The California Reparations Task Force recently recommended that the state of California should pay to every eligible black resident 1.2 million dollars in restitution. Some Christian thinkers have supposedly based the payments of reparation on an account in the Bible.
This idea comes from the story of the Exodus recorded in chapter 12, verses 35-36: “Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.”
My first thought is that I am not as interested in what Christian thinkers thought about this passage as I am in what is actually being depicted by the Scriptures. That thought is followed by what the Bible describes is not what it also prescribes.
An example of that second thought is that we have King David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba describe in the Scriptures, but no respectable theologian would say that men are prescribed, that is to say required, to follow David’s example; especially when adultery is forbidden by the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, Exodus 20:14.
What is happening in this account is that Egyptians have become weary of the ten divine plagues visited upon them because they refused to release the Israelites from bondage, the last of which was the death of every firstborn child; “The Egyptians urged the people to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, ‘We will all be dead,’” Exodus 12:33. The Egyptians were merely bribing the Israelites to leave and rid themselves of any further heavenly judgment.
But if one still wants to make a case that this is an example of ancient reparation, then we need to take a critical look at the historical context to see if it is relevant to today’s situation. Such an analysis reveals that the Egyptians had actually enslaved the nation of Israel, and paid reparations to those who had been and still were actually enslaved.
That is not what is being suggested by The California Reparations Task Force. What is being discussed now is those who have never enslaved anyone should pay reparations to those that have never been enslaved; those now should have to pay for the faults of those in the past.
And that would be in direct contradiction of what the Scriptures declare, “The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity,” Ezekiel 18:20. Nobody should be required to correct a wrong they did not commit.
It is reprehensible for those who should know better to misinterpret and subsequently misinform others of what the Scriptures actually teach to influence political dialogue regarding reparations, or any issue for that matter.
Only those who have no respect for what the Scriptures truly teach will try to twist them to say what they want them to say.