Tower Builder and King Going to War Similes

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The Tower Builder and King Going to War similes explain why Jesus thought full-time discipleship was not suitable for everyone.

Luke 14:28-32

(Huck 171; Aland 217; Crook 261)[1]

Updated: 8 August 2022

מִי בָּכֶם שֶׁרוֹצֶה לִבְנוֹת מִגְדָּל הֲלֹא הוּא יוֹשֵׁב תְּחִלָּה וּמְחַשֵּׁב אֶת הַיְּצִיאָה אִם יֵשׁ לוֹ לִגְמֹר שֶׁמָּא כָּל הַרֹאִים אוֹתוֹ יַתְחִילוּ לְהַלְעִיג עָלָיו לוֹמַר זֶה הָאָדָם שֶׁהִתְחִיל לִבְנוֹת וְלֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל לְהַשְׁלִים וּמִי מֶלֶךְ שֶׁיּוֹצֵא לְמִלְחָמָה עַל מֶלֶךְ אַחֵר הֲלֹא הוּא יוֹשֵׁב תְּחִלָּה וְנִמְלָךְ אִם יָכוֹל לְצֵאת בַּעֲשֶׂרֶת אֲלָפִים לִקְרַאת הַבָּא עַלָיו עִם עֶשְׂרִים אֶלֶף וְאִם לָאו הַלֹא הוּא שׁוֹלֵחַ מַלְאָכִים וְשׁוֹאֵל בִּשְׁלוֹמוֹ

“Can you imagine anyone who would begin construction of a watchtower without first working out the cost to see if he has enough money to complete the job? Otherwise, everyone who sees him will ridicule him. ‘Look,’ they’ll say, ‘this fellow couldn’t finish what he started!’

“Or can you imagine a king who would attack another king without first sitting down with his advisors to discuss whether he is able to withstand the king who is coming against him with an army twice the size of his own? If the consensus is that he can’t, won’t he send messengers to signal his submission to the stronger king?”[2]








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Story Placement

The Tower Builder and King Going to War similes, which are unique to the Gospel of Luke, appear sandwiched between the second and third statement describing persons who cannot be Jesus’ disciple in the Demands of Discipleship saying.[3] Two reasons make it unlikely that this was the original context of the twin similes: First, the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes interrupt the three-part parallelism of the Demands of Discipleship saying. Second, the twin similes are much more difficult to reconstruct in Hebrew than are the verses that describe the three types of people who cannot be Jesus’ disciple. We believe the author of Luke spliced the twin Tower Builder and King Going to War similes into the Demands of Discipleship saying from another source.[4]

Where the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes were positioned in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua is extremely difficult to determine. Probably these similes were separated from their original narrative context by the Anthologizer (the creator of the Anthology [Anth.]).[5] The First Reconstructor (the creator of the First Reconstruction [FR]) may not have provided a context for these sayings when he copied them from Anth., so the author of Luke’s insertion of these similes into the Demands of Discipleship saying may have been motivated by his desire to give Tower Builder and King Going to War a fitting context.

Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple because the these similes are analogous to the situations Jesus faced in Matt. 8:19-22; Luke 9:57-62.[6] There we find three stories about how Jesus was approached by individuals who hoped to join Jesus’ band of disciples, but in each case Jesus determines that the prospective disciples are not equal to the task. Instead of taking them on and seeing them fail, Jesus declined to accept the three individuals as full-time disciples. Likewise, in the Tower Builder and King Going to War the protagonists of the similes contemplate taking on seemingly attractive enterprises, but think better of it upon reflection. The farmer who considered building a tower in his field or orchard realized that if he lay the foundations but ran out of money before the project could be completed he would become the butt of his neighbors’ jokes and he would suffer loss of time, money and effort with nothing to show for his troubles. It would better not to begin the project, he realized, than to leave the tower unfinished. The king going out to battle faced even more serious consequences if his fighting men proved unequal to the task: the defeat of his army and the loss of his kingdom. Here, too, the point of the simile is that it is better not to take on an enterprise if it is unlikely to succeed. We think these similies are illustrative of the hard decision Jesus had to make in turning away prospective disciples. Taking on disciples who were unequal to the task would harm Jesus’ ability to complete his mission and it would do a disservice to the prospective disciples themselves, who might otherwise have served God in more fruitful ways. Whereas Jesus’ Kingdom message of God’s forgiveness of sins and friendliness toward humankind was for everyone, the calling to full-time discipleship could be answered only by a few.

Since we believe the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes illustrate Jesus’ refusal of some would-be disciples, we have included it together with Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple in a reconstructed literary unit we call “Yeshua’s Selectivity Regarding Disciples” complex. For an overview of this complex, click here.

Click here to view the Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua. __________________________________________________________________


Conjectured Stages of Transmission

FR-LukeAs we discussed in the “Story Placement” section above, the author of Luke spliced the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes into the Demands of Discipleship saying from another source. The resistance to Hebrew retroversion we encounter at certain points in the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes, and the presence of several Greek words that occur in the similes but nowhere else in the Synoptic Gospels suggest that the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes have undergone a certain degree of redaction at the hands of a Greek editor, which points to the First Reconstruction (FR) as the source behind Tower Builder and King Going to War.[7]

Crucial Issues

  1. What is the situation Jesus intended to illustrate with the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes?
  2. What is the meaning of ἐρωτᾷ εἰς εἰρήνην (“he asks for peace”) in the King Going to War simile (Luke 14:32; L18)?


Tower Builder Simile

Agricultural watch tower in a vineyard near Taibeh. Photographed in 1937 by the American Colony in Jerusalem. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Agricultural watchtower in a vineyard near Taibeh. Photographed in 1937 by the American Colony in Jerusalem. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

L1-11 It is uncertain whether the tower in the first simile refers to a city’s fortification, in which case the tower builder would be a king or ruler of some kind, or whether the tower is supposed to be an agricultural structure,[8] in which case the tower builder could be an ordinary farmer.[9] In the former case, the individuals in both similes would be of approximately the same social class. In the latter case, there would be a considerable difference of social standing between the individuals described in the two similes. In the twin parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Priceless Pearl, the actor in the first parable was a commoner, whereas the merchant in the second parable belonged to the upper classes. We believe that this pattern is repeated in the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes. Our view finds additional support in the phrase τίς γὰρ ἐξ ὑμῶν (“for which of you…?”; Luke 14:28; L1), which suggests that the man who builds the tower comes from the lower classes of society like the majority of the people in Jesus’ audience.

Reconstruction of a watchtower at Yad HaShmona. Photo courtesy of

Reconstruction of a watchtower at Yad HaShmona. Photo courtesy of

L1 τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν (GR). The interrogative phrase τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν (tis ex hūmōn, “Who from you…?”) used to introduce this illustration is one criterion we use to distinguish a simile from a parable. We define a parable as a brief, realistic narrative that describes a scenario and/or characters that are comparable in some definite way to a situation or concept being discussed.[10] Parables are a teaching device for making the subject clearer for the teacher’s audience. In the Life of Yeshua we have identified 24 parables.[11] We define similes as questions that invite the audience to place themselves inside an imagined scenario, and to consider how they would behave under these imaginary circumstances in order to understand the actions and motivations of someone else in a comparable situation. Sometimes the situations described in the similes are more developed, as in the Tower Builder and King Going to War, which makes them almost indistinguishable from parables, and at other times the similes are extremely simple, for example, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” (Matt. 7:9).

Thus, we classify the illustration in Luke 11:5-8 about the friend who arrives at midnight—which many scholars refer to as a parable—as a simile because it is introduced with the formula τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν (tis ex hūmōn, “which of you”; Luke 11:5). Likewise, we classify as similes the Lost Sheep (Matt 18:12-14; Luke 15:4-7) and the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10) illustrations because they are presented in the form of questions. For the same reason, we do not consider the illustration about the master and his servants in Luke 17:7-10 (Expecting Reward; introduced with the phrase τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν) to be a parable. Sometimes a Gospel writer will refer to an illustration as a parable that does not fit our criteria.[12]

We regard the addition of γάρ (gar, “for”) to the phrase τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν in Luke 14:28 as a Greek improvement introduced by the First Reconstructor or, perhaps, by the author of Luke. We have accordingly omitted γάρ from GR.

מִי בָּכֶם (HR). In a survey of all the instances of τίς (tis, “Who?” “What?” “Why”) in the Pentateuch we found that when τίς stands alone (i.e., not in combination with a conjunction such as ἵνα or a preposition such as δία), it occurs most often as the translation of מָה (māh, “What?”; var. מֶה [meh]),[13] somewhat less often as מִי (mi, “Who?”)[14] and not quite so frequently as the latter, but nearly so, as the translation of אִישׁ (’ish, “man”).[15] We also find that the LXX translators rendered most instances of מִי as τίς.[16]

Although the Greek phrase τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν might lead us to expect מִי מִכֶּם (mi mikem, “Who from you…?”) for HR, it appears that the interrogative מִי (mi, “Who?”) followed by the preposition מִן (min, “from”) is quite rare.[17] Much more common for “Who among…?” is מִי followed by the preposition -בְּ.‎[18] Most significantly for our reconstruction, in two instances the LXX translators rendered מִי בָּכֶם (mi bachem, “Who among you…?”) with τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν (Hag. 2:3 and 2 Chr. 36:23).[19]

L2 θέλων οἰκοδομῆσαι πύργον (GR). In Hebrew the phrase “build a tower” would be expressed with a combination of the verb בָּנָה (bānāh, “build”) followed by the noun מִגְדָּל (migdāl, “tower”). Examples are found in Gen. 11:4; Isa. 5:2 and 2 Chr. 26:9, 10, where בָּנָה מִגְדָּל was rendered into Greek in the order οἶκοδομεῖν→πύργος. When not quoting LXX, however, Philo and Josephus often prefered the reverse word order (πύργος→οἶκοδομεῖν),[20] the same order as in Luke 14:28.[21] Since the word order πύργος→οἶκοδομεῖν in Luke 14:28 is un-Hebraic, we suspect that it was changed by the First Reconstructor as a concession to Greek style.

שֶׁרוֹצֶה לִבְנוֹת מִגְדָּל (HR). Although in LXX θέλειν (thelein, “to want,” “to desire”) occurs as the translation of חָפַץ (ḥāfatz, “take delight,” “want”) and אָבָה (’āvāh, “be willing,” “want”) far more often than רָצָה (rātzāh; only in 1 Chr. 28:4),[22] this is mainly due to a shift in the meaning of רָצָה from “be pleased with” or “accept” in BH to “want” or “desire” in MH.[23] As a result of this semantic development, רָצָה supplanted חָפַץ and אָבָה in MH.[24] Since we prefer to reconstruct direct speech, including similes, in a Mishnaic-style of Hebrew we have adopted רָצָה for HR.

By far the most common LXX translation of בָּנָה (bānāh, “build”) is οἶκοδομεῖν (oikodomein, “to build a house”).[25] Likewise, most instances of οἶκοδομεῖν in LXX are translations of בָּנָה.‎[26] Since בָּנָה is common in MH as well as MH, there can be little uncertainty regarding our reconstruction of this verb.

The noun πύργος (pūrgos, “tower”) can refer to agricultural watchtowers, to columbaria (towers for raising pigeons),[27] towers built for the defense of cities, wooden siege towers,[28] and even the wooden towers mounted on the backs of elephants (1 Macc. 6:37). In the Tower Builder simile, Jesus probably had in mind an agricultural tower.[29]

Nearly all instances of πύργος in LXX occur as the translation of מִגְדָּל,[30] and likewise we find that the vast majority of instances of מִגְדָּל in MT were rendered πύργος in LXX.[31] In MH מִגְדָּל acquired the meaning “cupboard” or “store closet” (e.g., m. Shab. 16:5; m. Bab. Kam. 9:3; m. Kel. 15:1; 18:3; 20:5), but it also retained the meaning “tower,” as numerous passages (e.g., m. Shek. 4:2; m. Par. 3:8) and the reference to the builders of the tower of Babel as אנשי מגדל (“men of the tower”; t. Sot. 3:10) prove.[32]

Migdal David, or David’s Tower near Jaffa Gate is built on the base of one of the three towers that guarded Herod’s palace in Jerusalem. View from inside the citadel. (Photo courtesy of Joshua N. Tilton.)

