Wednesday-Thursday, June 15-16, 2005: Picturing Jesus’ Ministry
first night in Tel Aviv last Tuesday (June 14, 2005), we left for
Then on Thursday we sailed on the Sea of Galilee from Tiberias to the boat museum, then to the Beatitudes, Feeding of the 5000, and Feed my sheep sites. Finally we came to Capernaum to the site where Peter and Jesus may actually have lived. I enjoyed the ride on the sea very much and the
Then we went to Cana where two of our company, Ben Last and Emily Harle, began their wedding on videotape. They'll finish it in about 8 weeks. I don't know how many times Wilbur emphasized that they weren't married yet. It was a "you can't have sex" reminder he made about ten times.
Nazareth followed and I, being paranoid, was a little uneasy walking through the markets to the
Finally, we came back to the Jordan River where I baptized, rededicated, and helped rededicate several people. That was a neat experience. I have supply pastored, but never baptized, so Emily Harle soon to be Last was the first person I’ve ever baptized.
None of that, however, is what I started out to write. I started to write my impressions of Jesus ministry in the light of these forays.
The first thing that struck me is that the
Also my reading indicates that the villages would have been very small.
The plain at the edge of the Sea of Galilee yields to the rather high hills of
In my devotional Thursday night I remarked on how insignificant a place Jesus came to. What a small group of people he ministered to in a backwater part of Antipas' peculiarly divided domain. It was like he gave us a little snippet of what ministering is all about. Before he died for the world, he ministered to a little group of peasant villagers trying to survive the building programs and thus taxation of Herod Antipas. They farmed enough to live on, but he demanded much more. These were the poor to whom Jesus spoke good news.
Friday-Saturday, June 17-18, 2005: Muslim Holy Day
hotel has wireless, so I thought I would share a few quick thoughts on
I tend to be paranoid (which doesn’t necessary mean that people aren’t out to get me), so I’ve been a little tense these last couple of days. Yesterday we went through the West Bank quite a bit:
I feel like the situation here politically has come into even better focus, and I’ll share sometime. I know it’s not spiritual, but the main thing I was thinking in the Church of the Nativity was, “Just think, there were Palestinians holed up in here in a standoff with the Israelis just a couple years ago.” “Just think, there are bullet holes in the side of this church.”
It was just bizzare as we rode down along the
It was just bizarre. The walk from here to there is no big deal--it's just space. But the significance of the space from here to there is unbelievable and sometimes deadly.
Well time for supper. More later…
Filling in Gaps
left Galilee for the south, traveling along the Jordan River to a large extent
High on the hill is the "traditional site" of Jesus' wilderness temptation, a Greek Orthodox controlled place with cable cars to boot.
Then we arrived to camel rides and overpriced shopping, but there was also some very nice fruit.
The archaeological site of Jericho itself was irritating, almost a waste of time if it weren't for sentimental reasons. Here were some of the notorious failures of early archaeology. The science was infantile at the time, and Garstang blew through massive layers of stuff, discarding everything as he went until he could find the Jericho of Joshua's day. When he thought he had finally found it, he was at about 2000 BC. He had removed the Joshua time layer way above it in the process. So the Tel as it now stands is about twenty feet lower than it was a hundred years ago.
Kathleen Kenyon continued the dig in the 50's I think and did much to improve the way archeology is done. The current majority view is that there was no city there at the time of Joshua, but you couldn't prove or disprove it because cursed Garstang threw away the evidence a century ago (maybe a little less). !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (P.S. there is a tower there that dates to about 7000 BC from Kenyon’s digs. I think it sometimes pops up as support for the Joshua story, but it is not from the time of Joshua.)
Well, I'll continue with
off I think in terms of continuity with Qumran on
Friday. It was truly great for me to be there since I have delivered a paper on
the Dead Sea Scrolls and twice taught a course on the intertestament. Let me
say how incredibly helpful it is for me to remember things when I can picture
it. I now know where at least some of the caves are in relation to
I've seen the graves running north and south now, to the east of the site. I've seen the miqvaoth (baptismal pools), the tower, the so called "scriptorium" (bad choice of words for extraneous meaning imported in) and the refractory. These are great things. I had a novelistic picture of it (yes, I did once start a novel with Judas starting in the
Then we swam in the Dead Sea, which was great. I wish we could have swam all the way across to
Then we made our way to a hotel in
The Sabbath was soon approaching at the hotel there, and Jewish women could be seen scurrying to the elevator. The elevators here on the Sabbath run on their own so that no one has to push a button and thus "light a fire." They won't turn on coffee pots on Saturday or do any of these mundane things. Wilbur told a story of how he actually had to turn on the oven for a hotel back in 58 I think it was, with a rabbi standing guard over the kitchen to make sure no Jew did.
