Rebutting Rockefeller. (Letters to the Editor).
Rockefeller and his intellectual ancestors sustain this lie by taking the words of the prophets and of Jesus out of context, especially historical context. Hosea, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and our Lord Himself never condemned any income gap or asset gap between rich and poor; they condemned the denial of justice to the poor. Moreover, that denial of justice was not the result of denying legal favoritism to them, but was the result of the ancient version of Big Government. The leaders of tribe, clan, and family--the elders--could and did impose obligations of tribute--in goods and services--upon those who were under their rule. Under this system of tribal government, these leaders exacted forced labor and taxes from those who were their own relatives. In the time of the prophets, the elders often used such power for their own enrichment, rather than for vital functions of government. It was these to whom Isaiah alluded when he spoke in the Name of the Lord: "No, this is the fast I desire: To unlock fetters of wickedne ss, and untie the cords of the yoke; to let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke. It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home; when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to ignore your own kin." (Isaiah 58:6-7; emphasis added.)
Certainly, these verses do enjoin the Israelite elders to charity, particularly toward those whom they have impoverished; they do not, in any way, command a statist redistribution of the wealth.
As for the idea that the poor enjoy a claim of right upon rich people who have not abused them, the Torah reads: "You shall neither side with the mighty to do wrong ... nor shall you show deference to a poor man in his dispute." (Exodus 23:2-3)
Concerning the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus, He, too, condemned the abuse of power in dealing with the poor, not "the gap between rich and poor." His rant against a group of Scribes and Pharisees shows that He condemned the same sort of unjust enrichment that the Old Testament prophets denounced: "Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make a long prayer." (Matthew 23:14)
ALMON F. JORDAN JR.
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|Publication:||The New American|
|Date:||Dec 2, 2002|
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