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THE STORY OF ZACCHAEUS.
Peculiar to Luke. 1-10.
1. Jericho. The city was close to the fords of the Jordan, on the frontier of Peraea, and on the richest plain of Palestine, abounding most in the choicest productions, especially balsam; and was, therefore, an appropriate seat for an officer of superior rank to preside over the collection of revenues. See on Matt. ix. 9; Luke iii. 12.
2. Named (onomati kaloumenov). Lit., called by name. Compare ch. i. 61.
Zacchaeus. Saccai, "the just."
3. He sought (ezhtei). Imperfect. He was busy seeking as Jesus passed. Who he was. Lit., is. No to see what kind of a person, but which one of the crowd he was.
Stature (hlikia). See on ch. xii. 25.
4. Sycamore (sukomorean). From sukh, fig-tree, and moron, the mulberry. The fig-mulberry, resembling the fig in its fruit, and the mulberry in its leaves. Some old writers derived it from mwrov, foolish, because it produced worthless figs. Dr. Thomson says that it bears several crops yearly, which grow on short stems along the trunk and the large branches. They are very insipid, and none but the poorer classes eat them. Hence Amos expresses the fact that he belongs to the humblest class of the community, by calling himself a gatherer of sycamore fruit (Amos vii. 14). It grows with its large branches low down and wide open, so that Zacchaeus could easily have climbed into it. It is a favorite and pleasant conceit with old commentators that Zacchaeus' sycamore that day bore precious fruit.
5. I must abide. "Adopting the royal style which was familiar to him, and which commends the loyalty of a vassal in the most delicate manner by freely exacting his services" ("Ecce Homo").
7. To be guest (katalusai). More correctly, Rev., lodge. See on ch. ix. 12.
A sinner. See on ch. iii. 12.
8. Stood (staqeiv). See on ch. xviii. 11. Describing a formal act, as of one who is about to make a solemn declaration. He was like the Pharisee in attitude, but not in spirit. The more formal word for standing, applied to the Pharisee in the temple, is here used of the publican.
I give. Not, It is my practice to give. Zacchaeus' statement is not a vindication, but a vow. "I now give by way of restoration."
If I have taken anything by false accusation (ei ti esukofanthsa). If - anything does not state a merely possible case, as if Zacchaeus were unconscious of any such extortion; but is a milder way of saying "Whatever I have taken." See on ch. iii. 14. It is an odd coincidence, nothing more, that the fig-mulberry (sycamore) should occur in connection with the fig-shewer (sycophant). It was common for the publicans to put a fictitious value on property or income, or to advance the tax to those unable to pay, and then to charge usurious interest on the private debt. On the harsh exaction of such debts, see Matt. xviii. 28; Luke xii. 58.
Fourfold. The restoration required of a thief (Exod. xxii. 1).
13. His ten servants (deka doulouv eautou). Rev., rightly, changes to ten servants of his, since the his is emphatic; lit., his own. Moreover, it would be absurd to suppose that this nobleman, of consequence enough to be raised to a loyal dignity, had but ten servants. The number of slaves in a Roman household was enormous, sometimes reaching hundreds. Toward the end of the Republic, it was considered reprehensible not to have a slave for every sort of work.
Pounds (mnav). Minas. Between sixteen and eighteen dollars apiece. Meyer very aptly remarks: "The small sum astonishes us. Compare, on the other hand, the talents (Matthew 25). But in Matthew, the Lord transfers to his servant his whole property; here he has only devoted a definite sum of money to the purpose of putting his servants to the proof therewith; and the smallness of the amount corresponds to what is so carefully emphasized in our parable, viz., the relation of faithfulness in the least to its great recompense (ver. 17); which relation is less regarded in the parable in Matthew" ("Commentary on Luke").
Occupy (pragmateusasqe). The word occupy has lost the sense which it conveyed to the makers of the A.V. - that of using or laying out what is possessed. An occupier formerly meant a trader. Occupy, in the sense of to use, occurs Judg. xvi. 11: "new ropes that never were occupied;" which Rev. changes to wherewith no work hath been done. Compare the Prayer-Book version of the Psalter, Ps. cvii. 23: "occupy that occupieth usury." Rev., trade ye. Wyc., merchandise ye. Tynd., buy and sell. See on traded, Matt. xxv. 16.
