Do not oppress or rob your neighbor; specifically, you are not to keep back the wages of a hired worker all night until morning.-Leviticus 19:13
Verse 13 begins a series of verses that clearly define fairness, justice, and truthfulness from God’s perspective.
This brings me to a point that is repeatedly being shown to us in our studies.
Every aspect of our lives that God addresses via His rules, laws or commands is the the revealing of righteousness.
And the opposite of His rules, laws or commands is the revealing of unrighteousness or evil.
God’s Commands themselves are the real definition of morality.
Every time we disobey God’s commands, we are committing immorality and evil.
This really doesn’t take a genius to figure out.
The Scriptures make it crystal clear that we are blessed for keeping God’s commands and will be cursed for disobeying them.
Isn’t it interesting how the church tells us the exact opposite?
They say that we will be cursed for even attempting to obey God’s commands.
Kind of makes me wonder exactly what force or power is behind that kind of teaching.
Now when it comes to applying these laws and commands to our modern lives, this is where we need to exercise wisdom and properly extract the PRINCIPLE being communicated to us through God’s Laws or Commands.
For example, when it comes to God’s commands on leaving a portion of a field unharvested for the poor, am I saying that we’re to go out and purchase a field so we can literally fulfill this command?
Of course not.
Again, it’s the principle behind the law of gleaning that we’re supposed to glean.
I think the idea being put forth here is that we’re supposed to always budget for charity.
Metaphorically speaking, it doesn’t matter if we have a large field or small field, we should always give.
The greater the need, the more we should give.
And of course, the amount obviously will differ depending on our income and wealth levels.
The point is there is no allowance by the Lord to stop giving just because one isn’t a millionaire.
Verse 13 specifically identifies two kinds of theft or false dealings: “fraud” and “robbery”.
In Hebrew “robbery” is GEZELAH and “fraud” is OSHEK.
From a Biblical perspective, they do not have the same meaning.
Robbery is taking something from someone else that doesn’t belong to you .
If somebody takes my computer knowing that it is mine and not theirs, that is robbery plain and simple.
Fraud, on the other hand, is withholding something from someone that the law says rightfully belongs to them.
For example, if a husband doesn’t pay alimony as he is supposed to, Biblically speaking, he is committing fraud.
Or if one borrows money and fails to pay it back, I think this could also be considered a form of fraud.
In the failure to pay alimony example, the ex-wife doesn’t have or own the alimony money yet, but by all rights it should be hers.
The instance given in verse 13 about the wages of a laborer being held back is a perfect example of fraud.
In the Hebrew mindset, money is considered to be a form of “frozen work”.
In other words, in the Bible, a laborer’s wages was more than just the money owed him for his work, it also included the labor itself.
Hence, if someone wasn’t paid his salary, it meant that the person who did his work lost not just the compensation for his efforts but lost the effort or work itself.
When the Lord says not to withhold wages until morning, what he means is to not withhold wages until the following day.
In those days, once a worker received his money, he would use it immediately to buy food for his family for THAT evening.
If he didn’t get paid that very day, that meant that he and his family went hungry that night.
From God’s perspective, that was just cruel and unfair.
In ancient Hebrew society, the day laborer was to be paid immediately after he had clocked out for the day.
If a field owner failed to pay his workers on that very day, from God’s perspective, he has committed ‘OSHEK or fraud.