And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)About the third hour.—Reckoning the day after the Jewish mode, as beginning at 6 A.M., this would bring us to 8 A.M. The “market-place” of a town was the natural place in which the seekers for casual labour were to be found waiting for employment. In the meaning which underlies the parable we may see a reference to those who, like St. Matthew (Matthew 9:9) and the disciples called in Matthew 8:19-22, were summoned after the sons of Jonas and of Zebedee.
Standing idle in the market-place - A place where provisions are sold in towns. Of course, many resort to such places, and it would be the readiest place to meet persons and find employers. They were not, therefore, disposed to be idle, but were waiting in the proper place to find employers.
and saw others standing idle in the market place—unemployed.See Poole on "Matthew 20:16".
and saw others standing idle in the market place: the place where labourers used to be hired: and may design the world, because a place full of people, and of great wickedness, for the whole world lies in it; a place of trade and traffic in worldly things, and likewise of worldly and carnal pleasure, and also of idleness. Now God's elect before calling, are in this place: they are natives of it, have their conversation according to it: here Christ came in person, and here he sends his ministers, his Gospel, to find them out, and by his Spirit and grace he calls them from hence; so that afterwards they are no more of it, though they are in it: but before conversion they belong to it, and their posture then is standing idle; being sluggish, and slothful in business, unwilling to work, and afraid of a little danger and trouble, sauntering away their time in carnal pleasures, and so clothed with rags, and in a starving, famishing condition: but Christ's eye is upon them; he observes, and takes notice of them in this disagreeable position and situation, and speaks of them in the following manner.And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 20:3. The third hour: somewhere about nine o’clock in the morning. In ordinal numbers the article is unnecessary. See note on 2 Corinthians 7:2.
ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ] where they were waiting in expectation of getting employment. The men in question belonged to the class of free labourers; Poll. iii. 82: ἐλεύθεροι μὲν, διὰ πενίαν δὲ ἐπʼ ἀργυρίῳ δουλεύοντες.Matthew 20:3. τρίτην ὥ.: the article τὴν before τρίτην in T. R., omitted in W. H, is not necessary before an ordinal.—ἑστῶτας ἐ. τ. ἀγ.: the marketplace there as here, the place where masters and men met.—ἀργούς (a and ἔργον), not = idle in habit, but unemployed and looking for work.
 Westcott and Hort.Matthew 20:3. Ἄλλους, others) who had not been there at the first hour.Verse 3. - The third hour. It seems that at this time the Jews divided the day, reckoned between sunrise and sunset, into twelve equal parts, the length of these divisions varying according to the season. The day in Palestine at longest consisted of fourteen European hours twelve minutes, and at shortest of nine hours forty-eight minutes, so that the difference between the longest and shortest division of the so called Jewish "hour" was twenty-two minutes. It is usual to consider the Hebrew day as lasting from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., the sixth hour corresponding to our noon, the first hour being 7 o'clock and the third 9 a.m. This estimate, though not absolutely correct, is near enough to the fact to serve all expository purposes. The four periods mentioned in the parable are quarters of the working day, in which a proportional part of the day's wages might be earned. Standing idle in the marketplace. The Greek agora, the Roman forum, and the Eastern marketplace, was the usual place where idlers and expectant labourers gathered together. Such a scene may often nowadays be witnessed in Oriental cities, and indeed at our own docks, and in many of our small country towns. It must be supposed that the labourers now hired either were not present when the householder first went forth, or that they had then rejected his offer, but now thought better of it. And so, in the case of the others later on.
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