From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

The considerate provisions of the law for the poor (Based On Principles Already Recognized By The Patriarchs:  Job 20:19 ;  Job 24:3-4 ;  Job 24:9-10 ; Especially  Job 29:11-16 ;  Job 31:17 ) were:

(1) The right of gleaning; the corners of the field were not to be reaped, nor all the grapes to be gathered, nor the olive trees to be beaten a second time; the stranger, fatherless, and widow might gather the leavings; the forgotten sheaf was to be left for them ( Leviticus 19:9-10;  Deuteronomy 24:19;  Deuteronomy 24:21;  Ruth 2:2).

(2) They were to have their share of the produce in sabbatical years ( Exodus 23:11;  Leviticus 25:6).

(3) They recovered their land, but not town houses, in the Jubilee year ( Leviticus 25:25-30).

(4) Usury, i.e. interest on loans to an Israelite, was forbidden; the pledged raiment was to be returned before sundown ( Exodus 22:25-27;  Deuteronomy 24:10-13); generous lending, even at the approach of Jubilee release, is enjoined: ( Deuteronomy 15:7-11) "thou shalt open thy hand wide to THY poor"; God designs that we should appropriate them as our own, whereas men say "the poor."

(5) Lasting bondservice was forbidden, and Manumission , with a liberal present, enjoined in the sabbatical and Jubilee years ( Deuteronomy 15:12-15;  Leviticus 25:39-42;  Leviticus 25:47-54); the children were not enslaved; an Israelite might redeem an Israelite who was in bondage to a rich foreign settler.

(6) Portions from the tithes belonged to the poor after the Levites ( Deuteronomy 14:28-29;  Deuteronomy 26:12-13).

(7) The poor shared in the feasts at the festivals of weeks and tabernacles ( Deuteronomy 16:11;  Deuteronomy 16:14;  Nehemiah 8:10).

(8) Wages must be paid at the day's end ( Leviticus 19:13); yet partiality in judgment must not be shown to the poor ( Exodus 23:3;  Leviticus 19:15).

In the New Testament, Christ lays down the same love to the poor ( Luke 3:11;  Luke 14:13;  Acts 6:1;  Galatians 2:10;  James 2:15;  Romans 15:26), the motive being "Christ, who was rich, for our sake became poor that we through His poverty might be rich" ( 2 Corinthians 8:9). Begging was common in New Testament times, not under Old Testament ( Luke 16:20-21;  Luke 18:35;  Mark 10:46;  John 9:8;  Acts 3:2.) Mendicancy in the ease of the able bodied is discouraged, and honest labour for one's living is encouraged by precept and example ( 1 Thessalonians 4:11;  Ephesians 4:28;  2 Thessalonians 3:7-12).

The prophets especially vindicate the claims of the poor: compare  Ezekiel 18:12;  Ezekiel 18:16-17;  Ezekiel 22:29;  Jeremiah 22:13;  Jeremiah 22:16;  Jeremiah 5:28;  Isaiah 10:2;  Amos 2:7, "pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor," i.e., thirst after prostrating the poor by oppression, so as to lay their heads in the dust; or less simply (Pusey) "grudge to the poor debtor the dust which as a mourner he strewed on his head" ( 2 Samuel 1:2;  Job 2:12). In  Deuteronomy 15:4 the creditor must not exact a debt in the year of release, "save when there shall be no poor among you," but as  Deuteronomy 15:11 says "the poor shalt never cease out of the land," translated "no poor with thee," i.e. release the debt for the year except when no poor person is concerned, which may happen, "for the Lord shall greatly bless thee": you may call in a loan on the year of release, when the borrower is not poor. Others regard the promise,  Deuteronomy 15:11, conditional, Israel's disobedience frustrating its fulfillment. Less costly sacrifices might be substituted by the poor ( Leviticus 5:7;  Leviticus 5:11).

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [2]

One reality of life is that society will always contain people who are poor and disadvantaged ( Deuteronomy 15:11;  Matthew 26:11). This is not what God intended for the world, but when sin came into the world, human society suffered.

This does not necessarily mean that those who are poor are suffering the direct consequences of their own sin. Although there are cases where this may be so ( Proverbs 6:9-11;  Proverbs 10:4;  Haggai 1:9;  Luke 19:24), there are other cases where poverty has no direct connection with personal wrongdoing ( Job 1:8-22;  Revelation 2:9). As with all human suffering, there may be physical, moral, social, religious, political, historical and geographical factors that help produce the problem (see Suffering ). Christians may be poor through no fault of their own ( Acts 11:27-30;  2 Corinthians 8:1-5), but they should not behave as if there is no God in whom they can trust ( Matthew 6:25-33).

The inevitability of poverty is no reason for anyone to be indifferent to the poor. Israelite law required people to restrict their own income-earning activities in order to provide opportunities for the poor to support themselves ( Exodus 23:11;  Leviticus 19:9-10;  Leviticus 19:13). In addition, people were to give money, food and goods to help the poor ( Exodus 22:25;  Leviticus 25:35-38;  Deuteronomy 15:7-8;  Deuteronomy 16:9-12;  Deuteronomy 26:12;  Esther 9:22;  Job 29:16). (Concerning regulations designed to prevent money-lenders from exploiting the poor see Lending .)

New Testament teaching also requires those with money and possessions to help those who lack them. Generous giving to those in need is a specific duty of Christians ( Matthew 25:34-40;  Luke 14:13;  Romans 15:26;  Galatians 2:10;  James 2:15-17;  1 John 3:17; see Giving ). God has a special concern for the poor. He guarantees his blessing upon those who help them and his judgment upon those who take unfair advantage of them ( Psalms 41:1;  Proverbs 17:5;  Proverbs 19:17;  Proverbs 21:13;  Proverbs 29:14;  Isaiah 10:1-2;  Amos 2:7-8).

