The Eighth Commandment is found three times in the Old Testament and five times in the New Testament: Exodus 20:15, Leviticus 19:11, Deuteronomy 5:19, Matthew 19:18, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20, Romans 13:9, and Ephesians 4:28.
Stealing is taking by force, threat, intimidation, coercion, or deception what belongs to someone else. At least forty different synonyms for stealing exist in the English language, but even these varied and descriptive terms do not comprise everything the Eighth Commandment and its statutes cover.
Stealing, arguably the most transgressed of the Commandments, is often at the root of the more serious crimes of violence and murder. It is also one of today’s most overlooked crimes. The United States government not only winks at this sin, it is guilty of legislating and participating in theft in numerous ways.
The Eighth Commandment is one of the building blocks of a viable and productive free society. When theft is not condemned and punished at every level of society, it becomes one of the chief contributors to the collapse of any nation.
Property is inherent to both the Fourth2 and Eighth Commandments. The Fourth Commandment’s stipulation concerning six days of labor provides a means of acquiring property, and the Eighth Commandment is predicated upon the right of ownership. Defense of property, even to the point of killing a nighttime thief, is also implicit in the Eighth Commandment:
If a [nighttime, verse 3] thief be found breaking up [caught while breaking in, NASV], and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. (Exodus 22:2)
Property implies ownership, and ownership entitles the owner to do with his property whatever he wishes, provided it does not violate the rights of others:
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? (Matthew 20:15)
In The World Under God’s Law, Robert Ingram expounded upon ownership:
…the power of ownership must be absolute. It is black and white; I own a thing or I don’t. I may own a part of it, but there is no such thing as a part of ownership. Christians have a commonplace saying that every man’s home is his castle. He is king in his own residence; he may go to any lengths to stop a trespass; soldiers, in the United States, may not be quartered in his home without his consent; and not even a policeman may enter without a proper warrant issued under careful safeguards. If a man really owns his property, he may refuse to sell it, even to a king, as Naboth refused to sell his vineyard to King Ahab. He may dispose of it at his death by will; he may develop it or not as he sees fit, and within the limits of it there isn’t much he can’t do. The same conditions apply to personal property and money.4
In The Myth of Social Cost, Professor Steven Cheung provides three distinguishing attributes of a property owner:
A good or an asset is defined to be private property if, and only if, three distinct sets of rights are associated with its ownership. First, the exclusive right to use (or to decide how to use) the good may be viewed as the right to exclude other individuals from its use. Second is the exclusive right to receive income generated by the use of the good. Third, the full right to transfer, or freely ‘alienate,’ its ownership includes the right to enter into contracts and to choose their form.5
The Fourth and particularly the Eighth Commandment stand in stark contrast to the First Plank of the Communist Manifesto: “Abolition of private property and the application of all rent to public purpose.” In objection to a Christian’s6 right to private property, someone may cite Acts 4:
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common…. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:32-35)
This voluntary communalism was inspired by the Holy Spirit. An immense difference exists between voluntary communalism and state-mandated and controlled communism. Overwhelming scriptural evidence reveals that this incident is not a mandatory precedent for all Christians in every age.
The political environment under which the 1st-century Christians lived may very well have been the reason the Holy Spirit prompted this action. Four chapters later, we are told that “the church which was at Jerusalem … [was] scattered abroad….” (Acts 8:1). Yahweh7 knew that, due to imminent persecution, the homes and lands of escaping Christians would no longer be of any value to them. It was much more profitable for the Christians to sell their possessions and share the proceeds than to abandon their properties to be pillaged by their enemies.
Acts 4 is no more a universal standard for Christians than are some of the Apostle Paul’s instructions on marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, which were influenced by the impending destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. While Christians should certainly remain open to urgings from the Holy Spirit, the preponderance of scriptural evidence supports private, not communal, property:
…Blessed is the man that feareth YHWH,8 that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house…. (Psalm 112:1-3)
In Mark 4:25, Yeshua9 (Jesus’ given Hebrew name) declared that “he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath” – the exact opposite of Communism’s First Plank.
Private property is biblically sanctioned, provided it is obtained lawfully and kept in its proper perspective. Labor should be the principal means of obtaining property:
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work. (Exodus 20:9)
Paul instructed Christians to work so that they might eat from what they had earned rather than mooching off the fruit of someone else’s labor:
…we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
King Solomon cautioned his sons against get-rich-quick schemes:
A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent [unpunished, NASV]…. He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him. (Proverbs 28:20-22)
David, Solomon, and Paul warned that the pursuit of wealth should not be an end in itself:
…if riches increase, set not your heart upon them. (Psalm 62:10)
Property can also be lawfully obtained by inheritance:
House and riches are the inheritance of fathers…. (Proverbs 19:14)
Yahweh is very specific concerning who is to receive the inheritance:
…he shall acknowledge the son … the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his. (Deuteronomy 21:17)
The Eighth Commandment condemns inheritance and property taxes as much as any other scheme devised to steal a family’s inheritance. A man’s inheritance belongs to his family and not to the government or some social cause, humane organization, ecological society, library, museum, or even a Christian church or ministry. Churches and ministries that solicit and procure inheritances are stealing from someone’s children, grandchildren, and other relatives. They are no different from the Pharisees and scribes who took what should have been used for aging parents and “dedicated” it to Yahweh instead:
For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift [to God, NASV], by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; making the word of God of none effect through your tradition…. (Mark 7:10-13)
Paul was emphatic about familial responsibilities:
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8)
Yahweh intends for His people to be so prosperous that they can leave an inheritance – even a house – to their children and grandchildren. Very few fathers today are able to leave a house to even one child, much less provide anything to their grandchildren. How then can churches or ministries justify their requisitions of familial inheritances?
An inheritance is for the express purpose of caring for one’s family. Nowhere does the Bible stipulate that an inheritance should go to anyone but family.
Ultimately, all property belongs to Yahweh:
…all the earth is mine. (Exodus 19:5)
In The Institutes of Divine Law, Rousas John Rushdoony commented on Yahweh’s title to the earth:
The earth is indeed the Lord’s, as is all dominion, but God has chosen to give dominion over the earth to man, subject to His law-word, and property is a central aspect of that dominion. The absolute and transcendental title to property is the Lord’s; the present and historical title to property is man’s.10
Yahweh has blessed us with everything we possess and placed us as stewards over it. To keep our property and possessions in their proper perspective, we must humbly acknowledge that it is Yahweh who enables us to acquire everything we own:
But thou shalt remember YHWH thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth…. (Deuteronomy 8:18)
As stewards of Yahweh’s gifts, Christians should regard wealth and property with a view toward furthering the kingdom of Yahweh:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
Everything a Christian does should be done for the Lord and His kingdom.
The tithe from the increase from property is particularly for building Yahweh’s kingdom. The tithe is tacit testimony to the fact that Yahweh possesses title to the earth. This is the principle reason why property taxes are so insidious. Our biggest concern regarding property taxes should not be the taxes themselves, but instead their ownership implications.
Private property is fundamental to understanding and applying the Eighth Commandment. In Digest of the Divine Law, Howard Rand elaborated upon this principle:
No question is so important and vital to humanity in the establishment of an orderly and peaceful social system than a proper and equitable definition of property rights…. Unless there is vested in the human race a right to own and have possessions there can be no such thing as stealing or covetousness. Any laws against such would be ridiculous; for a man cannot steal that which belongs to no one, nor can he covet that which is not another’s. Without ownership, a man can take and use anything he sees – until one stronger than he undertakes to possess it. Without property rights, properly defined and enforced, the world would be afflicted with chaos and violence.
The dominion mandate was given to Adam and his descendants, particularly Christians. Yahweh intends for His subjects to inherit the earth:
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace…. For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off…. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever…. Wait on YHWH, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. (Psalm 37:11-34)
These promises are conditional. We, as a people, must first return to our God and His laws if we expect Yahweh to fulfill His promises. Inherent in the dominion mandate is the fact that Yahweh expects His people to hold, increase, and protect their property in furtherance of His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
The Eighth Commandment is explained by its statutes. Each statute expounds upon Yahweh’s intentions for how this Commandment is to be applied.
If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. (Exodus 22:1)
Although it almost appears from this verse that Yahweh is partial to sheep thieves, this cannot be so because Deuteronomy 10:17 tells us that Yahweh does not regard one person above another. Because He requires this same impartiality in judgment from His servants, there must be more to this statute than initially meets the eye.
The Bible does not tell us why more is required of an ox thief than a sheep thief, but analyzing this statute from a primitive agronomist perspective provides a few of plausible explanations for what sets oxen apart from sheep. An ox’s lower rate of reproduction was probably one reason why oxen were more highly valued. It also takes longer to bring oxen to maturity than it does sheep, and sheep do not require the training that oxen do. But an even more probable explanation exists.
Both sheep and oxen were eaten and used for clothing, but only oxen were used to till the land, pull carts, and perform other arduous tasks. In other words, oxen were the tractors in Moses’ day. Given a choice between losing a sheep or a tractor, a prudent husbandman would choose the former. Steal a man’s sheep, and he would be out a hide and some meat. Steal a man’s ox – his means of livelihood – and his family’s standard of living would be jeopardized. Theft of a man’s sheep represents only an immediate loss. Theft of a man’s ox represents both an immediate and a future loss.
Exodus 22:1 is case law that provides precedent against much more than just the theft of livestock. For example, a farmer’s tractor is of greater value to him than the family automobile. This is true not only because the tractor costs more, but because the tractor is his means of livelihood, while the car is only a means of transportation. Therefore, an apprehended tractor thief should be required to pay the equivalent of five tractors, whereas a car thief should pay the equivalent of four cars. If, instead, the victim is a traveling salesman who owns and uses a tractor only for property maintenance, the judgment would be transposed. Purpose, not price, determines an object’s worth and the rate of restitution.
Whether the rate of restitution is four or five times, Yahweh’s judgment for stealing is a deterrent to potential thieves, whereas current American jurisprudence provides little deterrence whatsoever. Under Yahweh’s laws, only the victim is compensated. The State should not receive any remuneration whatsoever. Under man’s laws, however, the victim receives little or no compensation and is further victimized by the very system that is supposed to protect him. After the State slaps the thief’s hand and collects its fines two or three times, the repeat offender may finally be thrown into a prison12 funded by the victim’s tax-dollars. The offended party is preyed upon first by a low-class thief and then by a high-class thief.
The superiority of Yahweh’s laws is easily seen when contrasting the America’s criminal justice system with Yahweh’s equitable justice system.
If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double. (Exodus 22:4)
Verse 1 addresses thieves who have either killed or sold what they stole, while verse 4 addresses thieves who are apprehended with the stolen item still in their possession. In the latter case, the stolen item is restored to the owner, and he is further compensated with the equivalent current value of what was stolen. This additional remuneration covers any loss or inconvenience, and just as important, it punishes the thief.
A man apprehended with the stolen item in his possession might be someone who stole out of necessity, in contrast to a career thief who steals for profit. Solomon addressed the former type of thief:
Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; but if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. (Proverbs 6:30-31)
Because Yahweh’s law makes no mention of a sevenfold reparation, this is not meant to be taken literally. The number seven in the Bible is often used to signify perfection, completion, and fullness. In other words, a thief of necessity, although he may be pitied, must still pay what the law requires, even if it results in bankruptcy and indentureship:
…if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. (Exodus 22:3)
A thief’s indentureship lasts until he is able to pay the required two, four, or five-fold restitution.
If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man’s field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution. (Exodus 22:5)
The King James Version translates the Hebrew word shalach as “shall put in,” whereas the New American Standard Version renders it “lets … loose.” The Keil and Delitzsh Commentary clarifies shalach:
If any one should consume a field or a vineyard, and let loose his beast, so that it fed in another man’s field, he was to give the best of his field and vineyard as restitution. These words do not refer to willful injury, for shilach does not mean to drive in, but simply to let loose, set at liberty; they refer to injury done from carelessness, when anyone neglected to take proper care of a beast that was feeding in his field, and it strayed in consequence, and began grazing in another man’s. Hence simple compensation was all that was demanded; though this was to be made “from the best of his field,”….13
The Talmud and its scholars are notorious for reversing or providing unauthorized exceptions to biblical law. Consider the late twelfth-century Talmudic scholar and Rabbi, Moses Maimonides’ exception to Exodus 22:5:
If an animal eats foodstuffs harmful to it, such as wheat, the owner is exempt because it has not benefited.14
As evidenced by this statute, “thou shalt not steal” entails much more than deliberate theft. It also addresses damage or loss of another person’s property resulting from irresponsibility, carelessness, and negligence. The excuse, “Well, I didn’t mean any harm!” or “It was just an accident.,” does not absolve a person of the loss or damage due to his negligence. Under Yahweh’s law, a person is responsible for damages whether or not they were intentional.
In addition to its prohibition against intentional transgression, the Eighth Commandment is meant to promote honesty, self-control, personal responsibility, and self-government regarding one’s neighbor, his property, and his possessions. Paul taught the Galatian Christians the difference between being self-governed and state-governed:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage…. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you … that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:1, 13-14, 18-23)
Although Christians who love Yahweh and their fellow man are no longer under the law – that is, required to keep it for righteousness (Deuteronomy 6:25) – everyone else is:
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (Romans 10:4)
Such criminals are under the law and should be punished for their transgressions according to Yahweh’s judgments. On the other hand, law-abiding Christians no longer have to be forced to keep it; by threat of the judgments they are no longer under the law. Instead, Christians manifest the law by voluntarily keeping it out of love for Yahweh and their fellow man.
The Eighth Commandment is to be applied in the same fashion. It fosters self-government through Christian responsibility and provides punishment of the thief by the civil government. Self-government is demonstrated in several other Eighth Commandment statutes.
If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution. (Exodus 22:6)
If a person is burning trash and the wind comes up, resulting in the destruction of a neighbor’s field, haystack, or house, the fire-starter is liable even if the damage was not intentional. He is required to take precautionary measures even against acts of nature. His neighbor is certainly not to be held responsible for his negligence.
Fire is a pollutant; thus, this case law should be applied to any pollutant that has known negative effects upon one’s neighbors. Exodus 22:6 also applies to innumerable other situations, including motor vehicle accidents. Refusing to take responsibility for damages caused by an accident is essentially the same as stealing. It is the same as saying: “I didn’t mean for it to happen, it was an accident, so it doesn’t matter that you were damaged!”
