Riches, (the rendering in the A.V. of several Heb. and Gr. words, especially עשֶׁר, πλοῦτος). The wealth of a pastoral people, such as the Hebrews in the patriarchal age, consisted chiefly in flocks and herds. Hence we find it assigned as a cause of the separation of Esau and Jacob that “their riches were more than they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle” (Genesis 36:8). It was not until the reign of Solomon that the Jews possessed any abundance of the precious metals; and as the nation never became commercial, its rich men must in all ages have been the great land holders. Throughout the East the holders of land have ever been remarkable for exacting very disproportionate shares of the profit from the actual cultivators of the soil, and this is the reason why we find “the rich” so often and so severely denounced in Scripture. Riches is frequently used in a metaphorical sense for intellectual endowments, and for the gifts and graces of God’s Holy Spirit, which constitute the treasure to be “laid up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal.”
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Author: McClintock and Strong Cyclopedia
Bible reference(s): Genesis 36:8
Source: John McClintock and James Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature.
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