God gave special laws to Israel to ensure that in legal disputes judges did not favour the rich against the poor, and were not prejudiced against the rich in favour of the poor ( Exodus 23:3;  Exodus 23:6). The poor, as well as the rich, could be guilty of wrongdoing ( Proverbs 30:8-9). However, as corruption and oppression increased, the poor were easily exploited. Often they had no way of gaining justice and cried out helplessly to God to defend them ( Psalms 69:33;  Psalms 82:3-4; cf.  Psalms 109:31;  Psalms 140:12;  Isaiah 11:4;  Isaiah 32:7).

Those who trusted in God amid widespread unfaithfulness and opposition sometimes likened themselves to the helpless poor. They were poor in the sense that they had nothing in themselves to rely upon, but trusted entirely upon God for their salvation. Such people, in any era, are the true citizens of God’s kingdom ( Psalms 86:1-2;  Matthew 5:3). Even when they are materially poor, they are often happier than those who are rich, because, being more dependent upon God, they know him better ( Luke 4:18;  Luke 6:20;  Luke 21:1-4;  2 Corinthians 6:10; cf.  Revelation 2:9;  Revelation 3:17). This is a further reason why Christians should not favour the wealthy or despise the poor ( James 2:1-6; see Wealth ).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [3]

A — 1: Πτωχός (Strong'S #4434 — Adjective — ptochos — pto-khos' )

for which see Beg , B, has the broad sense of "poor," (a) literally, e.g.,  Matthew 11:5;  26:9,11;  Luke 21:3 (with stress on the word, "a conspicuously poor widow");   John 12:5,6,8;  13:29;  James 2:2,3,6; the "poor" are constantly the subjects of injunctions to assist them,  Matthew 19:21;  Mark 10:21;  Luke 14:13,21;  18:22;  Romans 15:26;  Galatians 2:10; (b) metaphorically,  Matthew 5:3;  Luke 6:20;  Revelation 3:17 .

A — 2: Πενιχρός (Strong'S #3998 — Adjective — penichros — pen-tikh-ros' )

akin to B, "needy, poor," is used of the widow in  Luke 21:2 (cp. No. 1, of the same woman, in ver. 3); it is used frequently in the papyri. In the Sept.,   Exodus 22:25;  Proverbs 28:15;  29:7 .

B — 1: Πένης (Strong'S #3993 — Adjective — penes — pen'-ace )

"a laborer "(akin to penomai, "to work for one's daily bread"), is translated "poor" in  2—Corinthians 9:9 .

C — 1: Πτωχεύω (Strong'S #4433 — Verb — ptocheuo — pto-khyoo'-o )

"to be poor as a beggar" (akin to A, No. 1), "to be destitute," is said of Christ in  2—Corinthians 8:9 .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Poor. The general kindly spirit of the law toward the poor is sufficiently shown by such passages as  Deuteronomy 15:7, for the reason that  Deuteronomy 15:11, "the poor shall never cease out of the land." Among the special enactments in their favor, the following must be mentioned:

1. The right of gleaning.  Leviticus 19:9-10;  Leviticus 24:19;  Leviticus 24:21.

2. From the produce of the land, in Sabbatical Years , the poor and the stranger were to have their portion.  Exodus 23:11;  Leviticus 25:6.

3. Re-entry upon land in the Jubilee Year , with the limitation as to town homes.  Leviticus 25:25-30.

4. Prohibition of usury and of retention of pledges.  Exodus 22:25-27;  Leviticus 25:3;  Leviticus 25:5;  Leviticus 25:37; etc.

5. Permanent bondage forbidden, and manumission of Hebrew bondmen or bondwomen enjoined in the Sabbatical , and Jubilee Years .  Leviticus 25:39-42;  Leviticus 25:47-54;  Deuteronomy 15:12-15.

6. Portions from the tithes to be shared by the poor after the Levites.  Deuteronomy 14:28;  Deuteronomy 26:12-13.

7. The poor to partake in entertainments at the Feast of Weeks , and Feast of Tabernacles .  Deuteronomy 16:11;  Deuteronomy 16:14. See  Nehemiah 8:10 .

8. Daily payment of wages.  Leviticus 19:13 Principles similar to those laid down by Moses are inculcated in the New Testament, as  Luke 3:11;  Luke 14:13;  Acts 6:1;  Galatians 2:10;  James 2:15.

King James Dictionary [5]

POOR, a. L. pauper.

1. Wholly destitute of property, or not having property sufficient for a comfortable subsistence needy. It is often synonymous with indigent, and with necessitous, denoting extreme want it is also applied to persons who are not entirely destitute of property, but are not rich as a poor man or woman poor people 2. In law, so destitute of property as to be entitled to maintenance from the public. 3. Destitute of strength, beauty or dignity barren mean jejune as a poor composition a poor essay a poor discourse. 4. Destitute of value, worth or importance of little use trifling.

That I have wronged no man, will be a poor plea or apology at the last day.

5. Paltry mean of little value as a poor coat a poor house. 6. Destitute of fertility barren exhausted as poor land. The ground is become poor. 7. Of little worth unimportant as in my poor opinion. 8. Unhappy pitiable.

Vex'd sailors curse the rain

For which poor shepherds pray'd in vain.

9. Mean depressed low dejected destitute of spirit.

A soothsayer made Antonius believe that his genius,which was otherwise brave, was, in the presence of Octavianus, poor and cowardly.

10. Lean emaciated as a poor horse. The ox is poor. 11. Small, or of a bad quality as a poor crop a poor harvest. 12. Uncomfortable restless The patient has had a poor night. 13. Destitute of saving grace.  Revelation 3 14. In general, wanting good qualities, or the qualities which render a thing valuable, excellent, proper, or sufficient for its purpose as a poor pen a poor ship a poor carriage poor fruit poor bread poor wine, &c. 15. A word of tenderness or pity dear.

Poor, little, pretty, fluttering thing.