When damages are the consequence of negligence – such as faulty brakes on an automobile – Yahweh’s law requires only replacement costs. The owner of the damaged property is not allowed to sue the person responsible for anything beyond actual damages. According to lex talionis (the law of retribution) damages include physical injury. An added stipulation found in the case laws of Exodus 21 demands the care of an injured person:
…if men have a quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but remains in bed; if he gets up and walks around outside on his staff, then he who struck him shall go unpunished [shall not be put to death]; he shall only pay for his loss of time, and shall take care of him until he is completely healed. (Exodus 21:18-19, NASV)
In Baba Kamma 8:1, the Jewish Mishnah – the first written compendium of Judaism’s Oral Law, later codified circa 500 AD as a part of the Babylonian Talmud – adds the unbiblical requirement of compensation for the injured person’s pain, suffering, and embarrassment or indignity.
Nowhere does Yahweh’s law provide for the State to levy additional fines or penalties, as is done today in most motor vehicle accidents. Unlike man’s edicts against speeding, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, possessing firearms made illegal by the State, and innumerable other victimless State edicts, no one is liable under Yahweh’s law unless he has caused damage or injury to someone.
When early American laws more closely resembled Yahweh’s laws, they required a crime actually be committed, which in turn required that a damaged party. This law, known as corpus dilecti, is perverted in countless present-day cases in which the State declares itself the damaged party and imposes fines upon people who have not caused damage or injury to anyone.
Under Yahweh’s law, the person at fault is responsible for damages – not an insurance company. Insurance companies contribute to irresponsibility and lawlessness by sheltering people from paying for the full consequences of their actions.
If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double. If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods. For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour. If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it: Then shall an oath of YHWH be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good. And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof. If it be torn in pieces, then let him bring it for witness, and he shall not make good that which was torn. (Exodus 22:7-13)
Verses 7-13 address theft that occurs while the property of one man (party number one) is in the charge of another man (party number two). These seven verses provide biblical precedent for trusts. The very meaning of the word “trust” implies both responsibility and liability. The following definition of trusts is found in Bouvier’s Law Dictionary:
An obligation upon a person, arising out of a confidence reposed in him, to apply property faithfully and according to such confidence….15
Like verse 4, verse 7 applies to the thief who is required to pay double restitution because he has been apprehended with the stolen goods still in his possession.
Verses 8-9 address instances when the thief is not apprehended and party number two, in whose care the property was entrusted, is suspect and is accused of the crime. If party number two is found guilty, he is required to pay double to party number one. Because the trust was initiated in this instance by the property owner, it is understood that he shares some of the responsibility or risk. Consequently, the restitution is two-fold rather than the four or five-fold required in verse 1.
If the judges determine party number one’s accusation is false and malicious, party number one is required to pay double to party number two. This is in keeping with Yahweh’s judgment of lex talionis upon false accusers:
If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before YHWH, before the priests and the judges … and the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deuteronomy 19:16-21)
Reinstatement of lex talionis would put an end to most frivolous and fraudulent lawsuits.
In cases where something is stolen while in the care of party number two and the thief is not apprehended and the stolen goods are not recovered, party number two is required to “make restitution unto the owner thereof.” This would be a case of negligence on the part of party number two, and restitution would be the comparable value of what was stolen. In Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, Gary North commented on such cases:
Restitution in the context of the obligation of the negligent safekeeper is a payment equal to the value of what had been lost. The responsible neighbor did not intend to profit from the theft. Indeed, he voluntarily took on added responsibilities by agreeing to serve as a protector. Negligence on the part of the safekeeper is not the same as criminal intent on the part of the thief; therefore, the penalties are different…. There is no additional penalty payment imposed on the safekeeper, for he had not hoped to profit by the transaction. To make safekeepers responsible for large restitution payments associated with criminal actions would be to break down the covenantal bonds of the community, since too high a risk factor would be transferred to safekeepers.16
Verses 10-11 and 13 address animals that die of natural causes, incur self-inflicted injuries, or are driven off or eaten by wild predators while in the care of party number two. In such instances, party number two is not held responsible because such damage is beyond his direct control and no one gained from the loss of the animal. These two statutes demonstrate that, while no one is expected to risk life or limb to save a neighbor’s property from wild animals, there is judicial incentive for a caretaker to stop a thief. This indirectly points to the necessity of an armed citizenry.17
In the case of an animal killed and eaten by a predator, party number two must provide evidence of its death (the hooves or horns for example) to absolve himself of any restitution. A person who has his neighbor’s best interest at heart may choose to take the loss upon himself as Jacob did when serving his father-in-law Laban:
This twenty years have I been with thee…. That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it…. (Genesis 31:38-39)
When an animal dies of natural causes, suffers self-inflicted injuries, or is driven off by wild animals, party number two is to take an oath and swear to his innocence in the name of Yahweh. This is, once again, case law. Yahweh’s law does not allow for “pleading the Fifth,” as provided for by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
This self-maledictory “oath of Yahweh” is referred to in Hebrews:
For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. (Hebrews 6:16, NASV)
Nehemiah 10 provides an example of an oath of Yahweh:
…their nobles … entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law … and to observe and do all the commandments of YHWH our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes; and that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons. (Nehemiah 10:29-30)
Those were days when an oath actually meant something, unlike the vast majority of those taken in our modern courts or by presidents, politicians, and bureaucratic government workers who break their oaths of office whenever it is to their advantage. Rushdoony addressed the gravity of oaths:
By taking the oath, a man promised to abide by his word and his obligations even as God is faithful to His word. If he failed, by oath of office, the public official invoked divine judgment and the curse of the law upon himself.18
Bouvier’s Law Dictionary corroborates the implications of self-maledictory oaths:
An outward pledge given by the person taking it that his attestation or promise is made under an immediate sense of his responsibility to God…. The term has been variously defined: as, “a solemn invocation of the vengeance of the Deity upon the witness if he do [sic] not declare the whole truth, so far as he knows it;” … or “religious asseveration by which a person renounces the mercy and imprecates the vengeance of Heaven if he do [sic] not speak the truth” … or “a religious act by which the party invokes God not only to witness the truth and sincerity of his promise, but also to avenge his imposture or violated faith, or … to punish his perjury if he shall be guilty of it;”…. The essential idea of an oath would seem to be, however, that of a recognition of God’s authority by the party taking it, and an undertaking to accomplish the transaction to which it refers as required by his laws.19
British theologian and commentator Adam Clarke commented on the “oath of Yahweh”:
So solemn and awful were all appeals to God considered in those ancient times, that it was taken for granted that the man was innocent who could by an oath appeal to the omniscient God that he had not put his hand to his neighbour’s goods. Since oaths have become multiplied, and since they have been administered on the most trifling occasions, their solemnity is gone, and their importance little regarded. Should the oath ever re-acquire its weight and importance, it must be when administered only in cases of peculiar delicacy and difficulty, and as sparingly as in the days of Moses.20
The solemnity and consequence of an oath have indeed been lost, not because of the oath’s multiplied use, but because its judgment is no longer enforced. To lie or break an oath made in the name of Yahweh is a transgression of the Third Commandment and is punishable by death.21
And if a man borrow ought of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good. But if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good…. (Exodus 22:14-15)
When damage or loss occurs that is beyond the control, influence, or power of either party, only the initiator of the agreement is responsible for damage or loss of property. The person with whom something is put in trust for safekeeping is simply performing a good deed for his neighbor, and therefore is not under the same obligations as the person who borrows something from his neighbor. With a trust, because the person who trusts is the initiator, he suffers the loss when animal dies from natural causes, injures itself, or is run off by predators. But in the case of a borrower, he, as the initiator, suffers the loss. Party number one showed a kindness by loaning his property to party number two rather than charging him rent. If the borrower fails to make good anything that is damaged, lost, or destroyed while in his care, it would be a case of returning evil for good (Proverbs 17:13).
The following incident illustrates the obligation of a borrower:
And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, …Let us go … and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood. But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! For it was borrowed. (2 Kings 6:1-5)
The reason for this young man’s alarm at losing the borrowed axe head was probably because he did not have the means to replace it and could have been placed in temporary servitude until it was paid for (Exodus 22:3).
If party number two borrows something from party number one and it is either damaged or dies, party number two is responsible for compensation unless the owner is present when the damage or loss occurred. Because the owner is present as an overseer or supervisor, the loss would be the owner’s. It is understood that the owner would intervene if his property is being used improperly. Scottish minister and commentator Robert Jamieson commented on this exception:
In this supposed condition the exemption of the borrower from all liability was evidently founded on the presumption that no one would use a beast [or tractor, chain saw, etc.] ill in presence of its owner, and that proper care was taken of it by the fact of his presence and sanction.22
Although not required, good policy would be to meet the owner halfway and pay an equal amount toward repair or replacement.
…if it be an hired thing, it came for his hire. (Exodus 22:15)
Rental establishments operate on this principal today. Replacement costs are figured into the rental price.
Rushdoony sums up this section of Yahweh’s statutes:
If a man borrows and damages the property of another, he is liable for the damages; he has destroyed or harmed the property of another man and is thereby guilty of theft; restitution is mandatory. If the owner came to assist him voluntarily, as a good neighbor, the damage is the owner’s, because his property was damaged while under his own supervision. This is all the more true if he was working for hire, because his rental of his services, with ox, ass, tractor, or any other equipment, includes the wear and tear, the maintenance and damages, to his working equipment.23
Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him…. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. (Exodus 22:21-24)
Yahweh’s law includes special provisions for the disadvantaged:
To take advantage of the weak, the vulnerable, or the defenseless is the same as stealing from them. Yahweh takes special care of the disadvantaged, and He expects us to do the same:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause…. Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger…. (Exodus 23:6-9)
This is commonly known as equal treatment under the law. American jurisprudence was originally designed with this biblical premise in mind. However, judicial equality is seldom found in our contemporary courts. If you are not wealthy, you are not likely to receive the same treatment as those who can afford better lawyers.
Because the same inequity can occur in reverse, we are also warned against being partial to the poor:
Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause. (Exodus 23:3)
Many people have an automatic bias for the underdog, but this emotional proclivity must be governed by justice and equity. Yahweh’s law provides the balance for people who have a tendency to be overly harsh and for those who tend to be excessively lenient. It makes no distinction between the poor and the rich, but instead between the righteous and the unrighteous, regardless of their standard of living.
Bias against the productive worker is rampant because of laws passed by the United States legislative branch of government. Welfare legislation has made it legal to steal from those who work for a living and give to those who refuse to work. Nowhere does the Bible promote or condone one man or a group of men taking from another man to give to someone else. This is simply theft disguised as philanthropy. Care for the poor is an individual responsibility, not a government responsibility:
And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. (Leviticus 25:35)
The graduated income tax is one of the more egregious ways by which productive workers and entrepreneurs are defrauded. They are taxed at a higher rate simply because they earn more.
This tax is not only an ingenious way to steal more from the productive in society, but it is also the antithesis of Yahweh’s ethics – it is socialism at its worst. Socialism can be summed up as “more from those who have more,” whereas the Bible teaches “more to those who have more” (Mark 4:25). Yahweh rewards the industrious, while unregenerate man penalizes the productive and rewards the slothful.
If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. (Exodus 22:25)
As their governor, Nehemiah was incensed with the Judahites who charged usury to their brethren:
And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. …I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them. …I pray you, let us leave off this usury. (Nehemiah 5:6-10)
In Proverbs 28:8, King Solomon warned, “He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.” In Ezekiel 18:3-13, usurers, along with murderers, idolaters, and adulterers are all condemned.
Because they have fallen out of common usage, the terms “usurer” and “usury” need to be defined. In the Old Testament, “usurer” is translated from nashah and “usury” is translated from neshek, a derivative of nashak:
nashah … to lend … on security or interest.24
In the New Testament, the word “usury” is translated from tokos:
tokos … interest on money loaned….29
Usury and interest are the same thing. Consider the admonition in Ezekiel 18 in the New American Standard Version:
…if a man is righteous … he does not lend money on interest…. (Ezekiel 18:5-8)
The righteous man does not lend money on interest because the righteous man does not steal. Not everyone, including some pronomians, agree with this premise. Gary North, for example, writes that “Usury laws are the destroyers of civilization, for they impede the free flow of capital.”31 Laws prohibiting usury may impede the free flow of capital, but then so do laws against stealing in general.
Any rate of interest is usury, and usury is just an ingenious way of stealing. With a stroke of a pen, it creates the illusion of money by which people are exploited and economically enslaved:
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)
In cowboy terms: “Debt doubles the weight on your horse and puts another in control of the reins.” All debt enslaves, but when usury is involved, the weight of slavery is compounded many times over:
…Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! How long? And to him that ladeth himself with thick clay! Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties [plunder, NASV] unto them? (Habakkuk 2:6-7)
The ancient Babylonians used thick clay tablets to engrave their usurious loan contracts. Borrowers were literally laden with weight. Today, the weight is worse because most people are so laden with usury their entire lives that upon their deaths many pass on outstanding debts to their children and grandchildren.
Verse 7 warns that usurers rise up and bite. The word “bite” is translated from the verb form of neshek, which means “interest on debt.” Debt is bad enough, but interest-encumbered debt will rise up and devour you. At the least, it will take a bite out of your bank account and, ultimately, your children’s inheritance.
Usury diverts a nation’s wealth to the ungodly. The professional usurer plays no productive part in a nation’s economy. Instead, he hampers the productivity of others for his own gain, while producing nothing of value himself. True producers earn by the sweat of their brow; usurers earn by someone else’s sweat.
Equity demands that in any business relationship all parties share equally, or at least proportionally, in both profit and risk. But in a usurious relationship, the borrower shoulders all the risk and the usurer assumes none:
The Usurer loveth the borrower as the Ivy loveth the Oak: The Ivy loveth the Oak to grow up by it, so the Usurer loveth the borrower to grow rich by him. The Ivy claspeth the Oak like a lover, but it claspeth out all the juice and sap, that the Oak cannot thrive after. So the Usurer lendeth like a friend, but he covenanteth like an enemy, for he claspeth the borrower with such bands, that ever after he diminisheth, as fast as the other increaseth.32
Usury Pertains Only to Excessive Interest
Who gets to decide at what rate usury becomes exorbitant or excessive? Bouvier defined usury as the “excess over the legal rate….,” but who determines the legal rate?