I'm too tired to pontificate, but I think some of the legalistic practices of my own Wesleyan background approach such silliness.
I'll just mention the problem Jews have with having meat and dairy products together. It goes back to a verse that appears in three different places in the Pentateuch about boiling the kid in its mother's milk. So they won't serve meat (the kid, I presume) with any milk. Of course discoveries at Ugarit show, as usual, that this is in part a reaction to Canaanite practice and thus that the Jews are making a big hullaballo about a verse that has nothing to do with them or having butter with supper.
I'm too tired to pontificate, but Wesleyan buns and not letting guys have goatees measure about the same on the "I don't have a clue what the words of the Bible were really about" scale.
On Saturday morning we went to Arad,
Very interesting to me in
Then we stopped at Lachish for a few. Then we came up to the Valley of Elah where the Philistines and the Israelites met and traditionally David killed Goliath. Then we came to
It was crowded with Palestinian police all around. We went into the church where Palestinians just a couple years ago walled themselves up and where there were bullet holes (I didn't personally see any). The church is Greek Orthodox again and the traditional site is in a cave under the church. There is as usual a place to touch or kiss, and a place to the side where the baby Jesus traditionally was laid.
You come up to a Franciscan church right next to it. As usual it's hard for me to know what to make of it, since I have no confidence that any of these spots are the right spots.
I’d add pictures I took of an Israeli checkpoint
going in to
Then we came here to
Sunday, June 19, 2005: My Modernist, Protestant Biases Come Out
minutes till departure on Father's Day for the
First of all, copious, copious kudos to the Franciscans and Greek Orthodox who bought up the land where holy sites are so many years ago. They have preserved them when they might otherwise have been destroyed. For this I am eternally grateful.
Now for venting… Given the mindset of these groups, they just have to built these churches on the sites. I suppose the reasoning is once a holy site always a holy site; once a church always a church. The result is that modernist Protestants like me, who want to see and get the feel for what it was really like, have to struggle to look around all the "stuff" the Catholics have piled on.
Of course I don't mind half of it. The church of the Beatitudes or where the 5000 were fed or where Jesus told John to feed his sheep are unlikely the real spots, despite good attempts by the early Christians to identify prominent rocks. Hey look, there's a good rock, let's build a church here. So I don't mind those. They give concreteness to important memories and have been some of the best places for meditation.
On the other hand, the Franciscans just had to build this monstrous, spider like looking church on top of the site where Peter and Jesus may have lived. I want to see the real deal, not have to peer from afar under this big metal thing to see the site. It was better before they venerated the site, from pre 1990 pictures.
Frankly, hurray for the Old Testament sites and the Roman ruins. The church has left them alone so you can picture what things were really like without the monstrosities. Of course, they're not the sites I'm really interested in.
I close with the church of the nativity, although I hear the Holy Sepulcher will win the prize for competing churches. You know, Greek Orthodox squeezed next to Roman Catholic. Add the Armenians at the Sepulcher and we're ready to lose all site of reality.
Hurray for the imagination; laments for reality.
Ken Schenck, reporting from
Sunday, Part 2: It was on a Sunday
heading toward the end of Sunday here, our third holy day in a row. Friday we
went through the West Bank along the Jordan river on the Muslim holy day (the
Palestinians there didn't seem too bothered--I've only heard prayer chants here
in Jerusalem even though Nazareth, Cana, Bethlehem are all Palestinian cities).
Saturday was Shavat, and I may vent later on the stupidity of fundamentalisms in all three faiths--Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. Just a few simple lessons on hermeneutics explode a ridiculous way of life for the orthodox Jews here.
Then today is the Christian Sabbath. The juxtaposition of faiths in these ways gives us pause. Do I look as silly to them as they do to me? Maybe I don't, but I bet the ones kissing the rock in the church where Jesus was allegedly tempted do. By the way, I actually almost kissed it myself, so I don't mean any of my comments personally.
