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The Song of the Unfruitful Vineyard


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;

he expected it to yield grapes,

but it yielded wild grapes.



And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem

and people of Judah,

judge between me

and my vineyard.


What more was there to do for my vineyard

that I have not done in it?

When I expected it to yield grapes,

why did it yield wild grapes?



And now I will tell you

what I will do to my vineyard.

I will remove its hedge,

and it shall be devoured;

I will break down its wall,

and it shall be trampled down.


I will make it a waste;

it shall not be pruned or hoed,

and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;

I will also command the clouds

that they rain no rain upon it.



For the vineyard of the L ord of hosts

is the house of Israel,

and the people of Judah

are his pleasant planting;

he expected justice,

but saw bloodshed;


but heard a cry!

Social Injustice Denounced


Ah, you who join house to house,

who add field to field,

until there is room for no one but you,

and you are left to live alone

in the midst of the land!


The L ord of hosts has sworn in my hearing:

Surely many houses shall be desolate,

large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant.


For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath,

and a homer of seed shall yield a mere ephah.



Ah, you who rise early in the morning

in pursuit of strong drink,

who linger in the evening

to be inflamed by wine,


whose feasts consist of lyre and harp,

tambourine and flute and wine,

but who do not regard the deeds of the L ord,

or see the work of his hands!


Therefore my people go into exile without knowledge;

their nobles are dying of hunger,

and their multitude is parched with thirst.



Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite

and opened its mouth beyond measure;

the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude go down,

her throng and all who exult in her.


People are bowed down, everyone is brought low,

and the eyes of the haughty are humbled.


But the L ord of hosts is exalted by justice,

and the Holy God shows himself holy by righteousness.


Then the lambs shall graze as in their pasture,

fatlings and kids shall feed among the ruins.



Ah, you who drag iniquity along with cords of falsehood,

who drag sin along as with cart ropes,


who say, “Let him make haste,

let him speed his work

that we may see it;

let the plan of the Holy One of Israel hasten to fulfillment,

that we may know it!”


Ah, you who call evil good

and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!


Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes,

and shrewd in your own sight!


Ah, you who are heroes in drinking wine

and valiant at mixing drink,


who acquit the guilty for a bribe,

and deprive the innocent of their rights!

Foreign Invasion Predicted


Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,

and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,

so their root will become rotten,

and their blossom go up like dust;

for they have rejected the instruction of the L ord of hosts,

and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.



Therefore the anger of the L ord was kindled against his people,

and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them;

the mountains quaked,

and their corpses were like refuse

in the streets.

For all this his anger has not turned away,

and his hand is stretched out still.



He will raise a signal for a nation far away,

and whistle for a people at the ends of the earth;

Here they come, swiftly, speedily!


None of them is weary, none stumbles,

none slumbers or sleeps,

not a loincloth is loose,

not a sandal-thong broken;


their arrows are sharp,

all their bows bent,

their horses’ hoofs seem like flint,

and their wheels like the whirlwind.


Their roaring is like a lion,

like young lions they roar;

they growl and seize their prey,

they carry it off, and no one can rescue.


They will roar over it on that day,

like the roaring of the sea.

And if one look to the land—

only darkness and distress;

and the light grows dark with clouds.


8. Woe to them that join house to house and field to field. He now reproves their insatiable avarice and covetousness, from which the acts of cheating, injustice, and violence are wont to arise. For it cannot be condemned as a thing in itself wrong, if a man add field to field and house to house; but he looked at the disposition of mind, which cannot at all be satisfied, when it is once inflamed by the desire of gain. Accordingly, he describes the feelings of those who never have enough, and whom no wealth can satisfy. So great is the keenness of covetous men that they desire to have everything possessed by themselves alone, and reckon everything that is obtained by others to be something which they want, and which has been taken from them. Hence the beautiful observation of Chrysostom, that “covetous men, if they could, would willingly take the sun from the poor,” for they envy their brethren the common elements, and would gladly swallow them up; not that they might enjoy them, but because such is the madness to which their greed carries them. All the while they do not consider that they need the assistance of others, and that a man left alone can do nothing: all their care is to scrape together as much as they can, and thus they swallow up everything by their covetousness.

He therefore accuses covetous and ambitious men of such folly that they would wish to have other men removed from the earth, that they might possess it alone; and consequently they set no limit to their desire of gain. For what madness is it to wish to have those driven away from the earth whom God has placed in it along with us, and to whom, as well as to ourselves, he has assigned it as their abode! Certainly nothing more ruinous could happen to them than to obtain their wish. Were they alone, they could not plough, or reap, or perform other offices indispensable to their subsistence, or supply themselves with the necessaries of life. For God has linked men so closely together, that they need the assistance and labor of each other; and none but a madman would disdain other men as hurtful or useless to him. Ambitious men cannot enjoy their renown but amidst a multitude. How blind are they, therefore, when they wish to drive and chase away others, that they may reign alone!

As to the size of houses, the same remark which we formerly made about fields will apply; for he points out the ambition of those who are desirous to inhabit spacious and magnificent houses. If a man who has a large family makes use of a large house, he cannot be blamed for it; but when men, swollen with ambition, make superfluous additions to their houses, only that they may live in greater luxury, and when one person alone occupies a building which might serve for the habitation of many families, this undoubtedly is empty ambition, and ought justly to be blamed. Such persons act as if they had a right to drive out other men, and to be the only persons that enjoyed a house or a roof, and as if other men ought to live in the open air, or must go somewhere else to find an abode.

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