According to John Morris, in Days of Praise, Christians are prohibited from charging only high interest:
In financial matters, we must not lend money at high interest….33
Both Webster’s Dictionary and Bouvier’s Law Dictionary define usury as exorbitant and excessive interest:
1. the practice of lending money at an exorbitant interest rate. 2. an exorbitant amount or rate of interest.34
Whose morality are we going to follow – Webster and Bouvier’s, or Yahweh’s?
“Legal” is anything that man has legitimized; “lawful” is that which Yahweh permits. The Bible makes no distinction regarding exorbitant, excessive, or high interest. All interest is unlawful. Had Bouvier used the word “lawful” instead of “legal,” the excess over the lawful rate charged to a borrower would be any interest whatsoever.
Nehemiah considered a meager one percent usury exorbitant (Nehemiah 5:1-13). No doubt he would have considered even a hundredth of one percent to be excessive, as it should be to anyone desiring to return to Yahweh’s morality and the ethical treatment of their brethren.
Typically man’s legislation is for the purpose of making illegal what Yahweh made lawful and making legal what Yahweh made unlawful. Bouvier actually admitted to this regarding usury:
Originally, the word was applied to all interest reserved for the use of money; and in the early ages taking such interest was not allowed.36
The 1828 edition of Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language admitted that what was originally unlawful became legal:
1. Formerly, interest; or a premium paid or stipulated to be paid for the use of money…. 2. In present usage, illegal interest; a premium or compensation paid or stipulated to be paid for the use of money borrowed or retained, beyond the rate of interest established by [man’s] law.37
Has Yahweh’s morality changed? Or has man simply attempted to usurp Yahweh’s place as King, Judge, and Lawgiver (Isaiah 33:22)? Because Yahweh has not changed (Malachi 3:6), neither has His morality, as codified in His commandments, statutes, and judgments.
Contrast the fickle nature of man’s legislation to the unfailing permanence of Yahweh’s laws. Under man’s law, the rate of usury may arbitrarily change at any time, and what is not usury today may very well be usury tomorrow. Under Yahweh’s law, any interest is usury and is perpetually condemned as theft. Whereas man’s legislation is ever-changing and predisposed to transient whims, Yahweh’s law is fixed. Praise Yahweh for His consistent, immutable standard!
The Easton’s Bible Dictionary provides the biblical definition of usury:
Usury: the sum paid for the use of money, hence interest; not, as in the modern sense, exorbitant interest. The Jews [Israelites] were forbidden to exact usury (Lev 25:36, 37), only, however, in their dealings with each other (Deut 23:19, 20). The violation of this law was viewed as a great crime (Ps 15:5; Prov 28:8; Jer 15:10). After the Return [from Babylon], and later, this law was much neglected (Neh 5:7, 10).38
Some people argue that charging interest is considered usury only when someone personally charges interest to a poor man. In other words, charging interest for business ventures is not usury. Gary North and Dan Vender Lugt made the following respective claims:
Is usury wrong? It depends. Are you taking it from poverty-stricken borrowers or from entrepreneurs who need money to finance a project? In the Bible, “usury” is forbidden on loans to poverty-stricken fellow believers. It has nothing to do with business loans. There is no interest-rate ceiling ever mentioned in the Bible. Either no interest must be charged (charity loans), or no limit is placed on voluntary contracts (profit-seeking ventures).”39
These statements have no basis in the Bible, and doctrine cannot be established upon biblical silence. As North himself is fond of saying, this is simply “baptized humanism.” In his book Tools of Dominion, North related the following exchange between S.C. Mooney and himself:
I have always argued that business loans were (and are) loans of a completely different ethical and judicial character, and therefore lenders can legitimately ask for an interest payment. But I had also said that no loan beyond seven years is valid. He [Mooney] quite properly called me to account. If Rushdoony and I appeal to Deuteronomy 15 in order to defend the seven-year (or six-year) maximum on all loans, yet Deuteronomy 15 is also the basis of our arguing that morally compulsory charity loans – zero-interest loans – are unique, then we are mixing our judicial categories. He asked: “Why do they not hold that only debts of ‘poor’ brethren are to be cancelled, and [thus] infer from this that it is lawful for one to continue to exact the debts of the ‘rich’?...”41
Unfortunately, instead of discarding his argument for the unscriptural differentiation between charity and profit-seeking loans, North discarded the sabbatical-year restrictions altogether.
The idea that usury is acceptable for entrepreneurs and business loans is born from greed, “smorgasbord Bible study,” and the Talmud.
Greed is often at the root of justifying usurious business deals. The Bible teaches that it is a righteous thing to lend:
…the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth. (Psalm 37:21)
In Luke 6:35, Yeshua taught that we should “lend, hoping for nothing again,” and He did not restrict His statement to charity loans. This makes the entire question of usurious business loans superfluous. We are not to expect even the principal in return, let alone any interest.
It is true that Exodus 22 and Leviticus 25 specifically condemn charging interest to the poor. But this needs to be kept in perspective. The borrower will almost always be poorer than the lender. More importantly, at the time when Moses codified the statutes against usury, business loans would have been a rare exception and, therefore, an extraneous concern at that time. This fact is corroborated by The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary:
Because the Israelites were not a commercial people, money was not often loaned for the purpose of business, but rather to aid the struggling poor.42
Although the poor were singled out in some passages, this did not legitimize usurious loans to the rich. Consistency demands that if usurious loans to entrepreneurs or the rich are acceptable because certain passages cite the poor, the same criterion must be applied to other passages that also specifically cite the poor. This would mean, according to Exodus 23:6, we are allowed to pervert justice against the rich, and, according to Deuteronomy 24:14, we are permitted to oppress a wealthy hired servant. Just because Exodus 22:22 specifically forbids afflicting widows and orphans, does this mean we are permitted to afflict women and children whose husbands and fathers are still living? In all these instances, it is understood that although the poor, the widows, and the orphans are specifically mentioned because they are the most likely to be exploited, the law applies to everyone.
The sum of Yahweh’s Word (Psalm 119:160, NASV) must be considered on this issue. Deuteronomy 23:19-20; Proverbs 28:28; Psalm 15:1-5; and Ezekiel 18:8,13 condemn usury outright without any mention of the poor. Their prohibition is universal, with no regard for a person’s monetary standing.
Nashak is defined as “to strike with a sting (as a serpent); figuratively, to oppress with interest on a loan,”43 regardless of the fiscal standing of the borrower or the purpose of the loan. Any usurer has the potential to bite or sting his debtor. The warning in Habakkuk 2 is to anyone that “ladeth himself” with usurious contracts by which the lender may rise up and “bite” him.
People who gain from usurious contracts – both lenders and borrowers – always do so at the expense of someone who is poorer. Because interest does not come from any available money supply, and is instead created out of thin air,44 someone unable to keep up with his loan payments has to be divested of his collateral to pay the illusory interest. North attempts to shade this inescapable problem with usury by proclaiming a collective risk that is not supported by Scripture:
The risk that a particular borrower will not repay his loan must be shared among all borrowers within any particular class of borrowers.45
The same problem that North identified as the principle problem with fractional reserve banking is intrinsic in usury as well, irrespective of the type of loan:
Fractional reserve banking … creates credit money – money which is backed only by faith.46
North also wrote the following about fractional reserve banking:
…the evil of fractional reserve banking … is condemned by the Bible [for] borrowing with collateral that you do not have and lending what you do not have (i.e., issuing receipts for commodities not held in reserve).48
The evil of usury is condemned by the Bible for a nearly identical reason: demanding payment in part for interest that does not exist and is therefore not held in reserve.
The position that usury is permissible for business loans pits Scripture against Scripture. Yahweh allows Israelites to charge usury to non-Israelites (Deuteronomy 23:19-20), irrespective of their monetary status. This also dictates that usurious loans are not to be made by one Israelite to another Israelite, regardless of their monetary status. Even a non-usurious business loan between Christian Israelites49 would result in the deliberate oppression and enslavement of one’s brother (Proverbs 22:7) – how much more so a usurious loan. North admitted that a usurious loan to a foreigner is a means of subduing him:
…it was legal to take interest from the foreigner who was living outside the land. It was a means of subduing him…. It was (and is) a means of dominion.50
North cannot have it both ways. If a usurious business loan is a means of subduing a foreigner, then it is also a means of subduing a fellow countryman or brother in Christ until the loan is paid off.
To condone usurious business loans is an example of calling “evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20-24). Sanction for usurious business loans does not come from the Bible, but from the Babylonian Talmud, the Jews’ religious book of faith:
L.[oans] with interest are strictly forbidden in the Bible. Later, however, permission was given to receive interest under certain conditions, if the transaction was for business purposes.51
In A History of England, Goldwin Smith summed up this form of theft:
In the Middle Ages the lending of money at interest was called usury, and usury was called a sin. It was “a false and abominable contract, under colour and cover of good and lawful trading,” which “ruins the honour and soul of the agent, and seeps away the goods and property of him who appears to be accommodated.” Christians were forbidden to lend money. The Jews were quite willing to do it.53
How things have changed! Following Jewish tradition, even some pronomian Christians are now promoting and involved in charging usury to their brethren.
Some people argue that the statute prohibiting and condemning usury is no longer applicable under the New Covenant, citing the parable of the talents:
He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come…. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him … that he might know how much every man had gained by trading…. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (Luke 19:12-24)
North claimed this parable proves “there is no biblical rule against interest-bearing loans”54 and that “this parable of God’s kingdom acknowledges that interest-taking is legitimate.” In business ventures.55
Did Yeshua change Yahweh’s law regarding usury under the New Covenant, as some Christians claim? Put bluntly: God forbid! If we are counting on Yeshua’s blood-atoning sacrifice as a propitiation for our sins, we had better hope He did not. Had Yeshua changed this or any other of Yahweh’s laws, He would have been promoting disobedience to Yahweh’s moral nature as codified in His laws and, therefore, He could not be the sinless sacrifice necessary for Him to be our Savior.
Even if the Old Covenant had already come to a close – which it had not – Yeshua did not come to destroy the law or the morality of Yahweh:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)
To have changed Yahweh’s law concerning usury would have been the same as breaking Yahweh’s law, thereby making Yeshua, at the very best, the least in the Kingdom. Yeshua came to do the will of His Father (John 5:30, 6:38), not to abrogate it.
With this in mind, let us reconsider the parable of the talents from the paradigm that Yeshua could not and did not change Yahweh’s law on usury but instead upheld it. Note first that, in addition to accusing the nobleman (who represented Yeshua) of being an austere or hard man, the wicked servant also accused him of taking up what he had not laid down and reaping what he had not sown. In other words, the servant had accused his master of being a thief. On this point, North agreed:
He accuses the master of being a thief, or at least an unscrupulous exploiter.56
Immediately following these false accusations, the master responded:
…Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow. Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? (Luke 19:22-23)
The master declared the wicked servant would be judged by his own standard. Because this wicked servant considered his master a thief, the very least he could have done was steal for his master in the easiest possible way, by putting his money in a bank that paid usury.
The Geneva Bible notes on Luke 19:23 concur:
(e) To the bankers and money changers. Usury or loaning money at interest is strictly forbidden by the Bible, (Exo 22:25-27; Deu 23:19-20). Even a rate as low as one per cent interest was disallowed, (Neh 5:11). This servant had already told two lies. First he said that the master was an austere or harsh man. This is a lie for the Lord is merciful and gracious. Next he called his master a thief because he reaped where he did not sow. Finally the master said to him that why did you not add insult to injury and loan the money out at interest so you could call your master a “usurer” too! If the servant had done this, his master would have been responsible for his servant’s actions and guilty of usury. (Geneva Bible Notes )
Yeshua did not alter the law on usury; He validated it. He identified usury for exactly what it is – theft, plain and simple. This parable puts an end to the hypothesis that usurious business loans are permissible .
The word “bank” in Luke 19:23 is translated from the Greek word trapezan. It is the same Greek word translated “tables” in Matthew 21:12 when Yeshua overthrew the tables of the money changers or bankers and chased them with a scourge out of the Temple.
Because most Christians are not bankers, they think they may now breathe a sigh of relief. But can they? Usurers are more common than non-usurers among modern Christians. I am not referring to Christians in debt to usurers, something that can usually be classified as foolish but not sinful. If a Christian has money in an interest-bearing savings or checking account, he is a usurer. Today’s bankers are thieves, and anyone who has an interest-bearing account is an accomplice to their crimes.
Because individuals who “house” their money in banks are paid a rate of interest to do so, and because their “housed” money is then used by the bankers to charge a greater rate of interest to someone else, both the banker and the depositor are partners in theft:
Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul…. (Proverbs 29:24)
Investors in Savings and U.S. Treasury bonds, along with pawnshop owners, car dealerships, and other business owners who finance items and charge interest through banks or any other means are all involved in usury.
This is a difficult fact for most people to accept. Many Christians will respond, “But I live on the interest I collect!” A prostitute could say the same thing. It comes down to two questions: Who are you going to trust for your needs – thieves or Yahweh? And is mammon your god or is Yahweh?
The heathen, out of natural reason and understanding, were able to render an account that an usurer is a three-fold thief…. But we that are Christians hold them in such honor and esteem that in a manner we adore and worship them; no regard is had, what scorn and derision thereby we procure to the name of a Christian and to Christ Himself. (Martin Luther57)
If thou at all take thy neighbour’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? And it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious. (Exodus 22:26-27)
A pledge (known today as collateral) is a promise or a token to repay something borrowed. The English word “pledge” is translated from chabal and is defined by Strong’s Concordance:
…a primitive root; to wind tightly (as a rope), i.e. to bind; specifically, by a pledge….58
Although the Bible does not condemn pledges, it does put restrictions on certain items taken in pledge. The borrower in Exodus 22 is obviously a poor man who has only his outer raiment or coat to offer as a pledge. The lender must return his coat before nightfall. Otherwise, the lender would be exploiting the borrower instead of coming to his aid:
They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold. They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter. They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor. They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry. (Job 24:7-10)
Returning a man’s coat also generates good rapport between the lender and the borrower, and gives the borrower added incentive to meet his obligation as quickly as possible:
And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge: In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before YHWH thy God. (Deuteronomy 24:12-13)
North provided two more plausible reasons for this statute:
First, the borrower has to come back every evening to get it back. This is an inconvenience. He will have an added incentive to repay the loan early. Second, since the garment is in the possession of the lender during the day, it cannot be used as collateral with another lender. One piece of collateral can be used for only one loan at a time, if the lender demands collateral.59
North correctly pointed out that fractional reserve banking violates this statute:
Modern banking is based on the flagrant flouting of the prohibition against multiple indebtedness. For every asset a bank owns, there are many claims – legal claims – against that asset. The bank keeps fewer reserves on hand to meet demands of lenders to the bank – depositors – than the bank has promised to deliver on demand….
