Mark 12:1 A [certain] man planted a vineyard...

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

A  man planted a vineyard. And he set a fence round it. And he dug wine pit. And he constructed  a tower. And he gave it out to wine-growers. And he went abroad.

KJV : 

Mark 12:1 A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This is an interesting verse for a number of reasons. The language uses a number of words with double meanings. This is common for Jesus, but unusual for his parables. Many of these meanings revolved around military defense and death. Readers may want to play with possible double meanings with this one to get at what Jesus is implying.

The many "ands" used in this verse are a common story-telling device used by Jesus. In a series, the Greek words work more like our words "not only...but also" making the line more entertaining. This is lost in modern translations.

The oddest thing about this verse is  that the word translated "let" is misspelled, making it into a common word that means "he was eaten." The meaning from the context is clearly to "give out," which means "rent" when applied to a house. However, this misspelling  in all three Gospel versions of this parable might be an intentional play on words, equating "giving out" this vineyard with the owner being devoured by the renters.

NIV : 

Mark 12:1 A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place.

NLT : 

Mark 12:1 A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country.

Wordplay: 

Many of the key terms used here have secondary meanings in warfare relating to creating defensive structures. Even the word used for digging the place to receive the wine has an inference of digging a defensive trench.

The word translated as "let out" would equate "giving out" this vineyard with the owner being devoured by the renters.

The series of "and" are quite extravagent and entertaining.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἀμπελῶνα” ( noun sg masc acc )  "Vineyard" is  ampelon, which means simply "vineyard."

ἄνθρωπος (noun sg masc nom) "A man" is from anthrôpos (anthropos), which "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

ἐφύτευσεν, ( verb 3rd sg aor ind act ) "Planted" is  phyteuo, which means "to plant", "to produce", "to set-up," and specifically, "to plant with trees."

καὶ (conj/adv) "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

περιέθηκεν [unique](verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "set...about" is from peritithemi, which means to "place", "put round", "put on", "put round oneself," and metaph., "bestow," and "confer upon."

φραγμὸν [uncommon](noun sg masc acc) "Hedge" is from phragmos, which is a noun that means "fencing in", "blocking up", "fence", "paling," nickname of a man "with a bristly beard," and metaph., "partition."

καὶ "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just." --

ὤρυξεν [uncommon] (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Digged" is from orysso, which means to "dig," "dig up", "dig through", "make a canal through," and of moles, "burrow," "bury," "dig into," and "gouge out."

ὑπολήνιον [unique]( noun sg neut acc) "Winefat" is from hypolenion, which is "the vessel placed under a press to receive the wine or oil." The word literally means "thing below winepress" from lenos, the word for "winepress."

καὶ "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just." --

ᾠκοδόμησεν (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Built" is from oikodomeo,which means to "build a house," generally, "build", "fashion," "found upon," and, metaphorically, "build up," and "edify."  

πύργον,” [4 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Tower" is from pyrgos, which means "tower", "tower of defense", "movable tower (for storming towns," and "a dice cup."

καὶ (conj/adv)"And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just." --

ἐξέδετο {ἐξέδοτο a variation of ἐξέδωκε} [unique] (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Let" is  is ekididomi, which means to "give up," "surrender," " give out of one's house," " farm out," "let for hire," " give in charge to another," and many other specific meanings.

αὐτὸν (adj sg masc acc) "It" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

γεωργοῖς, (adj pl masc dat) "Husbandmen" is from georgos, which means "tilling the ground," and from that, "husbandman", "vine dresser", "gardener," and "peasant."

καὶ "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just." --

ἀπεδήμησεν. (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Went to a far country" is from apodemeo, which means "to be far from home", "to be abroad", "to be on one's travels," and "to go abroad."

KJV Analysis: 

A -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

certain -- (IW) There is no Greek word that translated as "certain" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added for clarity.

man -- The Greek word for "man" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men", "people", and "peoples". 

planted -- "Planted" is from a verb which means "to plant", "to produce", "to set-up," and specifically, "to plant with trees."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

vineyard, -- "Vineyard" is the Greek word that means simply "vineyard."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

set  --  "Set " is a verb that means to "place", "put round", "put on", "put round oneself," and metaph., "bestow," and "confer upon." This word is unique to this verse and the parallel verse in Matthew.

an -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

hedge -- (WW) "Hedge" is an uncommon noun for Jesus that means "fencing in", "blocking up", "fence", "paling," nickname of a man "with a bristly beard," and metaph., "partition." It does not mean a "hedge" in the sense we use it today.

about -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb.

