What the Old Testament has to say about not taking care of the poor.


We Christians already know the Gospels are filled with writings about Jesus instructing his followers to take care of the “least among us” — the poor, sick and otherwise afflicted.    We also know Jesus preferred the poor and less fortunate over the rich Pharisees of his day.    There’s not much argument about how Jesus felt about the greedy and the selfish, which is why the Christian Right usually references the Old Testament with its harsher, angrier God.   They can always find something there to use to make their greed, lack of compassion, and exploitation of the less fortunate for their own nefarious purposes (usually to enrich themselves) seem somehow moral, even God’s will.    They’re good at cherry picking from the Old Testament to excuse their un-Christian views, and cherry pick they must, because there’s plenty in the Old Testament that condemns those who worship mammon and turn their backs on the less fortunate.

No matter what version of the Bible is used, the message conveyed is the same:  we are to take care of and show compassion for the least among us, not exploit them and take away the little they have to enrich the already-wealthy.  This is exactly what the christians in the current Republican Party  (that is not a typo; I will not use a capital C to describe them because in my view they are not Christians) are trying to ram through the Senate in dark secrecy (which is in itself evil and dishonest).  Their “healthcare bill” is a lie.  It is nothing but yet another huge tax break for the richest 1% that will strip healthcare away from middle class and poor Americans, including the disabled and elderly (many who rely on Medicaid if they are in nursing homes or residential treatment since Medicare only pays a limited amount for long-term services); children, people with pre-existing conditions, older people like me who are still too young for Medicare (which, along with social security, might be gone by the time we hit age 65 or whatever the magic age is now) and families of limited means of any health insurance at all.

The huge irony here is this is the so-called pro-life party, but all they are is pro-birth.   They care more about “the sanctity of the embryo” than about a sick child who needs medical care who they would gladly deny the right to see a doctor if her parents can’t afford it.  If she dies, oh well, too bad, it was either “God’s will” or “her parents should have made better choices.”   These sociopaths and their sycophants will continue to get their Cadillac health care plans though, paid for by our taxes, while many of us must sacrifice our own right to see a doctor if we become sick, or risk losing everything we own.    Mike Pence once said that people who will lose their insurance “don’t need healthcare — they need more Jesus.”  Well, Mr. Pence, since you’re apparently one of God’s chosen ones who seems to know exactly what the rest of us who are less blessed than you need, why don’t YOU give up YOUR Cadillac plan and rely on faith healing for yourself and your own family?   If our only option after you rob us of healthcare is appealing to God for a cure and that’s supposed to be good enough for us, why isn’t it also good enough for you?   Give up your healthcare plan so at least we’re all on a level playing field.  No?  I thought not.   Of course, you don’t believe in fairness, because as one of God’s Elect, you deserve healthcare and I do not.

The hypocrisy and callousness of these swamp creatures is staggering.

Many innocent people will die if this abomination passes.     I look at Mitch McConnell, the turtle-faced, dead-eyed, smirking, Koch Brothers-funded ringleader orchestrating the secret dealings to pass this cruel travesty that will help only the most wealthy and the corporations (people just like himself), a “man” who has the temerity to try to ram this bill through in dark secrecy without  anyone knowing what’s in it except him and a few of his equally wealthy cronies — and he makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.   He — perhaps more than anyone else in this administration (and they are all horrible human beings from everything I have seen of them) — reminds me of the Undead — some demonic swamp creature who seems to garner pleasure from the idea that millions of people will suffer and die.   And he’s not the only one.

The spectacle of the smirks, backslaps, laughter, beer toasting, and glad-handing going on among McConnell, Paul Ryan, Mark Meadows, Trump, and so many other of these hate-filled white racist thugs at the Rose Garden party after “Trumpcare” passed the House back in May was a wake up call that sent chills through my soul.  I realized with no uncertain terms that these creatures sold their souls for Mammon and walk on the side of darkness.  If they profess to be Christian, it’s merely a talking point intended to gain support from the gullible red state religious types who blindly believe everything this cabal of Dark Triad power-mongers and their lying, gaslighting, fake news-generating pundits on Fox News, Breitbart, and InfoWars tell them.     Their followers and supporters are in my prayers because to my mind, they are victims of a dangerous and powerful cult whose doctrine is anathema to anything Jesus taught.

Here are passages from the OLD TESTAMENT (I’ve included many versions of the Bible to illustrate it’s not just in the translation) that show that Jesus message in the Gospels is still God’s will for us.    God is a constant and his love is for ALL of us, not just a chosen few.


Proverbs 22:16

Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.


New Living Translation
A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty.


English Standard Version
Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.


New American Standard Bible 
He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.


King James Bible
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.


Holman Christian Standard Bible
Oppressing the poor to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich–both lead only to poverty.


