Zacchaeus defends himself (Lk 19:8-19:8)

“Zacchaeus stood there.

He said

To the Lord.

‘Look!

Lord!

I will give

To the poor

Half of my possessions.

If I have defrauded

Anyone of anything,

I will pay back

Four times as much.’”

 

σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσειά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, Κύριε, τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι, καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν.

 

Luke indicated that Zacchaeus stood there (σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος).  He then said to the Lord Jesus (εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον), calling him Lord (Κύριε) that he was willing to give to the poor (τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι) half of his possessions (Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσειά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων).  He said that if he had defrauded anyone of anything (καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα), he was willing to pay it back 4 times as much (ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν).  Once again, Luke used the Greek word ἐσυκοφάντησα, that means to accuse falsely or defraud people, that was not found in any of the other Greek biblical writers.  Zacchaeus made a big deal about how he was not like the other tax collectors.  Despite his wealth, he was willing to give half of it away to some unnamed poor people.  Anytime, he was accused of defrauding people, he would give them 4 times what they were claiming.  This restoration of 4 times goes back to Exodus, chapter 22:1, about stealing sheep.  The thief had to pay four sheep for any one stolen sheep.  Thus, Zacchaeus seemed like a very fair person, leaning over backwards to help people.  Yet he was still wealthy.  Luke was the only synoptic with this story of Zacchaeus.  How do you treat people who claim that you are defrauding them?

Advertisements

The problems in lending money (Sir 29:4-29:7)

“Many persons regard a loan

As a windfall.

This causes trouble

To those who help them.

One kisses another’s hands

Until he gets a loan.

He is very deferential

In speaking of his neighbor’s money.

But at the time

For repayment,

He delays.

He pays back

With empty promises.

He finds fault with the time.

If he can pay,

His creditor

Will hardly get back half.

The borrower will regard

That as a windfall.

If he cannot pay,

The borrower has robbed

The other of his money.

He has needlessly

Made him an enemy.

He will repay him

With curses.

He will repay him

With reproaches.

Instead of glory,

He will repay him

With dishonor.

Many refuse to lend,

Not because of meanness,

But from fear of being defrauded needlessly.”

Sirach says that this ideal of lending money to your neighbor as giving a helping hand has a few hiccups. Some people think that the loan is a gift, so that they never pay it back. They go around being very deferential to the people with money, kissing their hands. However, when it comes time to repay the loan all they give back are empty promises. They say that they need more time. Sometimes they only pay half of it back, since they think the rest of it was a gift to them. If they do not pay it back, they have robbed their neighbor. They have needlessly made him an enemy. Curses and reproaches will follow with dishonor and anger on all sides. This had led many people to refuse to lend money because they are afraid of being defrauded. Thus there are less and less no interest loans happening.