Thursday, November 4, 2010

there shall be no poor among you: Deuteronomy vs. Jesus?

Rich people sometimes cite these bits of the Bible to justify their privilege:
"For the poor shall never cease out of the land" Deuteronomy 15:11
"For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always." Matthew 26:11
But they don't quote all of Deuteronomy 15:11:
"For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land." Deuteronomy 15:11
Or note the command a few sentences earlier:
"...there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it." Deuteronomy 15:4
As for Jesus, Matthew has a habit of making his teachings easier for rich folks. Mark gives the full version:
"For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always." Mark 14:7
Luke is the bluntest of the Gospelers. For those who do not wish to help the poor, he warns,
"But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation." Luke 6:24