Matthew 20:9 And when they came that [were hired]

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

A parable comparing the realm of the skies to hiring workers throughout the day.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Coming, however, those around the eleventh hour, got from top to bottom a silver coin.

My Takeaway: 

A day is all anyone receives from the Divine each day.

KJV : 

Matthew 20:9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

NIV : 

Matthew 20:9 The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The rare word here is translated as "every" and "each" is actually the setup for the punchline. Jesus only used it a half dozen times, but it means something like "from top to bottom," indicating a range. So, you don't expect the punchline, that is, all of the people to be paid the same, the punchline, a denarius, a single coin

Wordplay: 

The word translates as "every man" means "from bottom to top," continuing the wordplay of the previous verse, Matthew 20:8, "last to first" wordplay.   However, it also means "without understanding," which describes what is going on here. Finally, it also means "fullfilment," which also describes the payment. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ἐλθόντες [198 verses] (part pl aor act masc nom) "When they came" is from erchomai, which means "to start," "to set out," "to come," "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

δὲ (conj) "And" is from de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

οἱ (pron pl masc nom) "That" is from hos, which means "this," "that," "he," "she," "which," "what," "who," "whosoever," "where," "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

περὶ (prep)  "About" is from peri, which means "round about (Place)," "around," "about," "concerning," "on account of," "in regard to," "before," "above," "beyond," and "all around."

τὴν (article sg fem acc) "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun but here is separated by the adjective.

ἑνδεκάτην [2 verses](adj sg fem acc) "Eleventh" is from hendekatos, which means "eleventh."

ὥραν [37 verses](noun sg fem acc) "Hour" is hora, which means "any period," "season," (especially springtime), "year' (generally), "climate" (as determined by seasons), "duration," "the twelve equal parts into which the period of daylight was divided," "the fitting time" (for a task).

ἔλαβον [54 verse](verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "They received" is lambano means to "take," "take hold of," "grasp," "seize," "catch," "overtake," "find out," "detect," "take as," "take [food or drugs]," "understand," "take in hand," "undertake," "take in," "hold," "get," "receive [things]," "receive hospitably," "receive in marriage," "receive as produce," "profit," "admit," "initiate," "take hold of," "lay hold on," "seize and keep hold of," "obtain possession of," "lay hands upon," "find fault with," "censure," "to apprehend with the senses," "to take hold of," and "to seize." It is also specifically used to mean "seized with emotion."

ἀνὰ [6 verses](prep) "Every man" is ana, which is a preposition that means with the accusative: of Place: "up," "from bottom to top," "up along," of Time, "throughout," and, metaphorically, "continually in," "in," and "among."

δηνάριον. [8 verses](noun sg neut acc) "Penny" is from denarion, which was the principle silver coin of the Roman Empire in NT times.

KJV Analysis: 

And  - (OS) The Greek word translated as "and" is different in today's sources. It is the word that is usually translated as "but," and joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

when  - There is no "when" here. It is added because of the form of the verb

they  - -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

came  - (WF) One verb is translated as "came" means "to start out." It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Its form, it means "at the time" and it is in the form of an adjective, "coming."

that  - The word translated as "that" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause. Here, it is plural, so "those."

were hired -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "were hired" in the Greek source. It was added to explain the following "about the eleventh hour" phrase," but that can be done simply by translated the preposition translated as "about" as "from about" which is its sense.

about -- The Greek word translated as "of" means "around" when referring to a place, but in referring to a subject, it means "about," "concerning," "on account of," and "in regard to." This is the way Jesus usually uses it.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

eleventh  - This is the word "eleventh." The eleventh hour was one hour before sunset, the end of the workday.

hour,  - The word translated as "hour" means a period of time, generally, as we might say "moment," but specifically to the twelve equal periods of daylight used during this period.

they -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

received  - The word translated as "received" primarily means "take," and has many different uses as we use "take" in English, but it is often used as we use the term "got" to mean "take." Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." It is not passive, but active, "they got." It is in the form of "at that time."

every  - (WW) "Every" is from a preposition that means "from bottom to top," "up along," of Time, "throughout," and, metaphorically, "continually in," "in," and "among." However, the word also an adjective that means "without understanding" and a noun that means "fulfillment." This is not the common word translated as "every" or in a form that can be translated as "man."

man  - -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "it" in the Greek source.

penny. -- "Penny is from the Greek word for a denarius, which was a coin of silver, which had the purchasing power of about $70-$80 today (though comparisons are obviously not very meaningful). It was the standard wage for a day's labor by a general laborer, which for most of human history was an agricultural worker. To offer and agree to work for this wage would be considered the expected practice for hundreds of years around the birth of Christ in the Roman Empire.

KJV Translation Issues: 

4
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "and" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "came" is not an active verb but a participle, "showing up."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "were hired" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "every" should be "from top to bottom."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "man" doesn't exist in the source.

NIV Analysis: 

missing "however"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is usually translated as "but," and joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

The workers -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "the workers" in the Greek source.

who   - The word translated as "who" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause. Here, it is plural, so "those."

were hired -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "were hired" in the Greek source. It was added to explain the following "about the eleventh hour" phrase," but that can be done simply by translated the preposition translated as "about" as "from about" which is its sense.

about -- The Greek word translated as "of" means "around" when referring to a place, but in referring to a subject, it means "about," "concerning," "on account of," and "in regard to." This is the way Jesus usually uses it.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

five -  (WW) This is the word "eleventh." The eleventh hour was one hour before sunset, the end of the workday.

missing "hour"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "hour" means a period of time, generally, as we might say "moment," but specifically to the twelve equal periods of daylight used during this period.

in the afternoon -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "in the afternoon" in the Greek source.

came  - (WF) One verb is translated as "came" means "to start out." It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Its form, it means "at the time" and it is in the form of an adjective, "coming."

and -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "and" in the Greek source.

each - (WW) "Each" is from a preposition that means "from bottom to top," "up along," of Time, "throughout," and, metaphorically, "continually in," "in," and "among." However, the word also an adjective that means "without understanding" and a noun that means "fulfillment." This is not the common word translated as "every" or in a form that can be translated as "man."

received  - The word translated as "received" primarily means "take," and has many different uses as we use "take" in English, but it is often used as we use the term "got" to mean "take." Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." It is not passive, but active, "they got." It is in the form of "at that time."

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.

denarius. -- "Denarius:" is from the Greek word for a denarius, which was a coin of silver, which had the purchasing power of about $70-$80 today (though comparisons are obviously not very meaningful). It was the standard wage for a day's labor by a general laborer, which for most of human history was an agricultural worker. To offer and agree to work for this wage would be considered the expected practice for hundreds of years around the birth of Christ in the Roman Empire.

NIV Translation Issues: 

10
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "the workers" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "were hired" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "eleventh" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "five" should be "eleventh."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "hour" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "in the afternoon" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "came" is not an active verb but a participle, "showing up."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "each" should be "from top to bottom."

Front Page Date: 

May 13 2021