The Prodigal Son - A Jewish Lesson

Posted on 26-Oct-2014

Feature by Junior Adriel Chan of 10th Kuala Lumpur Company

Published October 26th, 2014

Jesus loved to use stories with a moral, called parables. Jesus taught forty-six parables during the thirty- eight years he lived on Earth. One of the most famous parables that was told by Jesus was the parable of the prodigal son. As simply as it may seem, it takes a fair amount of understanding of the Jewish culture to be able to appreciate it.

“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one...” And so began another one of Jesus teachings to the Israelites. The story told how God, the father, allowed us humans to go about our sinful ways, to preserve our rights to chose. The younger son, representing the Israelite commoners, asked the father to give him his part of the inheritance.

As the inheritance is only passed down when the father is dead, this impudent act was as good as wishing his father dead. Yet instead of scolding or punishing the son, the father complied, and gave him his share of possessions.

However, the son squandered his inheritance on worthless things. Sometimes, we spend our precious time playing games, doing everything normal in our society but wasteful in God's eyes. There is nothing wrong with reading books, or playing games. It is only when we get addicted to it, leaving little or no time for God, that it becomes a sin.

The naive son was in deep financial trouble, and had to get a job - feeding pigs. Moses commanded the Israelites to refrain from eating pork. Therefore, it was extremely degrading to work with pigs, even today. As if it wasn't bad enough, he wanted to eat the carob pods that he was charged with to feed the pigs. The carob pod - Ceratonia siliqua - is in fact a delectable root that tastes of chocolate. It is nutritious, but is considered to be animal food in Jewish society.

The story ends with the son coming to his senses that even the lowest of his fathers servants had more food than they could eat. So, he went back home to become a servant in his father's household. However, his plans “backfired” as his father spotted him before the son had arrived and ran all the way to his son and embraced him.

It was a true act of love. The son probably hadn't showered since he lost his money. Plus, this son had just wasted one third of what was rightfully his father's estate, giving the father the right to be furious. Surprisingly, the father even gave him his signet ring. In today's terms, it may seem like nothing. Yet in those days signet rings were a sign of authority, just like the signatures of today.

Then the father killed a fattened calf, which was only done on extremely special occasions. Instead of getting rags, the son got riches. Our high Captain Jesus was trying to tell us that he will accept us back, no matter what sins have been committed. No matter what happens, Jesus will always welcome us back when we come.

Page Created: 26th October 2014
Last Updated: 26th October 2014