Saturday, August 31, 2013
Jesus, Cleansing the Temple, and Crony Capitalism
"14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business." John 2:14
"The Law of Moses required that any animal offered in sacrifice be unblemished, and that every Jewish male over 19 years of age pay a temple tax (see Lev 1:3, Deut 17:1). As a result, tax collectors and inspectors of sacrificial animals were present at the temple....So in order to accommodate visitors in need of animals and the right kinds of coins, animal merchants and money changers set up shop in the outer court of the temple. These inspectors, collectors, and exchangers, however, charged high prices." Nelson Study Bible, note on said verse.
Jesus' cleansing of the temple is often cited by progressives as evidence that Jesus is some sort of socialist. Progressives will argue this story reveals Jesus' opposition to productive enterprise. In reality, Jesus is opposed to insiders rigging the game.
As the note from the Nelson study Bible makes clear, the Temple was dominated by petty bureaucrats enforcing petty rules. These petty rules created barriers to entry that protected the windfall profits of a few select merchants. The Temple of the early first century was hardly a scene of robust competition.
Jesus' cleansing of the Temple is a rebuke of Crony Capitalism, not Free Enterprise.