16. A word of slight contempt wretched.

The poor monk never saw many of the decrees and councils he had occasion to use.

17. The poor, collectively, used as a noun those who are destitute of property the indigent the needy in a legal sense, those who depend on charity or maintenance by the public.

I have observed the more public provisions are made for the poor, the less they provide for themselves.

Poor in spirit, in a Scriptural sense, humble contrite abased in one's own sight by a sense of guilt.  Matthew 5

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(1): ( superl.) So completely destitute of property as to be entitled to maintenance from the public.

(2): ( superl.) Destitute of such qualities as are desirable, or might naturally be expected

(3): ( superl.) Wanting in fat, plumpness, or fleshiness; lean; emaciated; meager; as, a poor horse, ox, dog, etc.

(4): ( superl.) Destitute of property; wanting in material riches or goods; needy; indigent.

(5): ( superl.) Wanting in strength or vigor; feeble; dejected; as, poor health; poor spirits.

(6): ( superl.) Of little value or worth; not good; inferior; shabby; mean; as, poor clothes; poor lodgings.

(7): ( superl.) Destitute of fertility; exhausted; barren; sterile; - said of land; as, poor soil.

(8): ( superl.) Destitute of beauty, fitness, or merit; as, a poor discourse; a poor picture.

(9): ( superl.) Without prosperous conditions or good results; unfavorable; unfortunate; unconformable; as, a poor business; the sick man had a poor night.

(10): ( superl.) Inadequate; insufficient; insignificant; as, a poor excuse.

(11): ( superl.) Worthy of pity or sympathy; - used also sometimes as a term of endearment, or as an expression of modesty, and sometimes as a word of contempt.

(12): ( superl.) Free from self-assertion; not proud or arrogant; meek.

(13): ( n.) A small European codfish (Gadus minutus); - called also power cod.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

 Psalm 12:5   41:1-3 , especially cared for in the Jewish dispensation,  Exodus 23:6   Proverbs 14:31 , and even more so under the gospel,  Matthew 25:42-45   James 2:5 . The slight offerings required of them by the law were as acceptable as the hecatombs of the rich,  Leviticus 5:7-13   Mark 12:41-44 . The gleanings of the fields, the olive trees, and the vines, were to be left for them,  Leviticus 19:9   Deuteronomy 24:19   Ruth 2:2 . Every seventh year, the spontaneous products of the ground were free to all,  Leviticus 25:7; and in the Jubilee their alienated inheritance returned to their possession. Compare also  Leviticus 25:1-55   Deuteronomy 24:1-22 . Neglect and oppression of the poor were severely reproved by the prophets,  Isaiah 10:2   Jeremiah 5:28   Amos 2:6; but charity to the poor was an eminent virtue among primitive Christians,  Matthew 6:2-4   Luke 10:33-35   19:8   Acts 9:36-39   10:2   11:29-30 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

  • Wages were to be paid at the close of each day ( Leviticus 19:13 ).

    In the New Testament ( Luke 3:11;  14:13;  Acts 6:1;  Galatians 2:10;  James 2:15,16 ) we have similar injunctions given with reference to the poor. Begging was not common under the Old Testament, while it was so in the New Testament times ( Luke 16:20,21 , etc.). But begging in the case of those who are able to work is forbidden, and all such are enjoined to "work with their own hands" as a Christian duty ( 1 Thessalonians 4:11;  2 th  3:7-13;  Ephesians 4:28 ). This word is used figuratively in  Matthew 5:3;  Luke 6:20;  2 co  8:9;  Revelation 3:17 .

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Poor'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/p/poor.html. 1897.

  • Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

    It was said in the O.T. that "the poor should never cease out of the land," and in the enactments of the law they were cared for by Jehovah. The Lord said, "Ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good."  Mark 14:7 . "Blessed is he that considereth the poor."  Psalm 41:1 . "The poor have the gospel preached unto them."  Matthew 11:5 . "When thou makest a feast call the poor."  Luke 14:13 . "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord."  Proverbs 19:17 . Other passages show that the working of the love of God in the soul issues in a special regard for the poor.  Galatians 2:10 . Of the Lord Jesus it is said, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor.  2 Corinthians 8:9 .

    Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [10]

    There are various terms of signification annexed to the word poor. By the character of poor is generally meant persons in indigent circumstances of body; but the Scripture meaning of the word poor, is the poverty of soul in respect to our lost and ruined estate by nature. And there is a third sense of the term, namely, the poor in spirit, of whom our Lord saith, "Theirs is the kingdom of heaven." ( Matthew 5:3) It is proper to keep alive the proper distinction of these different views of natural and spiritual poverty when reading the word of God.

    Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [11]

    POOR. —See Poverty and Poverty of Spirit.

    Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [12]

    POOR . See Poverty.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

    This word, in the Scriptures, often denotes not so much a man destitute of the good things of this world, as a man sensible of his spiritual wants. In this sense the greatest and richest men of the world are on a level with the poorest in the eyes of God. In the following treatment of the subject we combine the Scriptural and the Talmudic information.

    I. Hebrew and Greek terms so rendered in the A. V. These are:

    1. אֶבְיוֹן , Eby '''''Ô''''' N'' (Sept. Πτωχός ; Vulg. Pauper);

    2. דִּל , Dal ( Πένης ; Pauper);

    3. חֵלְכָה , Chelek '''''Â''''' H ( Πτωχός ; Pauper);

    4. מַסְכֵּן , Misken ( Πένης ; Pauper), a word of later usage;

    5. עֲנִָה , Anrah, Chald. ( Daniel 4:27) ( Πένης ; Pauper); from same root as,

    6. עָנַי , 2Ani, the word most usually "poor" in A. V. ( Πενιχρός , Πτωχός Πένης ; indigens, pauper. Also  Zechariah 9:9, and  Isaiah 26:6, Πρύς ; Pauper);

    7. רשׁ , Rosh, part. of רוּשׁ ( Ταπεινός ; Pauper). In  2 Samuel 12:1,

    רָאשׁ ; Πένης , Πτωχός .