Today was a great day--immensely helpful in getting a perspective on things. I'll list our pilgrimage today:
1. Mount of Olives--panoramic view of the Temple Mount
2. Church of Tears (whatever it's really called), where Jesus is said to have wept for
3. Garden of Gethsemane, including cave where they may have hid out from authorities.
All the above are in primarily Palestinian occupied areas and are on the east side of the temple mount. Below the Mount of Olives are cemeteries and the Kidron Valley. The Kidron valley runs south into the Valley of Hinnom or the Valley ge Hinnom in Aramaic. This is the place of origin for the idea of Gehenna. The image starts here because it is where the trash of
clarify that the current gates are not the gates that were in existence at the
time of Jesus. The current wall around
the city was built by Saladin in the 1500’s and is a Muslim foundation. At the time of Jesus, the eastern and part of
the western wall (to about the Jaffa Gate) probably stood in about the same
place, perhaps even the northern wall if I remember correctly. However, the southern wall extended down
4. We went to the traditional site of the upper room, next to the Church of the Assumption of Mary.
5. We went through the Zion Gate and looked at a road Hadrian made through the city when he conquered and rebuilt it as Aelia Capitolina in 135 after the Bar Kochba revolt.
6. We shopped in the Jewish quarter.
7. We ate in the Jewish quarter.
8. We visited the wailing wall, men on the left, women on the right. Men can only go down with a cap of some kind. Some of the men went into a chamber with the psycho-orthodox praying like crazy and saw a vaulted ceiling I think Herod had built.
I felt bad and angry for the women of our group. I'll save my finger pointing at Christians who divide life between men and women for another blog. Prepare to be compared to the Orthodox Jews still waiting for the Messiah and the fundamentalist Muslims here. You're not much better, just as ignorant and displeasing to God.
9. We went to the temple mount. We had to surrender all our "holy items": prayer shalls, mezuzoth, etc... so the Muslims wouldn't be angry to find foreign holy things on their mount. At least that's the way I understood it. Also, the chief rabbinate of
10. We went to the spot Wilbur wonders if the temple had stood (this cupola is called the Dome of the Spirits). He is following a Jewish writer by the name of Asher Kaufman in this analysis. Wilbur thinks the ark of the covenant is buried underneath. The Muslims stopped a dig he was on once. They refuse to believe that any temple ever stood there before the Dome of the Rock. Of course no one who knows anything about anything could make such a claim of utter stupidity. I suspect that if you hold the mirror up to many Christians and say, we're not really much smarter with the way we sometimes manipulate evidence and truth. I'm sure this is true of me as well.
But with regard to the cupola, Kaufman is not really a professional archaeologist. He’s actually a physicist by background. He admits up front that some of his theory is based on “inspiration.” His theory is heavily dismissed by Leen Ritmeyer in a Catholic Biblical Quarterly review 67 (2005): 321-23. For example, Leen cites as an example of Kaufman’s mistakes the fact that “the slab under the cupola of the Dome of the Spirits, which he claims is the foundation stone that protruded into the holy of holies but is clearly a Herodian paving-slab.” I am not an expert on these issues, but in retrospect I would agree that the rock under the cupola was pretty much identical to the paving slab we saw outside the location of the Fortress Antonia.
I don’t feel qualified to decide who’s right, although my knee jerk reaction is to follow Ritmeyer.
went back to get our holy items.
12. We went out the Dung Gate (what does that make us?) and rode the bus to the burial site of Sanhedrin members. We were all very tired by now.
13. But it continues, we drove out north to the traditional burial site of Samuel, which is next to Gibeon where Joshua is said to have conquered some Canaanites and Gibeah, of Saul fame, and of course, Solomon sacrificed a bunch of animals at the Samuel site as well to dedicate the temple.
Did I mention that this was north of
way, in the picture of Gibeah above you can see the remains of a crusader fort
where Richard the Lionhearted had a camp.
Ramallah is in the direction of the picture of Gibeon above
Well, that's enough for now. I need a nap...
Monday, June 20, 2005
day is over, at least the touring day.
