Mark 12:4

A second time the owner sent a servant to them; this man, too, the tenants struck on the head, and insulted.


if at first you don’t succeed
engage patience
practice steadiness
give a generous second chance

if at first you don’t succeed
up the ante
justify your past
double down on harm done

if at first you don’t succeed
reassert your claim
reassert your claim
rely on attrition of any other side


For the landowner to continue expecting the contract with the tenants to be honored is admirable, generous even. There is no knowing what went wrong with the ask and why the first courier returning, limping.

In accord with good practice to keep things at the lowest level of upset, another is sent from landowner to tenant to receive the landowner’s due.

A wrinkle in this tale is the reality on the ground regarding actual wealthy landowners and those who were one bad harvest away from being evicted from their tenant role to become beggars. Being a tenant farmer in any day is probably problematic. It is sustenance level employment. This background further grounds the idea that this should be called a Parable of the Tenants rather than the Isaian starting point of a Vineyard.

Waetjan8 describes the situation:

The temple, therefore, was the central institution in Judaism that controlled the Jewish “tributary mode of production,” the system that extracted the economic surplus from its primary producers, the peasant cultivators and shepherds, and redistributed it among the upper class, specifically to the members of the ruling aristocracy, the priesthood and the administrative apparatus of the government.

Rebellions by tenants can not only be understood, but expected. When the tenants in the parable come to be understood as those who are taking advantage of the real life, current, tenants on the ground, there is a double take that reveals Jewish temple and Roman government to be cheating on a standard landowner/tenant relationship where both gain benefits.

This makes the tenancy of the religious leaders and occupying forces to be outside the usual social bonds of a landowner/tenant relationship that appreciates one another and, therefore, illegitimate.

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