Author Topic: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures  (Read 1219 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« on: September 29, 2022, 06:22:22 PM »
The discussion on Luke 16:19-21 has centered on wealth throughout Scriptures. It's a topic that will occur in some later texts, too.

To begin with, I ported over this post:

Brian, above you wrote:  "In contrast to thinking that the man was wealthy because God blessed him, the common thinking in the 1st century Mediterranean world was that he was a crook."  Although Jewish beliefs were not monolithic in Jesus' day and some DID have a correct view of wealth as an undeserved gift from God and that one should give freely to the needy out of faith in the coming Messiah, the fact is that the Pharisees viewed their wealth as a sign that they had been blessed by God for their obedience - and thus their shock at the reversal in Jesus' story in Luke 16:19-31.

In a good article on this linked below it says:  "The Pharisees believed that being rich was a sign of being spiritual. The wealthier a person was, the more he was thought to be favored and blessed by God, a reward for his righteous conduct. In contrast, poor people were believed to be sinful and under God's judgment because of their unrighteous conduct ... This parable isn't about money, though Jesus tells it in response to the Pharisee's ridicule of his view on money. No, this parable is about believing in God and obeying his laws and commandments, which teaches us how we should manage his provision, including wealth, as well as other principles necessary for godly living ... The rich man was not unrighteous because he had wealth; he was unrighteous because he chose to live for himself and disobey God's instructions, ultimately leading him to reject God. Lazarus was not righteous because he was poor; he was righteous because he depended on and trusted in God for his provision."

https://www.christianstewardshipnetwork.com/blog/2022/7/7/the-danger-of-wealth

I read no sources from which he based in his conclusions.

In his book The World of the Early Christians, Kelly writes that material wealth is highly valued in the Tanakh and that the Hebrews sought it and believed that God promised to bless them with it if they followed his commandments and that biblical writers portray God as enabling men such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon to achieve wealth and that this wealth was considered a clear sign of divine favor.

In this article, The Morality of Wealth (https://www.jtsa.edu/torah/the-morality-of-wealth/) Rabbi Herman Abramovitz writes:  "In short, the Torah displays no trace of animus or ambivalence on the subject of the patriarchs’ financial prowess. While they are not without their shortcomings, wealth does not diminish their moral stature. On the contrary, the Torah highlights it as a sign of God’s favor."

Also, The Talmud (Babylonian Talmud, Yuma 22b) states that one who becomes a leader/administrator involved in community affairs becomes wealthy as a divine reward for serving the public honestly and dependably.

Many commentaries I've read (by both conservative and liberal Christians) mention how SOME Jews of Jesus' day viewed wealth as a sign of God's favor and poverty as a sign that one had sinned.  I don't have time to check their sources now, but they're there.

The point is that SOME (not ALL) Jews of Jesus' day - especially the Pharisees! - viewed wealth as a reward for one's piety and poverty/illness as a curse from God because of some sin.  Obviously, not ALL wealthy people in Jesus' day were viewed as pious because some wealthy were open sinners, such as the Tax Collectors.  But the Pharisees believed that the Tax Collectors would not enter heaven whereas the Pharisees believed they HAD merited heaven by their works (including their charity!) - and their wealth was a sign of this.  Jesus was dealing with this false teaching.

We even see this false theology as early as the Book of Job where Job's friends view his negative circumstances (including his loss of wealth!) as a sign that he had sinned against God.

In any cases, there is much information out there that confirms what I've been writing.

What might surprise some; I agree with Tom's post. Especially when preaching/teaching about the rich man, I've made the same kind of comments: That wealth was a sign of God's favor.

I decided to broaden this discussions as I'm doing a deeper dive into πλούσιος, πλουτέω, πλουτίζω, and πλοῦτος in the LXX and the Hebrew words they translated.

As a word group, they occur very seldom in the Torah - and generally show that the person was blessed by God:
Gen 13:2 - Abraham was very rich (πλούσιος).
Gen 14:23 - Abraham makes sure that it was not the King of Sodom that made him rich. (πλουτίζω)
Gen 30:43 - Jacob became very, very rich (πλουτέω)
Gen 31:16 - Reference to Leban's wealth (πλοῦτος).
Ex 30:15 - Both the rich (ὁ πλουτῶν) and the poor (ὁ πενόμενος) had to pay the same amount for the census compensation tax.
Deut 33:19 - Zebulon and Issachar will reap riches of the sea (πλοῦτος).

What I've seen so far, is that Wisdom Literature isn't as positive towards wealth as these verses in Torah. Sirach 13 has quite a bit to say about the rich.

Possible thesis: the positive sense of wealth as a sign of God's blessing in the Torah becomes less prevalent in the later OT writings. (I'm still looking up and recording verses from the prophets and writings.)
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dave Benke

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2022, 07:07:10 PM »
Four of my favorite poems in Scripture are the Song of Miriam, the Song of Hannah, the Song of Deborah and the Magnificat.  Two of them are battle victory poems (Miriam and Deborah), two are poems of thanksgiving for the blessing of pregnancy.  The latter two are replete with references turning the wealth teakettle upside down, so that the poor are fed, and the rich are sent away hungry.  All four contain profound poetic imagery (Deborah's depiction of Jael putting that tent peg into Sisera's noggin is so incredible - it had to be set to rhythmic accompaniment - "At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.")  For the purposes of your thread, though, Brian - it seems to me that that prophetic juxtaposition of rich and poor in community context gets at what it meant to be an Israelite.  For the rich to continue to oppress the poor is to eliminate the rich from the community - and they were the ones with friends in high places. 

