Luke 16:6
And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
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(6) Take thy bill, and sit down quickly.—The better MSS. give, thy bills, or thy documents, in the plural. These would include that which answered to the modern lease, the contract which specified the rent, and probably also the memorandum of the due delivery of the annual share of the produce. In this case the measure is the Hebrew bath, which has been variously estimated, the data being uncertain and conflicting, at from one to three gallons to the higher number stated in the marginal note. The steward by thus tempting the debtors with an immediate gain, and making them sharers in his frauds, took the readiest and most direct means of securing at once their favour and their silence. That which answered to this in the first application of the parable was the conduct of the Pharisees, just in proportion as they lost the moral force which they had once exercised, in accommodating their casuistry to the selfishness of their followers. Thus by their Corban teaching (see Note on Matthew 15:5) they released men from the obligation of supporting parents, and made perjury easy by their artificial distinctions as to oaths (Matthew 5:33; Matthew 23:16-22), gave a wide license to lust by their doctrine of divorce (Matthew 5:31; Matthew 19:3), and substituted the paying tithes of mint, and anise, and cummin for the weightier matters of the Law (Matthew 23:23). Like phenomena have been seen in analogous circumstances in the history of the Christian Church. When Leo X. sent forth his preachers of indulgences with their short and easy methods of salvation; when Jesuit confessors were to be found in every court of Europe, doing nothing to preserve their votaries from a fathomless licentiousness; when Protestant theologians tuned their voice according to the time, and pandered to the passions of a Henry VIII. or a Landgrave of Hesse; when the preachers of justification by faith turned the grace of God into lasciviousness, or made it compatible with a life of money-making worldliness; when men lower the standard of duty to gain support and popularity—there the act of the steward in bidding the debtor write fifty measures, when he owed a hundred, finds its counterpart.

16:1-12 Whatever we have, the property of it is God's; we have only the use of it, according to the direction of our great Lord, and for his honour. This steward wasted his lord's goods. And we are all liable to the same charge; we have not made due improvement of what God has trusted us with. The steward cannot deny it; he must make up his accounts, and be gone. This may teach us that death will come, and deprive us of the opportunities we now have. The steward will make friends of his lord's debtors or tenants, by striking off a considerable part of their debt to his lord. The lord referred to in this parable commended not the fraud, but the policy of the steward. In that respect alone is it so noticed. Worldly men, in the choice of their object, are foolish; but in their activity, and perseverance, they are often wiser than believers. The unjust steward is not set before us as an example in cheating his master, or to justify any dishonesty, but to point out the careful ways of worldly men. It would be well if the children of light would learn wisdom from the men of the world, and would as earnestly pursue their better object. The true riches signify spiritual blessings; and if a man spends upon himself, or hoards up what God has trusted to him, as to outward things, what evidence can he have, that he is an heir of God through Christ? The riches of this world are deceitful and uncertain. Let us be convinced that those are truly rich, and very rich, who are rich in faith, and rich toward God, rich in Christ, in the promises; let us then lay up our treasure in heaven, and expect our portion from thence.A hundred measures - The measure here mentioned is the "bath" which contained, according to Dr. Arbuthnot's tables, 7 12 gallons, or, according to the marginal note, about 9 gallons and 3quarts.

Oil - Oil of olives, or sweet oil. It was much used for lamps, as an article of food Exodus 29:2, and also for anointing, and, of course, as an article of commerce, 1 Kings 5:11. These were persons, doubtless, who had "rented" land of the rich man, and who were to give him a certain proportion of the produce.

Thy bill - The contract, obligation, or "lease." It was probably written as a "promise" by the debtor and signed by the steward, and thus became binding. Thus he had power to alter it, without supposing that his master would detect it. The bill or contract was in the hands of the steward, and he gave it back to him to write a new one.

Quickly - He supposed that his master would soon remove him, and he was, therefore, in haste to have all things secure beforehand. It is worthy of remark, also, that "all" this was wrong. His master had called for the account: but, instead of rendering it, he engaged in other business, disobeyed his lord still, and, in contempt of his commands, sought his own interest. All sinners would be slow to give in their account to God if they could do it; and it is only because, when God calls them by death, they "cannot but go," that they do not engage still in their own business and disobey him.

5-7. fifty … fourscore—deducting a half from the debt of the one, and a fifth from that of the other. See Poole on "Luke 16:1"

And he said an hundred measures of oil,.... Or "baths of oil", the same quantity as in Ezra 7:22 where Aben Ezra (i) calls them, "measures", as we do here; and Jarchi (k) observes, that they were, , "to mingle with the meal, or flour offerings"; which illustrates the above observation, that they were for the temple service; and the bath was the measure of oil, as the ephah was of wheat (l); and they were both of the same quantity, Ezekiel 45:11. According to Godwin (m) it held four gallons and a half; so that a hundred of them contained four hundred and fifty gallons; though some make the measure much larger. Some say the "bath" held six gallons, one pottle, and half a pint; and others, seven gallons, two quarts, and half a pint; and others, nine gallons, and three quarts.

Take thy bill, or "writing"; which showed the bargain made for so many measures; and which acknowledged the receipt of them, and promised payment:

and sit down quickly; for his case required haste;

and write fifty; just half; that it might appear he had bought but fifty, and was accountable for no more.

(i) In Ezra 7.22. (k) In ib. (l) Kimchi in Ezekiel 45.14. (m) Moses & Aaron, l. 6. c. 9.

And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Luke 16:6. τὰ γράμματα: literally, the letters, then a written document; here a bill showing the amount of indebtedness. The steward would have all the bills ready.—γράψον, write, i.e., write out a new bill with fifty in place of a hundred; not merely change a hundred into fifty in the old bill.—ταχέως, no time left for reflection—“is this right?” Some think that the knavery had come in before, and that fifty was the true amount. That might be, but the steward would keep the fact to himself. The debtors were to take it that this was a bonâ fide reduction of their just debt.

6. measures] The Hebrew bath and the Greek metretes; rather less than, but roughly corresponding to, the firkin = 9 gallons. This remission would represent a large sum of money.

Take thy bill] Rather, Receive thy hill. The steward hands the bill back to the tenant to be altered.

write fifty] Since Hebrew numerals were letters, and since Hebrew letters differed very slightly from each other, a very slight forgery would represent a large difference.

Luke 16:6. Δέξαι) receive from me.—γράμμα, thy bill) bond, or agreement to pay.—ταχέως, hastily) stealthily.—πεντήκοντα, fifty) A large present: comp. Luke 16:7. It is at a great cost that a friend is to be gained.

Luke 16:6Measures (βάτους)

Lit., baths. The bath was a Hebrew measure, but the amount is uncertain, since, according to Edersheim, there were three kinds of measurement in use in Palestine: the original Mosaic, corresponding with the Roman; that of Jerusalem, which was a fifth larger; and the common Galilaean measurement, which was more than a fifth larger than the Jerusalem. Assuming the first standard, the bath would be about fifty-six pints, and the debt, therefore, a large one.

Take thy bill (δέξαι σου τὰ γράμματα)

Lit., take back thy writings. Rev., bond. Wyc., obligation; and in Luke 16:7, letters. The plural is used for a single document. The bill is the bond which the buyer has given, and which is in the steward's keeping. He gives it back to the debtor for him to alter the figures.

Sit down quickly

It was a secret transaction, to be hurried through.

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