« AnteriorContinuar »
stronger terms, when they found that they were to be admitted, upon the profession of Christianity, to all the privileges which they themselves enjoyed."
11. And he said, A certain man had two sons ;
12. And the younger of them said to his father, rather, co to their father," Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me; and he divided unto them his living, “ his substance."
This young man was weary of the restraints which he suffered at his father's house, and wished to go where he should be more at liberty.
13. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
He left Judæa, to go among the Gentiles, that he might be free from the restraints of religion, and no longer liable to the reproofs of his father and of his former friends.
14. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15. And he went and joined himself to, “ connected himself with,” a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields, to his farm, to feed swine.
A Jew, who would have considered himself as defiled by eating swine's flesh, must have been reduced to great
extremity, when he submitted to so dishonourable and · odious an employment as that of feeding these animals.
16. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him.
What are here called husks, were a kind of chesnut produced in the east, and used for feeding swine; and sometimes the food of the poorer class of inhabitants. Others, however, suppose that the word signifies offal in general.
17. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18. I will arise, and go to my father, and I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee,
19. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
The father was melted into compassion at the sight of his son, who had been long absent, and who, by want of clothes and other signs of distress, appeared to be extremely wretched. Without waiting, therefore, for his approach, he ran out to meet him, to express in the tenderest manner his affection, and the joy which he felt at his return *.
* See Harmer, vol. ii. p. 53.
21. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, against God, and in thy sight, and ain no more worthy to be called thy son.
The father, however, notwithstanding the humiliating confession and proposal of the son, orders him to be treated with the highest marks of distinction.
22. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring upon his hand and shoes on his feet;
23. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and be merry:
24. For this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.
The last member of the sentence explains the first: by saying that his son had been dead and was alive again, he only meant, that having supposed him to be lost, to see him again was like receiving him from the dead.
And they began to be merry. We have hitherto had an account only of the wanderings and repentance of the younger brother, together with the behaviour of the father to him upon his return. We shall next see the conduct of the elder brother upon the occasion, which exhibits the temper of the majority of the Jewish nation towards the Gentiles.
25. Now his elder son was in the field, and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.
These commonly attended feasts in eastern countries*.
* See Harmer, vol. i. p. 409.
20. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound, “ in good health."
28. And he was angry, and would not go in, therefore came his father out and entreated him.
29. And he, answering, said to his father, Lo these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.
This language contains a just picture of the temper of the Pharisees and of the greater part of the Jewish nation, who were under their influence: for they entertained the highest opinion of the excellence and merits of their own service, and could not bear to have others placed on the same footing, in regard to the divine favour, with themselves.
30. But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living “ thy substance,” with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
He does not deign to say my brother; but calls him his father's son, as if he was the only one whom he treated in that character. The father had good reason for being offended with this insolent speech, in which he is accused of gross partiality to a profligate son: yet
he still proceeds to reason mildly with the elder brother, upon the impropriety of the resentment which he discovered, and to justify his own conduct. '
31. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
Thou art always at home, and therefore it was impossible for me to show my joy at thy return after a long absence, as I have done for thy brother. Thou hast the use and enjoyment of all that I possess, besides what I gave thee together with thy brother; thou art not, therefore, without reward. The father next repeats the reasons which he had before given in verse 24th, for rejoicing on this occasion ; reminding him that the person who was received was his brother, as well as his own son.
32. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad : for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
1. We have here a striking but just picture of the wretched consequences of youthful folly. A young man, who cannot bear the restraints of parental authority, resolves to quit his father's roof, and to seek for some place where he can give loose to his desires, and enjoy every gratification which his heart can wish for. The effects of this resolution are soon visible: his substance is squandered away; the sources of gratification are dried up; his friends, if he had any, forsake him, and he is left to starve, or compelled to have recourse to