it,- There is no Greek pronoun here, but Greek does not need pronouns when the object can be assumed from the context. In English, they are added for the subject-verb-object form of our sentences.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

digged -- "Digged" is an uncommon verb for Jesus that means to "dig," "dig up", "dig through", "make a canal through," and of moles, "burrow," "bury," "dig into," and "gouge out."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

place -- (IW) There is no Greek word that translated as "place" but the word this is from ends in a neutral form that can be interprets as "thing."

for --  (WW) This preposition is from the verb's prefix but the prefix means "under" not "for."

the  -- (IW) There is no Greek word that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

winefat, -- "Winefat" is a noun only found here in Jesus's words. It appears in ancient Greek only here and it meaning comes from its literal sense, "a thing under a winepress."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

built --- "Built" is a word that specifically means "build a house," generally, "build", "fashion," "found upon," and, metaphorically, "build up," and "edify."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

tower, -- "Watchtower" is another uncommon word that means "tower", "tower of defense", "movable tower (for storming towns," and "a dice cup."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

let -- "Let" is from a unique spelling of a Greek verb meaning "give up" and "surrender" but it has a number of other meanings including renting a house. The way the word is spelled means "he ate himself" or "he ate it by himself."

it -- The word translated as "it" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  

out -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "out of" or "from."

to -- This word comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English: a "to" as an indirect object, a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, and an "in" for area of affect.

husbandmen, -- The word translated as "to husbandmen" means to those "tilling the ground," and from that, "vine dresser", "gardener," and "peasant."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

went -- The verb translated as "went" the means "to be far from home" and "to go abroad." It was used only in Matthew 25:14 and ​Luke 15:13 to capture a similar idea. However, in the Luke version the Greek words for "into a far country" are used explicitly in the Greek, which maybe what this translation was inspired by, 

into a far country. --  (IP) There are no Greek word that translated as "into a far country" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added  to clarify the meaning of the verb used above.

KJV Translation Issues: 

6
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "certain" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "hedge" means "fence."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "place" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "for" should be "under."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "into a far county" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.

NIV Analysis: 

A -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

man -- The Greek word for "man" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men", "people", and "peoples". 

planted -- "Planted" is from a verb which means "to plant", "to produce", "to set-up," and specifically, "to plant with trees."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

vineyard, -- "Vineyard" is the Greek word that means simply "vineyard."

untranslated "and"-- (MW) The untranslated word "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

He -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the following verb.

put --  "put" is a verb that means to "place", "put round", "put on", "put round oneself," and metaph., "bestow," and "confer upon." This word is unique to this verse and the parallel verse in Matthew.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

wall -- (WW) "Hedge" is an uncommon noun for Jesus that means "fencing in", "blocking up", "fence", "paling," nickname of a man "with a bristly beard," and metaph., "partition." It does not mean a "wall" in the sense we use it today.

around -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb.

it,- There is no Greek pronoun here, but Greek does not need pronouns when the object can be assumed from the context. In English, they are added for the subject-verb-object form of our sentences.

untranslated "and"-- (MW) The untranslated word "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

dug -- "Dug" is an uncommon verb for Jesus that means to "dig," "dig up", "dig through", "make a canal through," and of moles, "burrow," "bury," "dig into," and "gouge out."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

pit  -- This word is from the verb's prefix and ending, which together mean :"thing under." 

for --  (WW) This preposition is from the verb's prefix but the prefix means "under" not "for."

the -- (IW) There is no Greek word that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

winepress -- "Winepress" to root of this word, that is a noun only found here in Jesus's words. It appears in ancient Greek only here and it meaning comes from its literal sense, "a thing under a winepress."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

built --- "Built" is a word that specifically means "build a house," generally, "build", "fashion," "found upon," and, metaphorically, "build up," and "edify."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

watchtower, -- "Watchtower" is another uncommon word that means "tower", "tower of defense", "movable tower (for storming towns," and "a dice cup."

Then --  (WW) The Greek word translated as "then" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the following verb.

rented -- "Rented" is from a unique spelling of a Greek verb meaning "give up" and "surrender" but it has a number of other meanings including renting a house. The way the word is spelled means "he ate himself" or "he ate it by himself."

the vineyard -- (IP) There is no "the vineyard" here. The word is the pronoun, "it."

out -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "out of" or "from."

to -- This word comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English: a "to" as an indirect object, a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, and an "in" for area of affect.

some -- (IW) There is no Greek word that can be translated as "some" in the Greek source.

farmers , -- The word translated as "to farmers" means to those "tilling the ground," and from that, "vine dresser", "gardener," and "peasant."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

moved -- The verb translated as "moved" the means "to be far from home" and "to go abroad." It was used only in Matthew 25:14 and ​Luke 15:13 to capture a similar idea. However, in the Luke version the Greek words for "into a far country" are used explicitly in the Greek, which maybe what this translation was inspired by, 

to another place. --  (IP) There are no Greek word that translated as "to another place" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added  to clarify the meaning of the verb used above.

