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Jehovah’s Witnesses


The Watchtower—Study Edition (Simplified)  |  October 2016

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Is it believable that in ancient times someone would actually plant weeds in another man’s field?

This 1468 copy of the Digest by Emperor Justinian is one of many documents that provide details about legal issues in ancient times

ACCORDING to Matthew 13:24-26, Jesus said: “The Kingdom of the heavens may be likened to a man who sowed fine seed in his field. While men were sleeping, his enemy came and oversowed weeds in among the wheat and left. When the stalk sprouted and produced fruit, then the weeds also appeared.” Some writers doubt that this illustration is based on a real event, but according to ancient Roman legal writings, something like this could have happened.

One Bible dictionary says that under Roman law, it was a crime to plant weeds in another man’s field in order to get revenge. The fact that a law was needed means that this really did happen. Legal scholar Alastair Kerr explains that in the year 533 after Christ, Roman Emperor Justinian published his Digest. This was a summary of Roman law and contained quotations from experts on the law from about the years 100-250 after Christ. According to the Digest, one of those experts, Ulpian, referred to a case from the second century. Weeds had been sown in another person’s field, and as a result, the crop was ruined. The Digest discusses the legal rights that a farmer had so that he could get compensation from the criminal, money to pay for the lost crop.

Such things did happen in the ancient Roman Empire, which shows that the situation in Jesus’ illustration could have happened in real life.