A term mentioned in a variety of contexts in the Bible meaning manual labor or great effort. Ancient Near Eastern society knew several types of work and workers: the farmer, shepherd, craftsman, day laborer (Matt 20:1-15
), forced labor for the monarchy (1Sam 8:11-17
), native slave (Exod 21:2-11
), and foreign slave (Deut 21:10-14
). Women generally worked in the home and field (Prov 31:10-31
). Work is viewed as natural to humans (Gen 2:15
), and labor is to be honored and appreciated (Prov 22:29
; Prov 10:4
; Eccl 5:12
). Biblical laws protect the wages of laborers as part of an orderly society (Lev 19:13
; Deut 24:14-15
). But hard work is also presented as a punishment for sin (Gen 3:17-19
) and generally as a wearisome part of the human condition. In the NT Paul speaks most often about labor. He worked as a tentmaker or leather-worker to earn his living while preaching the gospel (Acts 18:3
; 1Cor 4:12
; 1Thess 2:9
) and speaks of work as part of an orderly Christian life (1Thess 4:12
; 2Thess 3:10-12
The Laborers in the Vineyard
1“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.2After agreeing ... View more
11He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to r ... View more
2When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt.3If he comes in single, he shall go ... View more
10When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God hands them over to you and you take them captive,11suppose you see among th ... View more
Ode to a Capable Wife
10A capable wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of ... View more
15The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.
29Do you see those who are skillful in their work?
they will serve kings;
they will not serve common people.
4A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
12Sweet is the sleep of laborers, whether they eat little or much; but the surfeit of the rich will not let them sleep.
13You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning.
14You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns.15You shall pay t ... View more
17And to the man he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,
and have eaten of the tree
about which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it ... View more
3and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together—by trade they were tentmakers.
12and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;
9You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of ... View more
12so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.
10For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.11For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere ... View more