NIV Translation Issues: 

9
  • MW - Missing Word -- The conjunction "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "wall" means "fence."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The conjunction "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "for" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "then" means "and."
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "the vineyard" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "some" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "to another place" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.

NLT Analysis: 

A -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

man -- The Greek word for "man" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men", "people", and "peoples". 

planted -- "Planted" is from a verb which means "to plant", "to produce", "to set-up," and specifically, "to plant with trees."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

vineyard, -- "Vineyard" is the Greek word that means simply "vineyard."

untranslated "and"-- (MW) The untranslated word "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

He -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the following verb.

built --  (WW) "put" is a verb that means to "place", "put round", "put on", "put round oneself," and metaph., "bestow," and "confer upon." This word is unique to this verse and the parallel verse in Matthew.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

wall -- (WW) "Hedge" is an uncommon noun for Jesus that means "fencing in", "blocking up", "fence", "paling," nickname of a man "with a bristly beard," and metaph., "partition." It does not mean a "wall" in the sense we use it today.

around -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb.

it,- There is no Greek pronoun here, but Greek does not need pronouns when the object can be assumed from the context. In English, they are added for the subject-verb-object form of our sentences.

untranslated "and"-- (MW) The untranslated word "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

dug -- "Dug" is an uncommon verb for Jesus that means to "dig," "dig up", "dig through", "make a canal through," and of moles, "burrow," "bury," "dig into," and "gouge out."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

pit  -- This word is from the verb's prefix and ending, which together mean :"thing under." 

for --  (WW) This preposition is from the verb's prefix but the prefix means "under" not "for."

pressing  -- "Pressing" to root of this word, that is a noun only found here in Jesus's words. It appears in ancient Greek only here and it meaning comes from its literal sense, "a thing under a winepress."

out the grape juice, -- (IP) There is no Greek phrase that can be translated as "out the grape juice" in the Greek source.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

built --- "Built" is a word that specifically means "build a house," generally, "build", "fashion," "found upon," and, metaphorically, "build up," and "edify."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

lookout tower, -- "Watchtower" is another uncommon word that means "tower", "tower of defense", "movable tower (for storming towns," and "a dice cup."

Then --  (WW) The Greek word translated as "then" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the following verb.

leased -- "Leased" is from a unique spelling of a Greek verb meaning "give up" and "surrender" but it has a number of other meanings including renting a house. The way the word is spelled means "he ate himself" or "he ate it by himself."

the vineyard -- (IP) There is no "the vineyard" here. The word is the pronoun, "it."

out -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "out of" or "from."

to -- This word comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English: a "to" as an indirect object, a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, and an "in" for area of affect.

tenant -- (IW) There is no Greek word that can be translated as "tenant" in the Greek source.

farmers , -- The word translated as "to farmers" means to those "tilling the ground," and from that, "vine dresser", "gardener," and "peasant."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

moved -- The verb translated as "moved" the means "to be far from home" and "to go abroad." It was used only in Matthew 25:14 and ​Luke 15:13 to capture a similar idea. However, in the Luke version the Greek words for "into a far country" are used explicitly in the Greek, which maybe what this translation was inspired by, 

to another country. --  (IP) There are no Greek word that translated as "to another place" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added  to clarify the meaning of the verb used above.

NLT Translation Issues: 

10
  • MW - Missing Word -- The conjunction "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "wall" means "fence."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The conjunction "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "for" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "out the grape juice" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "then" means "and."
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "the vineyard" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "tenant" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "to another country" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

Elsewhere Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven, or, the universal realm, as a man going to a far country, leaving his servants in charge. The strong suggestion is that the kingdom of heaven is not the far country, but this world of abundant resources which God's own and sets the rules for but which we are given control over in His absence.

In complex sentences like this one, Christ usually uses three or four verbs in the pattern of three plus one, where the three temporal dimensions (physical, mental, emotional/relationship) are contrast with the eternal. Here, we have an even more complex pattern of seven verbs: planted, set around, dug up, built up, let out, and went to. In this pattern, the physical portion is repeated three time. Planted is the spiritual portion, following Christ's usual parallel of the beginning and seeds with the founding spirit. Set, dug and built are the physical portion. Letting out is the mental portion. Went to a far country is the emotional/relationship portion.

The repetition of the three physical actions are a mini-cycle of the physical, mental, and emotional. Notice how the "physical" verbs are all acts of creation, creating the wall, the wine-trench, and the tower. The wall symbolizes a defensive separation which is an emotional/relationship). Wine is Christ's symbol in the cycle of liquids for the mind, so the wine-trench symbolizes the mind. Seeing is Christ's symbol of the physical world symbolized by the watchtower.

Front Page Date: 

Nov 11 2019