Till I come (ewv ercomai). It is strange that the Rev. follows this reading without comment, while the Reviser's text takes no notice whatever of the reading of four of the leading manuscripts, which is adopted by both Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort; ejn w= ercomai, "while I come," a condensed form of expression for while I go and return.
15. Had gained by trading (diepragmateusato). Only here in New Testament. See on ver. 13.
16. Hath gained (proshrgasato). Only here in New Testament. Lit., hath worked besides (prov) the original sum. Rev., made.
Have thou authority (isqi exousian ecwn). Lit., Be thou having authority.
Cities. "A city for a pound, yet not even a cottage could be bought for a pound" (Bengel).
18. Made (epoihsen). See on Matt. xxv. 16.
20. I kept (eicon). The imperfect. I was keeping while thou wert absent. Napkin (soudariw). The Latin sudarium, from sudor, perspiration: a cloth for wiping off the sweat. Trench notes that the napkin which the idle servant does not need for its proper use (Gen. iii. 19) he uses for the wrapping up of his pound.
Sow (espeirav). See on strawed, Matt. xxv. 24.
22. Thou knewest. To be read interrogatively. "Didst thou know that? Then, for that reason, thou shouldst have been the more faithful."
Usury (tokw). Better interest, as Rev. See on usury, Matt. xxv. 27.
27. But (plhn). Rev., howbeit. However it may be with the unfaithful servant.
Slay (katasfaxate). Only here in New Testament. A strong word: slaughter; cut them down (kata).
29. Bethphage. See on Matt. xxi. 1.
31. The Lord. See on Matt. xxi. 3.
36. Spread (upestrwnnuon). Only here in New Testament.
37. The descent. Two distinct sights of Jerusalem are caught on this route, an inequality of ground hiding it for a time after one has first seen it. Verse 37 marks the first sight, verse 41 the second and nearer view (see Introduction, on Luke's topographical accuracy). "At this point (the former) the first view is caught of the southeastern corner of the city. The temple and the more northern portions are hid by the slope of Olivet on the right: what is seen is only Mount Zion, now, for the most part, a rough field, crowned with the mosque of David, and the angle of the western walls, but then covered with houses to its base, and surmounted by the castle of Herod, on the supposed site of the palace of David.... It was at this point that the shout of triumph burst forth from the multitude" (Stanley, "Sinai and Palestine").
41. He drew nigh. "Again the procession advanced. The road descends a slight declivity, and the glimpse of the city is again withdrawn behind the intervening ridge of Olivet. A few moments, and the path mounts again; it climbs a rugged ascent, it reaches a ledge of smooth rock, and in an instant the whole city bursts into view.... It is hardly possible to doubt that this rise and turn of the road was the exact point where the multitude paused again, and He, when he beheld the city, wept over it" (Stanley).
42. Wept (eklausen). With audible weeping.
43. A trench (caraka). Rev., correctly, as Tynd., a bank. Only here in New Testament. The word literally means a pointed stake, used in fortifying the intrenchments of a camp, and thence the palisade itself. In fortifying a camp or besieging a city, a ditch was dug round the entire circuit, and the earth from it thrown up into a wall, upon which sharp stakes were fixed. Every Roman soldier carried three or four of these stakes on the march. Wyc., with pale.
Keep thee in (sunexousin). See on ch. iv. 38.
44. Lay thee even with the ground (ejdafiousin). Only here in New Testament. Primarily, to beat level, like a threshing-floor or pavement. The Septuagint uses it in the sense of dashing down to the ground (Psalms cxxxvii. 9, and elsewhere). So Rev., from the succeeding reference to the children, and in allusion to the Psalm.
48. Were very attentive (exekremato). Only here in New Testament.
Lit., as Rev., hung upon him. Tynd., stuck by him.