Luke 12:13

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me."

Luke 12:13 Meaning and Commentary

Luke 12:13

And one of the company said unto him
Not one of the disciples of Christ, but one of the multitude, or crowd, about him, ( Luke 12:1 )

Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with
the firstborn, according to the law, in ( Deuteronomy 21:17 ) had a double portion: but the eider brother here, it seems, was for keeping all, and would not divide any part to his younger brother; wherefore he applies to Christ, to interpose his authority, which he imagined would have great weight with his brother, who might be a hearer of Christ, and favourer of him: or however, such was the fame of Christ, and such credit he obtained by his ministry and miracles, that he concluded a word from him, would go a great way with his brother, to engage him to make a right and proper division, as he ought; and especially, if he looked upon him, as the king Messiah the Jews expected, he might take this to be part of his work and office, to settle such civil affairs as these: we often read in the Jewish writings, of brethren dividing their substance, left by their parents; so it is said F6,

``(wqlxv Nyxax) , "brethren that divide", (a field,) give two corners (to the poor); if they return and become partners, they give but one.''

Where there were but two brethren, as here, the one was called (rwkb) , "the firstborn"; and the other, (jwvp) , "simple"; having no title or character: and concerning dividing inheritances, there are the following rules F7:

``the firstborn takes a double portion of his father's goods, as is said, ( Deuteronomy 21:17 ) how? a man leaves five children, and one of them is the firstborn: the firstborn takes the third part of the substance, and every one of the four simple ones, takes a sixth part: if he leaves nine children, and one of them is the firstborn, he takes the fifth part, and every one of the eight simple ones, takes a tenth part; and so according to this division, they divided for ever----he that has two sons, a firstborn and a simple one, and they both die in his lifetime, the firstborn leaves a daughter, and the simple one leaves a son; lo, the son of the simple one inherits the third part of the old man's goods, which is his father's part; and the daughter of the firstborn, inherits the two thirds, which is the part of her father.''

And again F8,

``two brethren that "divide", and a brother comes to them from the province of the sea: and so three brethren that "divide", and a creditor comes and takes the part of one of them, though the one takes land, and the other money, the division is void, and they return and divide the rest equally: if any one orders at the time of death, that there should be given to such an one a palm tree, or a field out of his substance, and the brethren "divide", and do not give such an one any thing, lo, the division is void; and how do they do? they give what he ordered the heirs, and after that they return and divide as at the beginning: brethren that divide, value what is upon them; but what is upon their sons and their daughters, which they have in possession, they do not value--he that leaves fatherless children, some that are grown up, and others little ones, and they are willing to divide their father's goods, so that those that are grown up may take their part, the sanhedrim appoint a guardian for the little ones, and he chooses a good part for them: and when they are grown up, they cannot make it void, for lo, by the decree of the sanhedrim, they divided for them; but if the sanhedrim err in computation, and give them less, they may make it void, and make another division when, they are grown up.''

But it would be tedious to transcribe all the rules, relating to such cases.


F6 Misn. Peah, c. 3. sect. 5.
F7 Maimon. Hilchot Nechalot, c. 2. sect. 1. 7.
F8 Maimon. Hilchot Nechalot, c. 10. sect. 1, 2, 3, 4.

Luke 12:13 In-Context

11 When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say;
12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say."
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me."
14 But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?"
15 And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions."

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New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.