Migdal David, or David’s Tower, near Jaffa Gate is built on the base of one of the three towers that guarded Herod’s palace in Jerusalem. View from inside the citadel. Probably not the kind of tower envisioned in Jesus’ simile. (Photo courtesy of Joshua N. Tilton)

L3 οὐχὶ πρῶτον καθίσας λογίζεται τὴν τιμήν (GR). Although ψηφίζειν (psēfizein, “to add up using pebbles”) and δαπάνη (dapanē, “cost,” “expense”) are fairly common Greek words,[33] they do not look like translation Greek vocabulary, which is what we expect from the conjectured Greek Translation of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua (represented by GR). We therefore suspect that these words are stylistic “improvements” to the simile introduced by the First Reconstructor (the creator of FR). For GR we have substituted the verb λογίζεσθαι (logizesthai, “to count,” “to reckon”) for Luke’s ψηφίζειν. Whereas ψηφίζειν occurs 2xx in NT (Luke 14:28; Rev. 13:18) and not at all in LXX, λογίζεσθαι is common in NT and LXX. In place of Luke’s δαπάνη (“cost”), which is the only instance of this word in NT, we have adopted τιμή (timē), which can be used for “price.”[34]

הֲלֹא הוּא יוֹשֵׁב תְּחִלָּה וּמְחַשֵּׁב אֶת הַיְּצִיאָה (HR). In LXX, οὐχί (ouchi, “not”) is generally the translation either of לֹא (lo’, “no”)[35] or הֲלֹא (halo’, “[Is/will] not?”).[36] Questions beginning with מִי (mi, “Who?”) followed up by הֲלֹא in the Hebrew Bible were sometimes translated in LXX with τίς (tis, “Who?) followed by οὐχί, as in the following examples:

מִי הִכָּה אֶת אֲבִימֶלֶךְ בֶּן יְרֻבֶּשֶׁת הֲלוֹא אִשָׁה הִשְׁלִיכָה עָלָיו פֶּלַח רֶכֶב מֵעַל הַחוֹמָה וַיָּמָת בְּתֵבֵץ

Who struck Avimelech son of Yerubeshet? Was it not a woman who cast on him an upper millstone from the wall, and he died in Tevetz? (2 Sam. 11:21)

τίς ἐπάταξεν τὸν Αβιμελεχ υἱὸν Ιεροβααλ; οὐχὶ γυνὴ ἔρριψεν ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸν κλάσμα μύλου ἐπάνωθεν τοῦ τείχους καὶ ἀπέθανεν ἐν Θαμασι;

Who struck Abimelech son of Ierobaal? Did not a woman throw a piece of millstone on him from the top of the wall, and he died at Thamasi? (2 Kgdms. 11:21; NETS)

לְמִי אֲנִי אֶעֱבֹד הֲלוֹא לִפְנֵי בְנוֹ

To whom will I be a slave? Is it not before your son? (2 Sam. 16:19)

τίνι ἐγὼ δουλεύσω; οὐχὶ ἐνώπιον τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ;

To whom will I be a slave? Is it not before your son? (2 Kgdms. 16:19)

מִי פֶשַׁע יַעֲקֹב הֲלוֹא שֹׁמְרוֹן וּמִי בָּמוֹת יְהוּדָה הֲלוֹא יְרוּשָׁלִָם

Who is the sin of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And who is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? (Micah 1:5)

τίς ἡ ἀσέβεια τοῦ Ιακωβ; οὐ Σαμάρεια; καὶ τίς ἡ ἁμαρτία οἴκου Ιουδα; οὐχὶ Ιερουσαλημ;

What is the impiety of Iakob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the sin of the house of Ioudas? Surely it is Ierousalem? (Micah 1:5; NETS)

Many more examples of questions beginning with מִי and followed up by הֲלֹא occur in MT and in rabbinic sources.[37]

On reconstructing καθίζειν (kathizein, “to sit”) with יָשַׁב (yāshav, “sit”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L16.

Had we been reconstructing the Tower Builder simile in a biblicizing style of Hebrew, we would have opted for רִאשׁוֹנָה (ri’shōnāh, “first”) as the equivalent of πρῶτος (prōtos, “first”), since this is what the majority of instances of πρῶτος represent in LXX.[38] However, since we have adopted a Mishnaic-style of Hebrew for dialogue, including similes, we have preferred to reconstruct πρῶτος with תְּחִלָּה (teḥilāh, “first”).

For a linguistic parallel to our Hebrew reconstruction, compare:

יְקַבֵּל עָלָיו מַלְכוּת שׁמַיִם תְּחִילָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ יְקַבֵּל עָלָיו עוֹל מִצְווֹת

[A person] should take upon himself the Kingdom of Heaven first [תְּחִילָּה], and only afterward take upon himself the yoke of the commandments. (m. Ber. 2:2)

In LXX most instances of λογίζεσθαι (logizesthai, “to count,” “to reckon”) occur as the translation of the Hebrew root ח-שׁ-ב.[39] Likewise, the LXX translators more often rendered verbs formed from the ח-שׁ-ב root with λογίζεσθαι than any other Greek verb.[40] We have preferred to use a form of חִשֵּׁב (ḥishēv) for HR because in MH ח-שׁ-ב in the pi‘el stem refers especially to accounting and calculation.

Likewise, on account of our preference reconstructing speech in Mishnaic-style Hebrew, we have reconstructed with יְצִיאָה (yetzi’āh, “expense,” “cost”)[41] rather than with מְּחִיר (meḥir, “price,” “cost”), which is known from BH but in rabbinic literature is restricted to quotations and allusions to Scripture.

Compare our reconstruction to the following passage in the Tosefta:

ומחשב אדם יציאותיו במועד

…and a person may calculate [וּמְחַשֵּׁב] his expenses [יְצִיאוֹתָיו] on intermediate days. (t. Moed Katan 2:4; Vienna MS)

A man sits down to figure the cost in this work entitled A Merchant Making Up the Account by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) (1760–1849). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A man sits down to figure the cost in this work entitled A Merchant Making Up the Account by Japanese artist
Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) (1760–1849). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L4 εἰ ἔχει εἰς ἀπαρτισμόν (Luke 14:28). According to Moulton-Milligan (53) the noun ἀπαρτισμός (apartismos, “completion”)[42] is relatively rare,[43] however the verbal phrase εἰς τὸ ἀπαρτίζειν (eis to apartizein, “for the completion”) is not unusual in the papyri. We suspect that Luke’s source may have read εἰ ἔχει εἰς τὸ ἀπαρτίζειν, which is closer to HR.[44]

אִם יֵשׁ לוֹ לִגְמֹר (HR). In a survey of all the instances of אִם (’im, “if”) in the Book of Genesis and its equivalents in LXX, we found that the LXX translators generally rendered this conjunction either as εἰ (ei, “if”) or ἐάν (ean, “if”), with a bias toward the former.[45] Thus our reconstruction of εἰ with אִם has solid footing in LXX precedent.

The LXX translators rendered יֵשׁ (yēsh, “there is”) with ἔχειν (echein, “to have”) in the following examples:

אִם יֵשׁ אֶת נַפְשְׁכֶם לִקְבֹּר אֶת־מֵתִי מִלְּפָנַי שְׁמָעוּנִי וּפִגְעוּ לִי בְּעֶפְרוֹן בֶּן צֹחַר

If there is [יֵשׁ] with your souls to bury my dead from before me, hear me and entreat on my behalf Ephron the son of Zohar. (Gen. 23:8)

Εἰ ἔχετε τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν ὥστε θάψαι τὸν νεκρόν μου ἀπὸ προσώπου μου, ἀκούσατέ μου καὶ λαλήσατε περὶ ἐμοῦ Εφρων τῷ τοῦ Σααρ

If you have [ἔχετε] it in your souls so as to bury my dead from before me, hear me and speak concerning me to Ephron the son of Zohar. (Gen. 23:8)

אֲדֹנִי שָׁאַל אֶת עֲבָדָיו לֵאמֹר הֲיֵשׁ לָכֶם אָב אוֹ אָח

My lord asked his servants, saying, “Is there [הֲיֵשׁ] to you a father or a brother?” (Gen. 44:19)

κύριε, σὺ ἠρώτησας τοὺς παῖδάς σου λέγων Εἰ ἔχετε πατέρα ἢ ἀδελφόν;

Lord, you asked your servants, saying, “Might you have [ἔχετε] a father or a brother?” (Gen. 44:19)

לוּ יֶשׁ חֶרֶב בְּיָדִי כִּי עַתָּה הֲרַגְתִּיךְ

If only there were [יֶשׁ] a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you! (Num. 22:9)

καὶ εἰ εἶχον μάχαιραν ἐν τῇ χειρί μου, ἤδη ἂν ἐξεκέντησά σε

And if I had [εἶχον] a sword in my hand, already I would have killed you! (Num. 22:9)

The first of these examples is especially pertinent for the reconstruction of L4 because it provides an example of אִם יֵשׁ (’im yēsh, “if there is”) rendered as εἰ + ἔχειν.

There are a number of Hebrew verbs for “to finish,” which we might have chosen for HR, including כִּלָּה (kilāh) and הִשְׁלִים (hishlim),[46] however we have chosen to reconstruct ἀπαρτίζειν (apartizein, “to finish”) with גָּמַר (gāmar). On the basis of linguistic parallels in rabbinic literature, it is our opinion that הִשְׁלִים is a good reconstruction for ἐκτελεῖν (ektelesai, “to finish”) in Luke 14:30 (see below, Comment to L11). The fact that the Greek text of Luke 14:28 has a word other than ἐκτελεῖν here in L4 for “completion,” may be a clue that the Hebrew Ur-text also used a word other than the conjectured הִשְׁלִים in L11.

The verb גָּמַר (gāmar, “complete,” “finish”) is relatively rare in MT,[47] but is quite common in rabbinic literature.[48] The combination מְלָאכָה + גָּמַר (“to complete” + “work”) is very common, appearing, for example, in this famous saying:

לֹא עָלֶיךָ מְלָאכָה לִגְמוֹר וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִים לִיבָּטֵל

You are not required to finish [לִגְמוֹר] the work, but you are not at liberty to desist. (m. Avot 2:16)

A man standing within what appears to be the foundation of a round tower at the edge of the Sea of Galilee. These el-Araj ruins are under water except during the lake’s periods of low water. (Photo courtesy of Janet Frankovic)

L5-6 ἵνα μήποτε (GR). Luke’s Greek in L5 and L6 is very difficult to revert to Hebrew because it mainly consists of a stylistically sophisticated Greek genitive absolute construction, “having laid a foundation and not being able to finish.”[49] A further impediment to Hebrew retroversion is the fact that no model for reconstructing τιθέναι (tithenai, “to place”) + θεμέλιον/θεμέλιος (themelion/themelios, “foundation”) exists, since this combination does not occur in LXX.[50] Moreover, most of what appears in L5 and L6 can be cut away without damaging the sense of the simile. These facts suggest that most of what appears in L5 and L6 is an explanatory gloss supplied by the First Reconstructor or the author of Luke to fill in what he perceived to be a gap in the story. We suspect that the only words in L5 and L6 to have appeared in Anth. are ἵνα μήποτε, (hina mēpote, “so that not lest”).

שֶׁמָּא (HR). In LXX μήποτε (mēpote, “perhaps,” “lest”) occurs more often as the translation פֶּן (pen, “lest”) than any other Hebrew term;[51] however, for our reconstruction we have used שֶׁמָּא (shemā’, “lest,” “perhaps”) since in MH פֶּן had become obsolete.[52]

Compare the Persistent Widow parable, L18, where we reconstructed ἵνα μὴ + subjunctive with שֶׁמָּא.

L6 μὴ ἰσχύοντος ἐκτελέσαι (Luke 14:29). The use of ἰσχύειν (ischūein, “to be strong”) to mean “to be able” appears to reflect the Greek style of the First Reconstructor. Compare Luke 14:26, 27, 33 where the author of Luke, copying Anth., wrote οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής (“is not able to be my disciple”) using δύνασθαι (dunasthai) rather than ἰσχύειν for “to be able”.[53] The LXX translators frequently rendered יָכֹל with δύνασθαι, but they only rendered יָכֹל with ἰσχύειν on two occasions.[54] By contrast, numerous examples of ἰσχύειν for “to be able” can be found in Greek writers such as Philo[55] and Josephus.[56]

L7 πάντες οἱ ἰδόντες (GR). We suspect that the participial form of the verb θεωρεῖν (theōrein, “to see”) in Luke 14:29 (L7) comes from the editorial pen of the First Reconstructor or from the author of Luke himself. The verb θεωρεῖν is relatively rare in the Gospel of Luke (7xx),[57] especially in comparison to other verbs for seeing. The verb βλέπειν (blepein, “to see”), for instance, occurs 16xx in Luke,[58] ὁρᾶν (horan, “to see”) occurs 15xx,[59] and ἰδεῖν (idein, “to see”) occurs in Luke 67xx.[60] But in comparison to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark the author of Luke’s use of θεωρεῖν stands out. The Gospels of Mark and Matthew never agree with Luke’s use of θεωρεῖν.[61] In Matthew there are only two instances of θεωρεῖν. The first (Matt. 27:55) is in agreement with Mark (Mark 15:40), while the second (Matt. 28:1) lacks support in the Markan and Lukan parallels (cf. Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1). These two instances of θεωρεῖν in Matthew demonstrate that the author of Matthew was not opposed to θεωρεῖν in principle. Therefore the scarcity of θεωρεῖν in Matthew is probably a reflection of its scarcity (or non-existence) in Anth. This conclusion is also supported by the occurrence of θεωρεῖν 14xx in the Book of Acts. It appears, then, that the author of Luke liked this verb, accepted it from FR whenever he found it there, and occasionally used θεωρεῖν on his own when his source contained a different seeing verb. In view of all this in GR for L7 we have replaced Luke’s οἱ θεωρούνταις (hoi theōrountais, “the ones seeing”) with οἱ ἰδόντες (hoi idontes, “the ones seeing”), a phrase that also occurs in Luke 8:36 (// Mark 5:16). An alternative reconstruction might be οἱ ὁρῶντες (hoi horōntes, “the ones seeing”; cf. Num. 14:22, Sir. 37:24).

כָּל הַרֹאִים אוֹתוֹ (HR). On reconstructing πᾶς (pas, “all,” “every”) with כָּל (kol, “all,” “every”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L19.[62]

On reconstructing ἰδεῖν (idein, “to see”) with רָאָה (rā’āh, “see”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L10.

L8 יַתְחִילוּ לְהַלְעִיג עָלָיו (HR). We have not reconstructed ἄρχειν (archein, “to begin”) with הֵחֵל (hēḥēl, “begin”) in the Tower Builder simile as we did in Widow’s Son in Nain, L17. There we adopted a BH style for HR because Widow’s Son in Nain, L17, is a narrative context. Here we are in dialogue, where we prefer to reconstruct in MH style. We have therefore adopted הִתְחִיל (hitḥil, “begin”) for HR.[63]

In LXX, ἐμπαίζειν (empiazein, “to mock”) occurs as the translation of שִׂחֵק/צִחֵק (tziḥēq/siḥēq, “laugh”),[64] but never as the translation of הִלְעִיג (hil‘ig, “mock”). Nevertheless, הִלְעִיג seems preferable for HR both because it is closer in meaning to ἐμπαίζειν than שִׂחֵק/צִחֵק and because הִלְעִיג (“mock”) fits the context of the Tower Builder simile.

