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Luke 14:16-24

16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.‘ 21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”

Who are these people in the country lanes and behind the hedges? What distinguishes them from the ones in the streets and alleys of the town? Does this involve some kind of caste system?

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Luke 14:23

"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(23) The highways and hedges.--In the frame-work of the parable, this points to a yet lower class of the population of an Eastern country--to the tramps and the squatters who had no home, and who were content to sleep under the shelter of a hedge or fence. For the most part, these were low walls or palisades, rather than hedges in the English sense of the word. In the application of the parable, the men thus brought in can hardly be any other than the wanderers of the outlying Gentile world.

Pulpit Commentary concurs.

Verse 23. - And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges. Hitherto the parable-story has been dealing with the past and the present of Israel; it now becomes prophetic, and speaks of a state of things to be. The third series of invitations is not addressed to inhabitants of a city. No walls hem in these far-scattered dwellers among the highways and hedges of the world. This time the master of the house asks to his great banquet those who live in the isles of the Gentiles.

Isaiah prophecies this in 11:10

And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Who are these people in the country lanes and behind the hedges?

They are the gentiles.

What distinguishes them from the ones in the streets and alleys of the town?

They are not the initially chosen people.

Does this involve some kind of caste system?

No, not formally.

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This answer uses social history contexts.

Rural societies with peasantries produce marginal living groups of people by differentiation. The people who live in hedges are also the gleaners of the field. These are the least propertied and most marginal members of society who depend on Jewish law for survival through social rights. They are the ones first done wrong against when practicers it Jewish law dishonor their obligations, and having wrong done against them has immediate consequences. In contrast to the corners of the field A feast is prepared.

As observed above Jesus uses wealth regularly to talk about the love of the Father and the benefits of Law. People who are economically marginal are often forced into marginal spiritual-legal lives.

Jesus is calling to the poor and the poor in spirit to attend the feast, because in this parable the rich and supposedly rich in spirit are too interested in the immediate material world to celebrate Gods riches. An Aramaic or Jewish audience would be immediately capable of these multiple metaphors of wealth and spirituality, as it would have spoken to their immediate experience of class and worship.

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Who are the people in the “country lanes and behind the hedges” symbolize in the parable of the great feast?

The Master preparing the meal is God.

The slave extending the invitation is Jesus'

The first call (Luke 14:17) Went out to the Jewish religious leaders, but they rejected the invitation.

The second call ( Luke 14: 21) Beginning at Pentecost 33 C.E., a second invitation was extended to the despised and lowly ones of the Jewish nation. But not enough responded to the invitation.

Third call (Luke 14:22) "Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full." Hence in 36 C.E., the invitation was extended to the uncircumcised non-Jews, Cornelius and his family were such persons and the call is continuing to our days until the house is full.

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