The Economics of Herod with Jerry Bowyer
Herod the Great played the role of villain in the story of Jesus’ birth 2,000 years ago. But what do we really know about him and the economics that shaped his reign of treachery? The Gospel of Matthew holds many clues if we know how to interpret them. Today, host Rob West sits down with economist Jerry Bowyer for a fresh look at the Christmas Story. Then we take your calls and questions at 800-525-7000. Jerry Bowyer is the chief economist at Vident Financial and he’s the author of The Maker Versus the Takers: What Jesus Really Said about Social Justice and Economics.
· Matthew 2:1-3 reads: "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.’ And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him."
· It's understandable that Herod would be troubled as he was an unpopular and brutal tyrant who was so paranoid about being displaced that he had his own sons murdered. He had a kingdom to lose. The Messiah would be a king, and there could only be one king of the Jews. But what about all of Jerusalem being troubled along with him?
· Jerusalem was a city sustained by economic exploitation of the rest of Israel. The coming of the Messiah was a classic good news/bad news situation: Good news for the world—the Messiah would bring justice; bad news for Jerusalem for exactly the same reason.
· In his book, The Maker Versus the Takers, Jerry compares Mary’s sense of what was happening to Herod’s, how were they alike, and different?
· He explains that Mary expected her son to trigger an upending of the economic order. She predicted that somehow the birth of Jesus would cause the arrogant elites to be deposed from power.
· Herod saw that too, but from the other side of that revolution. In a sense, Herod and Mary agree on the significance of the birth of the Messiah; they simply disagreed about whether to support or oppose it.
· In that sense, Herod, with his finely tuned sense of self-preservation, was able to see what so many pietistic and otherworld Christian commentators have failed to see since then: that the coming of the Messiah changes not just hearts and souls, but also the rise and fall of nations and their economic systems.
Here are a couple of questions we answered from our callers on today’s program:
· My family wants to buy a big piece of property together. Is this wise?
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