This article describes the ancient Jewish practices, codified in Biblical law and later legal commentary, to protect the needy. The ancient Hebrews were the first civilization to establish a charitable framework for the caretaking of the populace. The Hebrews developed a complex and comprehensive system of charity to protect the needy and vulnerable. The Jews’ anti-poverty measures - including regulation of agriculture, loans, working conditions, and customs for sharing at feasts - were a significant development in the jurisprudence of charity.
The first half begins with a brief history of ancient Jewish civilization, providing context for the development of charity by exploring the living conditions of the poor. The second half concludes with a description of the Jewish laws, Mishnah and Talmudic commentary, as well as the practice and codification of Rabbi teachings that establish a jurisprudence of charity. The author concludes that this ancient jurisprudence is the root of the American modern philanthropic idea by identifying modern equivalent practices to those of the Hebrews.
- Jewish law
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