    8. Poverty; מִחַסוֹר Machsor, Lack ( Ἐνδεία ; Egestas). In the N.T., Πτωχός , Pauper, and Πένης ; egenus, once only ( 2 Corinthians 9:9). "Poor" is also used in the sense of "afflicted," "humble," etc., e.g.  Matthew 5:3.

    II. Jewish Enactments. The general kindly spirit of the law towards the poor is sufficiently shown by such passages as  Deuteronomy 15:7, for the reason that ( Deuteronomy 15:11) "the poor shall never cease out of the land;" and a remarkable agreement with some of its directions is expressed in  Job 20:19;  Job 24:3 sq., where among acts of oppression are particularly mentioned "taking (away) a pledge," and withholding the sheaf from the poor ( Job 24:9-10;  Job 29:12;  Job 29:16;  Job 31:17), "eating with" the poor (comp.  Deuteronomy 26:12, etc.). See also such passages as  Ezekiel 18:12;  Ezekiel 18:16-17;  Ezekiel 22:29;  Jeremiah 5:28;  Jeremiah 22:13;  Jeremiah 22:16;  Isaiah 10:2;  Amos 2:7;  Zechariah 7:10, and  Sirach 4:1;  Sirach 4:4;  Sirach 7:32;  Tobit 12:8-9. (See Alms). Among the special enactments in their favor the following must be mentioned:

    1. The right of gleaning. The "corners" of the field were not to be reaped, nor all the grapes of the vineyard to be gathered, the olive-trees not to be beaten a second time, but the stranger, fatherless, and widow to be allowed to gather what was left. So, too, if a sheaf forgotten was left in the field, the owner was not to return for it, but leave it for them ( Leviticus 19:9-10;  Deuteronomy 24:19;  Deuteronomy 24:21). Of the practice in such cases in the times of the Judges the story of Ruth is a striking illustration ( Ruth 2:2, etc.). (See Corner); (See Gleaning).

    2. From the produce of the land in sabbatical years the poor and the stranger were to have their portion ( Exodus 23:11;  Leviticus 25:6).

    3. Re-entry upon land in the jubilee year, with the limitation as to town homes ( Leviticus 25:25-30). (See Jubilee).

    4. Prohibition of usury, and of retention of pledges, i.e. loans without interest enjoined ( Leviticus 25:35;  Leviticus 25:37;  Exodus 22:25-27;  Deuteronomy 15:7-8;  Deuteronomy 24:10-13). (See Loan).

    5. Permanent bondage forbidden, and manumission of Hebrew bondsmen or bondswomen enjoined in the sabbatical and jubilee years, even when bound to a foreigner, and redemption of such previous to those years ( Deuteronomy 15:12-15;  Leviticus 25:39-42;  Leviticus 25:47-54). (See Slavery).

    6. Portions from the tithes to be shared by the poor after the Levites ( Deuteronomy 14:28;  Deuteronomy 26:12-13). (See Tithes).

    7. The poor to partake in entertainments at the feasts of Weeks and Tabernacles ( Deuteronomy 16:11;  Deuteronomy 16:14; see  Nehemiah 8:10).

    8. Daily payment of wages ( Leviticus 19:13). On the other hand, while equal justice was commanded to be done to the poor man, he was not allowed to take advantage of his position to obstruct the administration of justice ( Exodus 23:3;  Leviticus 19:15).

    On the law of gleaning the Rabbinical writers founded a variety of definitions and refinements, which, notwithstanding their minute and frivolous character, were on the whole strongly in favor of the poor. They are collected in the treatise of Maimonides's Mithnoth Anim, translated by Prideaux (Ugolino, 8:721), and specimens of their character will appear in the following titles: There are, he says, thirteen precepts, seven affirmative and six negative, gathered from Leviticus 19, 23; Deuteronomy 14, 15, 24. On these the following questions are raised and answered: What is a "corner," a "handful?" What is to "forget" a sheaf? What is a "stranger?" What is to be done when a field or a single tree belongs to two persons; and further, when one of them is a Gentile, or when it is divided by a road or by water; when insects or enemies destroy the crop? How much grain must a man give by way of alms? Among prohibitions is one forbidding any proprietor to frighten away the poor by a savage beast. An Israelite is forbidden to take alms openly from a Gentile. Unwilling almsgiving is condemned, on the principle expressed in  Job 30:25. Those who gave less than their due proportion were to be punished. Mendicants are divided into two classes, settled Door and vagrants. The former were to be relieved by the authorized collectors but all are enjoined to maintain themselves if possible. Lastly, the claim of the poor to the portions prescribed is laid down as a positive right.

    Principles similar to those laid down by Moses are inculcated in the N.T., as Luke 3, 11;  Luke 14:13;  Acts 6:1;  Galatians 2:10;  James 2:15. In later times mendicancy, which does not appear to have been contemplated by Moses, became frequent. Instances actual or hypothetical may be seen in the following passages:  Mark 10:46;  Luke 16:20-21;  Luke 18:35;  John 9:8;  Acts 3:2. (See Beggar).

    But notwithstanding this, the prophets often complain of the prevalent hardheartedness towards the poor, and especially of judicial oppression practiced upon them ( Isaiah 10:2;  Amos 2:7;  Jeremiah 5:28;  Ezekiel 22:29;  Zechariah 7:10). Among the later Jews kindness to the poor was regarded as a prominent virtue ( Job 29:16;  Job 30:25;  Job 31:19 sq.; Tobit 2:15;  Tobit 4:11;  Tobit 12:9;  Luke 19:8), and pharisaic self-righteousness often took this form (comp.  Matthew 6:2; Otho, Lex. Rabb. p. 512). (See Alms). Beggars, in the proper sense, are unknown in the Mosaic economy ( Deuteronomy 15:4; comp. Michaelis. Hos. Recht, 2, 456 sq.), yet such extremity of want is threatened in  Psalms 109:10 as a punishment from God. In the New Testament, however, they are mentioned, as  Mark 10:46;  Luke 18:35;  John 9:8;  Acts 3:2, but only in the case of infirm persons.