Under no circumstance is a widow’s garment to be taken in pledge:
Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge. (Deuteronomy 24:17)
Other objects are also forbidden as pledges:
No man shall take the nether [handmill, NASV] or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge. (Deuteronomy 24:6)
In biblical times, hand mills and millstones were the means for grinding grain and were vital to a man’s daily subsistence and survival. The Bible Knowledge Commentary elaborated on millstones as collateral:
Millstones were used daily in homes to grind grain in preparing meals. To take both or one of these as collateral for a debt would in effect deprive a man of his daily bread (livelihood) and therefore contradict the spirit of generosity which should have motivated the lender in the first place.61
This statute is case law, as seen in Job’s disdain for those who would take a widow’s ox in pledge:
They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge. (Job 24:3)
To require a man’s millstone or ox as a pledge essentially required the borrower to put his life in hock. Nothing can be taken in pledge that could jeopardize a man’s subsistence or livelihood.
It is also unlawful for a lender to enter a man’s house to secure a pledge:
When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge. Thou shalt stand abroad [outside], and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee. (Deuteronomy 24:10-11)
Until recently, it was demeaning for someone to find himself in such a financial plight that he would be forced to borrow. Deuteronomy 24:10-11 preserves what dignity the borrower has left. It is degrading enough that when a man finds himself in such a financial predicament that he must humble himself and borrow from his neighbor. Yahweh protects the borrower from further humiliation by forbidding the lender from entering his home for the pledge. No matter how humble a man’s home, it is still his castle and as such is to be protected from all unwanted or uninvited intruders.
Governments, not just individuals, transgress this Eighth Commandment statute. Governments, after all, are simply a group of individuals imposing their will upon others. Therefore, this statute would also apply to the local sheriff who dispossesses a man of his home or property because he is unable to pay an unlawful property tax.62 Of course, because both the property tax and the dispossession are unlawful, government agents are unlikely to be concerned about breaking this statute any more than Yahweh’s other statutes.
Nothing in the Bible says a person must take a pledge. Exodus 22:26 begins “If thou at all take thy neighbour’s raiment to pledge….” The lender can always choose to simply trust the borrower to do what is ethical, without requiring leverage or coercing him.
Yeshua taught the highest standard concerning lenders:
Give to every man that asketh of thee … lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest…. (Luke 6:30-35)
This magnanimous approach to lending is not to be taken advantage of by borrowers:
The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth. (Psalm 37:21)
A Christian has no moral obligation to lend anything to covenant-breakers or those who are poverty-stricken as a consequence of their own slothfulness or wickedness:
A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion. (Psalm 112:5)
Surety occurs when a third party or person assumes the obligation of a borrower in part or in whole. The Bible depicts the person who provides a pledge or becomes surety on behalf of someone else as a fool:
My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, deliver thyself…. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler. (Proverbs 6:1-5)
Surety contracts are folly for both parties because trust is being placed in a finite man who cannot guarantee he will be alive to uphold his part of the bargain even one day later. Martin Luther commented upon the person who becomes surety for another man:
…his own life and property are never for a single moment any more secure or certain than those of the man for whom he becomes surety.63
Like usurious contracts, becoming surety demands that a person guarantee his future, a presumption the Bible identifies as arrogance:
Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)
Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates. (Deuteronomy 24:14)
The word “oppress,” translated from the Hebrew word ashoq, is better rendered “defraud” as it is in Leviticus 19:
Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him…. (Leviticus 19:13)
This statute is found several times throughout the Old and New Testaments alike:
Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work. (Jeremiah 22:13)
Yeshua affirmed this statute:
…the labourer is worthy of his hire. (Luke 10:7)
Although not immediately apparent, this same Eighth Commandment principle is found in Deuteronomy 25:
Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. (Deuteronomy 25:4)
Paul elaborated upon this statute when he wrote to the Corinthian Christians:
Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? … For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. (1 Corinthians 9:7-10)
Paul explained this further when he combined Deuteronomy 25:4 and Yeshua’s statement in Luke 10:
…the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, the labourer is worthy of his reward [wages, NASV]. (1 Timothy 5:18)
A workman is worthy of not only a wage but a commensurate wage:
…every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. (1 Corinthians 3:8)
This statute also requires that service providers stand behind their work whether they are in the construction industry, the medical profession, or any other contracted vocation. The contractor has the right to expect exactly what he pays for – anything less amounts to fraud.
Minimum wage laws were first introduced nationally in the United States in 1938, France in 1950, and in the United Kingdom in 1999.64
Who is responsible for setting the minimum hourly or daily wage – the employer, the employee, or the government? Yeshua answers this question in Matthew 20:1-15 in His parable of the laborers in the vineyard. In this parable, the householder is depicted as paying a denarius – the common day’s wage in Judea at that time – to those he hired at all hours of the day. Because the householder in this parable represents Yeshua, we know the wages were just and equitable.
Some people might think that verse 15 (“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?”) establishes the employer alone as the person responsible for setting the wage, but this is incorrect. Verse 13 is the biblical standard for wage-setting: “But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, … didst not thou agree with me for a penny?”
The word “agree” is translated from the Greek word sunefoóneesás, from which our English word “symphony” is derived. Sunefoóneesás is defined by Strong’s Concordance:
…to be harmonious, i.e. (figuratively) to accord (be suitable, concur) or stipulate (by compact).65
Both employer and employee are less likely to be taken advantage of if each of them is involved in setting the wage. When government gets involved in setting minimum wage, it is inevitable that the employer will be put at a disadvantage because some tasks simply do not warrant the minimum wage set by government bureaucrats. Rushdoony expounded upon the socialist idea of equal pay and, in so doing, also provided insight concerning minimum wage:
Because work is a debt contracted by an employer, the extent of that debt depends on the nature and extent of the services. An ox gets his feed and his care; a laborer is worthy of his hire; the nature of the services determines the extent of the debt. Thus, a ditch-digger does not command the pay of an engineer; the debt contracted for his services is an obviously lower one in virtually any market-place or society. There can be no equality of pay because there is no equality of debt. There can be no “fair price” for a particular kind of service, because the value of the service varies in the nature of the debt it contracts in terms of the need for the service.66
Because some employers cannot afford the minimum wage set by the government, the reduced number of employees they hire contributes to unemployment and limits productivity. Minimum wage also contributes to the cost of conducting business because the government forces business owners through the Federal Unemployment Tax Act to pay those who have become unemployed. Those who are habitually unemployed are usually those at the lowest pay scale and who have the least amount of skills.
Minimum wage also harms the poorest and least educated in society, the very people it is designed to help. These people are unlikely to be hired even at minimum wage; and by the government’s current law, they are prevented from negotiating a lower salary. In his book Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity, John Stossel, author and anchor of the ABC news program 20/20, commented on the fact that minimum wage harms those it purportedly assists:
Just as price controls discourage production, wage controls discourage hiring. The poorest workers are hurt most. When you fix wages above the market rate, the rate freely set by the give-and-take of supply and demand, you temporarily help experienced workers by giving them an artificial raise. But you also take away all incentive to hire an “entry-level” worker.67
No biblical precedent exists for minimum wage. A wise employer knows that if he treats his employees well, they are likely to be more productive. A judicious employer knows that fairness and equity should govern his wage offer:
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. (Colossians 4:1)
Employees should respond in kind to their employers:
Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service [serve them all the more, NASV]…. (1 Timothy 6:1-2)
…the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning. (Leviticus 19:14)
Wages are to be paid promptly at the specified and contracted time. In Moses’ day, it was the practice for employers to pay every day. Today, if an employee agrees to a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly paycheck and is not put at a disadvantage by so doing, his employer would not be required to pay every night. If an employee needs an immediate or more frequent paycheck because of an emergency, the employer should give his employee an advance against his wages or pay him early.
Businesses with delayed-payment policies are twofold thieves: they are both usurers and tardy paymasters.
The judgment upon these businesses should be fivefold restitution (Exodus 22:1), to be paid on the day following the originally agreed upon date for payment. If this judgment were enforced, late wages and payments would all but disappear. This same judgment (four or fivefold restitution) should also be applied to tardy court settlements.
And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith YHWH thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. (Deuteronomy 15:12-14)
A faithful employee should not be sent away empty-handed. He should be given a bonus according to the bounty that his employer gained as a result of his service.
Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother. And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again. In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself. Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again. (Deuteronomy 22:1-4)
The phrase “hide thyself from them” is translated “pay no attention to” in the New American Standard Version. This lost and found statute is the same concept presented by Paul in Philippians 2:4, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
There is no place in Yahweh’s law for either the “losers, weepers; finders, keepers” concept or the adage “possession is nine-tenths of the law,” which is legally known as adverse possession. Both concepts rival Deuteronomy 22:1-4 and thus constitute theft of another person’s property.
Any indifference toward our brother and his property is a violation of the Eighth Commandment. We are our brother’s keeper and our neighbor’s guardian, and our duties as such extend to our neighbor’s lost or endangered property.
Yahweh does not permit us to prosper from someone else’s misfortune. When we recover someone’s lost property, we must hold it in ward or trust as if the owner himself had entrusted it to our care. We must make every effort at our disposal to restore it to its rightful owner. If the lost property is livestock, we are to care for it, if we are able, until the owner has been located and the livestock restored. To do otherwise is to be a thief. Any costs incurred by the keeper – such as feed costs or storage fees – should be reimbursed by the owner when he reclaims his property. These costs are essentially expenditures he would have borne himself had he not lost his property.
According to verse two, we must conduct ourselves in the same way toward total strangers. We are to do the same for even an enemy:
If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him. (Exodus 23:4-5)
The requirement to help someone with his lost or distressed livestock would equally apply to someone whose automobile is broken down alongside the road. For a man to refrain from assisting a neighbor, stranger, or even an enemy could be identified as theft by negligence, abandonment, or desertion.
In principle, Deuteronomy 22:1-4 includes our duty toward the life and well-being of our brother and neighbor. This “bystander duty,” which includes rendering assistance against criminals, is alluded to later in Deuteronomy 22:
If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)
The unstated implication is that if a woman cries out, any man within earshot is to come to her rescue. Rushdoony commented upon this bystander obligation:
If the bystander has an obligation to render aid “with all lost things” of another man, he has an even more pressing obligation to help rescue the man. Thus, this principle of responsibility appears in Deuteronomy 22:24. A woman assaulted in a city is presumed to have given consent if she does not raise a cry, the origin of the hue and cry common law. At her cry, every man within sound of her voice has a duty to render immediate aid….68
An eyewitness to a crime has an obligation – a debt if you will – both to the victim and to society in general. He is duty-bound to intervene and do whatever is necessary to stop the perpetrator. When Moses witnessed a fellow Israelite being unjustifiably beaten, he fulfilled his obligation and intervened by taking the law into his own hands (Exodus 2:11-12).
Imagine how many crimes would be averted if thieves, rapists, murderers, and potential criminals knew that every Christian man within sight or earshot of a crime stands ready to do whatever is necessary to stop wrongdoers in their crimes. How much more so, if every law-abiding, able-bodied man were also required to carry a firearm for his own, his family’s, and his neighbor’s protection?69 In itself, this would almost eliminate the need for a hired police force. It is impossible for police to prevent a crime, unless an officer just happens to be at the right place at the right time. Their presence in a community is more for investigation and resolution of the crime than for preventing it. In fact, the Supreme Court in Town of Castle Rock, Colorado, Petitioner v. Jessica Gonzales, No. 04-278, ruled that the police have no obligation to protect citizens. It has been demonstrated in cities like Kennesaw, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta), where every household is required by law to possess a firearm, that crime is all but eliminated.
Tragically, America’s federal and state governments have practically stripped its citizens of their inherent right to self protection and their responsibility of intervention, with the exception of those who petition and jump through the government’s hoops to secure a concealed weapon permit. Keep in mind that one of the definitions for a permit or license is “the permission to do what the government otherwise considers illegal,” making a criminal out of anyone who wishes to fulfill his biblical responsibilities.
Yahweh has so much as commanded us to be armed for protection against and the apprehension of criminals:
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye YHWH. (Psalm 149:6-9)
Armed citizens are much more likely to intervene and arrest lawbreakers than are those who are unarmed. The right of a citizen to arrest a criminal probably originated from Deuteronomy 22:23-24 and Psalm 149:6-9.
Misprision is a legal term meaning to “do nothing toward the apprehension of a criminal.” Bouvier’s Law Dictionary provides the following explanation as part of its definition for misprision:
Misprision of felony is the like concealment of felony, without giving any degree of maintenance to the felon…. Misprision of treason is the concealment of treason by being merely passive…. It is the duty of every good citizen, knowing of a treason or felony having been committed, to inform a magistrate [at the very least]. Silently to observe the commission of a felony, without using any endeavors to apprehend the offender, is a misprision. …The passive omission to do one’s duty – to stand by and make no attempt to apprehend the offender or give information to the police. The least degree of assent makes the person a principal in treason, or in felonies a principal or accessory.70
Any passive witness to a crime is a false witness in that he is false to the victim. By his failure to act or speak out, a passive witness is consenting to and, in a sense, participating in the crime. The same is true concerning protection, rescue, and care of a neighbor’s property.
Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that YHWH thy God giveth thee to possess it. (Deuteronomy 19:14)
King Solomon also addressed this Eighth Commandment statute in Proberbs 22:28 and 23:10.
