Everyone who loves Monopoly has his own set of house rules (Greek οἰκονομία …hehehe). I’m not going to talk about American politics today, but I saw the picture above on facebook that’s a jab at Bernie Sanders, and I wanted to turn it into something Bible-related. Whoever made the Bernopoly post must have been anti-Bernie, but someone from a pro-Bernie point of view made a similar post:
Well, I’m not going to ramble on about which Monopoly board I like better, but I would like to jump on the bandwagon and use Monopoly to explain economics. More specifically, I want to try to explain how economics worked in Israel during the Mosaic Law using an overly simplified Monopoly illustration… and will probably fail miserably.
Here it goes:
Rules of MosaicLawopoly
The game starts with all of the properties distributed evenly among all players except for one, who’s not allowed to have property. Players can buy and sell properties from each other, but after 50 laps around the board, the properties get redistributed as they were at the beginning of the game.
“Tax” works on 7-lap cycles. On every lap, the players that started with property give 10% to the guy who doesn’t have property. On laps 1, 2, 4, and 5, you take 10% and party! On laps 3 and 6, you give 10% to the poor.
When you pass Go, if you have been following the rules you get $2,000. If not, you go to jail and lose everything for 70 laps.
Economics of MosaicLawopoly
The basic idea is to have an environment where everyone can progress together. Israelites could sell land to each other, but every 49 years, the land would go back to the tribe that God originally allocated it to (Lev 25:25-28). Really, it’s more like Israelites would lease out land to other Israelites. The system prevents a tribe from losing all of its land while allowing business-savvy Israelites to grow their wealth.
Just like we have to pay tax to keep our government running, Israel had to pay to keep the Levitical priesthood running. It was a flat rate of 10% and it went to the Levites (Num 18:24). Then came the second tithe. It would be grain, wine, and oil, unless the family lived far away, in which case it could be sold for money to buy whatever they wanted. For two years, it would go to feasting in Jerusalem (Duet 14:22-27), and then in the third year it would be given to the poor (Deut 14:28-29). The first tithe kept the Mosaic priesthood functioning and the second tithe was for the people.
The most important part of Mosaic Law economics can be read in detail in Deut 28. God promises Israel that if they obey Him, He will bless them abundantly. If they disobey Him, He will curse them abundantly. This was the bottom line. At Israel’s best, silver and gold were as common as stones (2 Chron 1:15). But when they were disobedient, God would send enemies and famine such that dove dung became a valuable food source (2 Kings 6:25). A lot of pastors teach that the Church has replaced Israel in its blessings, but oddly enough they rarely talk about taking Israel’s cursings… kinda suspicious if you ask me. But, that’s a topic for another day.
The end result of MosaicLawopoly
The Mosaic Law economy was not intended to last forever. It pointed directly to Christ, who would come and set up a new kingdom. But, when Christ came, Israel rejected Him, so He delayed the Kingdom, which we are still looking forward to (Rev 20:1-6). In other words, MosaicLawopoly ended like every other game of Monopoly: