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Unpublished Paper
The Development of Charity: Anti-Poverty Measures of Ancient Jewish Law & Jurisprudence
  • William H Byrnes, IV, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

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.

  • charity,
  • Jewish law
Publication Date
Fall October 12, 2011
Citation Information
William H Byrnes. "The Development of Charity: Anti-Poverty Measures of Ancient Jewish Law & Jurisprudence" (2011)
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