The Sinai

How Does the Sinai Covenant Provide for Poor People?


The law given to Moses and the children of Israel in the Sinai offers significant insights into God’s practical provision for the poor, emphasising social justice, compassion, and communal responsibility. 

The LORD is concerned that the needs of the impoverished are met and that they are integrated into the fabric of society with dignity and care.

’’There should be no poor among you’’[1]

Below is a sample of three such laws.  

1. A portion of the crop is to be left for the poor to harvest. 

One notable provision for the poor is the concept of gleaning[2]. Every harvest God commanded the Israelites to leave portions of their grain and fruit unharvested so that the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners could gather food for themselves. This practice not only addresses the immediate needs of the poor but also promotes self-sufficiency and dignity by enabling people to work for their sustenance. By incorporating the marginalised into the agricultural economy of ancient Israel, the LORD ensures that they are not excluded or neglected but are instead valued members of the community.

2. Lend to the Poor without charging interest.

The LORD instructs the Israelites to provide loans to their fellow Israelites in need without expecting any form of repayment of interest[3]. This provision not only offers immediate relief to the poor but also prevents them from falling further into debt and exploitation. 

3. Be openhanded and generous to the poor.[4]

By encouraging acts of generosity and compassion, God fosters a culture of mutual support and solidarity within the community, ensuring that no one is left behind or marginalised due to financial hardship.

Through laws such as gleaning, generosity, and interest-free lending, the LORD ensures that the practical and social needs of those who have fallen on hard times are met. Such provisions serve as timeless principles for addressing poverty and inequality, challenging individuals, and community leaders, to make God’s compassion practical in their policies, attitudes, and interactions with the marginalised and vulnerable.


How do you and your family practice these three principles:

  • dedicating a portion of your harvest to the poor, 
  • lending to the poor without interest and 
  • being open handed and generous to those who have fallen on hard times? 

In which ways does your government follow and transgress these principles?


  1. Deuteronomy 15:4
  2. Leviticus 23:22
  3. Exodus 22:25-27
  4. Deuteronomy 15:7-11

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