This brief outline was contained within a lecture given at Acton University 2014 by Dr. John Bergsma on property rights in the Old Testament (I revised the numbering of the Decalogue for it was originally given according to the Roman Catholic adjoining of one and two into the first commandment):
- “No other gods before me”: idolization of private property forbidden
- “You shall not make a graven image”: a crude expression of the worship of divinized wealth
- “Shall not use the name of the LORD your God in vain”: importance of contractual fidelity to the economy.
- “Remember the Sabbath Day”: the Sabbatical principle puts limits on idolatrous (vs. legitimate) pursuit of wealth (property accumulation) and expresses economic mercy toward the poor.
- “Honor your father and mother”: economic policies of the OT law oriented toward preservation of the family unit.
- “You shall not kill” in order to acquire property
- “You shall not commit adultery” and therefore destroy the family unit, with economic consequences.
- “You shall not steal”: notice the possibility of stealing implies the legitimacy of private property, and this is written into what Jews and Christians have always considered the statement of natural (moral) law, not concessionary law.
- “You shall not bear false witness”: lie in court for economic advantage
- “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife”—related to adultery above; “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods”: again, like stealing, presupposes the legitimacy of private property. Unequal distribution of goods is not per se evil
© 2014, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.