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Reference: Alms, Almsgiving


An alms' (Ac 3:3) is something freely given, in money or in kind, to the needy, from motives of love and pity for the recipient, and of gratitude to the Giver of all. Hence what is given or paid to the poor under the authority and compulsion of law, as the modern poor rate, is not alms. For such legal provision in OT times see Poor. Much might be of the humane spirit which pervades the whole of the Hebrew legislation, and in particular the legislation of Dt, of which, in this respect, De 15:1 may be taken as the epitome: 'Thou shalt surely open thine hand unto thy brother, to thy needy and to thy poor' (RV). The writings of the prophets, also, are full of generous advocacy of the rights of the poor. In the later pre-Christian centuries almsgiving became one of the most prominent of religious duties (Ps 112:9; Pr 14:21; 19:17; 31:20; Job 29:12 f.). The sentiment of the 2nd cent. b.c.

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