International Standard Version
Whoever oppresses the poor to enrich himself and whoever gives gifts to the wealthy will yield only loss.


NET Bible
The one who oppresses the poor to increase his own gain and the one who gives to the rich–both end up only in poverty.


New Heart English Bible
Whoever oppresses the poor for his own increase and whoever gives to the rich, both come to poverty.


Aramaic Bible in Plain English
He that harms the poor increases his own affliction and he that gives to the rich suffers loss to his soul.


GOD’S WORD® Translation
Oppressing the poor for profit [or] giving to the rich certainly leads to poverty.


JPS Tanakh 1917
One may oppress the poor, yet will their gain increase; One may give to the rich, yet will want come.


New American Standard 1977 
He who oppresses the poor to make much for himself
Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.


Jubilee Bible 2000
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches and who gives to the rich shall surely come to want.


King James 2000 Bible
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to poverty.


American King James Version
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to want.


American Standard Version
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his gain , And he that giveth to the rich,’shall come only to want.


Douay-Rheims Bible
He that oppresseth the poor, to in- crease his own riches, shall himself give to one that is richer, and shall be in need.


Darby Bible Translation
He that oppresseth the poor, it is to enrich him; he that giveth to the rich, [bringeth] only to want.


English Revised Version
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his gain, and he that giveth to the rich, cometh only to want.


Webster’s Bible Translation
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.


World English Bible
Whoever oppresses the poor for his own increase and whoever gives to the rich, both come to poverty.


Young’s Literal Translation
He is oppressing the poor to multiply to him, He is giving to the rich — only to want.

Other Verses
James 2:13
For judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.


Proverbs 22:22
Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Or crush the afflicted at the gate;


Proverbs 28:22
A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him.


Ecclesiastes 5:8
If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them.

On the oppressors:

Proverbs 22:22,23 Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted …

Proverbs 14:31 He that oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker: but he that honors …

Proverbs 28:3 A poor man that oppresses the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaves no food.

Job 20:19 Because he has oppressed and has forsaken the poor; because he has …

Psalm 12:5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now …

Micah 2:2,3 And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and …

Zechariah 7:9-14 Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and …

James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; …

James 5:1-5 Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall …

On those who give: 

Luke 6:33-35 And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have …

Luke 14:12-14 Then said he also to him that bade him, When you make a dinner or …

Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send …



11 thoughts on “What the Old Testament has to say about not taking care of the poor.

  1. Yes. Even Sodom and Gomorrah–if you delve into the Scriptures–turns out to be judgment on a people who oppressed the poor and the stranger, NOT about them being into gay sex. Yet it’s so often spun as judgment against homosexuality. I’ve read the Bible through many times, and over and over again, the concept of caring for the poor/needy/orphaned/widowed is drummed into your head. Even the parable of the Last Judgment is about who cared for the poor, vs. who did not. Both Old and New Testaments make this very clear.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Even Tim who runs Jesus Without Baggage and John Pavlovitz (I know you love that site too) both say there is nothing in the Bible that condemns homosexuality. There’s a few passages that *might* refer to homosexual behavior, but they’re iffy and probably aren’t even referring to that. Their real meaning probably got lost in translation. I don’t think God condemns us for loving who we want to love, as long as it hurts no one else. Besides, homosexuality being a sin implies there is a CHOICE, and I don’t know any gay people who chose to be gay. I believe you are born that way, and so how is that a sin? Most of them struggle with their homosexuality for a while before they finally learn to accept it. As the mother of a gay son who hesitated to tell me for 3 years (and I’m open minded), I know this is true. He went through a severe depression and was nearly suicidal until he embraced it. Today he’s happy, productive, and is one of the kindest, most Christ-like people I know (even though he’s an atheist).

      What Jesus really does condemn –again and again in the Bible — is treating others badly, especially the most vulnerable. He wants us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I don’t see American right wing christians doing a lot of that, at least not in the political sphere. I don’t even see many of their churches doing much in the way of charity — their idea of charity is converting everyone to their belief system. There’s a huge megachurch here where I live and there are NO outreach programs for the poor, not even a lousy food pantry. Yet they talk about how the poor should rely on private charity. Well, there isn’t enough of that and they sure aren’t helping!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The best I can figure about a *lot* of the head-scratching matters in the bible (especially in the old test) is that “if it doesn’t have a common-sense reason, i.e. hygiene, health, sanity, etc – then the easiest explanation is most likely ‘it was/is connected with magic(k)al practices in some way.'”

