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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 When they drew near Jerusalem and came to
Bethphage 2 on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two
saying to them, "Go into the village
opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with
her. 3 Untie them and bring them here to me.
And if anyone should say anything to you,
reply, 'The master has need of them.' Then he will send them at once."
4 This happened so that what had been spoken
through the prophet might be fulfilled:
"Say to daughter Zion, 'Behold, your king
comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of
The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered
5 They brought the ass and the colt and laid
their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them.
6 The very large crowd spread their cloaks on
the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying: "Hosanna 7 to the Son of
David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the
And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city
was shaken 8 and asked, "Who is this?"
And the crowds replied, "This is Jesus the
prophet, 9 from Nazareth in Galilee."
10 11 Jesus entered the temple
area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned
the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.
And he said to them, "It is written: 'My
house shall be a house of prayer,' 12 but you are making it
a den of thieves."
The blind and the lame 13
approached him in the temple area, and he cured them.
When the chief priests and the scribes saw the
wondrous things 14 he was doing, and the children crying out
in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were
15 and said to him, "Do you hear what they
are saying?" Jesus said to them, "Yes; and have you never read the
text, 'Out of the mouths of infants and nurslings you have brought forth
And leaving them, he went out of the city to
Bethany, and there he spent the night.
16 When he was going back to the city in the
morning, he was hungry.
Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went over to
it, but found nothing on it except leaves. And he said to it, "May no
fruit ever come from you again." And immediately the fig tree withered.
When the disciples saw this, they were amazed
and said, "How was it that the fig tree withered immediately?"
17 Jesus said to them in reply, "Amen, I say
to you, if you have faith and do not waver, not only will you do what has been
done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and
thrown into the sea,' it will be done.
Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you
18 When he had come into the temple area, the
chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching
and said, "By what authority are you doing these things? 19
And who gave you this authority?"
Jesus said to them in reply, "I shall ask
you one question, 20 and if you answer it for me, then I
shall tell you by what authority I do these things.
Where was John's baptism from? Was it of
heavenly or of human origin?" They discussed this among themselves and
said, "If we say 'Of heavenly origin,' he will say to us, 'Then why did
you not believe him?'
21 But if we say, 'Of human origin,' we fear the
crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet."
So they said to Jesus in reply, "We do not
know." He himself said to them, "Neither shall I tell you by what
authority I do these things. 22
23 "What is your opinion? A man had two
sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard
He said in reply, 'I will not,' but afterwards
he changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same
order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir,' but did not go.
24 Which of the two did his father's will?"
They answered, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to
you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.
25 When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when
you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.
26 "Hear another parable. There was a
landowner who planted a vineyard, 27 put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and
went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near, he sent his
servants 28 to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one
they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous
than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
'They will respect my son.'
29 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to
one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his
30 They seized him, threw him out of the
vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those
tenants when he comes?"
They answered 31 him,
"He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard
to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times."
32 Jesus said to them, "Did you never read
in the scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the
cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes'?
33 Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God
will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.
( 34 The one who falls on
this stone will be dashed to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it
When the chief priests and the Pharisees 35
heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest
him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
1 [1-11] Jesus' coming to Jerusalem
is in accordance with the divine will that he must go there (cf
⇒ Matthew 16:21) to suffer, die, and be raised. He
prepares for his entry into the city in such a way as to make it a fulfillment
of the prophecy of ⇒ Zechariah 9:9
(⇒ Matthew 21:2) that emphasizes the humility of the
king who comes (⇒ Matthew 21:5). That prophecy,
absent from the Marcan parallel account (⇒ Matthew
11:1-11) although found also in the Johannine account of the entry
(⇒ Matthew 12:15), is the center of the Matthean
story. During the procession from Bethphage to Jerusalem, Jesus is acclaimed as
the Davidic messianic king by the crowds who accompany him
(⇒ Matthew 21:9). On his arrival the whole city was
shaken, and to the inquiry of the amazed populace about Jesus' identity the
crowds with him reply that he is the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee
(⇒ Matthew 21:10, ⇒ 11).
2  Bethphage: a village that can
no longer be certainly identified. Mark mentions it before Bethany
(⇒ Mark 11:1), which suggests that it lay to the
east of the latter. The Mount of Olives: the hill east of Jerusalem that is
spoken of in ⇒ Zechariah 14:4 as the place where the
Lord will come to rescue Jerusalem from the enemy nations.
3  An ass tethered, and a colt
with her: instead of the one animal of ⇒ Mark 11:2
Matthew has two, as demanded by his understanding of
⇒ Zechariah 9:9.
4 [4-5] The prophet: this fulfillment
citation is actually composed of two distinct Old Testament texts, ⇒ Isaiah
62:11 (Say to daughter Zion) and ⇒ Zechariah
9:9. The ass and the colt are the same animal in the prophecy,
mentioned twice in different ways, the common Hebrew literary device of poetic
parallelism. That Matthew takes them as two is one of the reasons why some
scholars think that he was a Gentile rather than a Jewish Christian who would
presumably not make that mistake (see Introduction).
