Civil Government: Chapter 10 – The Bible and Taxation (Excerpt)

Civil Government - coverThe Power To Tax Is The Power To Enslave

1 Kings 5:13 tells us that Solomon “drafted forced labor out of all Israel, and the draft numbered 30,000 men” (ESV). He also appointed 70,000 burden-bearers and 80,000 stone-cutters. 3300 officers were required to oversee these laborers. Any government with the power to force its citizens to give up their wealth and property also has the power to force its citizens into slavery. Of course, Samuel warned the people that these conditions would exist under monarchical government. He told the people, “You shall be his slaves” (1 Samuel 8:17, ESV). That is precisely what happened.

There is a great lesson in the fact that Solomon was not an evil king. He “loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David” and was blessed by God with great wisdom and understanding (1 Kings 3:3; 4:29). Even so, his reign placed tremendous hardships upon his people. We learn from Solomon’s example that the kingdoms of even good kings place a terrible burden upon the citizens who are expected to maintain them. Solomon took from the strength and substance of the people whatever was required to fuel government expansion. As noted above, human governments become a vast labyrinth of administrations, agencies, and offices that are expensive to maintain. Interestingly, it was Solomon himself who described the inefficient and oppressive monstrosity that government often becomes:

“If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them” (Ecclesiastes 5:8, ESV).

Such is the nature of human government — layer upon wasteful layer of inefficient redundancy. Under the Jewish theocracy, with God as their only “King,” the primary function of the people was to serve God; and His requirements are never  “grievous” (1 John 5:3, KJV). Prior to the kings, no vast bureaucracies existed among the Jews to siphon off the fruits of their labor and break their entrepreneurial spirits. Heavy taxation and despair happened because of the impositions of human government. The same thing happens today.

You can read more about what the Bible says about taxation in Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!