Let’s look at some more of the restrictions God taught the Hebrews so they could righteously take advantage of the principles of capitalism He was teaching them.
Inheritance – God taught the Hebrews that it was a good and proper to leave an inheritance to the next generation. This became so central to Hebrew thought that it became expected of those living righteously. As mentioned previously, the fact that God gave the tribes and families their own land to own and pass on to their children had this idea already engrained in the minds of the Hebrews. It is specifically taught in Proverbs:
A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children…Proverbs 13:22
Save – It followed logically that the Hebrews must not spend all of their resources but save some, and find a method to store them up for their children. People are motivated to work for themselves and their loved ones. So they worked hard and lived thriftily so they could save and store wealth. Again in Proverbs we find:
There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up. Proverbs 21:20
In contrast, the pagans of the day gave no thought to living economically and saving. They didn’t save for the future because they thought fate determined their future and it was foolish to even make long-term plans. They had no understanding of accumulating capital so they consumed or wasted all that they had, leaving them and their children in poverty.
Honoring Parents – The 5th commandment taught the Children of Israel to honor their parents. The financial side of this adds structure to society and establishes lasting family relationships. Parents cared for and provided financially for their children, and then later in life, children reciprocated and did the same for their parents. These honoring family ties give purpose to the wealth that is accumulated over time as it is passed on from one generation to another.
Saving and storing an inheritance for children, and honoring parents helped to govern capitalism. But coming up…what about Enron, Bernie Madoff and other abuses of capitalism? What went wrong?