And he began to speak unto them by parables
As of the two sons the father bid go to work in the vineyard; and of the planting of a vineyard, and letting it out to husbandmen, as here; though the latter is only related by this evangelist, yet both are by Matthew. This was not the first time of his speaking by parables to the people, though it might be the first time he spake in this way to the chief priests and elders, and who are particularly designed in them.
A certain man planted a vineyard.
The Persic version adds, "with many trees": that is, with vines, though sometimes other trees, as fig trees, were planted in vineyards; see ( Luke 13:6 ) . This man is, by the Evangelist Matthew, called an "householder": by whom is meant God the Father, as distinguished from his Son, he is afterward said to send: and by the "vineyard", planted by him, is meant the vineyard of the Lord of hosts, the men of Israel, ( Isaiah 5:1 Isaiah 5:7 ) ;
and set an hedge about it,
or "wall", as the Persic version renders it; meaning either the law, not the Jews oral law, or the traditions of the elders, which were not of God's setting, but the ceremonial and moral law; or the wall of protection by divine power, which was set around the Jewish nation especially when they went up to their solemn feasts.
And digged a place for the winefat.
The Syriac and Arabic versions add, "in it"; and the Persic version, "in the vineyard"; for this was made in the vineyard, where they, trod and squeezed the grapes when gathered; and may design the altar in the house of the Lord, where the libations, or drink offerings, were poured out;
and built a tower.
The Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions add, "in it"; for this also was built in the vineyard, and may intend either the city of Jerusalem; or the temple in it, the watch house where the priests watched, and did their service, day and night.
And let it out to husbandmen;
or "workmen", as the Arabic version renders it, who wrought in it, and took care of the vines. The Ethiopic version renders it, "and set over it a worker and keeper of the vineyard"; by whom are meant the priests and Levites, to whom were committed the care of the people, with respect to religious things:
and went into a far country;
left the people of the Jews to these husbandmen, or rulers, whether civil or ecclesiastical, but chiefly the latter, to be instructed and directed by them, according to the laws and rules given them by the Lord; (See Gill on Matthew 21:33).