[b-hebrew] Bribes, Gifts, and Tribute

david.kimbrough at charter.net david.kimbrough at charter.net
Mon May 17 22:56:55 EDT 2004


If I ask a carpenter to build me a house he may not be 
inclined to do so.  If I offer to pay him he will probably 
become so inclined.  Similarly if I have a case before a 
judge, he may not be inclined to find in my favor.  I offer 
to pay him; he may well be come so inclined in my favor.  
The former is legal and is not considered bribery while the 
latter is not and is considered bribery. 

In the case of the two kings, in each case, the king of 
Judea made payments to some foreign king (Syrian and 
Assyrian) to attack his enemy (Israel and Syria).  This 
sort of arrangement was legal and normal. Notably, the 
author of 1 and 2 Kings do not condemn either Ahaz or Asa 
for these payments.  Indeed why should there be any 
condemnation when in each case the payments had the desired 
effect, the enemy attacking Judea was defeated Judea was 
rescued.  Asa?s ?heart was perfect with the LORD all his 

It is only the modern reader who detects something wrong or 
immoral in this arrangement, even it is a practice that is 
stilled used today.  Ancient readers did not detect and 
moral problem, especially since it seemed to work quite 

> From: "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com>
> Date: 2004/05/17 Mon PM 11:19:08 GMT
> To: "Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Bribes, Gifts, and Tribute
> David:
> What is at stake here is not the legality of the action, 
as we understand it, rather the action. This is giving 
something of value to get the recipient to do something 
that he normally may not do. In that way, a king can bribe 
another king.
> An example of a ?legal? bribe is in U.S. politics, where 
a large donation is given to a politician?s re-election 
campaign so that the politician will do certain things that 
the ?donor? wishes.
> Usually, however, bribes are recognized as a way to 
pervert justice.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "David Kimbrough (CLWA)" <dkimbrough at clwa.org>
> > Yigal,
> > 
> > Yes you are correct that in 1Kings 15:19 King Asa gives 
all of his silver
> > and gold to King Benhadad of Syria which Asa calls a 
"gift" ($oxad).  The
> > gift was to get the King of Syria to do something, 
attack Israel.  However
> > this is not a bribe however as there nothing illegal or 
unethical about it.
> > Gifts of cash were routinely given out in order to 
obtain military alliance
> > of one type or another, just as they are today.  King 
Benhadad was
> > committing no crime, just receiving payment for 
services rendered.  The King
> > of Israel may not have been happy about this 
arrangement, and perhaps even
> > many Judeans weren't either, but that does not equal 
> > 
> > The nearly identical relation is reported in 2Kings 
16:8.  This time King
> > Ahaz is giving a gift the King of Assyria to attach the 
King of Syria.  King
> > Tiglathpileser is good to his word and does so.  No 
bribery, just a Kings
> > doing their jobs.  Bribery would to pay a King NOT to 
do his job.
> > 
> > David Eugene Kimbrough
> > Water Quality & Laboratory Supervisor
> > Castaic Lake Water Agency
> > 27234 Bouquet Canyon Road
> > Santa Clarita, CA 91350-2173 USA
> > V 661.297.1600
> > F 661.297.0414 or .1611
> > dkimbrough at clwa.org
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David Kimbrough
San Gabriel

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