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wages


The compensation paid to a free laborer hired for a fixed period of time or for a specific service. It was apparently common to hire a laborer in ancient Israel for a day’s work, for the Torah requires payment of wages at the end of the day (Lev 19:13; Deut 24:14; Job 14:6; Matt 20:1-2; Matt 20:8). There are also references to yearly (Lev 25:53; Isa 21:16) and triennial hire (Deut 15:18; Isa 16:14). The Bible contains scattered examples of wages paid to laborers: to Jacob when he worked as a shepherd for Laban (Gen 29:15; Gen 30:32-33; Gen 31:8); to Moses’s mother as a nurse, by Pharaoh’s daughter (Exod 2:9); to Tamar for harlotry, by Judah (Gen 38; Deut 23:18; Isa 23:17; Ezek 16:31; Hos 9:1; Mic 1:7); the levitical portion (Num 18:31); the hiring of Balaam to curse Israel (Deut 23:5; Neh 13:2); the hiring of mercenaries (Judg 9:4; 2Sam 10:6; Jer 46:21; 2Kgs 7:6; 2Chr 24:6); the hiring of Shemaiah to prophesy falsely (Neh 6:10-13); the hiring of counselors (Ezra 4:5); the hiring of a priest (Judg 18:4); the hiring of a seer (1Sam 9:6-9); the hiring of skilled craftsmen (Isa 46:6; 2Chr 24:12); the wages to be paid to elders (1Tim 5:17-18; Luke 10:7); and the wages withheld from mowers (Jas 5:4). The term “wage” is also used metaphorically in the religious sense as reward given by God for the “labor” of loyalty, suffering, or right action (Gen 15:1; Ezek 29:18-19; Isa 40:10; Isa 61:8; Isa 62:11; 1Cor 3:8; of children, Gen 30:18) or as the just recompense for sin (Rom 6:23; 2Pet 2:15).

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.