Friday, 1 April 2016
The Parables: Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation,
Brad H Young, Hendricksen, 1998
Chapter 11, "The Find" (pp. 199-221), page 212-213
The next rabbinic story that Brad Young shares from the Mekhilta tells of Israel as the hidden treasure:
Another interpretation. Rabbi Simon ben Yochai, giving a parable, says, To what can this be compared? To a man to whom there had fallen as an inheritance a residence in a far off country which he sold for a trifle. The buyer, however, went and discovered in it hidden treasures and stores of silver and of gold, of precious stones and pearls. The seller, seeing this, began to choke with grief. So also did the Egyptians, who let go without realising what they let go. For it is written: "And they said: 'What is this we have done that we have let Israel go' (Ex 14:5)".
Young explains that these two rabbinic parables have a different reality behind their word-pictures that the Gospel parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Preal of Great Price, but adds:
Nevertheless, the images used in the colourful dramas as well as the action of the plot in each story are quitesimilar. The rabbinic parables illustrate the undiscovered treasure of the people of Israel, while the Gospel texts portray the intrinsic value of the kingdom and the cost associated with obtaining it.
Matthew and the Mekhilta both use two partner parables to drive home the same point - two from the range of folklore. So Young concludes:
The people of Israel become the precious treasure of G-d while the pharaoh of Egypt failed to comprehend the intrinsic value of the great nation he had released. By the same token, the disciple should recognise the intrinsic worth of the incomparable kingdom of G-d as he or she surrenders all to obtain it.