We first went to the
The signs around the place indicate, however, that that particular hole as well as the dungeon like aspect of the place probably date to the Byzantine era, if I understand things correctly. It seems more likely to me, therefore, that Jesus would have been chained to the walls in the adjoining rooms. Of course it is not certain that this was Annas' house, although it fits the part of what we're looking for. It is probably not the house of Caiaphas, which would have been further up the hill.
Outside, however, is a walkway that Jesus probably was brought up the night of his betrayal. Wilbur suggested it was the most certain site of all the sites in
We then went to a museum where they had a model city of Jerusalem. That was helpful in locating everything in relation to everything else.
We went to the
Then we went to the
Particularly memorable to me there were some things I knew about but actually had in front of me: the Gezer calendar, Caiaphas' ossuary, photos of Egyptian steles that mention Israel in the 12th century, mention of David in the ninth...
We had lunch, went to Bethany (Palestinian city), crawled into Lazarus' tomb--quite a crawl at one point.
We came back and went to the church of the Holy Sepulcher. To get there we entered the Damascus Gate and walked through a narrow passage of Arab shops, like a flea market. The church itself has chapels of Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Roman Catholic, Ethiopic, and Armenian. There are probably more but those are the ones we saw (that is, those of us who ran off after we'd seen the main sites, Charlie Alcock and son, the Bignells, and Clint Ussher).
What we saw of the traditional site of
I had imagined the church to be divided into three parts, but it really is more like a Greek Orthodox base with several side chapels. As far as I could tell, the only Roman Catholic chapel was next to
Then we went to the traditional site of the burial, which the surrounding rock apparently taken away. There was also a tomb attributed to Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus nearby.
some have argued for evidence of earlier Christian veneration in sites that
were digs under the Armenian quarter, apparently the Empress Helena, mother of
current church has pretty much nothing original of the traditional burial tomb
of Jesus—unless of course it turns out that the traditional tombs of Joseph and
Nicodemus are in fact the original tombs!
But I presume the traditional one was chosen because it originally fit
the description best. Too bad.
We ended at the Garden Tomb, where we had communion. I think everyone in the group agrees that the feel of it is closest to what the original tomb would have been like. Nevertheless, few if any scholars think it was the original site. The tomb is apparently a first temple bench tomb that would pre-date Jesus by over six hundred years.
That concludes today.
Monday, Part 2: Israelis and Palestinians
write an Islamic chant is blaring outside my window. I imagine a few years ago
I might have found that pretty innocuous. But after the two intifadas of Hamas
and friends and after 9-11, I find it irritating, almost offensive.
Mind you, I'm willing to give any individual of any race or religion an opportunity to prove themselves profitable members of the human race. And Christ bids me to love them, to grieve for them. But I'll admit that my trip here to
I feel like I have a better sense of the Palestinian-Israeli crisis after being here. Frankly I feel sympathy to both sides. Before WW1, this territory was under Turkish control. Since they aligned with the Germans, it came under British management after WW1. I'm fuzzy on some of the details, but in 1948 the United Nations had a two state solution that
For the next almost 30 years, the West Bank was a part of the country of Jordan (a backwards B with its center point in
Then in the 6 day war of 1967,
Now we have the current situation. The Israeli settlements are slowly but surely taking over the land. Palestinian territory has basically been reduced to individual cities, with the Israelis for all intents and purposes controlling everything around them.
But from the Palestinian perspective, who told this foreign group called the Israelis that they could move in and take over? Wouldn't you want to have all the space you had before? Lacking the power to fight directly, they turned to terrorism. Some don't like the analogy, but there is some similarity to the Native Americans. The Palestinians were faced with a more powerful invader of the land they used to roam. Power wins. I am not justifying terrorist actions. I just think this is the oldest story in the book, a variation on the take over of space from a less powerful group by a more powerful group.
But reality is reality. They will never have it all back, and they have rejected some very generous offers in the process. Frankly, the best thing for them would be to swallow their pride and become incorporated as citizens of
Complicating matters is the expansion of Islam among the Arab peoples here. In earlier days, many of these Arabs were Christians. Even today, there are far more Christian Palestinians than Christian Jews. But the support of American Christians for secular
So here are my political indictments of American Christianity. First, as Christians we should have been supporting the Christians of the Middle East--whether Jewish or Arab--rather than political entities like the pagan
The orthodox Jews here are not Christian and are not appropriate objects of our support. They are just as divisive as the fundamentalist Muslims. They do not believe the messiah has come and have views that we as Christians (and scholars) consider patently false. Indeed, I have heard that many orthodox Jews speak of Jesus with contempt. The ridiculousness of orthodox Jewish practices will have to wait for another day. They'll work for pay on the Sabbath but won't flip a switch on a coffee pot. They'll serve butter for breakfast but not for supper, only margarine--all on the basis of a ridiculous interpretation of a statement in the Pentateuch.