This statute was especially relevant in the days when no boundary fences existed. Adam Clarke commented upon its significance at that time in history:
Before the extensive use of fences, landed property was marked out by stones or posts, set up so as to ascertain the divisions of family estates. It was easy to remove one of these landmarks, and set it in a different place; and thus the dishonest man enlarged his own estate by contracting that of his neighbour. The termini or landmarks among the Romans were held very sacred, and were at last deified.71
The Romans, in fact, made moving a boundary marker a capital crime. John Calvin commented upon the sacredness of landmarks:
…That everyone’s property may be secure, it is necessary that the landmarks, set up for the division of fields, should remain untouched, as if they were sacred.72
The English theologian Matthew Henry provided interesting commentary on landmarks as well:
Here is an implicit direction given to the first planters of Canaan to fix land-marks, according to the distribution of the land to the several tribes and families by lot. Note, it is the will of God that every one should know his own, and that all good means should be used to prevent encroachments and the doing and suffering of wrong. …It forbids … the invading of any man’s right, and taking to ourselves that which is not our own, by any fraudulent arts or practices, as by forging, concealing, destroying, or altering deeds and writings (which are our land-marks, to which appeals are made), or by shifting hedges, meer-stones, and boundaries. Though the land-marks were set by the hand of man, yet he was a thief and a robber by the law of God that removed them.73
Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! When the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. (Micah 2:1-2)
Eminent domain – the government’s so-called right to seize property for the “betterment” of the people as a whole – is one way by which the government moves boundary markers and steals from its citizens. Bouvier defines eminent domain, in part, as follows:
The superior right of property subsisting in a sovereignty, by which private property may in certain cases be taken or its use controlled for the public benefit, without regard to the wishes of the owner…. The right of every government to appropriate otherwise than by taxation and its police authority … private property for public use.74
Because there is no exception clause in Deuteronomy 19:14, no individual or collective body of individuals has the authority to steal land by moving the boundary markers, regardless of the reason. Rushdoony concurs:
Eminent domain is a divine right. It belongs to God alone. The “right” of the state to eminent domain has no place in Biblical law.75
Eminent domain is just an impressive term for legalized plunder. Because only Yahweh is sovereign, only He holds eminent domain to all land (Exodus 19:5, Leviticus 25:23). Any government claiming domain is breaking not only the Eighth Commandment when it enforces that claim, but also the Second Commandment77 by putting itself in the place of God.
And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years…. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family…. And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour’s hand…. The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine. …that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubilee: and in the jubilee it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession. (Leviticus 25:8-28)
The law regarding the year of Jubilee makes it impossible for property to be permanently amassed in the hands of any one person or family. Houses and lands are not to be accumulated in the hands of an elite few:
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! (Isaiah 5:8)
Land was to be divided exclusively among the tribes of Israel and then further divided among the families of each tribe, thereby establishing an equality among the families of Israel:
And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man’s inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit. (Numbers 33:54)
When land grants remain in the hands of the original owner’s family, it automatically regulates, controls, and even checks foreign immigration. North elaborated on Yahweh’s land-tenure system:
This land tenure system kept those outside a particular tribe from becoming permanent owners of rural land throughout Israel. This restricted the intermarriage of the tribes (Num. 36)…. This system also kept strangers in the land – gentile alien residents – from ever becoming landowners rather than leaseholders….78
When Ezra returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity, he found that many of his fellow Judahites had taken foreign wives. His concern was threefold: religious, ethnic, and territorial:
…the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations…. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves…. Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons … that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever. (Ezra 9:1-12)
The same problems exist in America. The more integrated and multicultural we have become, the more pluralistic we have become and, consequently, the less Christian. From a strictly religious perspective, integration and miscegenation,79 or race mixing, should be just as much a concern today as it was for Ezra. However, religion was only one of his concerns. Ezra was just as worried about the pollution of Israelite genes as he was about the adulteration of their religion.
Ezra was also concerned because he knew that if these mixed marriages were allowed to continue, Israel’s land inheritance would be in peril. The boundary markers would have been overturned and lost altogether to the mixed multitude born of those integrated relationships. This would have occurred even if the parents of these mixed children or the children themselves were believers in Yahweh. Israel would still have been dispossessed of her land. Rushdoony concurred:
…Deuteronomy 22:10 not only forbids unequal religious yoking by inference, and as a case law, but also unequal yoking generally. This means that an unequal marriage between believers or between unbelievers is wrong. Man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), and woman in the reflected image of God in man, and from man (1 Cor. 11:1-12; Gen. 2:18, 21-28). “Helpmeet” means a reflection or mirror, and image of man, indicating that a woman must have something religiously and culturally in common with her husband. The burden of the law is thus against inter-religious, inter-racial, and inter-cultural marriages, in that they normally go against the very community which marriage is designed to establish.
Today in America and other predominately Celto-Saxon countries (Celtic, Scandinavian, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, and kindred peoples), contemporary Israel’s81 land and religion are being stolen. She is again losing her spiritual and geographical heritage to foreign immigrants and the children born of mixed races.
The principle of Isaiah 5:8 also applies to the often misunderstood monopoly. It is not a monopoly for someone to develop and market a product that no one else has yet produced. Neither are Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target monopolies. The fact that these three companies are fierce competitors establishes that none of them is a monopoly. If any one of them were a monopoly, the other two would not exist. A part of the definition of a monopoly requires that it have no competitors:
1. exclusive control of a commodity or service that makes possible the manipulation of prices…. 5. the market condition that exists when there is only one seller.82
However, there is more to what makes a company a monopoly then simply no competitors. The following explanation should help us identify true monopolies:
Being a single seller, by itself, is not good, nor evil – it depends on how one obtained that single-seller status. Did one obtain a monopoly by economic competition in the marketplace, or did one obtain it by political pull, i.e., lobbying? If such status is gained by competition in the free-market then the “monopoly” – the successful business – is good. If such status is gained by using the government, or Mafia, to force one’s competition out of business, then the monopoly is evil. As all political intervention (limitation by force) in the marketplace is outlawed under capitalism, a harmful monopoly under capitalism is impossible. If one considers a monopoly by definition as intrinsically evil, then only “businesses” that obtain their market share by having their competition outlawed (as the U.S. Post Office does) can be called a monopoly.
There is no such thing as a lawful monopoly. Legal monopolies, however, exist by the permission and sometimes the provision of the government. When the government legalizes a monopoly, it discriminates against, restricts, and even prohibits others from making a lawful living by the same means, thereby stealing from them.
Monopolies, at least in principle, are condemned by Exodus 20:15, Deuteronomy 19:14, and Isaiah 5:8.
Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am YHWH your God…. (Leviticus 19:35-36)
This statute demands equitable commerce in meteyard (inches, feet, yards, mileage, acreage, etc.), weight (ounces, pounds, tons, etc.), and measure (any dry or liquid capacity measurement, such as bushels or gallons).
Paul summed up this statute:
That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all…. (1 Thessalonians 4:6)
During the early American gold rush days, a practice known as “salting a mine” was a classic example of fraud. In order to get a better price for an inferior mine, the current owner would shoot gold flakes into the walls of his mine with a shotgun, giving the impression that the mine had immense potential.
Although we no longer use the old-fashioned scales that were easily manipulated to give an unjust advantage over unwary customers, this statute is nonetheless violated today through numerous tactics. Examples of unjust weights and measures include citrus fruits that are hydrated with a syringe to produce a dishonest weight just prior to going to market; cattle that are fed salted feed causing them to drink heavily and increase their weight just before being marketed; and any form of false advertising.
Another often overlooked modern transgression of this statute is the medical profession’s practice of charging a patient for a botched operation or for a follow-up procedure made necessary because of a doctor’s mistakes. It would also apply to any company or person who does not stand behind contracted work.
America’s entire monetary structure – including the Federal Reserve, fractional reserve banking, and the United States tax system – is fraught with false weights and measures.
We usually think of debasement in terms of coinage, but anything can be debased. For example, ask for butter in a restaurant, and the chances are very slim you will be served real butter. When inflation increases, debasement can be witnessed in numerous creative ways at any grocery store.
A synonym for debasement is adulteration. It means to fraudulently alter something, particularly money, for profit:
Debasement is the practice of lowering the value of currency. It is particularly used in connection with commodity money such as gold and silver coins. A coin is said to be debased if the quantity of gold or silver is reduced.
The United States government has incrementally debased its currency over an extended period of time. This systematic debasement has been so complete and well disguised that what is identified as money today functions as such only by the faith of those who believe it is money.
For anything to be money, it must have substance and weight:
Under a commodity money system, the objects used as money have intrinsic value, i.e., they have value beyond their use as money. For example, gold coins retain value because of gold’s useful physical properties even if inflation damages their value as currency, whereas paper notes are only worth as much as the monetary value assigned to them.85
In America, Federal Reserve Notes, which have little or no substance or weight, have replaced real money. Originally, Federal Reserve Notes were backed with a promise to pay in gold and silver on demand of the depositor. Today, nothing backs them – not even a promise. The only thing keeping this fraudulent system afloat is people’s faith that their Federal Reserve Notes are worth more than the paper on which they are printed. Sir Josiah Stamp, president of the Bank of England, essentially admitted this in a speech at the University of Texas in 1927:
The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of sleight of hand that was ever invented. Banking was conceived in inequity and born in sin. Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them but leave them the power to create money, and with a flick of a pen, they will create enough money to buy it back again…. Take this great power away from them and all great fortunes like mine will disappear, and they ought to disappear, for then this would be a better and happier world to live in. But if you want to continue to be the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let bankers continue to create money and control credit.87
Debasement is no trivial matter with Yahweh:
A false balance is abomination to YHWH: but a just weight is his delight. (Proverbs 11:1)
It was for this sin that Yeshua forcefully drove the money changers out of Yahweh’s temple, in Matthew 21:12-13.
Yahweh promises that if you defraud your brother you will reap what you sow:
Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? …Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied … and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword. Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine. (Micah 6:10-15)
The patriarch Jacob and King David set the standard for Christians:
And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: … This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it … whether stolen by day, or stolen by night. (Genesis 31:36-39)
Moreover the prince shall not take of the people’s inheritance by oppression, to thrust them out of their possession … that my people be not scattered every man from his possession. (Ezekiel 46:18)
Without the influence of Christianity and Yahweh’s morality, it is no wonder that governments are often both antithetical and antagonistic to the laws of Yahweh, including the Eighth Commandment. Generally, governments reflect the morality and character of the people whom they govern, a fact alluded to in the book of Hosea:
And there shall be, like people, like priest88: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. (Hosea 4:9)
When men are given to lawlessness, their society will also be lawless, as will be their laws and courts. In legal extortion or fraud, men use the agency of the state or its courts to conduct their robberies.89
Governments tend to be more ingenious than the average citizen in the ways they steal. In 1848, French statesman Frederic Bastiat wrote the very insightful book The Law, in which he expounded upon this inherent vice of human governments and their perversion of the law:
The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become [sic] the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!90
Although most of this should sound all too familiar, the average United States citizen regrettably does not usually recognize such entitlements as theft.
The creation of public lands is one method employed by the United States government to steal from its citizens. Identifying these lands as “public” is part of the ruse to cover up the theft. Except for the fact that the public is permitted to enjoy them, they are not public at all. These lands, which are usually stolen by legislation from private property owners, are owned by the government, not the public.
Even public use is changing given that the government is incrementally restricting access to more and more of these areas. The very fact that the government can restrict access further proves its ownership. Moreover, the public is perpetually paying taxes toward upkeep and fees to gain admittance to what is supposedly already theirs.
The people’s support of public lands is misplaced. The government has yet to demonstrate that it can manage anything better than private entrepreneurs. Certainly private owners would recognize Yellowstone Park’s potential source of revenue and make parts of it available to the public, probably at far less expense than does the federal government. Dude ranches are one example of how private citizens are doing exactly this on a smaller scale.
Public lands are just the tip of the iceberg. All of America is owned by federal and state governments via their claim to eminent domain. Most people are unaware that eminent domain confers ownership of all land to the government. Although the government covers up its theft by paying what it considers just compensation for the land it appropriates, it ultimately can seize any citizen’s land at its discretion:
Eminent Domain as Exercise of Sovereignty. It was the theory of Grotius that the power of eminent domain was based on the principle that the state had an original and absolute ownership of the whole property possessed by the individual members of it; antecedent to their possession, and that their possession and enjoyment of it being subsequently derived from a grant by the sovereign, it was held subject to a tacit agreement or implied reservation that it might be resumed and all individual rights to it extinguished by a rightful exertion of this ultimate ownership by the state.95
If a property owner does not have total control over his land, he does not own it. No middle ground exists. With the exception of anything owned in a partnership, you cannot partially own something. It is oxymoronic to say you own something when you do not have control over it. Therefore, because the government maintains the right and has the power to exercise eminent domain, the property most people think they own is not really theirs at all.
Just because the government seldom exercises its claim to eminent domain does not make it any less a reality. The fact that government can and does exercise eminent domain anytime and anywhere it chooses proves that it has stolen title to all the land in America.
That the government owns every inch of land in America is also demonstrated by its power to tax and confiscate property. Landowners who have refused to pay property taxes are under the mistaken notion that the government steals their land when the sheriff and his deputies show up and physically remove them from their property. In reality, the government already stole everyone’s land when it legislated to tax the land in violation of Yahweh’s sovereignty.
Tithing, which is a ten percent tax on the increase from one’s property, demonstrates Yahweh’s ownership of the earth. North correctly explained that the tithe is essentially a rental fee to Yahweh and an acknowledgement of His sovereignty:
God delegates ownership to mankind in terms of a leasehold contract. Men owe Him a tithe as His legitimate return…. But men do not want to pay God this rental fee. They want autonomous ownership without any obligation to pay rent. They despise the very thought of paying rent to God … because it testifies that they are not the ultimate owners. Paying a tithe to God is public admission that they are not the sovereign owners, not the autonomous creators.96
Under America’s current ungodly tax system, land “owners” are only temporary tenants who may be removed when the “laws of the land” are brought into play. This was made abundantly clear by Senate Document 43 of the Congressional Record of the 73rd Congress:
The ultimate ownership of all property is in the State; individual so-called ‘ownership’ is only by virtue of Government, i.e., law, amounting to mere user; and that use must be in accordance with law and subordinate to the necessities of the State. (Senate Document 43, Page 9, April 1933)
Replace the word “State” with “Yahweh” and this document would be biblically valid. But the fact that the United States Senate replaced “Yahweh” with “State” is tacit testimony that the federal government is attempting to replace Yahweh as Sovereign God.
Senate Document 43 sounds very similar to another government’s ungodly decrees:
Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes. (Communist Manifesto, Plank Number 1, 1848)
Our response to the legislators should have been the same as Naboth’s when King Ahab wanted to confiscate his vineyard: “…YHWH forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.” (1 Kings 21:3)
The only difference between King Ahab’s theft of Naboth’s vineyard and the United States government’s theft under the guise of taxation and eminent domain is that today’s government is more sophisticated and all-inclusive in its methods.