5  Upon them: upon the two
animals; an awkward picture resulting from Matthew's misunderstanding of the
6  Spread . . . on the road: cf
⇒ 2 Kings 9:13. There is a similarity between the
cutting and strewing of the branches and the festivities of Tabernacles
(⇒ Lev 23:39-40); see also ⇒ 2
Macc 10:5-8 where the celebration of the rededication of the temple
is compared to that of Tabernacles.
7  Hosanna: the Hebrew means
"(O Lord) grant salvation"; see ⇒ Psalm
118:25, but that invocation had become an acclamation of jubilation
and welcome. Blessed is he . . . in the name of the Lord: see
⇒ Psalm 118:26 and the note on ⇒ John
12:13. In the highest: probably only an intensification of the
acclamation, although Hosanna in the highest could be taken as a prayer,
"May God save (him)."
8  Was shaken: in the gospels
this verb is peculiar to Matthew where it is used also of the earthquake at the
time of the crucifixion (⇒ Matthew 27:51) and of
the terror of the guards of Jesus' tomb at the appearance of the angel
(⇒ Matthew 28:4). For Matthew's use of the cognate
noun, see the note on ⇒ Matthew 8:24.
9  The prophet: see
⇒ Matthew 16:14 ("one of the prophets")
and ⇒ 21:46.
10 [12-17] Matthew changes the order
of (⇒ Mark 11:11, ⇒ 12,
⇒ 15) and places the cleansing of the temple on the
same day as the entry into Jerusalem, immediately after it. The activities
going on in the temple area were not secular but connected with the temple
worship. Thus Jesus' attack on those so engaged and his charge that they were
making God's house of prayer a den of thieves (⇒ Matthew
21:12-13) constituted a claim to authority over the religious
practices of Israel and were a challenge to the priestly authorities.
⇒ Matthew 21:14-17 are peculiar to Matthew. Jesus'
healings and his countenancing the children's cries of praise rouse the
indignation of the chief priests and the scribes (⇒ Matthew
21:15). These two groups appear in the infancy narrative
(⇒ Matthew 2:4) and have been mentioned in the first
and third passion predictions (⇒ Matthew 16:21;
⇒ 20:18). Now, as the passion approaches, they come
on the scene again, exhibiting their hostility to Jesus.
11  These activities were carried
on in the court of the Gentiles, the outermost court of the temple area.
Animals for sacrifice were sold; the doves were for those who could not afford
a more expensive offering; see ⇒ Lev 5:7. Tables of
the money changers: only the coinage of Tyre could be used for the purchases;
other money had to be exchanged for that.
12  "My house . . . prayer':
cf ⇒ Isaiah 56:7. Matthew omits the final words of
the quotation, "for all peoples" ("all nations"), possibly
because for him the worship of the God of Israel by all nations belongs to the
time after the resurrection; see ⇒ Matthew 28:19. A
den of thieves: the phrase is taken from ⇒ Jeremiah
13  The blind and the lame:
according to ⇒ 2 Sam 5:8 (LXX) the blind and the
lame were forbidden to enter "the house of the Lord," the temple.
These are the last of Jesus' healings in
14  The wondrous things: the
15  "Out of the mouths . . .
praise': cf ⇒ Psalm 8:3 (LXX).
16 [18-22] In Mark the effect of
Jesus' cursing the fig tree is not immediate; see ⇒ Mark
11:14, ⇒ 20. By making it so, Matthew has
heightened the miracle. Jesus' act seems arbitrary and ill-tempered, but it is
a prophetic action similar to those of Old Testament prophets that vividly
symbolize some part of their preaching; see, e.g., ⇒ Ezekiel
12:1-20. It is a sign of the judgment that is to come upon the Israel
that with all its apparent piety lacks the fruit of good deeds
(⇒ Matthew 3:10) and will soon bear the punishment
of its fruitlessness (⇒ Matthew 21:43). Some
scholars propose that this story is the development in tradition of a parable
of Jesus about the destiny of a fruitless tree, such as ⇒ Luke
13:6-9. Jesus' answer to the question of the amazed disciples
(⇒ Matthew 21:20) makes the miracle an example of
the power of prayer made with unwavering faith (⇒ Matthew
17  See ⇒ Matthew
18 [23-27] Cf ⇒ Mark
11:27-33. This is the first of five controversies between Jesus and
the religious authorities of Judaism in ⇒ Matthew
21:23-⇒ 22:46 Presented in the form of
questions and answers.
19  These things: probably his
entry into the city, his cleansing of the temple, and his healings there.
20  To reply by counterquestion
was common in rabbinical debate.
21  We fear . . . as a prophet: cf
⇒ Matthew 14:5.