    On the whole subject, besides the treatise above named, see Mishna, Ieah, 1, 2-5; 2, 7; Pesach. 4, 8; Selden, De Jure Natur. 6, 6, p. 735, etc.; Saalsch Ü tz. Archa Ö l. d. Heb. 2, 256; Michaelis, vol. 2, § 142, p. 248; Otho, Lex. Rabb. p. 308. (See Poverty). Poor, Christian Care Of The.

    In the early Church great regard was had for those in want. As duly as the Lord's day returned, and as soon as they had brought their sacred duties to a close, the lists of orphans, widows, aged, and poor were produced for consideration, and forthwith a donation was ordered out of the funds of the Church. No heart-stirring appeal was necessary to touch the sympathies of the people of God and no cold calculations of prudence regulated the distribution of alms: wherever there was an object of misery, or a proved necessity, there the treasures of the Church were expended. When the poor in any place were numerous, and the brethren in that place were unable to afford them adequate support, application was made to some richer Church in the neighborhood; and never was it known that the application was fruitlessly received. After the more complete organization of the Church, the poor had one fourth part in the distribution of the revenues, the other three parts going respectively to the bishop, the clergy, and the maintenance of the edifice. In Antioch, in the time of Chrysostom, three thousand poor people were thus provided for, and half that number were similarly supported at Rome in the days of Cornelius. In times of famine the plate of the church was sometimes melted down to support the poor. How pointedly Ambrose replies to the charge of sacrilege brought against him on this account by the Arians: "Is it not better that the bishop should melt the plate to sustain the poor, when other sustenance cannot be had, than that some sacrilegious enemy should carry it off by spoil and plunder? Will not our Lord expostulate with us on this account? Why did you suffer so many helpless persons to die with famine when you had gold to provide them sustenance? Why were so many captives carried away and sold without redemption? Why were so many suffered to be slain by the enemy? It had been better to have preserved the vessels of living men than lifeless metals.' What answer can be returned to this? For what shall a man say ? I was afraid lest the temple of God should want its ornaments. But Christ will answer, My sacraments, which are not bought with gold, do not require gold, nor please me the more for being ministered in gold; the ornament of my sacraments is the redemption of captives; and those are truly precious vessels which redeem souls from death.'" The very poor were often placed in the portico of the church to ask alms. Severe censure was also directed against those who permitted the poor to starve, or defrauded the Church of those dues which were set apart to maintain them. Many instances are recorded where churches in the early ages of Christianity, after providing for their own poor, gave to neighboring and foreign churches in distant parts. On intelligence of any pressing necessity, ministers and people would hasten with their treasures to the relief of those whom they had never seen, but with whom they were united by the strong ties of the same faith and hope. Thus when a multitude of Christian men and women in Numidia had been taken captive by a horde of neighboring barbarians, and when the churches to which they belonged were unable to raise the sum demanded for their ransom, they sent deputies to the Church in the metropolis of North Africa, and no sooner had Cyprian, who was at the head of it, heard the statement of distress than he commenced a collection in behalf of the unfortunate slaves, and never relaxed his exertions till he had obtained a sum equivalent to about £ 1000, which he forwarded to the Numidian churches, together with a letter full of Christian sympathy and tenderness.

    "In the Roman Catholic states of Europe at the present day, the Church still remains, to a great extent, the public almoner. In Rome, a Commission of Aids has the general direction and administration of the principal public charities. It is composed of a cardinal-president and fifteen members, among whom is the pope's chaplain. The city is divided into twelve districts, over each of which a member of the central council presides. Each parish is represented by its curd and two deputies-a layman and a dame de charlit, named for three years and has a secretary and a steward or treasurer, who are paid. The alms are given in money, tools, and clothes. Requests for assistance are addressed to the parochial body, from which they are sent to the district, and thence to the central council. The more urgent cases are referred to the cardinal-president, or the curd of the parish. Three brotherhoods search out cases of hidden poverty; and not only do all the religious associations, convents, and monasteries distribute relief, but there is hardly a noble or wealthy house which does not take a regular part in the assistance of the poor.

    "In Spain, the state supports several asylums for lunatics, the blind, and the deaf and dumb. It also distributes a large sum annually among the provinces for the relief of the poor each province being bound to raise double the amount received from the state. The state also steps in for the relief of great calamities, and devotes a certain sum annually for the assistance of unfortunate Spaniards abroad. A general directory of the charitable and sanitary services superintends the parochial bodies charged with the distribution of assistance to the poor. "In Austria, each commune is charged with the relief of its poor. All who have legal domicile, or, being unable to prove their domicile, are resident in the commune, are entitled to relief out of the general assessment. There is no special rate, and the administration is strictly municipal. In many provinces private charity is associated with public assistance, administered by the cure, a few chosen inhabitants, who are called Fathers of the Poor.' and an officer accountable to the commune. This system is called the Poor's Institutes;' and their funds are principally derived from private sources; but they receive a third part of the property of ecclesiastics who die intestate, and certain fines, etc. Applicants are subjected to minute inquiry as to the cause of poverty, and a weekly allowance is made on a scale according to age and necessity. The infirm poor, who have no relatives to reside with, are taken into hospitals established in almost every commune, where they receive, besides lodging, fire and light, clothing, medical care, and a small allowance in money to provide for their food and other wants. Children are either provided for in the homes of their parents, put into asylums, or boarded with people of probity, who receive a monthly payment, as in Scotland. The welfare of these children is superintended by the cures, the mayors, and the sanitary officers of the commune. Foundlings, lunatics, the blind, the deaf-and-dumb, are provided for by the state. Vagrancy is punished, and parents permitting children under fourteen to beg are liable to three months' imprisonment. Able-bodied vagrants are sent to houses of correction, and kept to work. Pawnbroking is a charitable institution in Austria, under government control; and many pawnbroking establishments rest on endowments, and lend without interest. The trade is forbidden to private persons.

