Friday, November 16, 2012

Some Thoughts Occasioned by Zechariah 14:21

 ( Originally written and posted on MySpace on August 22, 2008 )

The final clause of Zechariah 14:21 has had various translations.   Thus, according to the King James Version, it is "And in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts."  According to the New Revised Standard Version, it is "And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day."  Martin Luther's translation agrees with this in translating Canaanites as "traders" or "merchants":   "Und es wird keinen Haendler mehr geben im Hause des Herrn zu der Zeit."

William Smith in his classic A Dictionary of the Bible notes that "The Canaanites were probably given to commerce; and thus the name became probably in later times an occasional synonym for a merchant."

Carroll Quigley in his The Evolution of Civilizations:  An Introduction to Historical Analysis (1961), a book highly praised by Bill Clinton, has some thought-provoking observations  regarding the Canaanite civilization.  He asserts that "The Canaanite instrument of expansion seems to have been commercial capitalism.  Thus it is similar to the instrument of expansion that gave our Western civilization its second age of expansion in 1440-1690."  (This is on page 240 of the 1979, Liberty Press edition.  The pages following expand on this observation.)

Quigley, then, avers that capitalism began with the Canaanites.  Karl Marx believed that capitalist societies, bourgeois civilization, began only much later, in the period of 1440 to 1690, but Quigley argues that Canaanite civilization was formed by commercial capitalism, indeed, stagnated as such.   Thus, Quigley is another dissenter from Max Weber's theory that capitalism began with the Protestant ethic.  His view is closer to that of Werner Sombart, who finds capitalism's origin in Jewry.   Did Jewry absorb the capitalist method from the Canaanites?      



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