The verb הִלְעִיג takes the preposition עַל, as we can see from the following examples:

וַיִּכְעַס הַרְבֵּה וַיַּלְעֵג עַל הַיְּהוּדִים׃ וַיֹּאמֶר לִפְנֵי אֶחָיו וְחֵיל שֹׁמְרוֹן וַיֹּאמֶר מָה הַיְּהוּדִים הָאֲמֵלָלִים עֹשִׂים

And he [i.e. Sanbalat—DNB and JNT] was very angry and he mocked [וַיַּלְעֵג עַל] the Jews. And he spoke in the presence of his brothers and of the Samarian army, and he said, “What are the feeble Jews doing?” (Neh. 3:33-34)

ילעיגו על רבים ובזו על נכבדים

They will mock [יַלְעִיגוּ עַל] mighty personages and despise honored personages. (1QpHab IV, II)

כך היה פרעה הרשע עומד ומנאץ בתוך ארץ מצרים אמר אויב אדרוף אשיג וגו′ ורוח הקדש מלעגת עליו ואומרת נשפת ברוחך

This is how the wicked Pharaoh would stand and boast in the land of Egypt: The enemy said, I will pursue and I will overtake [Exod. 15:9] etc. But the Holy Spirit mocked him [מַלְעֶגֶת עַלָיו] and said, You blew with your wind [Exod. 15:10]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shirata chpt. 7 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:205-206])

הָאוֹמְרִים אֵין תּוֹרָה מִן הַשָׁמַיִם וִיהוּדִים הַמַּלְעִיגִין עַל דִבְרֵי חֲכָמִים גֵּיהִנָּם נִנְעֶלֶת בִּפְנֵיהֶם וְנִדּוֹנִים בְּתוֹכָּה לְעוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים

…those who say that the Torah is not from Heaven and Jews who mock [הַמַּלְעִיגִין עַל] the words of the sages: Gehenna is locked before them and they are punished within it forever. (Seder Olam, chpt. 3 [ed. Guggenheimer, 42])

As in the examples from Nehemiah and Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael cited above, our reconstruction has הִלְעִיג followed by the verb אָמַר (“say”), which introduces the content of the mockery.

L9 λέγοντες (GR). Luke’s conjunction ὅτι (hoti, “that,” “because”) in L9 introduces direct discourse. Since Hebrew has no need for an equivalent to ὅτι (e.g., כִּי or -שֶׁ) to introduce speech,[65] we suspect that ὅτι in L9 was added at the Greek stage of transmission, probably by the author of Luke himself. This suspicion is confirmed by the rarity of λέγων/λέγοντες ὅτι in LXX and the general lack of agreement among the synoptic evangelists to write λέγων/λέγοντες ὅτι.[66] For these reasons we have omitted ὅτι from GR in L9.[67]

לוֹמַר (HR). Had we been reconstructing in BH style we would have adopted לֵאמֹר (lē’mor, “to say”), as we did, for example in the narrative introduction to Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, L6 or Widow’s Son in Nain, L21. On reconstructing λέγοντες (legontes, “saying”) with לֵאמֹר see Return of the Twelve, Comment to L8.

L10 זֶה הָאָדָם (HR). On reconstructing ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos, “person”) with אָדָם (’ādām, “person”), see Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, Comment to L12.

Compare our reconstruction to the following example:

איום ונורא זה האדם שמושל בכל מה שברא הקב″ה בעולמו

Dreaded and terrible [Hab. 1:7]. This is the man [זֶה הָאָדָם] who rules over all that the Holy One, blessed is he, created in his world. (Tanhuma, Tazria‘ §10 [ed. Buber, 2:39])

L11 ἤρξατο οἰκοδομεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἐδύνατο ἐκτελέσαι (GR). As we discussed above in Comment to L6, we believe the use of ἰσχύειν with the meaning “to be able” in the Tower Builder simile is an indicator of the First Reconstructor’s redaction. We have therefore adopted δύνασθαι in place of ἰσχύειν for GR. Note that in L15 the author of Luke switches to δυνατός (dūnatos, “able”).

הִתְחִיל לִבְנוֹת וְלֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל לְהַשְׁלִים (HR). On reconstructing ἄρχειν (“to being”) with הִתְחִיל (“begin”), see above, Comment to L8.

On reconstructing οἶκοδομεῖν (“to build”) with בָּנָה (“build”), see above, Comment to L2.

On reconstructing δύνασθαι (“to be able”) with יָכוֹל (yāchōl, “able”), see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L19.

Compare our reconstruction to the following biblical verse:

אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ אֶת דָּוִד אָבִי כִּי לֹא יָכֹל לִבְנוֹת בַּיִת לְשֵׁם יְהוָה אֱלֹהָיו

You know David, my father, that he was not able [לֹא יָכֹל] to build a house for the name of the LORD his God…. (1 Kgs. 5:17)

σὺ οἶδας Δαυιδ τὸν πατέρα μου ὅτι οὐκ ἐδύνατο οἰκοδομῆσαι οἶκον τῷ ὀνόματι κυρίου θεοῦ μου

You know David, my father, that he was not able [οὐκ ἐδύνατο] to build a house for the name of the Lord my God…. (3 Kgdms. 5:17)

Our reconstruction of the phrase οὐκ ἐδύνατο (ouk edūnato, “he was not being able”) with לֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל (lo’ hāyāh yāchol, “he was not not able”) reflects Mishnaic-Hebrew usage, such as we see in the following examples:

בַּעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת נִבְרָא הָעֹולָם…וַהֲלֹא מֲאֲמָר אֶחַד הָיָה יָכוֹל לְהִיבָּרוֹת

With ten utterances the world was created. …And was it not able [וַהֲלֹא…הָיָה יָכוֹל] to have been created with a single utterance? (m. Avot 5:1)

יקר חטא על ידיו של משה באותה שעה לא היה יכול לעמוד בו

Sin was heavy on Moses’ hands in that hour, and he was not able [לֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל] to stand against it. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Amalek, chpt. 1 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:260])

איפשר שלא היה משה יכול לדון את ישראל…איפשר שלא היה שלמה יכול לדון את ישראל

Is it possible that Moses was not able [שֶׁלֹא הָיָה מֹשֶׁה יָכוֹל] to judge Israel…? Is it possible that Solomon was not able [שֶׁלֹא הָיָה שְׁלֹמֹה יָכוֹל] to judge Israel…? (Sifre Deut. §9 [ed. Finkelstein, 17])

The verb הִשְׁלִים (hishlim) in the sense of “to complete” occurs in Biblical and Post-biblical Hebrew and frequently in the Mishnah.[68] Two considerations make הִשְׁלִים particularly attractive for HR. In the first place, the pairing of הִשְׁלִים (“complete”) with הִתְחִיל (“begin”) is attested in MH, as we see in the following examples:

מַתְחִיל בַּתּוֹרָה וּמַשְׁלִּים בַּנָּבִיא

He begins [מַתְחִיל] with [verses from—DNB and JNT] the Torah and finishes [וּמַשְׁלִּים] with [verses from—DNB and JNT] a prophet[ic book—DNB and JNT]. (m. Rosh Hash. 4:6; cf. t. Rosh Hash. 2:12)

מכיון שהתחיל ברובע צריך להשלים את כל הרובע

Because he began [הִתְחִיל] [sifting—DNB and JNT] in the quarter[-sized measure—DNB and JNT], it is necessary to complete [לְהַשְׁלִים] the entire quarter[-sized measure—DNB and JNT]. (y. Kil. 2:1 [6b])

In the second place, reconstructing with the שׁ-ל-מ root at the conclusion of the Tower Builder simile parallels the reconstruction of the last line of the King Going to War simile, which also requires the שׁ-ל-מ root (see below, Comment to L21). In other words, a Hebrew wordplay based on the שׁ-ל-מ root appears to unite the twin similes.

Bataille de Taillebourg (1242). Fourteenth century miniature courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

King Going to War Simile

L12-17 The King Going to War simile may be compared to Socrates’ advice concerning a city going to war:

Οὐκοῦν, ἔφη, τόν γε βουλευσόμενον, πρὸς οὕστινας δεῖ πολεμεῖν δύναμιν καὶ τὴν τῶν ἐναντίων ἐιδέναι δεῖ, ἵνα ἐὰν μὲν ἡ τῆς πόλεως κρείττων ᾗ, συμβουλεύῃ ἐπιχειρεῖν τῷ πολέμῳ, ἐὰν δὲ ἡ τῶν ἐναντίων, εὐλαβεῖσθαι πείθῃ.

Therefore, in order to advise her [i.e., the city—DNB and JNT] whom to fight, it is necessary to know the strength of the city and of the enemy, so that, if the city be stronger, one may recommend her to go to war, but if weaker than the enemy, may persuade her to beware. (Xenophon, Memorabilia 3:6.8; Loeb)[69]

The King Going to War simile is also similar to Philo’s discussion on virtue:

καίτοι τῆς ἀρετῆς εἰρηνικωτάτην φύσιν ἐχούσης, ᾗ φασιν ἐπιμελὲς εἶναι, ὅταν εἰσ χειρῶν ἅμιλλαν ἰέναι μέλλῃ, τῆς ἰδίας δυνάμεως ἀποπειρᾶσθαι πρότερον, ἵν᾽, εἰ μὲν ἰσχύοι καταγωνίσασθαι συνιστῆται, εἰ δ᾽ ἀσθενεστέρᾳ χρῷτο τῇ δυνάμει, μηδὲ συγκαταβῆναι τὴν ἀρχὴν εἰς τὸν ἀγῶνα θαρρήσῃ

And yet virtue’s nature is most peaceable, and she is so careful, so they say, to test her own strength before the conflict, so that if she is able to contend to the end she may take the field, but if she finds her strength too weak she may shrink from entering the contest at all. (Abr. 105; Loeb)[70]

L12-13 וּמִי מֶלֶךְ שֶׁיּוֹצֵא לְמִלְחָמָה עַל מֶלֶךְ אַחֵר (HR). There can be little doubt regarding the reconstruction of βασιλεύς (basilevs, “king”) with מֶלֶךְ (melech, “king”). In LXX βασιλεύς translates a number of different Hebrew terms, but none with such frequency as מֶלֶךְ.‎[71] Similarly, there are a number of instances in which מֶלֶךְ is translated in LXX by some other Greek word, but they are insignificant compared to the number of times מֶלֶךְ is rendered βασιλεύς.[72]

In Hebrew sources that describe a person (often a king) or a people going to war, the verb is usually either נִלְחַם (nilḥam, “to wage war”),[73] or we find a combination of the verb יָצָא (yātzā’, “to go out”) followed by the preposition -לְ (le, “to”) and the noun מִלְחָמָה (milḥāmāh, “war,” “battle”).[74] Since the Greek text of Luke 14:31 has the preposition εἰς (eis, “to”) plus the noun πόλεμος (polemos, “war,” “battle”), it makes sense to reconstruct with יָצָא לְמִלְחָמָה (“go out to war”).

When we find the combination יָצָא לְמִלְחָמָה in the sense “he went out to war against so and so” the preposition for “against” is usually עַל (‘al, “upon”).‎[75]

On reconstructing ἕτερος with אַחֵר (’aḥēr, “other”), see Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple, Comment to L15.

ἢ τίς βασιλεὺς ἐξερχόμενος εἰς πόλεμον επί βασιλεῖ ἑτέρῳ (GR). Luke 14:31 appears to have been heavily redacted by a Greek editor, most likely the First Reconstructor. Evidence of Greek redaction includes un-Hebraic word order in L13 and the use of the verb συμβαλεῖν (sūmbalein, “to join in battle”). This usage of συμβαλεῖν is common in Greek compositions,[76] but συμβαλεῖν is not used in this way in LXX books translated from Hebrew. For GR we have provided a literal Greek translation of HR. Back-translation is the only method we have for reconstructing the conjectured Greek Translation of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua when we are confronted with a heavily redacted Greek text and there are no synoptic parallels for comparison.

In place of πορευόμενος…συμβαλεῖν (proevomenos…sūmbalein, “going out…to attack”) we have adopted ἐξέρχεσθαι (exerchesthai, “to go out”), which occurs frequently in LXX as the translation of יָצָא‎.[77] Likewise, εἰς πόλεμον επί βασιλεῖ ἑτέρῳ (eis polemon epi basilei heterō, “to war upon another king”) is a literal translation of לְמִלְחָמָה עַל מֶלֶךְ אַחֵר (lemilḥāmāh ‘al melech ’aḥēr, “to war against another king”).‎[78] This may be close to what the pre-synoptic text (Anth.) looked like before the First Reconstructor attempted to improve the Greek style of the King Going to War simile.

L14 οὐχὶ καθίσας πρῶτον βουλεύσεται (GR). In the Synoptic Gospels the verb βουλεύεσθαι (boulevesthai, “to deliberate,” “to resolve”) occurs only in Luke 14:31 (cf. Acts 5:33; 27:39). While this fact might be taken as an indication of FR redaction, we have accepted βουλεύεσθαι for GR.

הֲלֹא הוּא יוֹשֵׁב תְּחִלָּה וְנִמְלָךְ (HR). On reconstructing οὐχι with הַלֹא and πρῶτος with תְּחִלָּה see above, Comment to L3. Although we considered reconstructing βουλεύεσθαι (“to take counsel”) with הִתְיָעֵץ (“take counsel”), we preferred to reconstruct with נִמְלַךְ (nimlach, “consult”) since the root י-ע-צ does not occur in the Mishnah, but there are a few examples in the Mishnah of מ-ל-כ in the nif‘al stem with the meaning “consult,” for instance:

בָּמֵּי דְבָרִים אֲמוּרִ′ בְּכֹהֵן נִימְלָךְ אֲבַל בְּכֹהֵן שֶׁאֵינוֹ נִמְלָךְ

This holds good in the case where the priest consults [נִימְלָךְ], but in the case of priest who does not consult [נִמְלָךְ]…. (m. Kin. 3:1)

נְתָנָן לַכֹּהֵן וְכֹהֵן צָרִיךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת שָׁלֹשׁ פְּרִידִים מִלְּמַעְלָן וְאַחַת מִלְּמַטָּן לְא עָשָׂה כֵן אֶלָּא עָשָׂה שְׁתַּיִם מִלְּמַעְלָן וּשְׁתַּיִם מִלְּמַטָּן לֹא נִימְלַךְ צְרִיכָה לְהָבִיא עוֹד פְּרִידָה אַחַת וְיַקְרִיבֶנָּה לְמַעְלָן

If [before she had assigned them] she gave them to the priest, who should sprinkle the blood of three of the birds above the line and one below, and he did not do so but sprinkled the blood of two of them above and the blood of two of them below, and he had not consulted [נִימְלַךְ] [her], she must bring another bird of like kind which she must offer above. (m. Kin. 3:6)[79]

The use of נִמְלַךְ with the meaning “to consult” is attested already in late BH. Significantly, at Neh. 5:7 the LXX translated וַיִּמָּלֵךְ לִבִּי (vayimālēch libi, “and I consulted my heart”) as καὶ ἐβουλεύσατο καρδία μου (kai evoulevsato kardia mou, “and I consulted my heart”), using the same verb, βουλεύεσθαι, that appears in Luke 14:31.

