He began to speak to them in parables. A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a pit for the winepress, built a tower, rented it out to a farmer, and went into another country.
Yeshua draws on imagery from the book of Isaiah,
“Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.”
Isaiah 5:1-2, ESV
The Midrash on Proverbs says,
“R. Jose the Galilean said: [Let me tell you a] parable: To what may this be likened? To a king of flesh and blood who had a garden in which he built a tall tower. he showed affection for the garden by assigning workmen to it, and ordered them to busy themselves with its cultivation. The king thereupon ascended to the top of the tower, from which he could see them but they could not see him, as it is said, ‘But the L-rd is in His holy temple, be silent before him all the earth’ (Hab. 2:20). At the day’s end the king came down and sat in judgment upon them saying, “Let the tillers come forward and receive their wages, let the hoers come forward and receive their wages,”…[until] there remained workmen who had done no work at all. the king asked, “These, what did they do?” … “Let those who have done my work receive their wages, but those who did not do my work, let them be taken out and executed, for they have rebelled against my command!”
Midrash on Proverbs, Chapter 16, translated by Burton L. Visotzky, Yale University Press, pg 82
When it was time, he sent a servant to the farmer to get from the farmer his share of the fruit of the vineyard.
They took him, beat him, and sent him away empty.
Again, he sent another servant to them; and they threw stones at him, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated.
Again he sent another; and they killed him; and many others, beating some, and killing some.
“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness but behold, an outcry!”
Therefore still having one, his beloved son, he sent him last to them, saying, “They will respect my son.”
But those farmers said among themselves, “This is the heir. Come, lets kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.”
They took him, killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers, and will give the vineyard to others.
Haven’t you even read this Scripture: The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the head of the corner.
This was from the Lord, it is marvelous in our eyes?
They tried to seize him, but they feared the multitude; for they perceived that he spoke the parable against them. They left him, and went away.
They sent some of the Pharisees and of the Herodians to him, that they might trap him with words.
When they had come, they asked him, “Rabbi, we know that you are honest, and do not defer to anyone; for you are not partial to anyone, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?
Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, Why do you test me? Bring me a denarius, that I may see it.
They brought it. He said to them, Whose is this image and inscription? They said to him, Caesar’s.
Yeshua answered them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. They marveled greatly at him.
“. . . the great Moses has not named the species of the rational soul by a title resembling that of any created being, but has pronounced it an image of the divine and invisible being, making it a coin as it were of sterling metal, stamped and impressed with the seal of God, the impression of which is the eternal word.”
Philo, Concerning Noah’s Work As a Planter, Section V, translated by C.D. Yonge
“For a person mints many coins with a single seal, and they are all alike one another. But the King of king of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, minted all human beings with that seal of his with which he made the first person, yet not one of them is like anyone else. Therefore everyone is obligated to maintain, “On my account the world was created.”
Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5
“Perhaps these theological concepts serve as a background for the saying of Jesus, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” After all, not only is Caesar’s image stamped upon each coin that he has minted; the divine image of the King of kings is stamped upon each person. Jesus was calling upon the people to give everything to God, the Creator of every human being.”
Brad H. Young, The Parables, Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation, Hendrickson Publishers, pg. 10
In Pirkei Avot, it says,
רבי אלעזר איש ברתותא אומר: תן לו משלו, שאתה ושלך שלו. וכן בדוד הוא אומר (דברי הימים א כט) כי ממך הכל ומידך נתנו לך
“Rabbi Elazar of Bartosa would say: Give Him what is His, for you, and whatever is yours, are His. As David says: “For everything comes from You, and from Your own hand we give to You” (I Chronicles 29:14).”
Pirkei Avot 3:7, cited at Chabad.org
There came to him Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection. They asked him, saying,
Rabbi, Moses wrote to us, If a mans brother dies, and leaves a wife behind him, and leaves no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up offspring for his brother.
There were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and dying left no offspring.
The second took her, and died, leaving no children behind him. The third likewise;
and the seven took her and left no children. Last of all the woman also died.
In the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be of them? For the seven had her as a wife.
Yeshua answered them, Isn’t this because you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God?
For when they will rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
“A favorite saying of Rab was: [The future world is not like this world.] In the future world there is no eating nor drinking nor propagation nor business nor jealousy nor hatred nor competition, but the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads feasting on the brightness of the divine presence, as it says, ‘And they beheld G-d, and did eat and drink.”
Berachot 17a, Soncino Press Edition
But about the dead, that they are raised; haven’t you read in the book of Moses, about the Bush, how God spoke to him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are therefore badly mistaken.
One of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together. Knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, Which commandment is the greatest of all?
Yeshua answered, The greatest is, Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one:
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.
The second is like this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
The scribe said to him, Truly, Rabbi, you have said well that he is one, and there is none other but he,
and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
When Yeshua saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, You are not far from the Kingdom of God.