    Example: a lot of the proscribed sex activities are ***currently used*** in the practice of ‘sex-magick’ (yes, as per Crowley, et al). More, most of these practices have an *ancient* history. The ***nasty*** part of ‘going through the motions’ (of unwitting magickal practice) is that the evil spirits tasked with the prosecution of that part of ‘the war’ don’t care two (whatevers) about *why* you’re doing a ***dangerous*** activity…

    They’re like bullies that way – it’s just another opportunity for them. That’s all it is – an event to be exploited – and you cannot reason with those things. Only way you can stay safe is to not do the ‘targeted behaviors’. (Only reliable way to avoid bullies is to become something of a hermit…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. The old dietary laws, for example, were most likely based on health reasons of the time that no longer apply. But if these dominionist types want to instigate Old Testament Law, then they should go ahead and bring back those dietary laws too! After all, they are in the Bible and God’s word, right? They are cherry picking. Homosexual practices may have been unhealthy too. They still can be, if one isn’t careful. But so can heterosexuality. The website Jesus Without Baggage also talks a lot about the politics of the time — and that many of what we think is prophetic or applies to today, really only applied to the time in which they were written. I don’t know a lot about this, Tim knows a lot more than I do about the politics of the time and how it applies to that.

      I agree with you that right wing christians use the more punishing, angry passages in the Bible as a way to bully and control other people and their own children.
      There’s a lot of religious abuse in these churches and the “fear of hell” is drummed into children and causes them to develop PTSD and other psychological conditions. “Hell houses” are simply terrible. I’m not even sure hell is biblical — again, you’d have to read the posts about hell on Jesus Without Baggage (which I highly recommend) — he doesn’t think hell even exists. These churches give Satan WAY too much power — almost as much power as God. That doesn’t make sense, if Satan is merely a fallen angel. I’m sure Satan (if he exists) is very pleased with all the attention and power they give him!


  3. I couldn’t agree with you more, Lucky Otter! These far-right-political-prosperity christians on TV and in Congress are an embarrassment to regular Christians, and an absolute repellent to atheists.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Namely, these ‘smelly thugs’ are following the (fictional) path ascribed to ‘preachers’:

    *the appearance* of godliness, but in truth a Boermaas-trained sold-out-to-Brimstone bones-holding true-witch, complete with steadily-growing bag of harvested finger-bones (from murdered sacrifices), well-hid sources of wealth (especially criminal activity, e.g. ‘loan-sharking’, ‘fixed’ investments, etc.) and appropriate witch-clothing.

    Oh, and the other parts of being a true-witch, also – which means being more and more ‘inhabited’ (demonic possession, espec. ‘perfect possession’).

    Are we L’amerika yet? Either entire true-witches, or entire monsters? I know what ***my*** label is – the same one it’s always been.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you they are following a fictional path that is very much NOT of God (if God is like that, I want nothing to do with that God, but I gravely doubt He would be like that).


  5. The ‘fictional’ portion is ‘it’s written about in novels’.

    That’s more or less the only fictional portion, unfortunately – much as one might compare Orwell’s book 1984 (a fictional work) to the real world, and thereby use the written document to help understand what is happening in the non-fictional world.

    Orwell wasn’t writing about politics as much as he was describing ‘the dark side of human nature’ and its chiefest plane of expression – the social world – and in doing so, he was treading an ***ancient*** path.

    I never thought I’d admit it, but I have some idea – now – as to why Orwell thought as he did; and I in part agree with him.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. uhhh…. Leviticus 20:13 ESV
    If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV /
    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    and then.. there is this. 2 Timothy 4:3 ESV

    For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

    Romans 1:32 ESV

    Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    1 minute in google. I’m sorry but you pointed the finger at ‘cherry pickers’ of the bible but you appear to be the very thing you accuse others of. I knew these verses existed but I’m no expert and the last time I went to church was 9 years ago at my catholic college. It seems like everywhere you look these days christians are yielding to man-made doctrine (again). The very thing Jesus opposed in the first place was the pharisees. People are too busy trying to appease man than the clear wants of God. You have your reward. Are you happy with yourself now that you can tell all your friends how ‘tolerant’ and ‘progressive’ you all are. Pat yourselves on the back for not being like those evil conservative bastards. At the end of your life your friends won’t matter anymore but you’ll have to make an account for blatantly ignoring what is written in plain english.


    • I’m certainly not saying God doesn’t condemn these behaviors or that sin doesn’t exist. It does. I’m not disputing these passages. Having a gay son though, who is a lovely person, I am not going to judge him. That being said, what Jesus spent the most time condemning during his time here on earth was not sodomy, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, etc.
      — but greed, narcissism, and avarice. But our “Christian” leaders who are full of greed and narcissism conveniently forget this and focus ONLY on people’s private sexual behavior. I see something very wrong with this picture. The Pharisees pretended to be holy and often were “pure” sexually, but only cared about power, control over others, and legalism.


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