Tuesday, January 5, 2010

James also cries "woe to the rich!"

James 5 (New International Version) 1-5:

1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.

2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.

3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.*

* That could be translated as "day of feasting." I almost changed it, but I like the way James points out that when the rich feast, many are slaughtered. (There are those who argue that James was a vegetarian, but in this case, the feasting of the rich includes, I believe, the workers who die making things for the pleasures of the rich.)

The King James Version isn't as clear, but it kicks ass:

1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.

3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

1 comment:

  1. I've always liked James. He's a good corrective to Paul (growing up as a Unitarian universalist, we got plenty of James and Jesus, but very little Paul). I'm also fond of the passage where he insists that we must be doers of the word, not merely hearers of the word -- in other words, you actually have to live out your religious and moral beliefs.