When the Israelites of Samuel’s day clamored for a king and a government like that of all the nations around them, Yahweh warned them that their freedom, property, and possessions would be in jeopardy:
And YHWH said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have … rejected me, that I should not reign over them…. Now … shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. And Samuel … said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants…. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. (1 Samuel 8:7-17)
It is never a question whether we are going to pay a tithe. The question is to whom are we going to pay it. If only it were just ten percent! Today’s typical citizen is taxed much more than ten percent via property tax, the graduated income tax, and sundry other taxes, both obvious and hidden. According to the Tax Foundation, the average American paid 32.69% in combined taxes in 2007:
Americans will work longer to pay for government (120 days) than they will for food, clothing and housing combined (105 days).97
After computing all of the hidden taxes, other organizations estimate the average is closer to 70%.
Tax his land, tax his wage,
Bastiat declared that “Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it!”98 It is the proclivity of all man-made governments to steal from their citizens. No better test case exists than the United States government. Contrast what it was when it began with what it has devolved into today.
One of the reasons all man-made governments eventually legalize and even participate in plunder is that no matter how good man’s best may be, it is still imperfect, and imperfection can only digress toward greater imperfection or lawlessness.
While discussing government from the perspective of debt and taxes, former president Thomas Jefferson had prophetic insight:
If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, and give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses, and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do … have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains around the necks of our fellow-sufferers…. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering…. And the fore horse to this frightful team is public debt. Taxations follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.99
Jefferson was wrong about one thing: what he termed a tendency is, in fact, the destiny of all human governments, including the one he helped form. Yahweh’s government, based upon His perfect laws (Psalm 19:7-11), not only halts this inevitable fate but also prevents it.
Under Yahweh’s perfect system only a person’s increase is to be taxed. In other words, only those who can afford taxes are required to pay taxes. No man is ever dispossessed of his property because he is unable to pay taxes.
When property is taxed, the debt is never-ending. The man who, for whatever reason, has no increase with which to pay the tax is forced into the ironic position of having to sell his property, thereby having his and his posterity’s inheritance stolen from them.
Under Yahweh’s system, the increase is the only thing taxed, and the tax is never to exceed ten percent,100 an amount that anyone with an increase is able to afford. With the ever-increasing property taxes under America’s perverted economic system, the day will come when only the super rich will be able to afford property. Rushdoony commented upon the consequences of property tax:
The absence of any land and property tax in Biblical law very definitely protects enduring ownership, whereas modern tax laws destroy ownership. To cite one example, in one city, a lovely area of very superior homes, from ten to twenty rooms, some of stone construction, became, in about 25 years, so heavily taxed, that the homes either had to be torn down to make way for apartments, or sold for use as dormitories. The ownership of these homes was made prohibitive to impossible by means of taxes.
Rand explained why property becomes a liability when taxed by government:
Under the law of the Lord the land had no sale value in itself. The sale value was in the productiveness of the land. Because this was so, nothing could be gained by holding land for profit, for there was no profit in land except one labored and worked that it might bring forth an increase. When a man sold his inheritance, it was not the land which he sold but the right to the increase from that land. The sales value was based upon the yearly return from the land until the next Jubilee. Thus it was the yearly return which he sold and not the land. Thus the thrifty were not penalized while the shiftless were rewarded as is so often the case today. The thrifty paid a tithe from their abundance or increase and while the shiftless paid no tithe yet they also had no increase. Both were assured of their inheritance: free from the fear of losing it or having it taken from them by governmental levies, but the increase from that inheritance could only be secured by individual industry and enterprise. The owner of property and in possession of his heritage, under the law of the Lord, is blessed with security while today the ownership of property is a liability that may tax the resources of men to meet the levies made against his possessions.103
Property tax, a consequence of man’s rejection of Yahweh’s laws, is one means by which Isaiah’s warning is being fulfilled today:
Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge … because they have cast away the law of YHWH of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 5:13-24)
In To Heal the Nation, Franklin Snook pointed out just how insidious property tax is:
To tax property is to make it a liability rather than an asset, and to tax improvements on property is to penalize the industrious and the thrifty – a stumbling block to prosperity.
Because Yahweh never abdicated title to the land, His eminent domain encompasses the entire earth (Exodus 19:5, Leviticus 25:23). Consequently, governments who confiscate land are thieves who steal from Yahweh.
The Bible does promote paying taxes, but only to whom they are due:
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil…. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. …a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil…. For for this cause pay ye tribute [taxes, NASV] also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Romans 13:3-7)
Many ministers have turned this passage into “a sword of oppression rather than a shield from tyranny.”106 Paul was explicit regarding the type of rulers he was referring to. Three times in five verses he identified them as ministers of God who do good to the righteous and strike fear into the hearts of the wicked. Does this description apply to everyone working in government today? Does this description apply to anyone in government today? Just as respect and honor are not due to everyone, neither are taxes due to someone just because he claims they are.
Income tax is one more ingenious means by which the United States government steals from its citizens. Much could be said concerning the dubious legality of this tax and the Internal Revenue Service, but the focus should not be on its legality but rather its lawfulness. The only means to determine the lawfulness of the income tax is to juxtapose it with the laws of Yahweh, the one and only Lawgiver (Isaiah 33:22, James 4:12).107
Tithing under the New Covenant is debated among today’s Christians, principally because many of them have neither an understanding nor a vision for Yahweh’s kingdom or government here on earth. When Christians understand that Yahweh intends for His government and therefore His laws to be enforced by the kind of administration described by Paul in Romans 13:1-7, 1 Corinthians 6:1-6, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, and 1 Timothy 1:8-10, the validity and applicability of the tithe will become apparent.
It is unquestionable that the Bible provides us with the principle of giving our first fruits to Yahweh (Exodus 22:29, Proverbs 3:9) by way of those who promote His Kingdom and His laws here on earth (2 Chronicles 31:4). A precedent for this is found in 2 Kings 4:42-44, when, in the absence of any Levites, Baalshalisha took his first fruits to the Prophet Elisha. Paul expounded upon the New Covenant application of this principle:
…he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal [material, NASV] things?... Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:7-14)
The gospel is often depicted as the gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14; Mark 1:14). The gospel of the Kingdom includes the laws of the Kingdom. Therefore, only those who preach the laws of Yahweh’s Kingdom are eligible to make a living from the gospel.
The tithe (ten percent) is a biblical tax upon a person’s increase or yearly produce, but never on property itself. To be liable for this biblical tax, a person must own property that garners not just an income but also an increase:
Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. (Deuteronomy 14:22)
1 Corinthians 9:7-14 demonstrates that the tithe should be applied, by extension, not only to agricultural increase, but to any increase or profit earned by any means. Much of what was done under the Old Covenant was a type of what was to come under the New Covenant. While Paul did not use the word “tithe” in 1 Corinthians 9:7-14, he clearly provided compelling evidence for applying the Old Covenant tithe to ministers like himself. Paul applies the Old Covenant type (the tithes from agriculture given at the altar to the Levites) to the New Covenant antitype (support from any means given to ministers of the gospel of the Kingdom). This is the clear antitype application. Without this means of financing, it is left up to speculation for the manner by which Kingdom expenses should be funded under the New Covenant.
With this being true, only those who earn an increase or profit would owe a ten-percent tax on the aggregate increase, after legitimate deductions. Yahweh does not tax a person’s entire wages, capital, or property. To do so would be to hinder his ability to increase.
In the 1800s, the definition of income was more consonant with the biblical idea of an increase. Consider Noah Webster’s 1828 and John Bouvier’s 1839 definitions of income:
That gain which proceeds from labor, business or property of any kind … the profits of commerce or of occupation….108
Increase tax is due only to the type of rulers described by Paul in Romans 13, and any tax higher than ten percent is unbiblical.
Today’s income tax is a cunning way by which a person’s profits and part of his children’s inheritance is stolen from him. What is even more disconcerting are the insidious ways in which the money from income tax is used to finance ungodly organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which makes Christians an indirect party to infanticide and other abominations.
Thomas Jefferson understood the inherent ungodliness of forcing someone to underwrite legislation that funds immorality:
To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.…110
The Bible also provides for a fixed, yearly head tax:
…once in a year…. When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto YHWH, when thou numberest them…. This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel…. Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto YHWH. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto YHWH, to make an atonement for your souls.111 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before YHWH, to make an atonement for your souls. (Exodus 30:10-16)
Yahweh’s tabernacle – the Tent of Meeting and later the Temple – was the seat of Israelite government and the Levites were civil servants. The head tax was used to help satisfy government expenses. Only men twenty years and older were responsible for this tax; women and children were exempt.
Under Yahweh’s patriarchal system, females of all ages and male children under twenty (the age of adulthood) are covered by an adult male twenty years or older who provides for and protects them:
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3)
The head of each household represents each person whom he covers or over which he is head. Upon being married, men leave their parents and become the heads of their own households:
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
When a woman becomes a man’s wife, she becomes one with her husband. Any children they may have are, necessarily, members of that family unit. Therefore, only the head of each household is liable for the head tax, which should be used for the support of Yahweh’s ministers and Kingdom expenses.
In contrast, America’s ungodly tax system demands that each and every person with any kind of income is to be taxed. This system subtly undermines a man’s position as head of his wife and children, with the potential of splintering and fragmenting family loyalties.
Rushdoony explained who should ultimately be in control of taxation:
If the church collects the tax, the church rules society; if the state collects the tax, the state rules society. If, however, the people of God administer the tithe to godly agencies, then God’s rule prevails in that social order.112
Actually, the Church and State should be one and the same entity – that is, the State should be ruled by biblically qualified Christian men.
Most people will be surprised to learn that a graduated tax – an increase commensurate to the taxable base – is biblical. Yahweh’s tax requires more from those who make more – ten percent of $100 is $10, ten percent of $1,000 is $100, and ten percent of $10,000 is $1,000. Under this equitable approach to taxation, everyone pays the same percentage.
Under America’s graduated tax system, however, the more a person makes the higher percentage he pays in taxes. This is nothing but a socialistic leveling scheme to put everyone on the same financial footing.
To carnal, unregenerate man’s way of thinking, no one should be allowed to excel or prosper over others. Therefore, human government increases the percentage of tax the industrious man must pay. Penalizing the industrious discourages ambition, initiative, and enterprise because the only way to pay a smaller percentage in taxes is to make less money. Someone once compared America’s present tax system to golfing: You drive hard to get to the green only to wind up in the hole.
Under Yahweh’s economic system, everyone pays the same tax percentage – ten percent – on their increase, and the exact same amount for the head tax. That is equity!
Welfare, financed by unlawful taxation, is one more unethical means by which the United States government steals from its citizens. Bastiat elaborated:
But how is legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime…. If such a law – which may be an isolated case – is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.113
An article published by the Plymouth Rock Foundation revealed the ageless truth of Bastiat’s last statement:
“We’ve created a welfare monster that is a shocking indictment of our sense of priorities.” So said President Reagan in his 1987 State of the Union Address. Since 1950 the number of persons receiving public assistance and social welfare payments has increased from 6 million to more than 30 million (in 1984, latest overall figure available). In 1985 federal payments to individuals totaled $427.3 billion, while the total to be spent (by all gov. agencies) on “welfare” for fiscal year 1987 is estimated at $642 billion….114
Since 1987, the United States’ welfare system’s cost have only worsened.
Although cloaked in humanitarianism and good intentions, government-controlled welfare is socialism, which is simply government theft. In Bastiat’s day, welfare was called fraternity, meaning brotherhood. This attempt at equality is an unattainable illusion.
Fraternity, brotherhood, philanthropy, welfare – these are all esteemed biblical objectives when they are voluntary. Quoting Bastiat once more:
…it is impossible for me to separate the word fraternity from the word voluntary. I cannot possibly understand how fraternity can be legally enforced without liberty being legally destroyed and thus justice being legally trampled underfoot. Legal plunder has two roots: One of them … is in human greed; the other is in false philanthropy.115
To put it simply: When fraternity, philanthropy, and welfare are in the hands of government, individual liberty is destroyed. “Charity” is the word the King James translators chose in place of “love” in 1 Corinthians 13. Love can never be forced or coerced; it must be voluntary. The same is true of charity as we normally think of it:
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity [under compulsion, NASV]: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Charity, by its very definition, relies upon the free will of the giver. Compulsory giving is a contradiction of terms. For any government to provide handouts on behalf of its citizens without their consent is simply organized theft.
Former President James Madison declared that even the United States Constitution did not authorize such expropriations:
I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.116
Government-sponsored welfare was addressed by Col. David Crockett while serving in the United States House of Representatives:
One day in the House of Representatives a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support. The speaker was just about to put the question to a vote when Crockett arose and spoke:
Today’s bureaucrats need to take a lesson from both Col. Crockett and King David:
And David’s heart smote him after that he had [unlawfully] numbered the people…. And David spake unto YHWH when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly…. Let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house. And [the prophet] Gad … said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto YHWH in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite…. And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood…. And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto YHWH my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. (2 Samuel 24:10-24)
Although this altar was for the welfare of the public, David refused to accept Araunah’s threshing floor and oxen as a gift, he did not claim eminent domain, and he did not tax the people in order to pay for the sacrifice. He paid out of his own coffers, as should anyone who is moved to provide charity for any cause.
Ingram described government-controlled welfare as “Robin Hood’s justice”:
The income tax, which seizes property under pain of the most severe punishment, virtually abolishes any man’s control over what is his own, and substitutes full government regulation over all life for just punishment of crime. The state, which is supposed to punish thieves, becomes itself a monster thief. It plunders men’s property as Robin Hood did in order to distribute it according to the ideas of the man who happens to be running the show at the moment. The law, which exists to limit stealing, becomes the instrument by which ruthless men seize all property, from the greatest factory to the widow’s loaf of bread. A man’s house is transformed from his castle to his burden which may be taken from him by any wild dreamer who proposes a plan for what he calls civic betterment. The poor who might get a toe-hold in the opportunities of the city by living in cheap tenements are denied the chance by slum clearance projects. The rich must hire a battery of experts to advise them as to how to keep out of jail in the management of their affairs. A man is accountable to the government for how he uses whatever he thinks he owns, but at any moment the government may rob him of it.