    "In France, the relief of the poor is not compulsory. in so far as its distributors may, after making inquiry, refuse relief, except in the case of foundlings and lunatics. The minister of the interior has a general superintendence of the machinery of relief, as well as the immediate administration of many large hospitals and refuges. He also assists a great number of private charities. The other ministers of state give assistance on the occurrence of great calamities. The departmental funds are called upon for the compulsory relief, but the commune is the main source of public assistance. Its duty is to see that no real suffering remains unrelieved, and that the nature of the relief is such as can most easily be discontinued when the necessity ceases. The commune encourages and stimulates voluntary charities, and receives gifts for the benefit of the poor's funds. Except in Paris, the administration of the hospitals, and of the relief given at the homes of the poor, are under different management, the communes only interfering to supplement the funds of the hospitals, when these are insufficient. The mayor is president both of the administration of the hospitals and of the body for giving out-door relief (the bureau de bienfaisance). During industrial calamities the poor are sometimes employed in workshops supported by the public, and in public works. In Paris, since 1849, tere has been a responsible director set over all the charities of the city. He manages the out-door relief through the medium of the committees of assistance, formerly called bureatux de bienfaisance, in each arrondissement. He is under the inspection of a council, composed as follows: the prefect of the Seine (president), the prefect of police, two members of the Municipal Council, two maires or deputy-maires, two members of the committees of assistance, one councilor of state or a master of requests, one physician and one surgeon practicing at the hospitals, one professor of medicine, one member of the Chamber of Commerce, one member of the Council of Prud'hommes and five members taken from other classes than those above mentioned. Begging is forbidden, and punished, wherever there are establishments for the relief of the poor."

    The poor-law of England, and recently of Scotland, too, is a civil enactment. Formerly, in Scotland, many shifts were tried. Beggary was often resorted to, and as often condemned by statute. In Scotland, at the end of the 17th century, Fletcher says, there were 200,000 beggars-more on account of national distress at that time than at other times-but never less, he affirms, than 100,000. Various severe acts had been passed from time to time, and cruel punishments threatened-such as scourging and branding with a hot iron. The famous act of 1579, in enumerating the various classes of beggars condemned, has the following: "All minstrelles, sangsters, and tale-tellers, not avowed in special service, by some of the lords of Parliament or great burrowes, or by the head burrowes and cities, for their common minstrelles; all commoun labourers, being persones abill in bodie, living idle, and fleeing labour; all counterfaicters of licences to beg, or using the same, knowing them to be counterfaicted; all vagabound schollers of the universities of Saint Andrewes, Glasgow, and Abirdene, not licensed by the rector and deane of facultie of the universitie to ask almes; all schipmen and mariners, alledging themselves to be schiipbroken, without they have sufficient testimonials." The fines levied for ecclesiastical offences were often given to the poor, as may be seen in the notes to principal Lee's second volume of Church History. Ins 1643, 1644, and 1645, the general session of Edinburgh gives the following to the poor: "1643. Feb. 10 Penalties and gifts for the use of the poor: Given by Dr. Polurt as a volluntary gift 100 merks. Penalty for Neill Turner and his partie 16 merks.

    Feb. 15. Given in by Geo. Stuart, advocat, for not coming to the ile 20 merks. Given by Col. Hume's lady for private marriage with young Craigie 20 merks. Given by Sir John Smytt as a yearlie voluntary gift 100 merks. Given by Mr. Robt. Sinyth for private marriage 20 merks.

    "1644. The six sessions ordain the ordinar poor enrolled to be threatened if they learn not the grounds of religion, and to be deprived of their weeklie penssione if they cannot answer to the Cathechise.

    May 9. By Mr. Luis Stuart and Isbell Gerldes, for fornication 21 lib. 6s. 8d. By Robert Martin, for his private marriage 20 merks, 1645.

    March 13. Given for Wm. Salinond, relapse in fornication 531. 6s. Sd."

    (See Pauperism).

    In the United States, the poor who are members of any ecclesiastical organization are usually provided for by that body. Besides, the churches voluntarily assume very frequently the care of non-believers. In the Protestant Episcopal and in the Methodist Episcopal churches collections for the poor are taken on communion Sundays. Many churches make it the practice to take the poor collection every first Sabbath in the month.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

    pōōr ( אביון , 'ebhyōn , דּל , dal , עני , ‛ānı̄ , רוּשׁ , rūsh  ; πτωχός , ptōchos ):

    I. In the Old Testament.

    The poor have great prominence in the Bible; it is said, indeed, that there should be no poor among the Hebrews because Yahweh should so greatly bless them ( Deuteronomy 15:4 the Revised Version (British and American) and the King James Version margin); but this was only to be realized on certain conditions of obedience (  Deuteronomy 15:5 ), and in  Deuteronomy 15:11 it is said,"The poor will never cease out of the land"; but they were to see to it that none was left in destitution. The very foundation of the Hebrew religion was God's pity on a poor and oppressed people.

    1. The Terms Employed:

    The words for "poor" are chiefly 'ebhyōn , "desirous," "needy," "poor" (  Exodus 23:6 , etc.); dal , "moving," "swaying," hence, weak, poor, lowly ( Exodus 23:3 , etc.); dallāh , "poverty," "weakness" ( 2 Kings 25:12 , etc.); rūsh , perhaps "to shake," "tremble," "to be poor," "impoverished" ( 1 Samuel 18:23 , etc.); ‛ānı̄ , also ‛ānāw , "poor," "oppressed," from ‛ānāh , "to bend" or "bow down ( Exodus 22:25 , etc.); ‛ăneh , Aramaic ( Daniel 4:27 ), ḥēlekhāh , "wretchedness" ( Psalm 10:8 ,  Psalm 10:14 the King James Version); yārash , "to make poor" ( 1 Samuel 2:7 ); maḥsōr , "want" ( Proverbs 21:17 ); miṣkēn , "a needy one" ( Ecclesiastes 4:13;  Ecclesiastes 9:15 bis, 16).

