contained in either: but
this phrase seems to design his taking up his residence in the thick
darkness, in the tabernacle and temple, when the civil and
ecclesiastical state of the Jews was settled, and God did not appear
to them in that visible manner he had done before; but having fixed
their order of government, worship, and duty, left them to themselves
and their rulers; for many years; in which he expressed much
longsuffering and patience towards them.
F6 Misna Kilaim, c. 4. sect. 5, 6. Maimon. Hilch. Kilaim, c. 7. sect. 7.
F7 Ib. c. 5. sect. 2. Maimon ib. sect. 1.
F8 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 148. 2. Zohar in Exod. fol. 2. 1.
F9 T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 7. 4. T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 42. 2.
F11 Misn. Kilaim, c. 4. sect. 3.
F12 Maimon. Hilch. Kilaim, c. 7. sect. 14, 15.
F13 Pirke Abot. c. sect, 1.
F14 Horae in Mark xii. 1.
F15 Misn. Kilaim, c. 5. sect. 3.
F16 Targum Jon. in Isa. v. 2. Vid. T. Hicros. Succa, fol. 54. 4.
F17 R. David Kimchi in loc.
F18 Maimon. in Misn. Kilaim, c. 5. sect. 3. Aben Ezra in Isa. v. 2.
F19 Misn. Kilaim, c. 5. sect. 3. Maimon. Hilch. Kilaim, c. 7. sect. 22.
F20 Targum Jon. in Isa. v. 2.
F21 T. Hieros. Demai, fol. 25. 1. Gloss in T. Bab. Moed. Katon, fol.
11. 2. & in Bava Metzia, fol. 103. 1. in Avoda Zara, fol. 21. 2.
Maimon. Hilch. Shecirut, c. 8. sect. 1, 2. Bartenora in Misn. Pea,
c. 5. sect. 5. & in Demai, c. 6, sect. 1.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 21:33". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=021&verse=033>. 1999.