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The meaning of Riches in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

rich'-ez, rich'-iz: Used to render the following Hebrew and Greek words: (1) 'Osher, which should, perhaps, be considered the most general word, as it is the most often used (Genesis 31:16; Ecclesiastes 4:8; Jeremiah 9:23). It looks at riches simply as riches, without regard to any particular feature. Alongside this would go the Greek ploutos (Matthew 13:22; Ephesians 2:7). (2) Chocen (Proverbs 27:24; Jeremiah 20:5), nekhacim and rekhush (Genesis 36:7; Daniel 11:13-14 the King James Version) look at riches as things accumulated, collected, amassed. (3) Hon looks upon riches as earnings, the fruit of toil (Psalms 119:14; Proverbs 8:18; Ezekiel 27:27). (4) Hamon regards riches in the aspect of being much, this coming from the original idea of noise, through the idea of a multitude as making the noise, the idea of many, or much, being in multitude (Psalms 37:16 the King James Version). (5) Chayil regards riches as power ( 62:19; Isaiah 8:4; Isaiah 10:14). (6) Yithrah means "running over," and so presents riches as abundance (Jeremiah 48:36 the King James Version). Along with this may be placed shua', which has the idea of breadth, and so of abundance (Job 36:19 the King James Version). (7) Qinyan regards riches as a creation, something made (Psalms 104:24; compare margin); (8) (chrema) looks at riches as useful (Mark 10:23 f. parallel). Like the New Testament, the Apoe uses only ploutos and chrema.

Material riches are regarded by the Scriptures as neither good nor bad in themselves, but only according as they are properly or improperly used. They are transitory (Proverbs 27:24); they are not to be trusted in (Mark 10:23; Luke 18:24; I Timothy 6:17); they are not to be gloried in (Jeremiah 9:23); the heart is not to be set on them (Psalms 62:10); but they are made by God (Psalms 104:24), and come from God (I Chronicles 29:12); and they are the crown of the wise (Proverbs 14:24). Material riches are used to body forth for us the most precious and glorious realities of the spiritual realm. See, e.g., Romans 9:23; Romans 11:33; Ephesians 2:7; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 1:27.

Compare MAMMON; TREASURE; WEALTH.

E. J. Forrester


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