    2. Representations:

    (1) Generally . - G od ( Yahweh and 'Ĕlōhı̄m ) is represented as having a special care for "the poor," which was illustrated in the deliverance of the nation from Egyptian poverty and bondage and was never to be forgotten by them (  Deuteronomy 24:22 ); as punishing the oppressors of the poor and rewarding those who were kind to them; God Himself was the Protector and Saviour of the poor ( Exodus 22:23 ): "If thou afflict them at all, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot," etc. ( Deuteronomy 15:9;  Deuteronomy 24:15;  1 Samuel 2:8;  Job 31:16;  Psalm 9:18;  Psalm 12:5;  Proverbs 19:17;  Isaiah 25:4;  Ecclesiastes 5:8 , "one higher than the high regardeth," etc.).

    (2) Liberality to the poor is specially enjoined (  Deuteronomy 15:7 f), and they were to beware of self-deception and grudging in this (  Deuteronomy 15:9 ,  Deuteronomy 15:10 ).

    (3) Special provisions were made on behalf of the poor: ( a ) Every third year a tithe was to be given "unto the Levite, to the sojourner, to the fatherless and to the widow" that Yahweh might bless them (  Deuteronomy 14:28 ,  Deuteronomy 14:29;  Deuteronomy 26:12 f); ( b ) the poor were to have the free use of all that grew spontaneously in field or vineyard during the Sabbatic year ( Exodus 23:10 f;   Leviticus 25:5 ,  Leviticus 25:6 ); ( c ) each year the gleanings of the fields and vineyards should belong to the poor, the corners of fields were to be left for them, and if a sheaf was forgotten it should remain ( Leviticus 19:9 ,  Leviticus 19:10;  Leviticus 23:22;  Deuteronomy 24:19 ); ( d ) fruit and ripe grain in a field might be eaten by any hungry person, but none should be carried away ( Deuteronomy 23:24 ,  Deuteronomy 23:25 ); ( e ) in the Feast of Weeks the poor were to participate ( Deuteronomy 16:9-12 ); ( f ) every seventh year there should be a "release" of debts ( Deuteronomy 15:1 f); in the seventh year of servitude the Hebrew bond-servant should go free (  Exodus 21:2 ), or in the Jubilee, if that came first, on which occasion - the fiftieth year - property that had been sold returned to its owner or his family ( Leviticus 25:8-17 ); ( g ) they were to lend readily to the poor, and no interest or increase was to be taken from their brethren ( Exodus 22:25;  Leviticus 25:35-37;  Deuteronomy 15:7 f); in   Leviticus 25:39 , no poor Hebrew was to be made a bond-servant, and, if a hired servant, he was not to be ruled with rigor ( Leviticus 25:43 ); his hire was to be given him daily ( Leviticus 19:13;  Deuteronomy 24:15 ); no widow's raiment was to be taken in pledge ( Deuteronomy 24:17 ), nor the handmill, nor the upper millstone so essential for daily life ( Deuteronomy 24:6 ), a man's garment should be returned to him before sundown, and no house should be entered to seize or fetch any pledge ( Deuteronomy 24:10-13 ); breach of these laws should be sin and their observance righteousness ( Deuteronomy 24:13 ,  Deuteronomy 24:15 , etc.; see Alms , Almsgiving; ( h ) justice was to be done to the poor ( Exodus 23:6;  Deuteronomy 27:19 , "Cursed be he that wresteth the justice due to the sojourner, fatherless, and widow"); (i) offerings were graduated according to means ( Leviticus 5:7;  Leviticus 12:8 ).

    (4) Definite penalties were not always attached to those laws, and the prophets and psalmists have many complaints of the unjust treatment and oppression of the poor, contrary to the will of God, and frequent exhortations to justice and a due regard for them (  Psalm 10:2 ,  Psalm 10:9;  Psalm 12:5;  Psalm 14:6 , etc.;  Isaiah 3:14 ,  Isaiah 3:15;  Jeremiah 2:34;  Ezekiel 16:49 , "the iniquity of ... Sodom";  Ezekiel 18:12 ,  Ezekiel 18:17;  Ezekiel 22:29;  Amos 2:7;  Amos 4:1;  Habakkuk 3:14; compare  Job 20:19;  Job 24:9 ,  Job 24:14 , etc.;  Proverbs 14:31 ).

    (5) The duty of caring for the poor is frequently and strongly set forth and divine promises attached to its fulfillment (  Psalm 41:1;  Psalm 72:12 ff;   Proverbs 17:5;  Proverbs 22:9;  Proverbs 28:3 ,  Proverbs 28:17;  Isaiah 58:7;  Jeremiah 22:16;  Ezekiel 18:17;  Daniel 4:27;  Zechariah 7:10 , etc.; compare  Job 29:12 ,  Job 29:16;  Job 30:25;  Job 31:19;  Psalm 112:9 ).

    (6) The day of the Divine manifestation , the times of the Messiah, should bring deliverance and rejoicing to the poor (  Psalm 72:12-15;  Isaiah 11:4 , "With righteousness shall he judge the poor," etc.;  Isaiah 14:30;  Isaiah 29:19;  Isaiah 61:1 the Revised Version margin).

    (7) The equality of rich and poor before God and the superiority of the righteous poor to the ungodly rich, etc., are maintained (  Proverbs 19:1 ,  Proverbs 19:22;  Proverbs 22:1 ,  Proverbs 22:2;  Ecclesiastes 4:13 ).