The United States government has become an incredibly powerful organized mob, which takes the average citizen’s money under threats of fines, imprisonment, and property confiscation. The government takes its citizens’ acquired capital, their property, and their posterity’s inheritance and distributes them according to its own unlawful choosing. Essentially, the government is guilty of the same crime King Ahab committed when he stole Naboth’s vineyard.
Although someone may object that Ahab stole for his own personal aggrandizement, theft is theft whether someone steals for himself or for someone else. Do you really believe that government officials and employees do not benefit right along with the welfare recipients?
Poverty is big business: about 530,000 government employees are paid to staff the welfare machine. The monthly payroll [1987 figures] is $600 million, $7.2 billion a year! This doesn’t include the costs of offices, equipment, telephones and travel expense or the vendors who profit at the welfare spigot. Economists figure that it costs about three dollars to deliver $1.00 in public assistance to the poor, which means that only 25¢ out of every dollar spent on welfare gets to the poor, the other 75¢ stays in the pipeline to fuel the bureaucracy.119
No doubt many people will still be inclined to point out that the welfare system is good so long as it improves the lot of the poor to some degree, however small. But how many poor people have actually been rescued from poverty by the United States welfare program? American economist and 1976 Nobel Prize winner in economics Milton Friedman is quoted as saying, “If you pay people to be poor, they will be poor.”
The April 1985 Reader’s Digest ran an editorial review entitled “How Uncle Sam Robbed America’s Poor.” Its opening paragraph established the failure of welfare reform in the sixties:
A comprehensive, compelling new study of the working-age poor shows that the welfare reforms of the 1960s did not work. There were no victors – only victims – in America’s War on Poverty.120
Almost fifty years later, nothing has changed.
A September 1987 Reader’s Digest article entitled “Caging the Welfare Monster” elaborated upon the welfare system’s inherent failings:
Evidence abounds that welfare discourages work, weakens families and keeps people mired in poverty. “It could be renamed Aid to Create Dependent Families,” observes the Chicago Tribune. “It rewards failure and punishes success. That is the message handed down to children – parents of the next, bigger generation of welfare recipients.”
The underlying suggestion is that welfare recipients should perhaps work for their handouts. The Bible puts it more bluntly:
…this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
Nature provides us with illustrations of the same. If a reluctant eaglet decides to stay in the nest beyond its time to fly, its parents will withhold its food. Instead of bringing dinner to the nest, the parents leave it on a nearby limb. Eventually hunger motivates the eaglet to take its first flight.
While Yahweh’s law includes welfare provisions, only those willing to work for them will receive the benefits:
And when ye [landowners] reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am YHWH your God. (Leviticus 19:9-10)
The poor and the stranger – those physically capable – were required to go into the fields and reap the gleanings themselves.
It might be argued that the government uses our money to subsidize some good causes. Do not miss the operative phrase “our money.” Whether the cause is social security, Medicaid, workman’s compensation, public education, college loans, business grants, bankruptcy bailouts, domestic or foreign aid, food stamps, housing for the poor, farm subsidies, or disaster relief, the use of unconsenting citizens’ money still amounts to stealing. No matter how noble the cause, theft remains theft.
If it is theft for an individual to confiscate his neighbor’s automobile, sell it, take the proceeds and give it to the Red Cross, it is also theft for a collective force to do essentially the same thing by means of taxation, coercion, and threats – except it is worse when the government steals from you. Economist Walter Williams is quoted as saying, “When a politician robs you, you have to be bored by listening to the reasons why, but a common thief spares you the grief by just taking your money and going about his business.”
About now, many people might be wondering, “What, then, is the solution to welfare needs?” Knowing the benevolent spirit of our people, if the tax money used for welfare was returned to its rightful owners, three things would occur.
First, with that much more money in their pockets, our people would meet most, if not all, the legitimate needs of others. Our people have proven time and again that they are more than willing to assist in times of crisis, even above and beyond what the government is already stealing from them. On February 16, 1887, then President Grover Cleveland vetoed House bill No. 10203 entitled “An act to enable the Commissioner of Agriculture to make a special distribution of seeds in the drought-stricken counties of Texas, and making an appropriation [$10,000] therefore.” Part of Cleveland’s reasoning follows:
The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of the paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.122
Second, with welfare in the hands of private individuals, the money would be used much more efficiently, stretch much further, and accomplish much more than when funneled through the government bureaucracy, and it would go directly to those in need.
And third, relieving federal and state governments of their welfare responsibilities and perpetual employee payrolls would go a long way toward balancing the federal and state budgets.
Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! (Isaiah 10:1-2)
This is an accurate depiction of today’s judicial system, which is generally disposed toward the wealthy and often wrests judgment from the poor. The scales are tipped in favor of the rich due to the simple fact that the average poor man cannot afford the same quality and quantity of attorneys as a wealthy man. This, in itself, is a type of unjust weights and measures. Money and attorney gamesmanship – not justice – rule today’s courts, and the result, all too often, is the plundering of the innocent.
Yahweh demands equity in our courts for poor and wealthy alike:
Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause…. Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. Keep thee far from a false matter…. And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:3-8)
The unbiblical United States jury system adds to the problem. It is a common mistake even among pronomians to promote America’s unbiblical jury system. The following passages provide for judges, officers, and magistrates, but nowhere does the Bible mention juries:
…teach them ordinances and laws…. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness…. And let them judge the people at all seasons…. (Exodus 18:20-22)
The Bible does not provide for juries. Even if jury nullification – the right of a jury to judge any law as unjust, oppressive, or inapplicable to any particular case – was restored, juries would still inevitably make their decisions based upon the prevailing immorality123 of the general population. Remember, it was a jury that awarded 2.3 million dollars to Stella Liebeck when she burned herself with MacDonald’s coffee, and it was a jury that found O. J. Simpson innocent on all charges.
Although it only takes one juror to dissent and prevent a “railroad job,” most people lack the independence and resolution to resist the will of a majority. More often than not, today’s jurors reflect the type of people we are warned against in Exodus 23:
Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment. (Exodus 23:2)
When a judicial system is governed by biblically qualified judges – whose decisions are based solely upon Yahweh’s commandments, statutes, and judgments – juries are unnecessary. Today’s unbiblical judges, however, create their own laws based upon their own opinions and rulings. These decisions and binding precedents, called case law, compel juries to render decisions accordingly.
There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the color of justice….124
When tyranny is exercised under cover of legality that is unlawful to begin with, the problem worsens. Because there is only one Lawgiver (Isaiah 33:22, James 4:12), no judge can actually make law. Any legislation in agreement with Yahweh’s laws is already law and does not need man’s ratification to validate it anymore than the law of gravity needed man to name it in order for it to become viable. Any legislation not in agreement with Yahweh’s law is simply legalized immorality.
Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves … they have done violence to the law. (Zephaniah 3:3-4)
In a news article entitled “American Legal System is Corrupt Beyond Recognition, Judge Tells Harvard Law School,” Geraldine Hawkins reported on United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones’ February 28, 2003, lecture to the Federalist Society of the Harvard Law School:
She said … what is morally right is routinely sacrificed to what is politically expedient…. “The integrity of the law, its religious roots, its transcendent quality are disappearing. …Blackstone … wrote that: ‘The law … dictated by God himself … is binding … in all counties and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all force and all their authority … from this original.’”125
Unless exclusively governed by Yahweh’s laws, today’s “conservative” judges are inevitably disposed toward the rich, just as today’s liberal judges are inclined to favor the poor.
Actually, when measured against the laws of the Bible, America no longer has any conservative judges, except in the sense that some judges are “conservative liberals.” In fact, very few, if any, of today’s judges would even be appointed126 to the bench if biblical qualifications were the standard. Among other things, a judge must be a person who:
Even if a man meets all of these qualifications, he still may fail to be eligible if his wife and children fall short. A judge must be the head of his own home and have a dignified, non-gossiping, sober, faithful wife and faithful, non-rebellious children (Exodus 18:19-21, Deuteronomy 1:13-17, Deuteronomy 17:15-19, 2 Chronicles 19:5-8, Romans 13:1-4, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, and Titus 1:5-9). In Romans 13, Paul describes such men as “ministers of God to thee for good.”129
Yahweh reiterates time and again that judges must be impartial:
…It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. (Proverbs 24:23)
The Hebrew phrase translated “thou shalt not respect persons” reads literally “thou shalt not recognize faces.” Rushdoony commented on this phrase and the effect of a bribe:
The judge thus must be blind to the persons in the case, and must see the issues involved. A bribe reverses this order, and the judge is then blind to the issues and sees only the persons.130
The judge who is not blind to the people involved in a case perverts the law and turns his court into an instrument of theft, if not something worse.
Eighth Commandment judgment requires restitution. The amount of restitution varies depending upon a number of factors, including the class of theft and the object stolen.
If an ox, or today’s equivalent, is stolen and killed or sold, the thief is required to pay back five times the estimated value. If the stolen item is a sheep, or today’s equivalent, the thief is required to pay back four times the estimated value:
If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. (Exodus 22:1)
Although the Bible does not make mention of the man who knowingly purchases stolen property, such a purchase would be a violation of Leviticus 5:1:
Now if a person sins, after he hears a public adjuration to testify, when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt. (Leviticus 5:1, NASV)
As an accomplice to the theft, a person who knowingly purchases stolen property would be liable for the same amount of restitution as the thief himself.
American jurisprudence requires an unwitting buyer to return the goods at his own loss, but the person who is unaware that what he has bought is stolen property is as innocent as the man from whom the goods were stolen. It might even be argued that, in such instances, two people have been victimized – the original owner, who has already lost his property, and the current owner, who is forced to return the property at his own loss. So which victim is to be given preference? Neither. Yahweh’s law includes no such provision and, therefore, the purchase must be considered a legitimate sale. Higher ethics would perhaps motivate the new owner to return the stolen item to the original owner or perhaps split the loss with him.
If a thief is caught in possession of stolen goods, he is required to pay back double what he stole:
If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double. (Exodus 22:4)
Damage done to another person’s property also requires restitution, the amount of which depends upon whether the damage is deliberate, accidental, or a consequence of negligence:
If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man’s field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution. If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution. (Exodus 22:5-6)
Restitution is required for lost or damaged items that were either borrowed or held in trust:
If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double. If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods. For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour. If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it: Then shall an oath of YHWH be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good. And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof. If it be torn in pieces, then let him bring it for witness, and he shall not make good that which was torn. And if a man borrow ought of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good. But if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good: if it be an hired thing, it came for his hire. (Exodus 22:7-15)
Whereas Exodus 22 requires either two, four, or five times restitution, Leviticus 6 requires restitution plus twenty percent for what appears to be the same crimes:
And YHWH spake unto Moses, saying, If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against YHWH, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour; or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein: Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal [restitution for it in full, NASV], and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth…. (Leviticus 6:1-5)
The only significant difference between Leviticus 6 and Exodus 22 is that in Leviticus 6 an attempted cover-up is implicated, indicated by the words “deceives,” “lied about it,” and “sworn falsely.” In other words, if a thief who has already been apprehended for his theft attempts to cover up his crime, he must pay twenty percent more than the price required in Exodus 22.
“Restitution in full” in verse 5 refers not only to the stolen item, but also to the sum of the stolen item plus the required restitution. The added twenty percent for the attempted cover-up is actually Yahweh’s judgment for the crime of perjury in addition to the theft. This judgment provides monetary incentive to an apprehended thief to “come clean” before his trial commences, which would in turn help to expedite his case. Confession is not only good for the soul, in most instances, it is also good for the pocketbook.
Restitution is required even when the victim is unidentifiable. Numbers 5 specifies to whom restitution should be paid when the offended party cannot be found or is no longer living:
And YHWH spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against YHWH, and that person be guilty; then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof [restitution in full – the principal plus two, four, or five times the principal], and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed. But if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto YHWH, even to the priest…. (Numbers 5:5-8)
Even if the thief repents and is granted forgiveness by Yahweh,131 the requirement to make restitution remains the same. Today, in the absence of the Temple and the Levitical priests, the payment should be given to a church or ministry that teaches Yahweh’s laws and promotes His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven (2 Chronicles 31:4, 2 Kings 4:42-44).
Restitution is also required when a person has stolen from Yahweh:
If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of YHWH [tithes, offerings, etc.]; then he shall bring for his trespass unto YHWH a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering: And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 5:15-16)
The guilt offering, or the ram’s equivalent in silver, are no longer required under the New Covenant because Yeshua’s sacrifice fulfilled all animal sacrifices. However, the principal and the added twenty percent restitution are still required.
How much better is Yahweh’s justice, especially when contrasted with America’s so-called justice system, which penalizes the victim and other innocent people by taxing them to pay for the imprisonment of convicted thieves? Snook commented upon some of the inherent defects of the United States’ judicial system:
…only a very small percentage of criminals are ever convicted and sent to prison…. One case was cited of a man who was arrested for armed robbery and released on bond. During the next four months, while free on bond, he was arrested five times on various charges ranging from petty larceny to car theft. Finally he pleaded guilty to attempted petty theft and was again released to await sentencing.132
Under Yahweh’s system, the first time a thief is apprehended and judged guilty, he is required to repay anywhere from two to five times more than what he stole. If he cannot pay the required restitution, the convicted thief is to be indentured until he has worked off his debt:
…if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. (Exodus 22:3)
Either way, the criminal is punished, and the victim is compensated for his losses. Furthermore, when Yahweh’s judgments are enforced, tax-subsidized prisons are superfluous. A portion of today’s prison population would simply be set free for having been convicted of non-biblical crimes created by the State. A large percentage of prisoners would be executed for their capital crimes, as dictated by Yahweh’s laws.134 The remaining thieves would be released to either pay restitution to the victims or be indentured until their debt was paid.135
Someone might wonder what should be done with a thief who refuses to pay restitution. As contempt of court, or more properly, contempt of Yahweh and His laws, such refusal would be a capital crime:
And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which YHWH shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before YHWH thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously. (Deuteronomy 17:9-13)
When given the choice to either pay restitution or die, any thief will gladly choose to pay two to five times what he stole, and he will likely never steal again.
Yahweh and His commandments, statutes, and judgments are perfect (Psalm 19:7-9). Why do men so often choose to substitute something inferior to Yahweh and His perfect Kingdom?
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven…. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:10, 33)
1. All Scripture is quoted from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Portions of Scripture have been omitted for brevity’s sake. If there are questions regarding any passage, please open your Bible and study the text to ensure it has been properly used.
