Matthew 21:33

ESV “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country.
NIV Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place.
NASB Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A FENCE AROUND IT, AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and he leased it to vine-growers and went on a journey.
CSB "Listen to another parable: There was a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and went away.
NLT Now listen to another story. A certain landowner planted a vineyard, 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.
KJV Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

What does Matthew 21:33 mean?

Parables are stories which illustrate important truths. In this chapter of Matthew's gospel, those truths are about ways Israel's religious leaders had failed to obey God. In the previous story, Jesus began by asking for the opinion of His listeners (Matthew 21:28). Here, He starts with a command to listen.

He describes a landowner and master of a household. This man plants a vineyard and then builds the property into something that will produce a profit. He puts a fence around the vineyard to keep out animals and robbers. He equips it with a winepress to process the grapes. He raises a watchtower so servants can look out for potential threats from enemies, thieves, and fire. When all is ready, the landowner leases his well-equipped vineyard to some tenants who will work it while paying him rent. Then he leaves the country.

Jesus has described a very common scenario in Judea and other parts of the world. Wealthy landowners often rented out their land and lived off the rent, sometimes paid in crops. This parable is meant to remind Jesus' Jewish listeners of a familiar Old Testament passage. Isaiah 5:1–7 also describes a metaphorical vineyard. It is said to be the house of Israel and to belong to the Lord. When the product of the vineyard—the people of Israel—turns out to be wild instead of useful, the owner of the vineyard destroys it.

In Jesus' parable, the landowner is once again the Lord and the vineyard is Israel. This time, though, there are tenants who work the vineyard. They are meant to represent Israel's religious leaders. They are charged with tending—caring for, growing—the vines in the field. Jesus' story will show these are not good tenants.
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