    (8) Ways in which men can willfully make themselves poor are mentioned ( Proverbs 6:11;  Proverbs 10:4;  Proverbs 12:24;  Proverbs 13:4 ,  Proverbs 13:18;  Proverbs 14:23;  Proverbs 20:13;  Proverbs 21:5 ,  Proverbs 21:17;  Proverbs 23:21;  Proverbs 28:19 ).

    3. The Godly Poor:

    The chief words given above all mean poor , literally, but ‛ānı̄ (rendered also "afflicted") may also denote Israel as a nation in its afflictions and low estate, e.g.   Psalm 68:10;  Isaiah 41:17;  Isaiah 49:13;  Isaiah 51:21;  Isaiah 54:11; in  Zephaniah 3:12 , it is "the ideal Israel of the future." Dr. Driver remarks (art. "Poor," HDB ) that such passages show that ‛ānı̄ (as also its frequent parallel 'ebhyōn , and, though somewhat less distinctly, dal ) came gradually "to denote the godly poor, the suffering righteous, the persons who, whether 'bowed down' or 'needy' or 'reduced,' were the godly servants of Yahweh." The humble poor became in fact distinguished as the line in which faithfulness to Yahweh was maintained and spiritual _ religion developed. The less frequent word ‛ānāw , often translated "meek," "humble," is regarded (see Driver in the place cited.) as having from the first a moral and religious significance. It is used of Moses ( Numbers 12:3 ) and occurs in  Psalm 10:12 ,  Psalm 10:17;  Psalm 22:26;  Psalm 25:9 , etc.;  Proverbs 3:34;  Proverbs 16:19;  Isaiah 29:19;  Isaiah 32:7;  Isaiah 61:1;  Amos 2:7;  Zephaniah 2:3 .

    II. In the New Testament.

    In the New Testament ptōchos , "trembling," "poor," "beggar," is almost exclusively the word translated "poor." It does not occur very frequently, but we see the same regard for the poor maintained as we have in the Old Testament; besides, the new principle of love and the example of Him who "though he was rich, yet for your sakes ... became poor" ( ptōcheúō ,   2 Corinthians 8:9 ) necessarily carry in them this regard even more fully than in the Old Testament. Jesus announced His mission ( Luke 4:18 ) by quoting  Isaiah 61:1 , "to preach good tidings (the King James Version "the gospel") to the poor" (or meek or humble); He gave as a proof of His Messiahship the fact that "the poor have the gospel (or good news of the Kingdom) preached to them" ( Matthew 11:5;  Luke 7:22 ); according to  Luke 6:20 , He pronounced a beatitude on the pious "poor" because the kingdom of God was theirs; in  Matthew 5:3 it is "the poor in spirit" (the humble); we have the injunction to "give to the poor" (  Matthew 19:21;  Mark 10:21;  Luke 18:22 ) who are "always with you" ( Matthew 26:11;  Mark 14:7;  John 12:8 ), which does not mean that there must always be "the poor," but that, in contrast with Himself who was soon to leave them, the poor should remain and kindness could be shown to them at any time, which was His own practice ( John 13:29 ); we are enjoined to call not the rich or well-to-do to our entertainments, but the poor ( Luke 14:13; compare  Luke 14:21 ); Zaccheus cited in his favor the fact that he gave 'half of his goods to the poor' ( Luke 19:8 ); special notice was taken by Jesus of the poor widow's contribution ( Luke 21:3 ). The first church showed its regard for the poor in the distribution of goods "according as any man had need" ( Acts 2:45;  Acts 4:32;  Acts 6:1 ); when the council at Jerusalem freed the Gentiles from the yoke of Judaism, they made it a condition, Paul says, "that we should remember the poor; which very thing I was also zealous to do" ( Galatians 2:10 ); contributions were accordingly made "for the poor among the saints that are at Jerus" ( Romans 15:26 ), and it was in conveying such contributions that Paul got into the circumstances that led to his arrest. God's ability and will to provide for those who give to the poor is quoted from  Psalm 112:9 (  2 Corinthians 9:9 ); James specially rebukes certain Christians of his day for their partiality for the rich and their dishonor of the poor ( James 2:5-9 ), and John asks how, in the man who "hath the world's goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him," the love of God can dwell ( 1 John 3:17 ,  1 John 3:18 ).

    Ptōchos is translated "beggar" (  Luke 16:20 ,  Luke 16:22 ) and "beggarly" ( Galatians 4:9 ); pénēs , "one who works for his daily bread," "a poor man," is the word in  2 Corinthians 9:9; the poor widow of  Mark 12:42 is described in   Luke 21:2 as penichrós , "very poor."

    III. In the Apocrypha.

    In the Apocrypha the poor are often mentioned; God's regard for them ( Sirach 21:5 ( ptōchos ); 35:12,13); their oppression and wrongs (The Wisdom of   Song of Solomon 2:10 ( penēs );   Sirach 13:3,19 ,  23 ( ptōchos );   Baruch 6:28 ); the duty of care for and of giving to the poor ( Tobit 4:7 ( ptōchos );   Sirach 29:8 ( tapeinós ); 29:9 ( penēs ); 34:20-22); of justice and kindness to such (  Sirach 4:1,5 ,  8;  7:32;  10:23 ( ptōchos )); "poor" in the sense of pitiable occurs in   2 Maccabees 4:47 ( talaı́pōros ), the Revised Version (British and American) "hapless."

    IV. The Revised Version (British and American) Changes.

    For "the poor of this world" ( James 2:5 ) the Revised Version (British and American) has "them that are poor as to the world"; for "The poor ... shall trust in it" ( Isaiah 14:32 ), "In her shall the afflicted ... take refuge"; instead of "Whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor" ( Ecclesiastes 4:14 ), "Yea, even in his kingdom he was born poor"; "poor" for "humble" ( Psalm 9:12;  Psalm 10:12 , margin "meek"), for "lowly" ( Proverbs 16:19 , margin "meek").