2. For a more thorough explanation concerning the Fourth Commandment, “The Fourth Commandment” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/4thcom.php, or the book Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
3. For a more thorough explanation concerning what the Bible says about firearms and self-defense, “Firearms: Scripturally Defended,” a treatise on the biblical mandate to be armed, may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/firearm-right.php.
4. Robert Ingram, The World Under God’s Law: Criminal Aspects of the Welfare State (Houston, TX: St. Thomas Press, 1962) p. 94.
5. Steven N.S. Cheung, The Myth of Social Cost, p. 34, quoted by Gary North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus (Tyler, TX: The Institute for Christian Economics, 1997) p. 576.
6. Not everyone claiming to be a Christian has been properly instructed in the biblical plan of salvation. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied in order to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Yeshua and forgiven of your sins. A more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, “Baptism by the Scriptures” and “Fifty Objections to Baptism Answered,” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/baptismbythescriptures.php and www.missiontoisrael.org/objectionstobaptismanswered.php, or the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
7. YHWH (most often pronounced Yahweh) is the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible. A more thorough explanation regarding the use of the names of God, “The Third Commandment,” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/3rdcom-pt1.php, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
8. Where the Tetragrammaton YHWH – the four Hebrew characters that represent the personal name of God – has been incorrectly rendered the LORD or GOD in English translations, I have taken the liberty to correct this error by inserting YHWH where appropriate. A more thorough explanation regarding the use of the names of God, “The Third Commandment,” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/3rdcom-pt1.php, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
9. Yeshua is the English transliteration of our Savior’s Hebrew name. A more thorough explanation regarding the use of the names of God, “The Third Commandment,” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/3rdcom-pt1.php, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
10. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1973) p. 451.
11. Howard B. Rand, Digest of the Divine Law (Merrimac, MA: Destiny Publishers, 1943) p. 106.
12. The book Prisons: Shut Them All Down! may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/prisons.php, or ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $3 donation.*
13. C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.
14. Moses Maimonides, The Book of Torts, vol. 11 of The Code of Maimonides, 14 vols. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press,  1954), Chapter 3, Section 3, p. 12.
15. John Bouvier, Bouvier’s Law Dictionary: A Concise Encyclopedia of the Law, 3 vols., s.v. “Trust” (Kansas City, MO: Vernon Law Book Company, 1914) vol. 3, p. 3328.
16. Gary North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus (Tyler, TX: The Institute for Christian Economics, 1997) p. 630.
17. For a more thorough explanation concerning what the Bible says about firearms and self-defense, “Firearms: Scripturally Defended,” a treatise on the biblical mandate to be armed, may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/firearm-right.php.
18. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 111.
19. Bouvier, Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, s.v. “Oath,” vol. 3, p. 2388.
20. Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, 6 vols. (New York, NY: Carlton & Phillips, 1853) vol. 1, p. 413.
21. “The Third Commandment” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/3rdcom-pt1.php, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
22. Robert Jamieson, A Commentary Critical, Experimental and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, 6 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1945) vol. 1, p. 368.
23. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 461.
24. James Strong, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “nashah” (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990) p. 81.
25. Ibid., s.v. “neshek,” p. 81.
26. Francis Brown, et al., The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, s.v. “neshek” (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979) p. 675.
27. Strong, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “nashak” p. 81.
28. Brown, et al., The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, s.v. “nashak,” p. 675.
29. Strong, “Dictionary of the Greek Testament,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “tokos,” p. 72.
30. Joseph Henry Thayer, The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. “tokos” (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1981) p. 627.
31. North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, p. 509.
32. Henry Smith, The Examination of Usurie in Two Sermons (1591; reprint ed., Norwood, NJ: Walter Johnson: 1975).
33. John Morris, “He Shall Never Be Moved,” Days of Praise.
34. Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, s.v. “Usury” (New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 2000) p. 1441.
35. Bouvier, Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, s.v. “Usury,” p. 3380.
36. Ibid., s.v. “Usury,” p. 3380.
37. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “Usury” (1828; reprint ed., San Francisco, CA: The Foundation for American Christian Education, 1967).
38. M.G. Easton, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Usury,” PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003 Biblesoft, Inc.
39. Gary North, Dominion Strategies, vol. 1, no. 3 (October 1985).
40. Dan Vender Lugt, Biblical Correspondence Department, Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, MI, October 1987.
41. North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, p. 717.
42. Merrill F. Unger, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Usury” (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1988) p. 1321.
43. Strong, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “nashak,” p. 81.
44. Not only is the interest created out of thin air, but in today’s economic system so is the principal. Loans in the form of Federal Reserve Notes are themselves unjust weights and measures because what is loaned is not backed by gold or silver, nor can it be weighed or measured.
45. North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, p. 727.
46. Ibid., p. 740.
47. Ibid., pp. 755-56.
48. Ibid., p. 743.
49. God’s Covenant People: Yesterday, Today and Forever provides a documented dissertation identifying Israel with today’s Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and kindred peoples. More than thirty biblical characteristics of the people of Israel are provided whereby the Celto-Saxons and kindred peoples are contrasted with today’s Jews. Most of God’s Covenant People may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/gods-covenant-people/tableofcontents.php, or it may be obtained in its entirety from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $14 donation.*
50. North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, p. 711.
51. The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, s.v. “Loans” (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966) p. 1218.
52. Encyclopaedia Judaica, 16 vols., s.v. “Usury” (Jerusalem, Israel: Keter Publishing House Ltd., 1971) vol. 16, pp. 30-32.
53. Goldwin A. Smith, A History of England (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1957) p. 97.
54. North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, p. 746.
55. Ibid., p. 748.
56. Ibid., p. 747.
57. Martin Luther, “Dr. Luther’s Divine Discourses at His Table” (1652).
58. Strong, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “lb^j*,” p. 36.
59. North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, pp. 738-39.
60. Ibid., p. 739.
61. Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament, Copyright © 1983, 2000, Cook Communications Ministries.
62. More information on unlawful property tax can be found in “The Fourth Commandment,” which may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/4thcom.php, or the book Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
63. Theodore G. Tappert, Selected Writings of Martin Luther (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1967) p. 94.
64. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, s.v. “Minimum wage,” www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage.
65. Strong, “Dictionary of the Greek Testament,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “sunefoóneesás,” p. 68.
66. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 506.
67. John Stossel, Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity (JFS Productions, Inc. and American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., 2006) p. 62.
68. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 464.
69. By employing the term “assault weapons,” the anti-gun lobby deceptively attempts to associate all gun owners with criminal behavior. “Firearms: Scripturally Defended,” a treatise on the biblical mandate to be armed, may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/firearm-right.php.
70. Bouvier, Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, s.v “Misprision,” vol. 2, pp. 2225-26.
71. Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, vol. 1, p. 786.
72. John Calvin, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of A Harmony, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2005) vol. 3, p. 121.
73. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.
74. Bouvier, Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, s.v “Eminent Domain,” vol. 1, p. 1008.
75. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 492.
76. Rousas John Rushdoony, Politics of Guilt and Pity (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1970) pp. 325, 327.
77. “The Second Commandment” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/secondcom.php, or the book Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
78. North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, pp. 228-29.
79. For a more thorough explanation concerning the biblical prohibition against miscegenation, “The Seventh Commandment” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/7thcom-pt1.php, or the book Thou shalt not commit adultery may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
80. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, pp. 256-57.
81. For a more thorough explanation concerning Israel’s identity, the book The Mystery of the Gentiles: Who Are They and Where Are They Now? may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/mystery-of-gentiles/index.php, or it may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $10 donation.*
82. Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, s.v. “Monopoly” (New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 2000) p. 859.
83. “Monopoly,” www.capitalism.org/faq/monopolies.htm.
84. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, s.v. “Debasement,” www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/debasement.
85. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, s.v. “Money,” www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/money.
86. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, (1828) s.v. “Money.”
87. Sir Josiah Stamp, quoted by Ellen Hodgson Brown, J.D., The Web of Debt (Baton Rouge, LA: Third Millennium Press, 2007) p. 2.
88. The Levitical priests often served as judges, legislative advisors to judges, and in other governmental capacities (1 Chronicles 23, etc.).
89. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 498.
90. Frederic Bastiat, The Law (Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.,  1987) p. 5.
91. Ibid., pp. 8-9.
92. Bastiat, The Law, p. 11.
93. Man cannot make law (James 4:12, Isaiah 33:22); he merely legislates. Any legislation in agreement with Yahweh’s laws is already law and does not need man’s ratification to validate it anymore than the law of gravity needed man to name it for it to become viable. Any legislation not in agreement with Yahweh’s law is simply legalized immorality.
94. Bastiat., p. 22.
95. William M. McKinney and Burdett A. Rich, ed., Ruling Case Law, quoted by Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1973) p. 500.
96. North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, p. 706.
97. Scott A. Hodge, “America Celebrates Tax Freedom Day: America's Tax Freedom Day® Arrives April 30 in 2007, Two Days Later Than 2006,” www.taxfoundation.org/taxfreedomday/.
98. Bastiat, The Law, p. 20.
99. Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, (1816), “Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government,” www.etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/.
100. In addition to the first fruits (Exodus 22:29, 23:19, etc.) and the head tax (Exodus 30:11-16), there are two tithes. The first is Yahweh’s tithe to be spent on the Levites (Numbers 18:21-24) and, on every third and sixth year of every seven-year cycle, on the Levites, the poor, widows, orphans, and strangers (Deuteronomy 14:28-29). The second tithe, known as the festival tithe, is to be spent on the tither himself (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
101. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 492.
102. Ibid., p. 486.
103. Rand, Digest of the Divine Law, p. 113.
104. Biblically, a person is taxed only on his increase.
105. J. Franklin Snook, To Heal the Nation (Salem, OR: J. Franklin Snook, 1977) pp. 134-35.
106. Paul Hall, back cover of Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Romans 13:1-7, by Ted R. Weiland, 2nd ed. (Scottsbluff, NE: Mission to Israel, 2006). Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government, an expository explanation of Romans 13:1-7, may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $7 donation.*
107. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “Income,” (1828: reprint ed., San Francisco, CA: The Foundation for American Christian Education, 1967).
108. Any attempt to use today’s legal system against itself will produce either unsatisfactory results or, at best, temporary victories. Because America’s entire legal system is unlawful, the only way to ultimately defeat this system is to reinstate Yahweh’s perfect laws.
109. Bouvier, Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, s.v. “Income,” vol. 2, p. 1527.
110. Thomas Jefferson, Preamble to the Virginia Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, 1789.
111. Under the New Covenant, atonement is available only through Yeshua’s sacrifice and resurrection from the grave (Romans 5:1-11), via the biblical plan of salvation (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21). A more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, “Baptism by the Scriptures” and “Fifty Objections to Baptism Answered,” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/baptismbythescriptures.php and www.missiontoisrael.org/objectionstobaptismanswered.php, respectively, or the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.*
112. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 514.
113. Bastiat, The Law, p. 21.
114. “FAC-Sheet #49,” Plymouth Rock Foundation (Marlborough, NH), quoted by Curtis Dickenson, The Witness.
115. Bastiat, The Law, p. 25.
116. James Madison, quoted by Michael M. Bates, Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths (Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2004) p. 48.
117. Col. David Crockett, quoted by Edward Sylvester Ellis, The Life of Colonel David Crockett (Philadelphia, PA: Porter & Coates, 1884).
118. Ingram, The World Under God’s Law, p. 97.
119. “FAC-Sheet #49,” Plymouth Rock Foundation (Marlborough, NH), quoted by Curtis Dickenson, The Witness.
120. Eugene H. Methvin, “How Uncle Sam Robbed America’s Poor,” Reader’s Digest, April 1985, p. 135.
121. Robert B. Carleson (former White House aide, United States Commissioner of Welfare, and Director of Social Welfare for California), “Caging the Welfare Monster,” Reader’s Digest, September 1987, p. 87.
122. Grover Cleveland quoted by George F. Parker, ed., The Writings and Speeches of Grover Cleveland (New York, NY: Cassell Publishing Company, 1892) p. 450.
123. There is no morality outside of Yahweh’s morality, as codified in His commandments, statutes, and judgments.
124. U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982).
125. Geraldine Hawkins, Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, “American Legal System is Corrupt Beyond Recognition, Judge Tells Harvard Law School,” 7 March 2003, www.massnews.com/2003_Editions/3_March/030703_mn_american_legal_system_corrupt.shtml.
126. Appointment, not election, is the biblical means of determining leadership in Yahweh’s government. A more comprehensive explanation on appointments versus voting, “To Vote or Not to Vote,” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/vote.php.
127. Not everyone claiming to be a Christian has been properly instructed in the biblical plan of salvation. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied in order to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Yeshua and forgiven of your sins. For a more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, “Baptism by the Scriptures” and “Fifty Objections to Baptism Answered” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/baptismbythescriptures.php and www.missiontoisrael.org/objectionstobaptismanswered.php, respectively, or the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
128. God’s Covenant People: Yesterday, Today and Forever, provides a documented dissertation correlating the identity of Israel with today’s Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Scandinavian, Celtic, and kindred peoples. Most of God’s Covenant People may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/gods-covenant-people/tableofcontents.php, or it may be obtained in its entirety from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $14 donation.*
129. Paul Hall, back cover of Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Romans 13:1-7, by Ted R. Weiland, 2nd ed. (Scottsbluff, NE: Mission to Israel, 2006). Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government, an expository explanation of Romans 13:1-7, may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $7 donation.*
130. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 535.
131. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied in order to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Yeshua and forgiven of your sins. For a more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, “Baptism by the Scriptures” and “Fifty Objections to Baptism Answered” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/baptismbythescriptures.php and www.missiontoisrael.org/objectionstobaptismanswered.php, respectively, or the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
132. Snook, To Heal the Nation, p. 162.
133. Ibid., p. 163.
134. The book Capital Punishment: Deterrent or Catalyst? may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/capital-punishment.php, or it may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $3 donation.*
135. The book Prisons: Shut Them All Down may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/prisons.php, or it may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, P.O. Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $3 donation.*
*Although we have provided a suggested price for our books, we do not sell them. In keeping with 2 Corinthians 9:7, this ministry is supported by freewill offerings. If you cannot afford the suggested price, inform us of your situation, and we will be pleased to provide you with whatever you need for whatever offering you can send.
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