Meanwhile, we abandon the Syrian Christians, the Iraqi Christians, the Palestinian Christians.
My second indictment is one I can do nothing about, the milk is spilt. But I stand by my earlier indictments of the war in
But the recent British documents that have surfaced are nothing more than what I said back during the election. Ho hum, who is surprised by any of these things? It's exactly what I said and I'm stupid nobody from
Bush and his cabinet had a plan for the
Now consider that after 9-11 we had the sympathy of the whole world, even the lip service of the Arab nations. There was nothing wrong with going into
the prize for single handedly doing the most to promote fundamentalist Islam
around the world goes to.... envelope please.... George W. Bush, yes, for
advancing the idea that Islam is the religion of Arabs and Palestinians, while
Christianity is the religion of the West.
I know most American Christians thought that all the Palestinians were Muslims anyway. Guess what? We were ignorant to think that. But don't worry. They are now.
Monday, Part 3: Balancing Out the Last Post with Faint Praise
say that I think Bush has grown up a bit while he's been in office. I
completely approve of what Condoleeza Rice did here over the weekend in pushing
for Israeli withdrawal from the
But most nations in this part of the world do not view her or Bush as having moral authority. The
We have become like any other powerful nation to the world. We are a force with which they must deal. But we come without any aura of moral integrity in their eyes. They will view any pontification on what is "moral" as hypocrisy.
I believe that the difficulty Bush is having with his appointments and things like Social Security are revealing examples that deep down on a subconscious level, even those who voted for Bush do not really trust his judgment.
He's a good guy, but a eunuch in my estimation. May the points of my ignorance not sway you and feel free to post dissenting positions.
I end with another story of the craziness here. This morning's paper tells of a college woman who tried to blow herself up at a
The average Palestinian on the street doesn't agree with any of that stuff, I don't think. But those talking about Israelis loosening check points and stuff like that or taking down this offensive wall--the crazies leave them no room for argument. The Israelis are doing what they need to do to be safe and it has worked.
I'll try to steer back away from politics next entry. We're off...
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
today to end things. I may reflect on a deeper level after I get back, but
We started at St. Stephen's gate also called the Lion's Gate on the East side not far from the Eastern Gate. We entered to visit the Pool of Bethesda and the Fortress Antonia where Pilate would have sentenced Jesus.
This is all in the Muslim Quarter. The ordinary person here is eager to sell to you, but it also seems to be parking for the
The Pool of Bethesda was a real serendipity as I had no expectations of it at all. Yet you could clearly see a first century cistern and several grottos where people could have bathed. Also there was a Crusader church to the parents of Mary (Anna in particular). Wilbur said it was the only Crusader church in the city Saladin did not destroy when he came in the 1500's I think.
Then down to the church where traditionally Jesus was sentenced and Barabbas freed. This is the first station of the cross on the Via Dolorosa.
Then down to the church where traditionally Jesus was given his cross. This is the second station of the cross on the Via Dolorosa.
Then Wilbur took us to the
At this point our group retraced our steps back out St. Stephen's gate. But I went back later to finish the Via Dolorosa and this seems the appropriate place to continue that part of my day.
When I went later I went by myself so I didn't have a really good sense of where I was going and I did not find the Israeli soldiers, who were stationed at strategic points, particularly helpful.
First I passed the Ecce Homo arch, which is now universally agreed to come from Hadrian's time. It was not there in Jesus' day. A man claiming to be Armenian tried to become my tour guide at station 3, the first time Jesus stumbled. I somehow missed station 4, as the shops began and I became a little concerned about where I was and where I was going.
Basically, from the Damascus Gate into the Muslim quarter is one long continuous corridor with continuous booth-like shops all along it. But there are crossroads and side paths in the part I was in that make it a little labyrinthine. I found station 5, where Simon takes the cross, and someone helpfully told me to take a right.