L15 εἰ δυνατός ἐστιν (GR). Luke’s phrase εἰ δυνατός ἐστιν (ei dūnatos estin, “if he is able”) is non-Septuagintal, but since it is not difficult to reconstruct in Hebrew (see below) we have accepted it for GR.

אִם יָכוֹל (HR). We encounter the phrase אִם יָכוֹל (’im yāchōl, “if he is able”) in MT[80] and the Mishnah.[81] The LXX equivalents of אִם יָכוֹל are either ἐι + δύνασθαι or ἐὰν + δύνασθαι.

L16 ἐν δέκα χειλιάσιν ὑπαντῆσαι (Luke 14:31). Luke’s phrase ἐν δέκα χειλιάσιν (en deka cheiliasin, “in ten thousand”) is paralleled in First Maccabees: καὶ συνήντησεν αὐτοῖς Ιουδας ἐν δέκα χιλιάσιν ἀνδρῶν (kai sūnēntēsen avtois Ioudas en deka chiliasin andrōn, “and Judas met them in ten thousand men”; 1 Macc. 4:29). Both 1 Macc. 4:29 and Luke 14:31 may reflect a Hebrew undertext that reads בַּעֲשֶׂרֶת אֲלָפִים (“with [lit., “in”] ten thousand”).[82] In non-translation Greek, however, we usually do not find ἐν plus the number of men in a description of someone coming with x number of troops. The prepositions σύν or μετά, or the simple dative without a preposition, appear to be more common. See, for instance, the following descriptions in 2 Maccabees and Josephus:

καὶ σὺν αὐτῷ Λυσίαν τὸν ἐπίτροπον καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν πραγμάτων ἕκαστον ἔχοντα δύναμιν Ἑλληνικὴν πεζῶν μυριάδας ἕνδεκα καὶ ἱππέων πεντακισχιλίους τριακοσίους καὶ ἐλέφαντας εἴκοσι δύο ἅρματα δὲ δρεπανηφόρα τριακόσια

…and with him Lysias, the guardian and chancellor, also a Greek force of one hundred ten thousand infantry, five thousand three hundred cavalry, twenty–two elephants and three hundred chariots bearing scythes. (2 Macc. 13:2; NETS)

μετὰ στρατιᾶς τὸν υἱὸν ἐπιπέμπει πεντακοσίων μὲν ἱππέων χιλίων δὲ πεζῶν

…with an army his son sent of 500 cavalry and 1000 footmen…. (J.W. 3:299)

ἐστράτευσεν ἐπὶ τὸν Ἀριστόβουλον μετὰ πέντε μυριάδων ἱππέων ἅμα καὶ πεζῆς στρατιᾶς

…waged war against Aristobulus with 50,000 horses and foot [soldiers]…. (Ant. 14:9)

τοὺς μὲν ἐπελθεῖν εἴκοσι στρατοῦ μυριάσι

…came with an army of 200,000 men…. (Apion 1:263)

ἐξέρχεσθαι ἐν δέκα χειλιάσιν εἰς ὑπάντησιν (GR). In LXX the verb ὑπαντῆσαι (hūpantēsai, “to meet”) occurs 6xx, though only once in a Hebrew context (Dan. 10:14). There it is the translation of קָרָה (qārāh, “to happen”).[83] Given its lack of a clear Hebrew equivalent, we suspect that ὑπαντῆσαι in Luke 14:31 may be due to the redactional activity of the First Reconstructor.

What might the First Reconstructor have read in Anth. that he changed to ὑπαντῆσαι? Perhaps he encountered the phrase ἐξέρχεσθαι…εἰς ὑπάντησιν (exerchesthai…eis hūpantēsin, “to go out…to a meeting”). In LXX the rare phrase εἰς ὑπάντησιν twice occurs as the translation of לִקְרַאת (liqra’t, “to meet”; Judg. 11:34 [Vaticanus]; Prov. 7:15 [Vaticanus]).[84] The more usual translations of לִקְרַאת in LXX are similar: εἰς συνάντησιν (eis sūnantēsin, “to a meeting”)[85] and εἰς ἀπαντὴν (eis apantēn, “to a meeting”).[86]

If Anth. had ἐξέρχεσθαι…εἰς ὑπάντησιν, reflecting a literal translation of לְצֵאת…לִקְרַאת (letzē’t…liqra’t, “to go out…to meet”) in the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text,[87] the First Reconstructor might have decided to paraphrase this as ὑπαντῆσαι (hūpantēsai, “to meet”) because he considered this to be a more elegant way of saying the same thing.

Note that לִקְרַאת often occurs in conjunction with יָצָא (yātzā’, “go out”), just as it does in HR, L12-16.[88]

L17 τῷ ἐρχομένῳ ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν μετὰ εἴκοσι χειλιάδων (GR). Luke’s word order in L17 is un-Hebraic, which we interpret as a sign of the First Reconstructor’s redaction. For GR we have adopted a more Hebraic word order.

הַבָּא עַלָיו עִם עֶשְׂרִים אֶלֶף (HR). On reconstructing ἔρχεσθαι (erchesthai, “to come”) with בָּא (bā’, “come”) see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L8. Examples of בָּא עַל (bā’ ‘al, “come upon”) in the sense of “come against” occur in MT, for instance:

וַיְהִי בַיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי בִּהְיוֹתָם כֹּאֲבִים וַיִּקְחוּ שְׁנֵי בְנֵי יַעֲקֹב שִׁמְעוֹן וְלֵוִי אֲחֵי דִינָה אִישׁ חַרְבּוֹ וַיָּבֹאוּ עַל הָעִיר בֶּטַח וַיַּהַרְגוּ כָּל־זָכָר

And on the third day, while they were in pain, the two sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and they came against [וַיָּבֹאוּ עַל] the unsuspecting city, and they killed every male. (Gen. 34:25)

וַיָּבֹאוּ עַל לַיִשׁ עַל עַם שֹׁקֵט וּבֹטֵחַ וַיַּכּוּ אוֹתָם לְפִי חָרֶב

And they came against [וַיָּבֹאוּ עַל] Laish, against a quite and unsuspecting people, and they struck them with the edge of the sword. (Judg. 18:27).

וַתִּרְאוּ כִּי נָחָשׁ מֶלֶךְ בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן בָּא עֲלֵיכֶם

And you saw that Nahash the king of the Amonites was coming against you [בָּא עֲלֵיכֶם]…. (1 Sam. 12:12)

In LXX the phrase εἴκοσι χιλιάδες (eikosi chilades, “a group of twenty thousand”) frequently occurs as the translation of עֶשְׂרִים אֶלֶף (‘esrim ’elef, “twenty thousand”).[89]

Compare our reconstruction in L17 to the following biblical verse:

וּמִמְּנַשֶּׁה נָפְלוּ עַל דָּוִיד בְּבֹאוֹ עִם פְּלִשְׁתִּים עַל שָׁאוּל לַמִּלְחָמָה

And some from Manasseh deserted to David when he came [בְּבֹאוֹ] with [עִם] the Philistines against [עַל] Saul for battle. (1 Chr. 12:19)

L18 εἰ δὲ μή γε (GR). The phrase εἰ δὲ μή γε (ei de mē ge, “but if not”) occurs with a high frequency in the Synoptic Gospels as compared with the rest of the NT, LXX, Pseudepigrapha and the writings of Philo and Josephus.[90] However, since this phrase occurs in pericopae we believe to have been copied from Anth., it appears that εἰ δὲ μή γε was used by the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

וְאִם לָאו (HR). The phrase וְאִם לָאו (ve’im lā’v, “and if not”)[91] occurs with great frequency in the Mishnah and is the counterpart of אִם יָכוֹל (“if he is able”; cf. HR, L15) on numerous occasions, such as in the following examples:

קָבְרוּ אֶת הַמֵּת וְחָזָרוּ אִם יְכוּלִין לְהַתְחִיל וְלִגְּמוֹר עַד שֶׁלֹּא יַגִּיעוּ לַשּׁוּרָה יַתְהִילוּ וְאִם לָאו לֹא יַתְחִילוּ

[Suppose] they buried the dead and returned. If they can [אִם יְכוּלִין] begin [the Shema—DNB and JNT] and finish it before they reach the row they may begin. But if not [וְאִם לָאו], they do not begin. (m. Ber. 3:2)

יָרַד לִטְבּוֹל אִם יָכוֹל לַעֲלוֹת וּלְהִתְכַּסּוֹת וְלִקְרֹאות עַד שֶׁלֹּא תָנֶץ הַחַמָּה יַעֲלֶה וְיִתְכַּסֶּה וְיִקְרֵא וְאִם לָאו יִתְכַּסֶּה בַמַּיִם וְיִקְרֵא

[Suppose] he went down to immerse: if he is able [אִם יָכוֹל] to come up and to dress himself and recite [the Shema—DNB and JNT] before the sun has risen, he dresses himself and recites. But if not [וְאִם לָאו], he covers himself in water and recites. (m. Ber. 3:5)

L19 ἔτι αὐτοῦ πόρρω ὄντος (Luke 14:32). We have omitted the phrase ἔτι αὐτοῦ πόρρω ὄντος (eti avtou porrō ontos, “while he is still distant”) from GR because it is difficult to reconstruct in Hebrew and may be a Greek improvement introduced by the First Reconstructor. The use of the adverb πόρρω (porrō, “far away”) is relatively rare in LXX and the use of the participle ὄντος (ontos, “being”) in a genitive absolute construction looks like a mark of Greek redaction.[92]

L20 πρεσβείαν ἀποστείλας (Luke 14:32). We suspect that the noun πρεσβεία (presbeia, “embassy,” “delegation”) is a Greek improvement introduced by the First Reconstructor or, perhaps, by the author of Luke himself.[93] According to Marshall, “πρεσβεία, ‘embassy’, is an example of use of abstract for the concrete, ‘ambassadors’.”[94]

Josephus records an interpretation of Deut. 20:10ff that is similar to the King Going to War simile:

μέλλοντας δὲ πολεμεῖν πρεσβείαν καὶ κήρυκας πέμπειν παρὰ τοὺς ἑκουσίως πολεμίους· πρὸ γὰρ τῶν ὅπλων καλὸν εἶναι χρῆσθαι λόγιος πρὸς αὐτοὺς δηλοῦντας, ὅτι καὶ στρατιὰν πολλὴν ἔχοντες καὶ ἵππους καὶ ὅπλα καὶ πρὸ τούτων εὐμενῆ τὸν θεὸν καὶ σύμμαχον, ὅμως ἀξιοῦτε μὴ ἀναγκάζεσθαι πολεμεῖν αὐτοῖς μηδὲ τὰ έκείνων ἀφαιρουνένους ἀβούλητον αὑτοῖς κέδρος προσλαμβάνειν.

When ye are on the verge of war, send an embassy with heralds to your aggressive enemy; for, before taking arms, it is meet to parley with them and to represent that, though possessed of a large army, horses and munitions, and above all blest with God’s gracious favour and support, nevertheless ye desire not to be constrained to make war on them and, in robbing them of what is theirs, to annex to yourself unwanted profit. (Ant. 4:296; Loeb)

Whereas in Deuteronomy the Israelites are the aggressors, Josephus envisions a situation in which Israel is threatened by an invading army. According to Josephus’ scenario, the Israelites are to send an embassy (πρεσβεία) to dissuade the aggressors from attacking them. Unlike the King Going to War simile, in Josephus’ scenario the Israelites are assured of victory should their enemies attack.

הַלֹא הוּא שׁוֹלֵחַ מַלְאָכִים (HR). In HR we have added the interrogative הַלֹא (“does not”) before הוּא שׁוֹלֵחַ מַלְאָכִים (“he sends messengers”) to make this sentence a rhetorical question in keeping with the overall form of the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes.

Corresponding to Luke’s πρεσβεία (“delegation”), we have reconstructed with מַלְאָכִים (mal’āchim, “messengers”). The LXX translators generally translated מַלְאָךְ + שָׁלַח (shālaḥ + mal’āch, “send + angel/messenger”) as ἀποστελλεῖν + ἄγγελος (apostellein + angelos, “to send + angel/messenger”). However, in a few instances we find שָׁלַח‎ + מַלְאָךְ‎ translated as ἀποστελλεῖν + πρέσβυς (apostellein + presbūs, “to send + ambassador”):

וַיִּשְׁלַח מַלְאָכִים אֶל בִּלְעָם

καὶ ἀπέστειλεν πρέσβεις πρὸς Βαλααμ

And he sent ambassadors to Balaam…. (Num. 22:5; NETS)

In two examples the LXX translators rendered מַלְאָךְ as πρέσβυς in contexts roughly similar to the scenario described in the King Going to War simile:

וָאֶשְׁלַח מַלְאָכִים…אֶל סִיחֹון מֶלֶךְ חֶשְׁבֹּון דִּבְרֵי שָׁלֹום לֵאמֹר

καὶ ἀπέστειλα πρέσβεις…πρὸς Σηων βασιλέα Εσεβων λόγοις εἰρηνικοῖς λέγων

And I sent ambassadors from the wilderness of Kedmoth to King Seon of Hesebon with words of peace, saying…. (Deut. 2:26; NETS)

וַיִּשְׁלַח יִשְׂרָאֵל מַלְאָכִים אֶל סִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִי לֵאמֹר

καὶ ἀπέστειλεν Μωυσῆς πρέσβεις πρὸς Σηων βασιλέα Αμορραίων λόγοις εἰρηνικοῖς λέγων

And Moyses sent ambassadors to Seon king of the Amorrites with peaceful words, saying…. (Num. 21:21; NETS)[95]

Key vocabulary in common with these verses and our reconstruction include שָׁלַח,‎ מַלְאָךְ and שָׁלֹום. The main difference between the above biblical verses and the King Going to War simile is that whereas the king in the simile anticipates defeat, the biblical verses recount one of Israel’s most famous victories. We saw the same contrast in the parallel in Josephus cited above.

