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Luke 13:7

    Luke 13:7 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    Then said he to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why encumbers it the ground?

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And he said unto the vinedresser, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why doth it also cumber the ground?

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    And he said to the gardener, See, for three years I have been looking for fruit from this tree, and I have not had any: let it be cut down; why is it taking up space?

    Webster's Revision

    And he said unto the vinedresser, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why doth it also cumber the ground?

    World English Bible

    He said to the vine dresser, 'Behold, these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and found none. Cut it down. Why does it waste the soil?'

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And he said unto the vinedresser, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why doth it also cumber the ground?

    Definitions for Luke 13:7

    Cumbereth - To render useless; to make vain.

    Clarke's Commentary on Luke 13:7

    Behold these three years - From this circumstance in the parable, it may be reasonably concluded that Jesus had been, at the time of saying this, exercising his ministry for three years past; and, from what is said in Luke 13:8, of letting it alone this year also, it may be concluded likewise that this parable was spoken about a year before Christ's crucifixion; and, if both these conclusions are reasonable, we may thence infer that this parable was not spoken at the time which appears to be assigned to it, and that the whole time of Christ's public ministry was about four years. See Bishop Pearce. But it has already been remarked that St. Luke never studies chronological arrangement. See the Preface to this Gospel.

    Why cumbereth it the ground? - Or, in other words, Why should the ground be also useless? The tree itself brings forth no fruit; let it be cut down that a more profitable one may be planted in its place. Cut it down. The Codex Bezae has added here, φερε την αξινην, Bring the axe and cut it down. If this reading be genuine, it is doubtless an allusion to Matthew 3:10 (note): Now the axe lieth at the root of the trees. If the writer has added it on his own authority, he probably referred to the place above mentioned. See the note on the above text.

    There is something very like this in the Γεωπονικα, or De Re Rustica of the ancient Greek writers on agriculture. I refer to cap. 83 of lib. x., p. 773; edit. Niclas, entitled, Δενδρον ακαρπον καρποφορειν, How to make a barren tree fruitful. Having girded yourself, and tied up your garments, take a bipen or axe, and with an angry mind approach the tree as if about to cut it down. Then let some person come forward and deprecate the cutting down of the tree, making himself responsible for its future fertility. Then, seem to be appeased, and so spare the tree, and afterwards it will yield fruit in abundance. "Bean straw (manure of that material), scattered about the roots of the tree, will make it fruitful." That a similar superstition prevailed among the Asiatics, Michaelis proves from the Cosmographer Ibn Alvardi, who prescribes the following as the mode to render a sterile palm tree fruitful: "The owner, armed with an axe, having an attendant with him, approaches the tree, and says, I must cut this tree down, because it is unfruitful. Let it alone, I beseech thee, says the other, and this year it will bring forth fruit. The owner immediately strikes it thrice with the back of his axe; but the other preventing him says, I beseech thee to spare it, and I will be answerable for its fertility. Then the tree becomes abundantly fruitful." Does not our Lord refer to such a custom?

    Barnes' Notes on Luke 13:7

    The dresser of his vineyard - The man whose duty it was to trim the vines and take care of his vineyard.

    These three years - These words are not to be referred to the time which Christ had been preaching the gospel, as if he meant to specify the exact period. They mean, as applicable to the vineyard, that the owner had been "a long time" expecting fruit on the tree. For three successive years he had been disappointed. In his view it was long enough to show that the tree was barren and would yield no fruit, and that therefore it should be cut down.

    Why cumbereth it the ground? - The word "cumber" here means to render "barren" or "sterile." By taking up the juices of the earth, this useless tree rendered the ground sterile, and prevented the growth of the neighboring vines. It was not merely "useless," but was doing mischief, which may be said of all sinners and all hypocritical professors of religion. Dr. Thomson ("The Land and the Book," vol. i. p. 539) says of the barren fig-tree: "There are many such trees now; and if the ground is not properly cultivated, especially when the trees are young - as the one of the parable was, for only "three" years are mentioned they do not bear at all; and even when full grown they quickly fail, and wither away if neglected. Those who expect to gather good crops of well-flavored figs are particularly attentive to their culture - not only plow and dig about them frequently, and manure them plentifully, but they carefully gather out the stones from the orchards, contrary to their general slovenly habits."

    This parable is to be taken in connection with what goes before, and with our Saviour's calling the Jewish nation to repentance. It was spoken to illustrate the dealings of God with them, and their own wickedness under all his kindness, and we may understand the different parts of the parable as designed to represent:

    1. God, by the man who owned the vineyard.

    2. The vineyard as the Jewish people.

    3. The coming of the owner for fruit, the desire of God that they should produce good works.

    4. The barrenness of the tree, the wickedness of the people.

    5. The dresser was perhaps intended to denote the Saviour and the other messengers of God, pleading that God would spare the Jews, and save them from their enemies that stood ready to destroy them, as soon as God should permit.

    6. His waiting denotes the delay of vengeance, to give them an opportunity of repentance. And,

    7. The remark of the dresser that he might "then" cut it down, denotes the acquiescence of all in the belief that such a judgment would be just.

    We may also remark that God treats sinners in this manner now; that he spares them long; that he gives them opportunities of repentance; that many live but to cumber the ground; that they are not only useless to the church, but pernicious to the world; that in due time, when they are fairly tried, they shall be cut down; and that the universe will bow to the awful decree of God, and say that their damnation is just.

    Wesley's Notes on Luke 13:7

    13:7 Three years - Christ was then in the third year of his ministry. But it may mean only several years; a certain number being put for an uncertain. Why doth it also cumber the ground? - That is, not only bear no fruit itself, but take up the ground of another tree that would.