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English Bible Dictionary

Wages

 

The earliest mention of wages is of a recompense, not in money, but in kind, to Jacob from Laban. (Genesis 29:15,20; 30:28; 31:7,8,41) In Egypt money payments by way of wages were in use, but the terms cannot now be ascertained. (Exodus 2:9) The only mention of the rate of wages in Scripture is found in the parable of the householder and the vineyard, (Matthew 20:2) where the laborer's wages was set at one denarius per day, probably 15 to 17 cents, a sum which may be fairly taken as equivalent to the denarius, and to the usual pay of a soldier (ten asses per diem) in the later days of the Roman republic, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. Tac. Ann. i. 17; Polyb. vi. 39. In earlier times it is probable that the rate was lower; but it is likely that laborers, and also soldiers, were supplied with provisions. The law was very strict in requiring daily payment of wages. (Leviticus 19:13; 24:14,15) The employer who refused to give his-laborers sufficient victuals is censured (Job 22:11) and the iniquity of withholding wages is denounced. (Jeremiah 22:13; Malachi 3:5; James 6:4)

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