The Arch of Titus depicting the consequences of an ill-advised war. The spoils of Jerusalem’s Temple are carried off by Roman soldiers. (Photo courtesy of Douglas Priore.)

The Arch of Titus depicting the consequences of an ill-advised war. The spoils of Jerusalem’s Temple are carried off by Roman soldiers. (Photo courtesy of Douglas Priore)

Might Jesus have intentionally subverted his listeners’ expectations in the King Going to War simile? Perhaps in this simile Jesus turned a triumphalist theme on its head, expressive of his anti-war stance. Whereas popular tales celebrated the glorious victories of Israel’s past, Jesus may have wanted to adopt a more sober tone at a time when anti-Roman sentiment was gaining momentum.[96] We are not suggesting that the King Going to War simile directly addresses the political climate in first-century Israel, but Jesus’ decision to craft the simile the way he did might be reflective of his anti-war attitude.

οὐχὶ ἀποστείλας πρέσβεις (GR). Since we do not have any synoptic parallels for comparison, we have to imagine how the Greek Translation of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua might have looked by putting HR back into Greek. Although πρεσβεία (“embassy”) appears to be a Greek “improvement,” the LXX examples of מַלְאָכִים translated as πρέσβεις suggest that this might be the word the First Reconstructor found in his source.[97] For GR we have also preferred a more Hebraic word order.

L21 ἐρωτᾷ εἰς εἰρήνην (Luke 14:32). The textual variant ἐρωτᾷ τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην (“he asks the [things] towards peace”) may have been influenced by the similar phrase in Luke 19:42 and appears to be a Greek editor’s attempt to explain the more Hebraic ἐρωτᾷ εἰς εἰρήνην. We therefore accept Vaticanus’ reading as original.[98] Compare Luke’s Greek in L21 to the phrase τότε αἰτοῦσι ἡμᾶς τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην (“then they petitioned us for terms of peace”) in T. Jud. 9:7.[99]

וְשׁוֹאֵל בִּשְׁלוֹמוֹ (HR). In LXX the verb ἐρωτᾶν (erōtan, “to ask,” “to inquire”) usually occurs as the translation of שָׁאַל (shā’al, “ask,” “inquire”).[100] We also find that the LXX translators more often rendered שָׁאַל with ἐρωτᾶν and its compound cognate ἐπερωτᾶν (eperōtan, “to ask”) than any other verb.[101]

In LXX the vast majority of the instances of εἰρήνη (eirēnē, “peace,” “tranquility between political entities”) occur as the translation of שָׁלוֹם (shālōm, “peace,” “wellbeing”).[102] Likewise, the LXX translators rendered שָׁלוֹם more often as εἰρήνη than with any other Greek equivalent.[103]

The idiom שָׁאַל לְשָׁלוֹם (shā’al leshalōm, “to inquire after the welfare”) appears in MT[104] and is rendered in LXX with ἐρωτᾶν τὰ εἰς εἰρήνην (erōtan ta eis eirēnēn, “to ask [about] the [things] to peace”; 1 Kgdms. 10:4; 30:21; 2 Kgdms. 8:10; 1 Chr. 18:10) or ἐρωτᾶν εἰς εἰρήνην (erōtan eis eirēnēn, “to ask to peace”; 1 Kgdms. 25:5; 2 Kgdms. 11:7 [3xx]), but its meaning is always “ask about someone’s welfare” or “inquire about someone’s health” (i.e., “to greet”), never “ask for terms of peace.” In MH, the expression for “ask about someone’s welfare” changed to שָׁאַל בְּשָׁלוֹם (shā’al beshālōm).‎[105] Our reconstruction reflects this MH usage.[106]

Redaction Analysis[107]

Tower Builder and King Going to War Similes
Luke Anthology
83 Total
to Anth.:
61 Total
Taken Over
in Luke:
to Anth.:
73.49 % of Anth.
in Luke:
Click here for details.

It seems unlikely that the Demands of Discipleship discourse (Luke 14:26-27, 33) was the original context of the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes. The author of Luke appears to have incorporated the similes into the Demands of Discipleship discourse from another source, probably FR.

We have identified FR as the source of the twin Tower Builder and King Going to War similes due to the more refined style of Greek we encounter in this pericope than is typical of material copied from Anth. These redactional improvements include the addition of conjunctions (L1, L5) and explanatory details (L5-6, L19), changes of word order to achieve a more refined Greek style (L2, L12, L17), the use of more refined vocabulary (L3, L4, L6, L7, L11, L12, L13, L16, L20) and grammar (i.e., gen. abs. in L5-6 and L19) and the omission of superfluous wording (L20, L21).

Due to the level of redactional activity in this pericope, we were confronted with the possibility that the similes lacked a Hebrew ancestor, and are in fact original Greek compositions. However, we have identified two possible wordplays in HR. The first pertains to the root ש-ל-מ. The tower builder is mocked because he is unable to complete (לְהַשְׁלִים; lehashlim) the tower, whereas the wise king considers whether he must signal his surrender by greeting (שָׁאַל בְּשָׁלוֹם; shā’al beshālōm) his adversary. The second wordplay is in the King Going to War simile where the king (מֶלֶךְ; melech) first consults (נִמְלָךְ; nimlāch) before going to war. The presence of these wordplays strengthen our supposition that the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes can be traced back to the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

Results of This Research

1. What is the situation Jesus intended to illustrate with the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes? Traditionally, the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes have been interpreted as an admonition to prospective disciples to consider carefully before joining Jesus’ movement. A minority opinion is that the similes illustrate Jesus’ reason for rejecting certain individuals as disciples.[108] The question comes down to whether the people in Jesus’ audience were supposed to compare themselves to the tower builder and the king, or whether Jesus wanted his audience to compare his decision not to accept certain individuals as disciples with the farmer’s decision not to build a tower and the king’s decision not to go to war.

Scholars who favor the latter interpretation note that usually when a simile is introduced with the formula τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν, Jesus was either explaining his own actions to people who questioned his behavior (cf., e.g., Lost Sheep and Lost Coin similes; Matt. 18:10, 12-14; Luke 15:1-10), or he was explaining the mysterious actions of God (cf., e.g., Friend in Need simile; Luke 11:5-8). In these similes, Jesus helps his audience to understand his actions (or God’s) by comparing his behavior (or God’s) to the way the members of the audience themselves would behave in analogous circumstances. If in the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes Jesus expected his audience to compare their own situation as prospective disciples to the way they would act if they were about to build a tower or wage a war, this would be a departure from the way Jesus normally used similes.[109]

Juxtaposed to the Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple pericope, either interpretation seems possible.

2. What is the meaning of ἐρωτᾷ εἰς εἰρήνην (“he asks for peace”) in the King Going to War simile (Luke 14:32; L21)? We believe that ἐρωτᾷ εἰς εἰρήνην represents an attempt to translate the phrase יִשְׁאַל בִּשְׁלוֹמוֹ. As we noted above (Comment to L21), the idiom שָׁאַל שָׁלוֹם never has the meaning “ask for terms of peace.” How, then, are we to understand its meaning in the King Going to War simile where “asking for terms of peace” seems logical?

Thackeray proposed that, in contexts describing one king saluting another, שָׁאַל שָׁלוֹם implies the submission or surrender of the king who offers the salutation.[110] In support of his proposal, Thackeray drew attention to 2 Sam. 8:10, which reads:

וַיִּשְׁלַח תֹּעִי אֶת יוֹרָם בְּנוֹ אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ דָּוִד לִשְׁאָל לוֹ לְשָׁלוֹם וּֽלְבָרֲכוֹ עַל אֲשֶׁר נִלְחַם בַּהֲדַדְעֶזֶר וַיַּכֵּהוּ כִּי אִישׁ מִלְחֲמוֹת תֹּעִי הָיָה הֲדַדְעָזֶר וּבְיָדוֹ הָיוּ כְּלֵי כֶסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב וּכְלֵי נְחֹשֶׁת׃

To′i sent his son Joram to King David, to greet him, and to congratulate him because he had fought against Hadade′zer and defeated him; for Hadade′zer had often been at war with To′i. And Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold, and of bronze…. (RSV)

In this story, To‘i reasoned that if Hadade‘zer had succumbed to David’s forces, then he (To‘i), who had been defeated by Hadade‘zer, would surely be defeated in a military confrontation with David. To‘i averted disaster by voluntarily submitting to David, which was expressed by sending his son to offer a greeting (וַיִּשְׁלַח…אֶת…בְּנוֹ…לִשְׁאָל לוֹ לְשָׁלוֹם) and his payment of tribute.

The description of To‘i’s action is translated in LXX as:

…καὶ ἀπέστειλεν Θοου Ιεδδουραν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ πρὸς βασιλέα Δαυιδ ἐρωτῆσαι αὐτὸν τὰ[111] εἰς εἰρήνην….

…and Thoou sent his son Ieddouran to King Dauid, to ask him matters of peace…. (2 Kgdms. 8:10; NETS)

The LXX translation of לִשְׁאָל לוֹ לְשָׁלוֹם as ἐρωτῆσαι αὐτὸν τὰ εἰς εἰρήνην resembles ἐρωτᾷ εἰς εἰρήνην, the Vaticanus text of Luke 14:32. In addition to the similar vocabulary in 2 Kgdms. 8:10 and Luke 14:32, the situations both verses describe are also similar. In both accounts a king who knows he is outmatched sends someone to meet his adversary to head off an armed conflict.

It therefore appears that the original meaning of Jesus’ simile was not that the weaker king negotiated terms of peace, but that his submission to his stronger adversary was expressed in offering a humble salutation. Luke preserved this Hebraism which he found in his pre-synoptic source, but its meaning was not understood by later copyists of Luke’s Gospel. They therefore attempted to make Luke’s sentence intelligible by improving the Greek, which accounts for the variant readings in New Testament manuscripts.


We believe that the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes are an attempt to explain why full-time discipleship is not suitable for everyone. Not everyone had the freedom and the ability to give up their livelihoods and leave their families in order to travel with Jesus from place to place, obligations that were incumbent upon Jesus’ full-time disciples. We believe that these historical circumstances must be recognized in order to appreciate Jesus’ teaching on this issue.

Jesus did not equate becoming a full-time disciple with salvation, nor did he regard non-disciples as hostile to his mission or exclude them from the benefits of his ministry. To the contrary, Jesus recognized that for the vast majority of people it was better that they enjoy his words and deeds as observers and beneficiaries and that they put his teachings into practice in their daily lives—like the crowds who listened to Jesus’ teachings and who held him in high regard—than to leave their homes and communities in order to become full-time disciples with absolute commitments and obligations to Jesus’ mission. Full-time discipleship was for the select few who could set aside their ordinary activities and engagements for a time in order to master Jesus’ message in order that they, in turn, might accurately pass it on to others.

In the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes it is not the willingness or the desire of the men to set about their tasks, but their ability to successfully execute their intentions. Similarly, we believe that the situation the similes address does not pertain to the sympathy of would-be disciples to Jesus’ message, but to their ability to do their job well. Jesus was willing to take on as disciples only those whom he believed were up to the task.

