The Biblical Roots of Capitalism

Aug. 25 2020

From both the left and the right, the American public conversation has seen growing criticism of capitalism, sometimes based on an appeal to religion. Most recently, anti-capitalists have contended that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the failures of the free market. Charles Mizrahi argues that such claims are rooted in a misreading of key biblical sources as well as the American political tradition:

Dating all the way back to Abraham, wealth and prosperity were signs of blessings from God. That theme continued throughout the Bible with Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon all achieving wealth that was considered a clear indicator of divine favor. As Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “Remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you the power to get wealth, in fulfillment of the covenant that He made on oath with your fathers, as is still the case.”

But that wealth was not meant to be hoarded or to be used only for self-gratification and advancement. There was an expectation from God concerning wealth and divinely ordained responsibility to be generous. According to the prophet Ezekiel, one of the grievances that God had against Sodom was that the people had wealth and abundance but did not share it with those in need.

Government welfare interferes with man’s responsibility to his God and his direct interaction with his community. . . . The founders of our country understood this. George Washington, on more than one occasion, quoted the prophet Micah when speaking of peace and prosperity. [Moreover], the responsibility of generosity was deeply interwoven into our Founding Fathers’ vision for this nation. And that thread has continued to this day, as America has held the mantle of the most generous and giving people in the world for the last decade.

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Read more at RealClear Religion

More about: American founding, Capitalism, Deuteronomy, Hebrew Bible

Gaza’s Quiet Dissenters

Last year, the Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya, the Times of Israel, and several other media organizations worked together to conduct numerous interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip, taking great pains to protect their identities. The result is a video series titled Whispers in Gaza, which presents a picture of life under Hamas’s tyranny unlike anything that can be found in the press. Jeff Jacoby writes:

Through official intimidation or social pressure, Gazans may face intense pressure to show support for Hamas and its murderous policies. So when Hamas organizes gaudy street revels to celebrate a terrorist attack—like the fireworks and sweets it arranged after a gunman murdered seven Israelis outside a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night—it can be a challenge to remember that there are many Palestinians who don’t rejoice at the murder of innocent Jews.

In one [interview], “Fatima” describes the persecution endured by her brother, a humble vegetable seller, after he refused to pay protection money to Hamas. The police arrested him on a trumped-up drug charge and locked him in prison. “They beat him repeatedly to make him confess to things he had nothing to do with,” she says. Then they threatened to kill him. Eventually he fled the country, leaving behind a family devastated by his absence.

For those of us who detest Hamas no less than for those who defend it, it is powerful to hear the voices of Palestinians like “Layla,” who is sickened by the constant exaltation of war and “resistance” in the Palestinian media. “If you’re a Gazan citizen who opposes war and says, ‘I don’t want war,’ you’re branded a traitor,” she tells her interviewer. “It’s forbidden to say you don’t want war.” So people keep quiet, she explains, for fear of being tarred as disloyal.

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Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian dissidents, Palestinian public opinion