The considerate provisions of the law for the poor (based on principles already recognized by the patriarchs: Job 20:19; Job 24:3-4; Job 24:9-10; especially Job 29:11-16; Job 31:17) were:
(1) The right of gleaning; the corners of the field were not to be reaped, nor all the grapes to be gathered, nor the olive trees to be beaten a second time; the stranger, fatherless, and widow might gather the leavings; the forgotten sheaf was to be left for them (Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19; Deuteronomy 24:21; Rth 2:2).
(2) They were to have their share of the produce in sabbatical years (Exodus 23:11; Leviticus 25:6).
(3) They recovered their land, but not town houses, in the Jubilee year (Leviticus 25:25-30).
(4) Usury, i.e. interest on loans to an Israelite, was forbidden; the pledged raiment was to be returned before sundown (Exodus 22:25-27; Deuteronomy 24:10-13); generous lending, even at the approach of Jubilee release, is enjoined: (Deuteronomy 15:7-11) "thou shalt open thy hand wide to THY poor"; God designs that we should appropriate them as our own, whereas men say "the poor."
(5) Lasting bondservice was forbidden, and manumission, with a liberal present, enjoined in the sabbatical and Jubilee years (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Leviticus 25:39-42; Leviticus 25:47-54); the children were not enslaved; an Israelite might redeem an Israelite who was in bondage to a rich foreign settler.
(6) Portions from the tithes belonged to the poor after the Levites (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Deuteronomy 26:12-13).
(7) The poor shared in the feasts at the festivals of weeks and tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 16:14; Nehemiah 8:10).
(8) Wages must be paid at the day's end (Leviticus 19:13); yet partiality in judgment must not be shown to the poor (Exodus 23:3; Leviticus 19:15).
In the New Testament, Christ lays down the same love to the poor (Luke 3:11; Luke 14:13; Acts 6:1; Galatians 2:10; James 2:15; Romans 15:26), the motive being "Christ, who was rich, for our sake became poor that we through His poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). Begging was common in New Testament times, not under Old Testament (Luke 16:20-21; Luke 18:35; Mark 10:46; John 9:8; Acts 3:2.) Mendicancy in the ease of the able bodied is discouraged, and honest labour for one's living is encouraged by precept and example (1 Thessalonians 4:11; Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12).
The prophets especially vindicate the claims of the poor: compare Ezekiel 18:12; Ezekiel 18:16-17; Ezekiel 22:29; Jeremiah 22:13; Jeremiah 22:16; Jeremiah 5:28; Isaiah 10:2; Amos 2:7, "pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor," i.e., thirst after prostrating the poor by oppression, so as to lay their heads in the dust; or less simply (Pusey) "grudge to the poor debtor the dust which as a mourner he strewed on his head" (2 Samuel 1:2; Job 2:12). In Deuteronomy 15:4 the creditor must not exact a debt in the year of release, "save when there shall be no poor among you," but as Deuteronomy 15:11 says "the poor shalt never cease out of the land," translated "no poor with thee," i.e. release the debt for the year except when no poor person is concerned, which may happen, "for the Lord shall greatly bless thee": you may call in a loan on the year of release, when the borrower is not poor. Others regard the promise, Deuteronomy 15:11, conditional, Israel's disobedience frustrating its fulfillment. Less costly sacrifices might be substituted by the poor (Leviticus 5:7; Leviticus 5:11).
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