I found 6, where Veronica wipes sweat from Jesus' face, so I knew I was on the right path. This path then dead ended at station 7. I didn't realize it at the time, but this was the path that comes from the Damascus Gate. If I had turned right, I would have come out in the direction of my hotel. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, however, was to the left and with the barest nod from an Israeli solidier, I was on my way again.
I missed stations 8-10, but I was soon back in the Holy Sepulchre, which I have already described. I revisited
Back to earlier in the morning.
We went from St. Stephen's Gate down to the old city of David on the south side of the now walled city from Saladin's time. We saw a wall from the pre-Davidic time of Jebusite occupation as well as ruins of houses from David's time. I might add that a few days earlier, the upper room day, we had seen recently uncovered remains of the wall from David’s time, on the south end of the old city.
We went through the Warren Shaft, which is where the Jebusites got their water. It is a shaft that ends with a cistern that goes down to the Gihon Spring. Joab climbed up this shaft when David was taking the city and then sneaked in here.
Then we went through Hezekiah's tunnel, knee deep in water. We had only one flashlight between about twenty of us, so it could have been real dark if my camera didn't have a pre-flash light I could use. It was a lot of fun, although shock therapy for the claustrophobic. This ended at the pool of Siloam.
Then the trip was over.
Some of us then went to lunch with Wilbur. Our normal fare has been shawarimas and falafels. Then six of us walked around the top of Saladin's wall from the
We finally started the Wall at the Jaffa Gate on the West and walked south till the corner, where we turned east. We passed first the area of the upper room, then the area of Peter's denial at Anna's house as we passed
The city started with the Jebusite city south of the current
Anyway, we finally we arrived along the wall at the Dung Gate within sight of the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, etc..
At this point Charlie and son Nathaniel, Greg Mervine and son Trent, and Clint took a taxi back. I continued walking east passed the steps by which Jesus would have entered the temple mount. I turned to the north and saw Absalom's grave until I reached St. Stephen's gate and the Via Dolorosa as I've mentioned.
That's it. Whew. The trip is over.
Maybe I'll reflect a little on the more important significance of the trip for me later. But from a shallow perspective, here are the top three non-significant things from the trip:
1. Climbing up
2. Swimming in the
3. Walking through Hezekiah's tunnel
Thank you Wilbur Williams! And thank God for all the great opportunities He has given to me!
Postlude: June 23, 2005,
I now sit
at home. Here's a final entry relating to the spiritual significance of the
trip to me.
When Jesus Walked the Earth: The Model Practicum
I often tell my New Testament Survey classes that John gives us Jesus as he relates to us, while the first three gospels give us as much of Jesus as he related to them, the lost sheep of Israel. John tells us what we need to know about Jesus, but Matthew tells us that Jesus ministry while he was on earth was not focused on everyone.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us not only that Jesus did not focus on non-Jews while he was on earth, that he did not primarily minister to Gentiles while he was on earth. Matthew tells us not only that Jesus did not focus on all
Jesus did not primarily minister to the wealthy, although there were a few. Jesus did not primarily minister to Samaritans or the inhabitants of
I can see the Headline now: the day God came to Chorazin. Where? I bet a lot of people even in
As I have reflected on these things, I have become attracted to the idea that in his three years of ministry, Jesus was showing us one way that we are to do ministry. College and seminary minstry students often have to do something called a "practicum." They take what they've learned in the classroom and they go do it. The places they do them are more varied than they are. I did some in local churches; I did one in a nursing home. Some do them in conjunction with hospitals or prisons.
After my trip to
What did Jesus do for his practicum?
1. He started with where he was. And where he was wasn't anywhere special.
2. But every individual is special to God. And Jesus' ministered to the "nobodys" of
3. Jesus ministered to their needs on every level.
He dealt with their physical needs by healing them.
He dealt with their spiritual needs by freeing them from demonic oppression and giving them an eternal hope.
He dealt with their economic needs when they were oppressed by the taxation of Herod Antipas, the one who beheaded John the Baptist. In the time of Jesus, this Herod only had control of
These were farming villages who usually just produced enough for them to survive--they didn't usually even produce enough extra to trade for other things. They mostly did it all themselves for themselves. Times must have been tough when this ruler not only notices them, but tries to squeeze everything he can get from them.
Jesus' earthly ministry in