Is it a coincidence that countries with healthy Jewish populations tend to enjoy far greater economic success than those without? King Edward I expelled the Jews from England in 1290. For about two hundred years prior, England’s economy had been growing dramatically with Jews playing a significant role in the development of silver mining, currency and banking. With their departure, the English economy went into decline.
In his wonderful book, History of the English Speaking Peoples, Winston Churchill explains that as bankers and lenders Jews held the mortgages on a great deal of English land on which they had loaned money to the crown or aristocratic landowners. Edward I realized he could transfer all those instruments to himself by expelling the Jews. He did exactly that. It may have helped Edward but it hurt the country.
Almost immediately, English economic vitality plummeted. Twenty five years later there was a terrible famine that decimated the population. For about 350 years England’s economy languished, only to recover when Oliver Cromwell encouraged Dutch Jews to move to England.
A similar scenario played out when Spain expelled its Jews in 1492. After centuries of glittering economic prowess, Spain went into decline. Though the expulsion order was officially revoked in 1968, until very recently Spain never invited its Jews back and it remains one of the most conspicuous failures of the European Economic Union.
The truth is that when countries expel Jewish Biblical values by adopting socialism, either through revolution as in Russia, China, and Cuba or through a sad slide as in a number of European countries and perhaps even the United States, their economies fade and fail just as surely as did those of England and Spain.
Conversely, countries that reopen themselves, at least on some level, to Biblical values, inevitably see their economies begin to thrive. Think of South Korea. China has definitely become more open to Christianity with over a hundred million Christians and, not surprisingly, a rapidly growing economy. The jury is still out on Russia but I am seeing a new openness towards Christianity and Judaism in that troubled land so I expect to see their economy starting to improve quite noticeably.
In my resource package, The Income Abundance Set, I explain this far more extensively and with far more attention to practical suggestions for your life. However, for the purposes of this Thought Tool let’s examine three characteristics that traditional Jewish values impart to the culture in which they live. Trust. Ownership. Being nice.
Trust: When a Jewish merchant in Amsterdam shipped goods to a co-religionist in Paramaribo he could be confident that when the ship arrived, he would be paid. When Quakers established Barclays Bank in London at the end of the 17th century, people deposited money because Quakers who adhered to Biblical values were trusted.
Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the first question we will all be asked when we arrive in judgment before the Heavenly Throne is “Did you conduct your business affairs in a trustworthy way?” Trust flourishes among those guided by principles such as exact weights and measures from Leviticus 19, leading to prosperity.
Ownership: The Torah has many laws that only make sense in a culture that allows individuals to own property. For instance, we are warned against infringing on the boundaries of our neighbors’ property. (Deuteronomy 19:14). The Tenth Commandment prohibits us from even wanting other’s property.
Though King Ahab angered the Lord greatly by worshiping the Baal idols he was stripped of his kingdom only after he stole Navot’s vineyard. (I Kings 21:19)
Decency: Admonitions that include being kind to the orphan and widow, not gossiping and being grateful are incumbent on each individual. Not surprisingly, people prefer dealing with others who treat them kindly, courteously and considerately.
Business means serving others in exchange for their payment and being in business incentivizes us to become a little more trustworthy, more aware of the importance of people’s possessions, and a little more kind, courteous, and considerate. Truly, if we are faithful to God’s system, doing well is proof of doing good.
Right now the most devastating obstacle to increasing your income is when you subconsciously buy into today’s relentless cultural message that having a lot of money is evidence that you’re not a good person. The only way to expiate your sins, they tell you, is for the government to take more of your money in an effort to introduce the fairness that your success violated. Unless you can extirpate this belief from your heart, your efforts will be handicapped. Please get hold of my Income Abundance Set while there’s still time to make 2014 a great year. Discover ways to counter the anti-business psychology while learning dozens of real-life business applications from ancient Jewish wisdom that have helped Jews succeed at so many different times and in so many different places.