to hire workers: Some workers would be employed for the entire harvest period; others, for a day at a time as the need arose.
denarius: A Roman silver coin that weighed about 3.85 g (0.124 oz t) and bore an image of Caesar on one side. As this verse shows, agricultural laborers in Jesus’ day commonly received a denarius for a 12-hour workday.—See Glossary and App. B14.
about the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. In the first century C.E., the Jews used the count of 12 hours to the day, starting with sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Joh 11:9) Therefore, the third hour would be about 9:00 a.m., the sixth hour about noon, and the ninth hour about 3:00 p.m. Since people did not have precise timepieces, only the approximate time of an event was usually given.—Joh 1:39; 4:6; 19:14; Ac 10:3, 9.
about the sixth hour: That is, about 12:00 noon.—See study note on Mt 20:3.
the ninth hour: That is, about 3:00 p.m.—See study note on Mt 20:3.
about the 11th hour: That is, about 5:00 p.m.—See study note on Mt 20:3.
is your eye envious: The Greek word here rendered “envious” literally means “bad; wicked.” (See study note on Mt 6:23.) The term “eye” is here used figuratively of a person’s intent, disposition, or emotions.—Compare the expression “envious eye” at Mr 7:22.
good: Or “generous.” In this context, goodness is directly linked with an act of generosity.
While going up: Although a few manuscripts convey the idea “being about to go up,” the current reading has stronger manuscript support.
going up to Jerusalem: The city was about 750 m (2,500 ft) above sea level, so the Scriptures often speak of worshippers “going up to Jerusalem.” (Mr 10:32; Lu 2:22; Joh 2:13; Ac 11:2) Jesus and his disciples were about to ascend from the Jordan Valley (see study note on Mt 19:1), which at its lowest point is about 400 m (1,300 ft) below sea level. They would have to climb some 1,000 m (3,330 ft) to reach Jerusalem.
Son of man: See study note on Mt 8:20.
executed on a stake: Or “to be fastened on a stake (pole).” This is the first of over 40 occurrences of the Greek verb stau·roʹo in the Christian Greek Scriptures. This is the verb for the Greek noun stau·rosʹ, rendered “torture stake.” (See study notes on Mt 10:38; 16:24; 27:32 and Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake.”) The verb form is used in the Septuagint at Es 7:9, where the order was given to hang Haman on a stake that was over 20 m (65 ft) tall. In classical Greek, it meant “to fence with pales, to form a stockade, or palisade.”
mother of the sons of Zebedee: That is, the mother of the apostles James and John. According to Mark’s account, James and John are the ones who approach Jesus. They are evidently the source of the request, but they make the request through their mother, Salome, who may have been Jesus’ aunt.—Mt 27:55, 56; Mr 15:40, 41; Joh 19:25.
one at your right hand and one at your left: See study note on Mr 10:37.
You do not know what you are asking for: The plural Greek verbs used and the context indicate that Jesus is now addressing, not the woman, but her two sons.—Mr 10:35-38.
drink the cup: In the Bible, “cup” is often used figuratively of God’s will, or the “assigned portion,” for a person. To “drink the cup” here means to submit to God’s will. In this case, the “cup” involved not only Jesus’ suffering and death under the false charge of blasphemy but also his being resurrected to immortal life in heaven.
minister: Or “servant.” The Bible often uses the Greek word di·aʹko·nos to refer to one who does not let up in humbly rendering service in behalf of others. The term is used to describe Christ (Ro 15:8), ministers or servants of Christ (1Co 3:5-7; Col 1:23), ministerial servants (Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:8), as well as household servants (Joh 2:5, 9) and government officials (Ro 13:4).
not to be ministered to, but to minister: Or “not to be served, but to serve.”—See study note on Mt 20:26.
life: The Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” is here used in the sense of “life.”—See Glossary, “Soul.”
ransom: The Greek word lyʹtron (from the verb lyʹo, meaning “to let loose; to release”) was used by non-Biblical Greek writers to refer to a price paid to release those under bond or in slavery or to ransom prisoners of war. (Heb 11:35) It occurs twice in the Christian Greek Scriptures, here and at Mr 10:45. The related word an·tiʹly·tron appears at 1Ti 2:6 and is rendered “corresponding ransom.” Other related words are ly·troʹo·mai, meaning “to set free; to ransom” (Tit 2:14; 1Pe 1:18; also ftns.), and a·po·lyʹtro·sis, often rendered “release by ransom” (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:15; Ro 3:24; 8:23).—See Glossary.
Jericho: The first Canaanite city W of the Jordan River to be conquered by the Israelites. (Nu 22:1; Jos 6:1, 24, 25) By Jesus’ time, a new city had been built about 2 km (a little over a mile) S of the old city. This may explain why Lu 18:35 says of the same incident that “Jesus was getting near to Jericho.” Perhaps Jesus performs the miracle while leaving, or going out of, the Jewish city and approaching the Roman city, or vice versa.—See App. B4 and B10.
two blind men: Mark and Luke mention one blind man, evidently focusing on Bartimaeus, who is named in Mark’s account. (Mr 10:46; Lu 18:35) Matthew is more specific as to the number of blind men present.
pity: Or “compassion.”—See study note on Mt 9:36.