Husbandman, originally a "householder" or "master of the house," is now limited in its meaning to "farmer" or "tiller of the soil." In this sense it is the correct translation of the various Biblical words: ish 'adahamah, literally, "man of the soil" (Genesis 9:20); 'ikkar, literally, "digger," "a farmer" (2 Chronicles 26:10; Jeremiah 31:24; 51:23; Amos 5:16; Joel 1:11); gubh, "to dig" (2 Kings 25:12); yaghabh, "to dig" (Jeremiah 52:16); georgos, "cultivator" (Matthew 21:33; John 15:1; James 5:7).
It is a common practice in Palestine and Syria today for a rich man to own lands in many different parts of the country. He sets farmers over these different tracts who, with the helpers, do the plowing, planting, reaping, etc.; or he lets out his lands to farmers who pay him an annual rental or return to him a certain percentage of the crop. Much of the plain of Esdraelon, for example, was until recently owned by Beirut proprietors and farmed in this way. The writer while riding on the plain near ancient Dan, was surprised to overtake an acquaintance from Beirut (3 days' journey away), who had just dismounted at one of his farms to inspect it and to receive the annual account of his farmer. The pride with which the husbandman pointed out the abundant harvest will not be forgotten. All the difficulties of the owner with his husbandmen described by Jesus are often repeated today.
Jesus said "I am the true vine, and my father is the husbandman" (John 15:1). He sows, cultivates, prunes and expects fruits from His church. In the parable of the Householder (Matthew 21:33), the wicked husbandmen were the Jews. The church is referred to as "God's husbandry" in 1 Corinthians 3:9 (m "tilled land").
James A. Patch
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