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A beggar is someone who lives off the charity of others. References to the destitute poor are found through all of recorded Bible History, however there is little specific mention of righteous beggars in the Old Testament, e.g. "I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread" (Psalm 37:25 RSV), while they are found in the New Testament. The reason for that may be because the "Law of Moses" (which was actually the Law of God that was given to Moses) provided for the poor during the Old Testament period when the Israelites were their own religious and civil government, while during New Testament times they were forced to live under the rule of the "law of the jungle" Romans who, while having a seemingly endless supply of money for great national projects to the glory of their Emperor and their "superpower" Roman Legions that occupied many nations (see Ancient Empires - Rome), most Romans apparently felt no shame or guilt in at the same time having disabled or disadvantaged people living, and starving, out in their streets.


Daily Bread The "Law of Moses" (i.e. The Law of God that was given to Moses as a basis for the Israelite nation) commanded that the poor be helped:

"For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land." (Deuteronomy 15:11 RSV)

It should be kept in mind however that the Law of God was also very clear about not being poor if one could help it. The Fourth Commandment actually has two parts - to work for the first six days of the week, and then to rest on the seventh day:

"Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to The Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days The Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore The Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:9-11 RSV)

By the time of the New Testament, under the rule of the Romans, beggars were more prevalent. While most Christians were not themselves wealthy (then, as now, honesty is often a serious handicap to "success" in the way the world is now operating - see Who Still Rules The World Today?), they were sometimes able to help beggars with something better than money:

And they came to Jericho; and as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth [see also Nazarene], he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; rise, He is calling you." And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And the blind man said to him, "Master, let me receive my sight." And Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way" (Mark 10:46-52 RSV)

"Now Peter and John were going up to the Temple [see "My Father's House"] at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the Temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the Temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the Temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God." (Acts 3:1-8 RSV)

Fact Finder: What was the lesson of the parable of "Lazarus and the rich man"?
See Lazarus And The Rich Man

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