And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)There was a widow in that city.—The neglect of the cause of the widow had always been noted by Lawgiver and Prophet—and it was one of the notes of a high ethical standard in both—as the extremest form of oppressive tyranny (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18; Deuteronomy 27:19; Isaiah 1:17; Isaiah 1:23; Ezekiel 22:7). Comp. also the speech of the widow of Tekoah (2Samuel 14:2; 2Samuel 14:5).
She came unto him.—The tense implies continual coming.
Avenge me of mine adversary.—The term is used in its legal sense. She was plaintiff, and he defendant, or, it may be, vice versâ. The judge put off his decision, and the “law’s delay” was worse to her than the original wrong had been.Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 22:3. The reason of this was that they were defenseless, were commonly poor, and were liable to be oppressed by those in power.
Avenge me - This would have been better translated, "Do me justice against my adversary, or vindicate me from him." It does not denote vengeance or revenge, but simply that she wished to have "justice" done her - a thing which this judge was "bound" to do, but which it seems he had no disposition to do.
Avenge me—that is, rid me of the oppression of.See Poole on "Luke 18:2" John 14:18 and were persecuted by the Jews in their own land; and wherever they went, they stirred up the Gentiles against them; and so things continued till near the destruction of Jerusalem; during which time many a request was made to God, the judge of the widows and fatherless, to the following purport:
and she came unto him, saying, avenge me of my adversary; or do me justice in the cause depending between me, and him that has wronged me; hear the cause, and do right; vindicate, and deliver me. Many are the adversaries of God's people, as the sins and corruptions of their own hearts, Satan, and his angels, wicked oppressors, and persecutors; the last seem, in the mystical sense, to be designed here: it is lawful to pray for vengeance on them; it is right to apply to God, and leave it with him, to whom it belongs; and it has been the suit and cry of the best of men; see Revelation 6:9. It does not become the people of God to avenge themselves, even when it is in the power of their hands; nor should they desire it for their own sakes, so much as for the glory of God; they should ask it, not to gratify a revengeful spirit in them, but for the honour or divine justice; and this should be always with submission to the will of God, leaving it to his own time and way, to whom vengeance belongs, and who has said it is mine, and I will repay it; as he certainly will sooner or later: the purity of his nature, his abhorrence of sin, and sinful men, and his love to his own people engage him to it.And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 18:3. χήρα, a widow, such a suppliant tests a man’s character. Her weakness appeals to a generous, noble nature, and is taken advantage of by an ignoble.—ἤρχετο, presumably used in a frequentative sense = ventitabat (Grotius), though not necessarily meaning more than “began to come,” with possibility of recurrence.—ἐκδίκησόν με, give me redress or satisfaction. “Avenge me” is too strong.3. she came unto him] Rather, she kept coming to him. The widow woman is a representative alike of the Christian Church and of the Christian soul.
Avenge me of mine adversary] Rather, Do me justice. The word ‘avenge’ is a little too strong. The technical term ekdikeson implies ‘settle my case (so as to free me) from my adversary.’ The same word is found in Romans 12:19; Revelation 6:10. There is again a curious parallel in Sir 35:14-17, “He will not despise ... the widow when she poureth out her complaint. Do not the tears run down the widow’s cheeks? and is not her cry against him that causeth them to fall?...The prayer of the humble pierceth the clouds, and ... he will not depart till the Most High shall behold to judge righteously and execute judgment.”Luke 18:3. Χήρα, a widow) one who is easily exposed to injury, and cannot readily find protection among men. Such doth the Church appear to the world.—ἐκδίκησον) Hence the expression used in Luke 18:7 is ἐκδίκησις. Ἀντίδικος and ἀδικία are conjugates.—ἀντιδίκου, adversary) 1 Peter 5:8.Verse 3. - And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. The petitioner was a woman and a widow, the latter being in the East a synonym for helplessness. With no one to defend her or plead her cause, this widow was ever a prey to the covetous. Not once nor twice in the noble generous words of the chivalrous Hebrew prophets we find this readiness on the part of those in power to neglect, if not to oppress these helpless widow-women, sternly commented upon. So in Isaiah we read (Isaiah 1:23), "They judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them." While Jesus (Matthew 23:14) includes this cowardly sin among the evil deeds of the rulers of the Israel of his day: "Ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer." A more desperate situation, as regards any hope of obtaining the object of her earnest prayer, could not well be pictured - a careless, corrupt judge of the lawless Herod period for the tribunal in Israel, and a poor helpless widow for the suppliant. The forlorn woman of the parable represents the Church or people of God in dire straits, overborne by an unbelieving world and seemingly forgotten even of their God. The story is a reminder that there is hope even in that extreme situation sketched in the parable, if the petitioner only continues persistent in her prayer. The argument which lies on the surface of the parable, teaching is obvious: if such a judge will in the end listen to the prayer of a suppliant for whom he cares nothing, will not God surely listen to the repeated prayer of a suppliant whom he loves with a deep, enduring love? Such is the argument of the story. Importunity, it seems to say, must inevitably triumph. But underlying this there is much deep teaching, of which, perhaps, the most important item is that it insists upon the urgent necessity for us all to continue in prayer, never fainting in this exercise though no answer seems to come. "The whole limb of the faithful," as Origen once grandly said, "should be one great connected prayer." That is the real moral of the story; but there are a number of minor bits of Divine teaching contained in this curious parable setting, as we shall see. Avenge me of mine adversary. We must not suppose that mere vengeance in the vulgar sense is what the widow prayed for; that would be of no use to her; all she wanted was that the judge should deliver her from the oppression which her adversary exercised over her, no doubt in keeping from her the heritage to which she was lawfully entitled. Of course, the granting her prayer would revolve loss and possibly punishment to her fraudulent oppressor.
The word is too strong. It means do me justice. See on Romans 12:19.
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