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9.     The city of Tiberias

Anyone who knows biblical narratives will be sure to remember the parable of the Great Supper,

Volcano Pichincha, descent into the crater
Volcano Pichincha, descent into the crater

Matt 22, 1-14; Luke 14, 15-24. A king invites guests, but they do not come. So the king decides to invite the poor and the beggars. Fortunately Flavius Josephus sketches the historical situation of this parable, Ant 18, 2, 3.

The prince Herod Antipas had built the new capital and had named it after the ruling emperor Tiberias. When he invited the upper class to live in the new city, they all made excuses. Herod Antipas invited the lower class to live in the capital and enticed the impoverished with properties, building sites and start-up capital.

None of the new settlers were asked where they come from or what they had been before. Former slaves, Josephus sneers, also settled in Tiberias and got full civil rights.

In the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard (Matt 20, 1-16) there are still signs of contemporaries’ amazement that all new citizens are treated equally, irrespective of their social background and their work (the equal wages symbolize the same civil right they all got).

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