The Economics of the Books of Moses

13 Pages Posted: 8 May 2020

Date Written: June 2019


The Books of Moses contained economic precepts that made a twofold impact in the history of economic thought. First, Mosaic precepts shaped Israel's transition from a nomadic to a sedentary economy. This transition as such had parallels in many other societies, but Israel's case was unique in that Moses grounded economic precepts on theology. Second, Moses shaped conceptions of economics by Jews and by non‐Jews, in two ways: first, he laid a path for theologically derived economics that continued in Christianity and in Islam; second, he cast terms of reference for the right to own property that were dominant in Western economic thinking until the Enlightenment.

Keywords: Books of Moses, Judaic economics, Moses, property rights, usury

JEL Classification: B11, Z12

Suggested Citation

Koehler, Benedikt, The Economics of the Books of Moses (June 2019). Economic Affairs, Vol. 39, Issue 2, pp. 251-263, 2019, Available at SSRN: or

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