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  • [1] For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’
  • [2] This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source.
  • [3] See Demands of Discipleship, under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission,” and Comment to L15.
  • [4] See Derrett, who wrote: “Some facts are obvious, and no one attempts to deny them, viz. that Luke obtained the parables or their basic substance from a different source from that of the surrounding material, adapting them somewhat inartistically to their present situation (v. 33 really follows on v. 27).” See J. Duncan M. Derrett, “Nisi Dominus Aedificaverit Domum: Towers and Wars (Lk XIV 28-32),” Novum Testamentum 19.4 (1977): 241-261, quotation on 241-242; cf. Peter G. Jarvis, “Expounding the Parables: V. The Tower-builder and the King going to War (Luke 14:25-33),” Expository Times 77 (1965-1966): 196-198.
  • [5] According to Lindsey’s hypothesis it was the Anthologizer who was mainly responsible for separating the narrative-sayings complexes into their component parts and rearranging them according to genre.
  • [6] Cf. Jarvis, “Expounding the Parables,” 197.
  • [7] Words appearing in the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes, but found nowhere else in the synoptic corpus, include: ψηφίζειν (psēfizein, “to count”; L3; Luke 14:28); δαπάνη (dapanē, “cost,” “expense”;L3; Luke 14:28); ἀπαρτισμός (apartismos, “completion”; L4; Luke 14:28); ἐκτελεῖν (ektelein, “to finish”; L6, L10; Luke 14:29, 30); βουλεύειν (boulevein, “to take counsel”; L13; Luke 14:31); and χιλιάς (chilias, “thousand”; L14, L15; Luke 14:31).
  • [8] So Beyer, 177. Cf. Moulton-Milligan, 560; Jeremias, 196; Marshall, 593; Nolland, Luke, 2:763.
  • [9] Note that in the Wicked Tenants parable the owner of the vineyard builds an agricultural tower (Matt. 21:33; Mark 12:1; cf. Isa. 5:2).
  • [10] On defining parables, see Notley-Safrai, 3-6.
  • [11] The parables we believe were derived from the Hebrew Life of Yeshua include:

    1. Pharisee and Tax Collector parable (Luke 18:9-14)
    2. Great Banquet parable (Matt. 22:1-14; Luke 14:16-24)
    3. Hidden Treasure parable (Matt. 13:44)
    4. Priceless Pearl parable (Matt. 13:45-46)
    5. Persistent Widow parable (Luke 18:1-8)
    6. Mustard Seed parable (Matt. 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19)
    7. Starter Dough parable (Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:20-21)
    8. Creditor and Two Debtors parable (Luke 7:41-42a)
    9. Unforgiving Slave parable (Matt. 18:23-35)
    10. Four Soils parable (Matt. 13:1-9; Mark 4:1-9; Luke 8:4-8)
    11. Houses on Rock and Sand parable (Matt. 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49)
    12. Rich Fool parable (Luke 12:16-21)
    13. Rich Man and Lazar parable (Luke 16:19-31)
    14. Shrewd Manager parable (Luke 16:1-12)
    15. Talents parable (Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27)
    16. Good Samaritan parable (Luke 10:30-37)
    17. Darnel Among the Wheat parable (Matt. 13:24-30)
    18. Bad Fish Among the Good parable (Matt. 13:47-50)
    19. Two Sons parable (Matt. 21:28-32)
    20. Prodigal Son parable (Luke 15:11-32)
    21. Unfruitful Fig Tree parable (Luke 13:6-9)
    22. Wicked Tenants parable (Matt. 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19)
    23. Generous Householder parable (Matt. 20:1-15)
    24. Fig Tree parable (Matt. 24:32-33; Mark 13:28-29; Luke 21:28-31)
    25. Waiting Maidens parable (Matt. 25:1-13)

  • [12] Cf., e.g., Luke 15:3, which refers to the Lost Sheep simile as a parable.
  • [13] In the Pentateuch τίς occurs as the translation of מָה in Gen. 2:19; 3:13; 4:10; 12:18; 15:2; 20:9 )2xx), 10; 21:17, 29; 23:15; 26:10; 27:20, 37; 29:15, 25; 30:31; 31:26, 32, 36 (2xx), 37, 43; 32:28; 37:10, 15, 20, 26; 38:16, 18, 29; 42:28; 44:15, 16 (3xx); 46:33; 47:3; Exod. 2:4; 3:13 (2xx); 4:2; 10:26; 12:26; 13:14; 14:5, 11, 15; 15:24; 16:7, 8, 15; 17:2 (2xx), 4:18:14; 32:1, 21, 23; Lev. 25:20; Num. 9:8; 13:18, 19, 20; 15:34; 16:11; 22:19, 28; 23:8 (2xx), 11, 17, 23; Deut. 6:20; 10:12; 29:23; 32:20.
  • [14] In the Pentateuch τίς occurs as the translation of מִי in Gen. 3:11; 19:12; 21:7, 26; 24:23, 47, 65; 27:18, 32, 33; 32:18 (2xx); 33:5, 8; 38:25; 43:22; 48:8; 49:9; Exod. 2:14; 3:11; 4:11 (2xx); 5:2; 10:8 (2xx); 15:11 (2xx); 24:14; 32:24, 26, 33; Num. 11:4, 8, 29; 22:9; 23:10; 24:9, 23; Deut. 3:24; 5:26, 29; 9:2; 20:5, 6, 7, 8; 30:12, 13; 33:29.
  • [15] In the Pentateuch τίς occurs as the translation of אִישׁ in Gen. 13:16; 38:1; Exod. 2:1, 11; 12:44; 16:20; 21:7, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 26, 33, 35, 37; 22:4, 6, 9, 13, 15; 33:11; Lev. 13:40; 15:24; 19:20; 20:2, 11, 12; 24:19; 25:26, 29; Num. 5:13, 19, 20; Deut. 1:31, 35; 8:5; 21:18, 22; 22:13, 26, 28; 24:1, 5; 29:17 (2xx).
  • [16] See Dos Santos, 110.
  • [17] Examples of מִי followed by the preposition מִן include: 2 Kgs. 6:11 (מִי מִשֶּׁלָּנוּ אֶל מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל; “who of our own is for the king of Israel?”); 2 Kgs. 9:5 (מִי מִכֻּלָּנוּ; “who of all of us…?”); Isa. 50:1 (מִי מִנֹּושַׁי; “who from my creditors…?”). Note especially the phrase מי מהם in the following text from Qumran:

    זכור את מלכי ישרא[ל] והתבנן במעשיהמה שמי מהם שהיא ירא את[ …התו]רה היה מצול מצרות והם מב[ק]שי תורה

    …remember the kings of Israe[l] and reflect on their deeds, how whoever of them was respecting [the … La]w was freed from afflictions; and those were the se[ek]ers of the Law…. (4QMMT [4Q398] 11-15 I, 6-7; DSS Study Edition)

  • [18] Examples of מִי followed by the preposition -בְּ include: 1 Sam. 22:14 (וּמִי בְכָל עֲבָדֶיךָ; “who among all your servants…?”); 2 Kgs. 18:35 (מִי בְּכָל אֱלֹהֵי הָאֲרָצֹותמִי בְּכָל אֱלֹהֵי הָאֲרָצֹות; “who among all the gods of the lands…?”); Isa. 42:23 (מִי בָכֶם יַאֲזִין; “who among you will listen…?”); Isa. 43:9 (מִי בָהֶם יַגִּיד; “who among them will tell…?”); Isa. 48:14 (מִי בָהֶם הִגִּיד; “who among them told…?”); Isa. 50:10 (מִי בָכֶם יְרֵא יי; “who among you fears the LORD…?”); Hag. 2:3 (מִי בָכֶם הַנִּשְׁאָר; “who among you that remain…?”); Mal. 1:10 (מִי גַם בָּכֶם; “who also among you…?”); Ezra 1:3 (מִי בָכֶם; “who among you…?”); 2 Chr. 32:14 (מִי בְּֽכָל אֱלֹהֵי הַגֹּויִם; “who among all the gods of the Gentiles…?”); 2 Chr. 36:23 (מִי בָכֶם מִכָּל עַמּוֹ; “who among you from all his people…?”). The interrogative phrase מי בכם also appears in 4Q301 2 I, 4; 4Q381 15 I, 6; 4Q381 76-77 I, 10.
  • [19] In a hand-written note Robert Lindsey suggested that τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν should be reconstructed as מִי בָּכֶם (LHNS, 38). Cf. Davies-Allison, 1:652.
  • [20] Cf., e.g., Philo, Post. 53; Conf. 196; Jos., Ant. 1:114, 115, 117; 10:131; 12:326; 13:16.
  • [21] In Josephus we find other phrases for tower building, such as πύργος + ἐποικοδομεῖν (J.W. 1:344), πύργος + ἀνιστάναι (Ant. 13:390; 14:64, 466) or πύργος + κατασκευάζειν (J.W. 5:37, 292; Ant. 15:424).
  • [22] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:628-629.
  • [23] See Kutscher, 134 §227. That רָצָה had already acquired the meaning “want” or “desire” by the first century C.E. is proven by DSS. A single example from the Damascus Document will suffice:

    ועתה בנים שמעו לי ואגלה עיניכם לראות ולהבין במעשי אל ולבחור את אשר רצה ולמאוס כאשר שנא

    And now, children, listen to me and I will uncover your eyes [for you] to see and to understand the deeds of God and to choose that which he has desired [רָצָה] and to reject whatever he has hated. (CD-A II, 14-15)

  • [24] See Segal, 48 §88.
  • [25] See Dos Santos, 27
  • [26] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:970-972.
  • [27] Cf., e.g., Jos., J.W. 5:181: πύργοι πελειάδων ἡμέρων (“towers for tame pigeons”). It has been suggested that the tower in Siloam referred to in Luke 13:4 was a tower of this type. See Boaz Zissu, “This Place Is for the Birds,” Biblical Archaeology Review 35.3 (2009): 30-37, 66-67, esp. 32.
  • [28] Cf., e.g., Philo, Spec. 4:229; Jos., J.W. 1:99; Ant. 13:390.
  • [29] See Wilhelm Michaelis, “πύργος,” TDNT 6:955.
  • [30] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1244-1245.
  • [31] See Michaelis, TDNT 6:953; Dos Santos, 103.
  • [32] See Jastrow, 726.
  • [33] The verb ψηφίζειν occurs, for example, 11xx in the writings of Philo and 29xx in the writings of Josephus. Likewise, δαπάνη occurs 8xx in the writings of Philo and 26xx in Josephus’ works. According to Moulton-Milligan (136), δαπάνη also occurs frequently in the papyri. Cf. Bovon, 2:390.
  • [34] For τιμή in the sense of “price” in NT, cf. Matt. 27:6, 9; Acts 4:34; 5:2, 3; 19:19; 1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23. For LXX examples, cf. Gen. 44:2; Exod. 34:20; Num. 20:19; 2 Chr. 1:16; Isa. 55:1.
  • [35] Οὐχί translates לֹא‎ 52xx in LXX: Gen. 18:15; 19:2; 42:10, 12; Lev. 20:23; Num. 16:29; 22:30; 23:19 [2xx]; 24:17; 36:7; Deut. 2:27; 4:26; 5:3; 7:10; 9:5, 6; 11:2; 20:15, 19; 28:56; 32:6, 27, 47; Josh. 24:21; Judg. 15:13; 1 Kgdms. 1:15; 2:16; 8:19; 12:12; 2 Kgdms. 16:18; 24:24; 3 Kgdms. 3:22, 23; 4 Kgdms. 5:26; 6:12; 20:10; 1 Chr. 21:24; Ps. 5:5; 40[41]:9; 77[78]:38; Job 6:30; 15:9; 31:17; Zech. 4:5, 13; Jer. 3:2; 10:23; 20:3; 23:23; 30[49]:31[25]; Ezek. 11:3.
  • [36] Οὐχί translates הַלֹא‎ 86xx in LXX: Gen. 40:8; Num. 12:2; 22:37; 23:12; 24:12; Judg. 4:6; 5:30; 6:13; 8:2; 10:11; 11:24; Ruth 3:2; 1 Kgdms. 6:6; 9:21; 10:1; 12:17; 15:17; 21:12 [2xx]; 29:4; 2 Kgdms. 10:3; 11:3, 10, 21; 13:28; 16:19; 19:14; 3 Kgdms. 1:13; 2:42; 4 Kgdms. 5:12 [2xx], 13; 6:32; 10:34; 13:8, 12; 14:15, 18, 28; 15:36; 16:19; 18:22, 27; 20:20; 21:17; 23:28; 1 Chr. 22:18; 2 Chr. 20:6, 7; 32:11; 2 Esdr. 13:18; Ps. 13[14]:4; 43[44]:22; 52[53]:5; 59[60]:12; 93[94]:9, 10; 107[108]:12; 138[139]:21; Job 7:1; 13:11; 31:3, 4; Amos 5:20; Mic. 1:5; 3:11; Hab. 1:12; 2:6; Mal. 2:10 [2xx]; Isa. 36:12; 42:24; 58:6; Jer. 2:17; 7:19; 14:22; 23:24, 29; 33[26]:19; 45[38]:15; 51[44]:21; Ezek. 17:9; 18:25, 29; 21:5; 24:25.
  • [37] In addition to the examples already cited, questions beginning with מִי and followed up by הֲלֹא are also found in Judg. 9:28, 38; 1 Sam. 17:29; Isa. 42:24; 45:21. Rabbinic examples include:

    מי קרוי איש הלא משה

    Who is called איש (’ish, “man”)? Is it not Moses? (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Amalek chpt. 1 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:278])

    אמר ר′ חייא תלמיד הולך לפני רבו בלילה, מי נוטל הפנס הלא התלמיד לפני רבו, אבל הקב″ה נוטל את הפנס לפני ישראל

    Rabbi Hiyya said: “When a disciple is walking before his master at night, who takes the torch? Is not the disciple before his master [with the torch]? But the Holy one, blessed be he, takes the torch before Israel….” (Midrash Tehillim 18:29 [ed. Buber, 2:156])

    למי הדיין מהפך פניו, הלא לעשיר…. למי הדיין נזקק לשמוע, הלא לעשיר

    To whom does the judge turn his face [i.e., show favor]? Is it not to the wealthy? …To whom is the judge engaged in listening? Is it not to the wealthy? (Midrash Tehillim 22:30 [ed. Buber, 2:196])

  • [38] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1235-1236. Cf. Delitzsch’s translation of Luke 14:28.
  • [39] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:880.
  • [40] See Dos Santos, 71.
  • [41] For examples of יְצִיאָה in the sense of “cost,” cf. m. Maas. Sh. 5:4; m. Bab. Kam. 9:4; m. Bab. Metz. 10:3, 5; t. Bab. Metz. 9:7[16]; 11:3[4].
  • [42] According to Bovon (2:391), “The noun ἀπαρτισμός (‘enterprise’) suggests ‘adjustment’ or ‘finishing touches’ more than ‘completion.’”
  • [43] Ἀπαρτισμός does not occur in LXX, Pseud., Philo or Josephus, and occurs only this once in NT.
  • [44] For a structure similar to our proposed GR, see 1 Cor. 11:22 μὴ γὰρ οἰκίας οὐκ ἔχετε εἰς τὸ ἐσθίειν καὶ πίνειν. Note that we do not find ἔχειν + εἰς + τὸ + infinitive in LXX, Philo or Josephus.
  • [45] The LXX translators rendered אִם as εἰ in Gen. 13:9 (2xx), 6; 14:23; 15:5; 17:17; 18:3, 21; 20:7; 23:8; 24:42, 49 (2xx); 25:22; 27:46: 30:1, 27; 31:50 (2xx); 33:10; 42:16, 19; 43:4, 5, 11; 44:26; 47:16, 18, 29; 50:4. The LXX translators rendered אִם as ἐάν in Gen. 4:7; 18:26, 28, 30; 24:8; 28:20; 30:31; 31:8 (2xx), 52; 32:9, 27; 34:15, 17; 38:17; 42:15, 37; 43:9; 44:23, 32. The bias toward εἰ over ἐάν should not be overemphasized, since a larger sample size might even the score or even reverse it. The survey of all the instances of אִם in Genesis is large enough, however, to establish that εἰ and ἐάν are solid equivalents of אִם.
  • [46] In LXX the verb ἀπαρτίζειν occurs only once (3 Kgdms. 9:25; Alexandrinus), and there it occurs as the translation of שִׁלֵּם (shilēm, “complete”). See Hatch-Redpath, 1:118.
  • [47] There are only five instances of גָּמַר in MT: Ps. 7:10; 12:2; 57:3; 77:9; 138:8.
  • [48] The use of the abbreviation ′וגו (for וגומר, equivalent to “etc.” in English) for Scripture quotations considerably inflates the occurrences of גָּמַר in rabbinic sources.
  • [49] On the genitive absolute as a fairly reliable indicator of Greek redaction in the Synoptic Gospels, see LOY Excursus: The Genitive Absolute in the Synoptic Gospels.
  • [50] The reason the combination τιθέναι + θεμέλιον/θεμέλιος does not occur in LXX is probably because it was usually sufficient in Hebrew to simply use a verb for “to found” or “to lay a foundation” without the corresponding noun “foundation.” Thus, for example, the curse against person who rebuilds Jericho reads:

