Jacob Was a Capitalist

Some of us struggle with the idea that capitalism is a Biblical concept and economic system. As always we must give the scriptures more weight than our own opinions or things we have heard from others.

So in the Bible we find a simple example of “God ordained” capitalism in the Old Testament in Genesis 35 when God gives Jacob a financial plan to use the capital he had, and to increase it. His capital? “It was speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat (verse 29)”. Through a very specific plan of breeding that was given to him by the Lord, Jacobs flocks (capital) increased. “In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys (verse 43)”.

We see in the Old Testament the Jews fully expected to prosper financially. They believed their culture was inspired by God, and therefore superior to others. They expected that if they lived by God’s principles they would advance beyond those around them. Because God’s hand was involved developing the Jewish economic system, they had confidence the application of these capitalistic principles would bring His blessing. Harold Eberle says the following:

The belief that their way of living is, at best, God inspired and, at worst, better than others’ ways has been a source of strength for Jews throughout history. It has also been a source of heartache. That belief has allowed the Jews to advance, but non-Jewish people have often looked upon the Jewish sense of confidence as arrogance….Gentiles have recognized how the Jews have repeatedly risen to the top even when they were put at political and financial disadvantages. They have been persecuted for their tendency to succeed but in spite of that, they have indeed prospered.

I can see there is a risk that others could easily mistake our Bible inspired confidence as arrogance.  But for the Christian today, we must have a robust confidence that God’s desire for our prosperity is both Biblical and practical. Remember, Jacob had a God given, practical plan for how to increase his finances.

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