No one dared ask him any question after that.
Yeshua responded, as he taught in the temple, How is it that the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David?
For David himself said in the Holy Spirit, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet.
“A Psalm by David. HaShem says to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool for your feet.’ The LORD will send forth the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies. Your people offer themselves willingly in the day of your power, in holy array. Out of the womb of the morning, you have the dew of your youth. The LORD has sworn, and will not change his mind: You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. The Lord is at your right hand. He will crush kings in the day of his wrath. He will judge among the nations. He will heap up dead bodies. He will crush the ruler of the whole earth. He will drink of the brook in the way; therefore he will lift up his head.”
Therefore David himself calls him Lord, so how can he be his son? The common people heard him gladly.
Some interpret this passage as referring to Abraham,
R. Hana b. Liwai said: Shem, [Noah’s] eldest son, said to Eliezer [Abraham’s servant], ‘When the kings of the east and west attacked you, what did you do?’ – He replied, ‘The Holy One, blessed be He, took Abraham and placed him at His right hand, and they [God and Abraham] threw dust which turned to swords and chaff which turned to arrows, as it is written, A Psalm of David. The Lord said unto my master, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
Sanhedrin 108b, Soncino Press Edition
The Midrash Rabbah says,
R. Ishmael and R. Akiba [reasoned as follows]. R. Ishmael said: Abraham was a High Priest, as it says, The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever after the manner of Melchizedek (Ps. CX, 4).
Genesis Rabbah 46:5, Soncino Press Editon, Cf. Gen. Rabbah 55:6, 55:7, Lev. Rabbah 25:6, Deut. Rabbah 2:7
One thing we know for sure, is that whoever the speaker is in this psalm, the second “Lord” is greater than the speaker. While the above passages speak of Abraham as the one at God’s Right hand, the Midrash on Psalms places the Messiah there,
R. Yudan said in the name of R. Hama: In the time-to-come, when the Holy One, blessed be He, seats the lord Messiah at His right hand, as is said The Lord saith unto my lord: “Sit thou at My right hand” (Ps. 110:1), and seats Abraham at His left, Abraham’s face will pale, and he will say to the Lord: “My son’s son sits at the right, and I at the left!” Thereupon the Holy One, blessed be He, will comfort Abraham, saying: “Thy son’s son is at My right, but I, in a manner of speaking, am at thy right”: The Lord [is] at thy right hand (Ps. 110:5).
Midrash Tehillim 18.29, translated by William G. Braude, Yale University Press Edition, pg. 261
[God says:] “Ephraim, My firstborn, you sit on My right until I subdue the army of the hosts of God and Magog, your enemies, under your footstool . . .”
Midrash Alpha Betot, 2:438-42, cited in Messiah Texts
The Rashbi is attributed as saying
” . . .the Holy One, blessed be He, will fight for Israel and will say to the Messiah : “Sit at my right.” And the Messiah will say to Israel:”Gather together and stand and see the salvation of the Lord.” And instantly the Holy One, blessed be He, will go forth and fight against them . . .May that time and that period be near!”
T’fillat R’ Shimon ben Yochai, BhM 4:124-26
The incredibly fascinating book by R’ Hillel Shklover, the disciple of the Vilna Gaon, entitled Kol HaTor (The Voice of the Turtledove), makes this amazing statement,
יָדִין בַּ֭גֹּויִם מָלֵא גְוִיֹּות
“He will judge the nations filled with corpses (Psalm 110:6) – The entire Psalm, beginning with “Sit on my right” was said about Mashiach ben Yosef, whose name is hinted at in the initial letters יָדִ֣ין בַּ֭גֹּויִם מָלֵ֣א גְוִיֹּ֑ות going from left to right. . .”
Kol HaTor 2.61, translated by Rabbi Yechiel Bar Lev and K. Skaist, YedidNefesh.com
Indeed, the Pharisees did have a great depth of knowledge about the Tanakh:
“These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth (Zech. 4:14). This is a reference to Aaron and the Messiah, but I cannot tell which is the more beloved. However, from the verse, The Lord hath sworn and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever after the manner of Mechizedek (Psalm 110:4), one can tell that the Messianic King is more beloved that the righteous priest.”
The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan, Translated by Judah Goldin, Chapter 34, Yale University Press, pg. 137-138.
Footnote: This psalm has been taken to refer to the Messiah. Cf. Epistle to the Hebrews, Chs 5-7
In his teaching he said to them, Beware of the scribes, who like to walk in long robes, and to get greetings in the marketplaces,
and the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts:
those who devour widows houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.
Yeshua sat down opposite the treasury, and saw how the multitude cast money into the treasury. Many who were rich cast in much.
A poor widow came, and she cast in two small brass coins, which equal a quadrans coin.
He called his disciples to himself, and said to them, Most certainly I tell you, this poor widow gave more than all those who are giving into the treasury,