Robbing the Poor vs Robbing the Rich

Here’s an older version of Proverbs 22:22,23:

“Rob not the poor because he is poor;
neither oppress the afflicted in the place of business.
For God shall spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.” [See NIV version.]

Ooh – scary threat! I betcha God knows how to spoil a soul if anyone does.

Writing about 145 years ago, John Ruskin added some commentary to that.

This ‘robbing the poor because he is poor,’ is especially the mercantile form of theft, consisting in taking advantage of a man’s necessities in order to obtain his labour or property at a reduced price.

The ordinary highwayman’s opposite form of robbery – of the rich, because he is rich – does not appear to occur so often [to the mind of the authors of Proverbs]; probably because, being less profitable and more dangerous than the robbery of the poor, it is rarely practised by persons of discretion.

So “persons of discretion” much prefer to rob the poor than to rob the rich. Less dangerous and more profitable.

Mr Ruskin, the way you do talk!

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  • I think, as a Morman, Mr. Staheli’s understanding of human sinfulness and the brokeness of this world is a little different than the Christian understanding, be it Protestant, Roman Catholic or Orthodox.

  • I don’t think I or either of my two sources here made that claim. But it is a theme of Scripture and of history that there are plenty of “rich” who do indeed rob plenty of the “poor.” cf James: it is the rich who oppress you, who drag you into court …

  • Simple Utah Mormon Politics writes that:

    When a rich person acquires money by ill-gotten means, such as–ironically–by using government to expropriate property from lifelong home owners, he is guilty of theft and should be punished. But claiming that the nebulous group of ‘the rich’ are to blame for the plight of the nebulous group of ‘the poor’ is a gross oversimplification…