    אָרוּר הָאִישׁ לִפְנֵי יי אֲשֶׁ֤ר יָקוּם וּבָנָה אֶת הָעִיר הַזֹּאת אֶת יְרִיחוֹ בִּבְכֹרוֹ יְיַסְּדֶנָּה

    Cursed is the man before the LORD who shall arise and build this city, Jericho. At the cost of his firstborn will he lay its foundation…. (Josh. 6:26)

    Similarly the prophet Zechariah stated:

    יְדֵי זְרֻבָּבֶל יִסְּדוּ הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה

    …the hands of Zerubbabel will lay the foundation of this house. (Zech. 4:9)

    And in Ezra we read:

    וְיִסְּדוּ הַבֹּנִים אֶת הֵיכַל

    …the builders lay the foundation of the Temple. (Ezra 3:10)

    The sole instance of a verb for “to lay a foundation” plus a noun for “foundation” in MT occurs in the following verse:

    הִנְנִי יִסַּד בְּצִיּוֹן אָבֶן אֶבֶן בֹּחַן פִּנַּת יִקְרַת מוּסָד מוּסָּד

    Behold I am founding [יִסַּד] in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone of firm foundation [מוּסָד]…. (Isa. 28:16)

    ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐμβαλῶ εἰς τὰ θεμέλια Σιων λίθον πολυτελῆ ἐκλεκτὸν ἀκρογωνιαῖον ἔντιμον εἰς τὰ θεμέλια αὐτῆς

    Behold I am installing [ἐμβαλῶ] for Zion’s foundations [θεμέλια] a precious choice stone, a costly cornerstone for its foundations [θεμέλια]…. (Isa. 28:16)

    In the verse above we find the verb יִסַּד (yisad, “found,” “lay a foundation”) loosely associated with the cognate noun מוּסָד (mūsād, “foundation”).

    A passage in DSS contains the same combination we find in Isa. 28:16 (מוּסָד + יִסַּד) in the phrase ליסד מוסד אמת לישראל (“to lay a foundation of truth for Israel”; 1QS V, 5). However, whereas this phrase from Qumran appears to allude to Isa. 28:16, no such allusion is operative in the Tower Builder simile. For Jesus to have alluded to Isa. 28:16 by using the phrase יְיַסֵּד מוּסָד (yeyasēd mūsād, “he will lay a foundation”) but without the allusion contributing to the meaning of the simile would have bewildered Jesus’ audience and detracted from his purpose in telling the simile.
    In Ps. 104:5 we find the phrase יָסַד אֶרֶץ עַל מְכוֹנֶיהָ (“he founded the earth upon its foundations”), but this is not an example of laying a foundation but of building upon a foundation.

  • [51] In LXX μήποτε occurs as the translation of פֶּן in Gen. 3:22; 19:17; 26:7, 9; 31:24, 31; 32:12; 38:11, 23; 42:4; Exod. 1:10; 5:3; 13:17; 19:21, 22, 24; 20:19; 34:12, 15; Num. 16:34; Josh. 6:18; Judg. 7:2; 9:54; 14:15; 15:12; 18:25; Ruth 4:6; 1 Kgdms. 4:9; 2 Kgdms. 1:20 (2xx); 17:16; 20:6; 4 Kgdms. 2:16; Ps. 2:12; 7:3; 12:4, 5; 27:1; 37:17; 49:22; 58:12; 90:12; Prov. 22:25; 25:16, 17; 30:10; Isa. 6:10. The conjunction μήποτε occurs as the translation of a word other than פֶּן in in the following verses: Gen. 20:2 (no Hebrew equivalent); 24:5 (אוּלַי), 39 (אֻלַי); 27:12 (אוּלַי), 45 (לָמָה); 31:29 (מִן); 43:12 (אוּלַי); 47:18 (לֹא); 50:15 (לוּ); Exod. 32:12 (לָמָה); Judg. 3:24 (אַךְ); 1 Kgdms. 23:22 (אֵלַי); 3 Kgdms. 18:27 (2xx; no Hebrew equivalent / אוּלַי); 2 Esd. 4:22 (לְמָה [Aramaic]); 6:8 (לְמָא [Aramaic]); 7:23 (לְמָה [Aramaic]); 16:3 (לָמָה); Ps. 78:10 (לָמָה); 113:10 (לָמָה); 139:9 (אַל); Prov. 23:9 (כִּי); Eccl. 7:16 (לָמָה); Song 1:7 (לָמָה); Job 1:5 (אוּלַי); Isa. 8:12 (לֹא).
  • [52] See Segal, 224 §475; Bendavid, 359. In the Mishnah, for example, פֶּן occurs only in biblical quotations (m. Shev. 10:3 [quoting Deut. 15:9]; m. Ned. 3:11 [2xx; quoting 2 Sam. 1:20]; m. Avot 3:8 [2xx; quoting Deut. 4:9]), while שֶׁמָּא, which is unattested in MT and DSS, appears 65xx.
  • [53] See Demands of Discipleship, L19, L26, L33).
  • [54] The two instances where the LXX renders יָכֹל with ἰσχύειν are in Ps. 12[13]:5 and Dan. 7:21 (TH).
  • [55] For examples of ἰσχύειν in the sense “to be able” in the writings of Philo, cf., e.g., Leg. 2:29, 95; 3:6, 13, 27, 206, 242; Sacr. 64.
  • [56] For examples of ἰσχύειν in the sense “to be able” in the writings of Josephus, cf., e.g., Ant. 1:128; 2:86; 3:203, 318; 8:233, 383.
  • [57] The verb θεωρεῖν occurs in Luke 10:18; 14:29; 21:6; 23:35, 48; 24:37, 39.
  • [58] Cf. Moulton-Geden, 149 (βλέπω).
  • [59] Cf. Moulton-Geden, 702 (ὁράω).
  • [60] Cf. Moulton-Geden, 264-265 (εἶδον).
  • [61] Mark’s Gospel has θεωρεῖν 7xx (Mark 3:11; 5:15, 38; 12:41; 15:40, 47; 16:4), but never in agreement with Luke. Mark’s use of θεωρεῖν fits the profile of what Lindsey called a “Markan stereotype.” See the LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups under the entry for Mark 3:11.
  • [62] On the reconstruction of πᾶς + definite article as -כָּל הַ, see Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple, Comment to L35.
  • [63] Although הֵחֵל does occur in the Mishnah with the meaning “to begin” (m. Dem. 7:4; m. Tam. 2:2, 3; 6:1), הִתְחִיל is far more common. See Randall Buth and Brian Kvasnica, “Critical Notes on the VTS” (JS1, 263 n. 12).
  • [64] In LXX ἐμπαίζειν renders צִחֵק in Gen. 39:14, 17; Judg. 16:25; and שִׂחֵק in Job 40:24 (Alexandrinus) and Ps. 103[104]:26.
  • [65] According to Segal (205 §424), “The use of -שֶׁ [in MH—DNB and JNT] to introduce direct narration is rare and doubtful.”
  • [66] See Return to the Galil, Comment to L16.
  • [67] See Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L21.
  • [68] For examples of הִשְׁלִים in the sense of “to complete,” in MT see Isa. 38:12, 13; 44:26, 28; Job 23:14. For Mishnaic examples see m. Suk. 2:6; m. Rosh Hash. 4:6; m. Taan. 2:6, 10; 3:9; m. Git. 8:10; m. Naz. 1:7; 2:9; 3:6 (= m. Edu. 4:11); 9:1; m. Kel. 27:7, 8.
  • [69] See Plummer, Luke, 365.
  • [70] Cited by Snodgrass, 380.
  • [71] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:197-214.
  • [72] See Dos Santos, 113.
  • [73] Cf., e.g., Exod. 17:10; Num. 22:11; Judg. 1:1, 9; 8:1; 10:9, 18; 11:9, 27, 32; 12:1, 3.
  • [74] Cf., e.g., Deut. 20:1; 21:10; 1 Kgs. 8:44; 11QTa [11Q19] LVIII, 5-6; Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shirata chpt. 4 (ed. Lauterbach, 1:190); Sifre Deut. §190 (ed. Finkelstein, 231).
  • [75] For examples of יָצָא לְמִלְחָמָה עַל, see Deut. 20:1; 21:10; 1 Kgs. 8:44; 2 Chr. 6:34; 11QTa [11Q19] LVIII, 5-6; LXI, 13; LXIII, 10. For exceptions where the preposition is עִם (’im, “with”), see Judg. 20:20, 28.
  • [76] Cf., e.g., 2 Macc. 8:23; 14:17; Jos., Ant. 1:175; 2:248; 5:35, 45, 158, 160, 210, 228, 245, 263, 269.
  • [77] On reconstructing ἐξέρχεσθαι with יָצָא, see Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L98.
  • [78] In LXX εἰς πόλεμον επί translates לְמִלְחָמָה עַל in Deut. 20:1, 3; 21:10; 1 Kgdms. 8:44; 2 Chr. 6:34; 22:5. On reconstructing ἐπί (epi, “upon”) with עַל (‘al, “upon”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L11.
  • [79] Examples of נִמְלַךְ outside the Mishnah include:

    מיד יועצים באחיתופל ונמלכין בסנהדרין ושואלין באורים ותומים

    They at once took counsel with Ahithofel and consulted [ונמלכין] the Sanhedrin and questioned the Urim and Tummim. (b. Ber. 3b; Soncino)

    כל מה שאני עושה אני נמלך במפיבשת רבי

    In all that I do I consult [נמלך] my teacher, Mephibosheth. (b. Ber 4a; Soncino)

  • [80] The phrase אִם יָכוֹל is found in Gen. 13:16; 15:5; 1 Sam. 17:9; 2 Kgs. 18:23; Isa. 36:8; Job 33:5.
  • [81] The phrase אִם יָכוֹל is found in m. Ber. 3:2, 5; m. Shev. 6:3; m. Ter. 8:9, 10; m. Orl. 1:3 [2xx]; m. Pes. 3:7; m. Bab. Metz. 6:8; m. Sanh. 9:1; m. Avod. Zar. 1:4; m. Men. 3:3; m. Kel. 5:10; 6:3; m. Ohol. 6:2 [3xx]; 18:7; m. Par. 11:1; m. Nid. 7:1; m. Ukz. 3:8 [2xx].
  • [82] For comparison, note the following examples in Hebrew and their LXX translations:

    וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל גִּדְעוֹן בִּשְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת הָאִישׁ הַמֲלַקְקִים אוֹשִׁיעַ אֶתְכֶם

    καὶ εἶπεν κύριος πρὸς Γεδεων ἐν τοῖς τριακοσίοις ἀνδράσιν τοῖς λάψασιν σώσω ὑμᾶς

    And the LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men…I will save you.” (Judg. 7:7)

    וְיָרָבְעָם עָרַךְ עִמּוֹ מִלְחָמָה בִּשְׁמוֹנֶה מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף אִישׁ בָּחוּר גִּבּוֹר חָיִל

    καὶ Ιεροβοαμ παρετάξατο πρὸς αὐτὸν πόλεμον ἐν ὀκτακοσίαις χιλιάσιν δυνατοὶ πολεμισταὶ δυνάμεως

    And Jeroboam waged war with him with 800,000 men…. (2 Chr. 13:3)

    וַיֵּצֵא אֲלֵיהֶם זֶרַח הַכּוּשִׁי בְּחַיִל אֶלֶף אֲלָפִים

    καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς Ζαρε ὁ Αἰθίοψ ἐν δυνάμει ἐν χιλίαις χιλιάσιν

    And Zerah the Cushite went out to them with an army of 1,000,000…. (2 Chr. 14:8[9])

    כִּי בְמִצְעַר אֲנָשִׁים בָּאוּ חֵיל אֲרָם

    ὅτι ἐν ὀλίγοις ἀνδράσιν παρεγένετο δύναμις Συρίας

    Though the army of the Syrians had come with few men…. (2 Chr. 24:24; RSV)

    וְיָעֵר כֹּחוֹ וּלְבָבוֹ עַל מֶלֶךְ הַנֶּגֶב בְּחַיִל גָּדוֹל וּמֶלֶךְ הַנֶּגֶב יִתְגָּרֶה לַמִּלְחָמָה בְּחַיִל גָּדוֹל וְעָצוּם עַד מְאֹד

    καὶ ἐγερθήσεται ἡ ἰσχὺς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ καρδία αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν βασιλέα Αἰγύπτου ἐν ὄχλῳ πολλῷ καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς Αἰγύπτου ἐρεθισθήσεται εἰς πόλεμον ἐν ὄχλῳ ἰσχυρῷ σφόδρα λίαν

