Monday 14 March 2016

Ex 19:5 Moses and the Axial Age

The "Axial Age" is the axis of world history, around 800-300 BC. It is the pivotal moment when cities were big but not yet too controlling, when great new ideas were possible. In ancient Greece, Persia, India, and China the world's greatest ideas were formed: democracy, science, coinage, and more.

In the middle of this the Old Testament as we know it was composed. It centered on a character they called Moses (and so does the New Testament, but that's another topic). My argument is that Moses was the greatest philosopher of all, because he solved the problem of taxation: he gave a simple way that we could have a perfect world.

According to the story, Moses and his people escaped the tyranny of Egypt, and he decided to create a state where no tyrant could ever rule. To do so he split the land equally between every family, and made a law that if land was ever sold then every seven years it had to be given back. That way, nobody could ever accumulate more land than anybody else, and everybody had equal opportunities.

In Moses system there was no taxation. There was only as rent on land: those who had land must pay one tenth of their harvest to the good of society. There were a couple of trivial payments for the use of the temple, but that was it. Basically people who did not have land did not pay tax.

Jesus later updated this rule to allow those with more talent to use more land, as long as they did not profit by a single penny from simply occupying the land. They could only keep what they added in value (see the parable of the talents for one of many examples of this principle)

On my other web site I show how this rule leads to perfect wealth and justice for all, as well as an end to war. In the next posts I'll look more at Moses as a philosopher and at Israel in the axial period.

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