22  Since through embarrassment on
the one hand and fear on the other the religious authorities claim ignorance of
the origin of John's baptism, they show themselves incapable of speaking with
authority; hence Jesus refuses to discuss with them the grounds of his
23 [28-32] The series of controversies
is interrupted by three parables on the judgment of Israel
21:28-⇒ 22:14) of which this, peculiar to
Matthew, is the first. The second (⇒ Matthew
21:33-46) comes from Mark (⇒ 12:1-12), and
the third (⇒ Matthew 22:1-14) from Q; see
⇒ Luke 14:15-24. This interruption of the
controversies is similar to that in Mark, although Mark has only one parable
between the first and second controversy. As regards Mattew's first parable,
⇒ Matthew 21:28-30 if taken by themselves could
point simply to the difference between saying and doing, a theme of much
importance in this gospel (cf ⇒ Matthew 7:21;
⇒ 12:50); that may have been the parable's original
reference. However, it is given a more specific application by the addition of
⇒ Matthew 21:31-32. The two sons represent,
respectively, the religious leaders and the religious outcasts who followed
John's call to repentance. By the answer they give to Jesus' question
(⇒ Matthew 21:31) the leaders condemn themselves.
There is much confusion in the textual tradition of the parable. Of the three
different forms of the text given by important textual witnesses, one has the
leaders answer that the son who agreed to go but did not was the one who did
the father's will. Although some scholars accept that as the original reading,
their arguments in favor of it seem unconvincing. The choice probably lies only
between a reading that puts the son who agrees and then disobeys before the son
who at first refuses and then obeys, and the reading followed in the present
translation. The witnesses to the latter reading are slightly better than those
that support the other.
24  Entering . . . before you:
this probably means "they enter; you do not."
25  Cf ⇒ Luke
7:29-30. Although the thought is similar to that of the Lucan text,
the formulation is so different that it is improbable that the saying comes
from Q. Came to you . . . way of righteousness: several meanings are possible:
that John himself was righteous, that he taught righteousness to others, or
that he had an important place in God's plan of salvation. For the last, see
the note on ⇒ Matthew 3:14-15.
26 [33-46] Cf ⇒ Mark
this parable there is a close correspondence between most of the details of the
story and the situation that it illustrates, the dealings of God with his
people. Because of that heavy allegorizing, some scholars think that it does
not in any way go back to Jesus, but represents the theology of the later
church. That judgment applies to the Marcan parallel as well, although the
allegorizing has gone farther in Matthew. There are others who believe that
while many of the allegorical elements are due to church sources, they have
been added to a basic parable spoken by Jesus. This view is now supported by
the Gospel of Thomas, #65, where a less allegorized and probably more primitive
form of the parable is found.
27  Planted a vineyard . . . a
tower: cf ⇒ Isaiah 5:1-2. The vineyard is defined in
⇒ Isaiah 5:7 as "the house of Israel."
28 [34-35] His servants: Matthew has
two sendings of servants as against Mark's three sendings of a single servant
(⇒ Mark 11:2-5a) followed by a statement about the
sending of "many others" (⇒ Mark 11:2,
⇒ 5b). That these servants stand for the prophets
sent by God to Israel is clearly implied but not made explicit here, but see
⇒ Matthew 23:37. His produce: cf
⇒ Mark 12:2 "some of the produce." The
produce is the good works demanded by God, and his claim to them is total.
29  Acquire his inheritance: if a
Jewish proselyte died without heir, the tenants of his land would have final
claim on it.
30  Threw him out . . . and killed
him: the change in the Marcan order where the son is killed and his corpse then
thrown out (⇒ Matthew 12:8) was probably made
because of the tradition that Jesus died outside the city of Jerusalem; see
⇒ John 19:17; ⇒ Hebrews
31  They answered: in ⇒ Mark
12:9 the question is answered by Jesus himself; here the leaders
answer and so condemn themselves; cf ⇒ Matthew
21:31. Matthew adds that the new tenants to whom the vineyard will be
transferred will give the owner the produce at the proper times.
32  Cf ⇒ Psalm
psalm was used in the early church as a prophecy of Jesus' resurrection; see
⇒ Acts 4:11; ⇒ 1 Peter
2:7. If, as some think, the original parable ended at
⇒ Matthew 21:39 it was thought necessary to
complete it by a reference to Jesus' vindication by God.
33  Peculiar to Matthew. Kingdom
of God: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 19:23-24. Its
presence here instead of Matthew's usual "kingdom of heaven" may
indicate that the saying came from Matthew's own traditional material. A people
that will produce its fruit: believing Israelites and Gentiles, the church of
34  The
majority of textual witnesses omit this verse. It is probably an early addition
to Matthew from ⇒ Luke 20:18 with which it is
35  The
Pharisees: Matthew inserts into the group of Jewish leaders
(⇒ Matthew 21:23) those who represented the Judaism
of his own time.
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