    And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall wage war with an exceedingly great and mighty army…. (Dan. 11:25; RSV)

  • [83] In NT ὑπαντῆσαι is confined to the Gospels and Acts: Matt. 8:28; 28:9; Mark 5:2; Luke 8:27; 14:31; John 4:51; 11:20, 30; 12:18; Acts 16:16.
  • [84] In LXX the phrase εἰς ὑπάντησιν occurs in Judg. 11:34 (Vaticanus; ἐξεπορεύετο εἰς ὑπάντησιν = יֹצֵאת לִקְרָאתוֹ); 1 Chr. 14:8 (Alexandrinus; καὶ ἐξῆλθεν εἰς ὑπάντησιν = וַיֵּצֵא לִפְנֵיהֶם); Judith 2:6 (Sinaiticus); 1 Macc. 9:39 (Sinaiticus); Prov. 7:15 (Vaticanus; ἐξῆλθον εἰς ὑπάντησιν σοι = יָצָאתִי לִקְרָאתֶךָ). See TDNT 3:625.
  • [85] In LXX εἰς συνάντησιν is the translation of לִקְרַאת in Gen. 14:17; 18:2; 19:1; 24:17, 65; 29:13; 30:16; 32:7; 33:4; 46:29; Exod. 4:14, 27; 5:20; 18:7; 19:17; Num. 20:18, 20; 21:33; 22:34, 36; 24:1; 31:13; Deut. 1:44; 2:32; 3:1; 29:6; Josh. 8:5, 14, 22; 9:11; Judg. 6:35; 7:24; 15:14; 1 Kgdms. 17:48; [18:6]; 23:28; 25:20; 3 Kgdms. 18:7, 16; 4 Kgdms. 1:3, 6, 7; 2 Chr. 35:20; Ps. 58:5; Prov. 7:15; Zech. 2:7; Isa. 7:3; 21:14.
  • [86] In LXX εἰς ἀπαντὴν is the translation of לִקְרַאת in Judg. 4:22; 2 Kgdms. 10:5; 2 Kgdms. 15:32; 16:1; 19:16, 17, 21, 25; 3 Kgdms. 2:8, 19; 21:18, 27; 4 Kgdms. 4:26, 31; 5:21; 8:8, 9; 9:18, 21; 10:15; 16:10; 23:29.
  • [87] We encounter the phrase εἰς ὑπάντησιν 3xx in NT: Matt. 8:34 (ἐξῆλθεν εἰς ὑπάντησιν τῷ Ἰησοῦ); Matt. 25:1 (ἐξῆλθον εἰς ὑπάντησιν τοῦ νυμφίου); John 12:13 (ἐξῆλθον εἰς ὑπάντησιν αὐτῷ). According to Michel, “We see here the Sem. trend which characterizes the first and fourth Gospels (cf. Bik., 3,3: יוֹצְאִים לִקְרָאתָם).” See Otto Michel, “καταντάω, ὑπαντάω, ὑπάντησις,” TDNT 3:625.
  • [88] For examples of יָצָא + לִקְרַאת in MT, cf. Num. 21:23 (וַיֶּאֱסֹף סִיחֹן אֶת כָּל עַמּוֹ וַיֵּצֵא לִקְרַאת יִשְׂרָאֵל; “And Sihon gathered his people and went out to meet Israel”); Num. 21:33 (וַיֵּצֵא עֹוג מֶלֶךְ הַבָּשָׁן לִקְרָאתָם; “And Og, king of Bashan, went out to meet them”); Deut. 2:32 (וַיֵּצֵא סִיחֹן לִקְרָאתֵנוּ; “And Sihon went out to meet us”); Deut. 3:1 (וַיֵּצֵא עֹוג מֶלֶךְ הַבָּשָׁן לִקְרָאתֵנוּ; “And Og, king of Bashan, went out to meet us”); Deut. 29:6 (וַיֵּצֵא סִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ חֶשְׁבֹּון וְעֹוג מֶלֶךְ הַבָּשָׁן לִקְרָאתֵנוּ; “And Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan, went out to meet us”); Josh. 8:14 (וַיֵּצְאוּ אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר לִקְרַאת יִשְׂרָאֵל; “And the men of the city went out to meet Israel”); 1 Sam. 4:1 (וַיֵּצֵא יִשְׂרָאֵל לִקְרַאת פְּלִשְׁתִּים; “And Israel went out to meet the Philistines”); 2 Sam. 18:6 (וַיֵּצֵא הָעָם הַשָּׂדֶה לִקְרַאת יִשְׂרָאֵל; “And the people of the field went out to meet Israel”). Note that many of the examples of יָצָא + לִקְרַאת in MT appear in the context of going out to battle.

    Examples of יָצָא + לִקְרַאת in rabbinic literature include:

    הַפַּחוֹת וְהַסְּגָנִים וְהַגִּיזְבָּרִים יוֹצְאִין לִקְרָאתָם

    The rulers and prefects and the treasurers of the Temple went forth to meet them. (m. Bik. 3:3; Danby)

    מעמיד אמהות מבחוץ והן גועות והבנים יוצאין לקראתן

    They put the cows outside and they low, and the calves go out to meet them. (t. Bech. 7:10)

    נתעטף ויצא לקראתו

    He [Hillel] wrapped himself in a cloak and went out to meet him (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 15 [ed. Schechter, 60])

    יצאו אנשי העיר לקראתו

    The men of the city went out to meet him. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 41 [ed. Schechter, 131])

    באותה שעה נאמר לאהרן לך לקראת משה המדברה וגו’ יצא לקראתו

    At the same time Aaron was told Go into the wilderness to meet Moses [Exod. 4:27], he went out to meet him…. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Amalek chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:274])

    ומשה להיכן הלך והלא מתחלה יצא לקראתו שנא’ ויצא משה לקראת חותנו

    As for Moses, where did he go? Was he not first to go out to meet him, as it is said: And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law [Exod. 18:7]? (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Amalek chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:280])

  • [89] In LXX εἴκοσι χιλιάδες is the equivalent of עֶשְׂרִים אֶלֶף in Num. 3:39, 43; 25:9; 26:14, 62; Judg. 8:10; 20:21; 2 Kgdms. 8:4; 10:6; 3 Kgdms. 5:25; 8:63; 1 Chr. 7:9; 12:31, 38; 18:4; 27:5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15; 2 Chr. 2:9; 7:5; 28:6; Ezek. 45:1, 3, 6; 48:8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 20, 21.
  • [90] Εἰ δὲ μή γε occurs 2xx in Matthew (Matt. 6:1; 9:17), 5xx in Luke (Luke 5:36, 37; 10:6; 13:9; 14:32) and 1x in the rest of the NT (2 Cor. 11:16). The phrase appears 2xx in LXX (Dan. 3:15; Bel. 8), 1x in Pseud., 1x in Philo and 0xx in Jos. On this phrase, see Moulton-Milligan, 122.
  • [91] On the use of אִם לָאו in MH, see Segal, 230.
  • [92] On genitive absolute constructions as a marker of Greek redaction, see above, Comment to L5-6.
  • [93] Both instances of πρεσβεία in NT occur in Luke (Luke 14:32; 19:14). The single occurrence of πρεσβεία in LXX appears in 2 Macc. 4:11, a Greek composition. Πρεσβεία occurs 3xx in Pseud. (2xx in Let. Aris.; 1x in Hist. Jos.), 9xx in Philo and 29xx in Jos., all original Greek compositions.
  • [94] See Marshall, 594.
  • [95] In this example, LXX has some interesting points of difference from MT. Moses is mentioned instead of Israel, and “words of peace” do not appear in the Hebrew text. Does LXX represent a different vorlage, or were these changes introduced intentionally by the LXX translator(s) in order to make the story in Num. 21 conform to the commandment in Deut. 20:10?
  • [96] Anti-Roman sentiment can be identified in a number of Second Temple period sources. For example, the DSS anticipate the defeat of the Kittim (= Rome) (4QpNah [4Q169]; 1QpHab; 1QM I, 9-15; XV-XIX), the people in Nazareth rejected Jesus’ message (Luke 4:16-30) because his message of salvation omitted any reference to vengeance against Israel’s enemies (= Rome), and Josephus reports a succession of false prophets and messianic pretenders who attracted popular support on the basis of their anti-Roman message (J.W. 2:55-65 [cf. Ant. 17:271-285], 118 [cf. Ant. 18:4-6], 258-263 [cf. Ant. 20:167-172]). On anti-Roman sentiment in DSS, see Brian Schultz, “Not Greeks But Romans: Changing Expectations for the Eschatological War in the War Texts From Qumran,” in The Jewish Revolt against Rome: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (ed. Mladen Popović; Leiden: Brill, 2011), 107-127. On the popular anti-Roman sentiment espoused by those attending the synagogue in Nazareth, see R. Steven Notley, “First-century Jewish Use of Scripture: Evidence from the Life of Jesus.” On Josephus’ reports of anti-Roman prophets, see Daniel R. Schwartz, “Temple and Desert: On Religion and State in Second Temple Period Judea,” in Studies in the Jewish Background of Christianity (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1992), 29-43. On Jesus’ anti-war stance, see David Flusser, “The Times of the Gentiles and the Redemption of Jerusalem” under the subheading “Solidarity With Israel”; R. Steven Notley, “‘Give unto Caesar’: Jesus, the Zealots and the Imago Dei”; David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Political Aspect.”
  • [97] Notice that, in his paraphrase of Deut. 20:10, πρεσβεία might have been suggested to Josephus by the LXX examples of πρέσβεις in Num. 21:21 and Deut. 2:26, verses that are similar to the situation Deut. 20:10 describes.
  • [98] See H. St. J. Thackeray, “A Study in the Parable of the Two Kings,” Journal of Theological Studies 14 (1913): 390.
  • [99] Cited by Fitzmyer (2:1006).
  • [100] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:553.
  • [101] See Dos Santos, 202. On reconstructing ἐπερωτᾶν with שָׁאַל, see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L5-6.
  • [102] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:401-402.
  • [103] See Dos Santos, 209.
  • [104] Examples of שָׁאַל לְשָׁלוֹם are found in Gen. 43:27; Exod. 18:17; Judg. 18:5; 1 Sam. 10:4; 17;22; 25:5; 30:21; 2 Sam. 8:10; 11:17; Jer. 15:5; 1 Chr. 18:10.
  • [105] For examples of שָׁאַל בְּשָׁלוֹם, cf., e.g., m. Ber. 5:1; m. Shev. 4:3; 5:9; m. Git. 5:9; m. Bik. 3:3; m. Sanh. 6:6.
  • [106] Note that εἰς can be the translation of the preposition -בְּ just as easily as of לְ. For example, we suppose that in the phrase ὅσα ἠκούσαμεν γενόμενα εἰς τὴν Καφαρναοὺμ (“what we have heard you did in Capernaum”; Luke 4:23), εἰς would be reconstructed in Hebrew with -בְּ.
  • [107]
    Tower Builder and King Going to War Similes
    Luke’s Version Anthology’s Wording (Reconstructed)
    τίς γὰρ ἐξ ὑμῶν θέλων πύργον οἰκοδομῆσαι οὐχὶ πρῶτον καθίσας ψηφίζει τὴν δαπάνην εἰ ἔχει εἰς ἀπαρτισμόν ἵνα μήποτε θέντος αὐτοῦ θεμέλιον καὶ μὴ ἰσχύοντος ἐκτελέσαι πάντες οἱ θεωρούνταις ἄρξωνται αὐτῷ ἐμπαίζειν λέγοντες ὅτι οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἤρξατο οἰκοδομεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσεν ἐκτελέσαι ἢ τίς βασιλεὺς πορευόμενος ἑτέρῳ βασιλεῖ συμβαλεῖν εἰς πόλεμον οὐχὶ καθίσας πρῶτον βουλεύσεται εἰ δυνατός ἐστιν ἐν δέκα χειλιάσιν ὑπαντῆσαι τῷ μετὰ εἴκοσι χειλιάδων ἐρχομένῳ ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν εἰ δὲ μή γε ἔτι αὐτοῦ πόρρω ὄντος πρεσβείαν ἀποστείλας ἐρωτᾷ εἰς εἰρήνην τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν θέλων οἰκοδομῆσαι πύργον οὐχὶ πρῶτον καθίσας λογίζεται τὴν τιμήν εἰ ἔχει εἰς τὸ ἀπαρτίζειν ἵνα μήποτε πάντες οἱ ἰδόντες ἄρξωνται αὐτῷ ἐμπαίζειν λέγοντες ὅτι οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἤρξατο οἰκοδομεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἐδύνατο ἐκτελέσαι ἢ τίς βασιλεὺς ἐξερχόμενος εἰς πόλεμον ἐπὶ βασιλεῖ ἑτέρῳ οὐχὶ καθίσας πρῶτον βουλεύσεται εἰ δυνατός ἐστιν ἐν δέκα χειλιάσιν εἰς ὑπάντησιν τῷ ἐρχομένῳ ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν μετὰ εἴκοσι χειλιάδων εἰ δὲ μή γε οὐχὶ ἀποστείλας πρέσβεις ἐρωτᾷ εἰς εἰρήνην αὐτοῦ
    Total Words: 83 Total Words: 74
    Total Words Identical to Anth.: 61 Total Words Taken Over in Luke: 61
    Percentage Identical to Anth.: 73.49% Percentage of Anth. Represented in Luke: 82.43%

  • [108] See Thomas Verner Moore, “The Tower-builder and the King: A Suggested Exposition of Luke xiv. 25-35,” The Expositor 7.6 (1914): 519-537; Manson, Luke, 175; Jarvis, “Expounding the Parables.”
  • [109] See Moore, “Tower-builder and the King,” 532.
  • [110] Thackeray, “Study in the Parable of the Two Kings,” 389-399.
  • [111] Thackeray wrote that, “The insertion of τὰ was a slight accommodation of the Hebraism to Greek syntax” (“Study in the Parable of the Two Kings,” 392).

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