Wealth and Poverty in Biblical and Arab Bedouin Proverbs

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Proverbs can be looked just as what they are, a wise man’s advice which to some that might be helpful. But in the study of ancient civilizations and even modern day civilizations (that operate with a proverbial culture) proverbs can give us much more insight into the society’s views and social norms. I will be looking at the norm and the views of the Ancient Israelites and modern day Arab Bedouins on the topic of wealth and poverty through their proverbs. Biblical and Arabic Bedouin Proverbs show that people viewed wealth and poverty both positively and negatively with common themes of wisdom, knowledge, goodness, hard work ethics and the fear of God. Some of these themes are more prevalent in certain scenarios than others but nevertheless they are the overarching themes throughout. Wealth is Good. Wealth is viewed to be a positive and even more is strived for due to a few reasons. Wealth offers security and authority in society. (Kassis 162) In Biblical proverbs 10.15 a person’s wealth is described as his “fortress” and in Prov. 18.11 as a “Strong city” and a “high wall in his imaginations.” When one is wealthy he or she has a sense of security as good as a fortress or a high wall around a strong city. This sense of security also gives the wealthy authority over the poor since the “rich rules the poor and borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Prov. 22.7) While with wealth one has power and authority he or she would still attract many friends and relationships because “Those who love the rich are many.” (Prov. 14.20b) Wealth “adds many friends” (Prov. 19.4a) but for reasons more than just money. Being that wealth as well as “honor and life” (Prov. 22.4) is God’s blessing and reward to those “righteous”(Prov. 10.2) people f... ... middle of paper ... ...viewed wealth and poverty both positively and negatively with common themes of wisdom, knowledge, goodness, hard work ethics and the fear of God. But not only that but they also would rather these other righteous things over wealth. Works Cited Bailey, Clinton. “Economic Survival.” A Culture of Desert Survival: Bedouin Proverbs from Sinai and the Negev. New Haven: Yale UP, 2004. 43-80. Print. Fox, Michael V. “Ancient Near Eastern Wisdom Literature (Didactic).” Religion Compass 5.1 (2011): 1-11. Web. Fox, Michael V. “Proverbs 10-31.” The Anchor Yale Bible. New Haven: Yale UP, 2008. Print. Kassis, Riad Aziz. “Four Views of Wealth and Poverty.” The Book of Proverbs and Arabic Proverbial Works. Leiden: Brill, 1999. 160-221. Print. Sandoval, T J. The discourse of wealth and poverty in the Book of Proverbs. Leiden & Boston: E J Brill. 2006. 86-92. Print.

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