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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2022, 09:01:13 PM »
Four of my favorite poems in Scripture are the Song of Miriam, the Song of Hannah, the Song of Deborah and the Magnificat.  Two of them are battle victory poems (Miriam and Deborah), two are poems of thanksgiving for the blessing of pregnancy.  The latter two are replete with references turning the wealth teakettle upside down, so that the poor are fed, and the rich are sent away hungry.  All four contain profound poetic imagery (Deborah's depiction of Jael putting that tent peg into Sisera's noggin is so incredible - it had to be set to rhythmic accompaniment - "At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.")  For the purposes of your thread, though, Brian - it seems to me that that prophetic juxtaposition of rich and poor in community context gets at what it meant to be an Israelite.  For the rich to continue to oppress the poor is to eliminate the rich from the community - and they were the ones with friends in high places. 


One thing I've noticed (and am marking) is the great number of times that rich/wealth and juxtaposed with poor in the OT. Another theme is wealth means nothing when one dies.


An interesting shift between the LXX and MT is in Psalm 34:10.

ESV has:
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

The LXX has:
πλούσιοι ἐπτώχευσαν καὶ ἐπείνασαν,
οἱ δὲ ἐκζητοῦντες τὸν κύριον οὐκ ἐλαττωθήσονται παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ.

The rich became poor and hungry,
but those seeking the Lord will not lack anything good.

"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dave Benke

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2022, 08:54:37 AM »
Four of my favorite poems in Scripture are the Song of Miriam, the Song of Hannah, the Song of Deborah and the Magnificat.  Two of them are battle victory poems (Miriam and Deborah), two are poems of thanksgiving for the blessing of pregnancy.  The latter two are replete with references turning the wealth teakettle upside down, so that the poor are fed, and the rich are sent away hungry.  All four contain profound poetic imagery (Deborah's depiction of Jael putting that tent peg into Sisera's noggin is so incredible - it had to be set to rhythmic accompaniment - "At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.")  For the purposes of your thread, though, Brian - it seems to me that that prophetic juxtaposition of rich and poor in community context gets at what it meant to be an Israelite.  For the rich to continue to oppress the poor is to eliminate the rich from the community - and they were the ones with friends in high places. 


One thing I've noticed (and am marking) is the great number of times that rich/wealth and juxtaposed with poor in the OT. Another theme is wealth means nothing when one dies.


An interesting shift between the LXX and MT is in Psalm 34:10.

ESV has:
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

The LXX has:
πλούσιοι ἐπτώχευσαν καὶ ἐπείνασαν,
οἱ δὲ ἐκζητοῦντες τὸν κύριον οὐκ ἐλαττωθήσονται παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ.

The rich became poor and hungry,
but those seeking the Lord will not lack anything good.

Nice catch on that LXX variant.  As to the theme, "You can't take it with you" has been around for a long time. 

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Dave Likeness

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2022, 08:57:07 AM »
In the book of Acts we see the danger of misusing material possessions & money.
Luke gives the account of the generosity of Barnabas and the greed of Ananias and
Sapphira. The early Christian church tried to meet the challenge of  helping the needy
in their midst.

Barnabas sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money to the Apostles
for distribution to the needy.  Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of their property
but held back some of the proceeds for themselves.  They lied to God and men
about it.  They were both struck dead by God for their sin.  Yes, wealth can become
a curse when greed is involved.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2022, 12:28:48 PM »
The opening paragraph on "Wealth" in the New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible says:

Biblical attitudes to wealth cannot be understood except in the framework of economic, social, cultural, and political systems within which people lived. The system assumed in most of the OT was not based on individual wealth, whereas the Roman system assumed in the NT was. The OT, because of Israel’s egalitarian beginnings, most often shows suspicion or negativity toward wealth, but sometimes views it neutrally or positively (as a gift from God or a legitimate reward for effort). The NT rejects the ambient economic system and offers an alternative to it. It extends God’s invitation to rich along with poor, but wealth is a barrier to accepting the invitation unless one makes it wholly available as a community resource.

I think that the OT is more nuanced than this paragraph suggests. There are individually who are described as rich (or very rich): Abram (Gen 13:2), Jacob (Gen 30:43), Joakim (Susannah 1:4), "the rich" (Exodus 30:15). Solomon (2 Chr 1:11-12; 9:22), Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 17:5; 18:1); Hezekiah (2 Chr 23:27).
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dave Benke

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2022, 03:06:35 PM »
the NT rejects the ambient economic system

Gotta love that IDB.  "How you doin'?" 
"Well, the Ambient Economic System has not been very very good to me.  I'm going full communist."

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peter_speckhard

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2022, 03:22:46 PM »
“You shall not steal…you shall not covet your neighbor’s…well, actually never mind, because we’re not going to go by individual wealth anyway.”

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2022, 03:34:08 PM »
“You shall not steal…you shall not covet your neighbor’s…well, actually never mind, because we’re not going to go by individual wealth anyway.”

“They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid,” Micah 4:4.

One vine, one fig tree per male head of household.  Those are the rules.  Libertarian capitalists need not apply.

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2022, 03:41:34 PM »
“You shall not steal…you shall not covet your neighbor’s…well, actually never mind, because we’re not going to go by individual wealth anyway.”

“They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid,” Micah 4:4.

One vine, one fig tree per male head of household.  Those are the rules.  Libertarian capitalists need not apply.

Dave Benke
Once you acknowledge the right to own a vine and a fig tree, there is no limitation to how many of them you can own. You just can’t sit under someone else’s. I think a lot of people would want a summer fig tree by the lake and maybe to winter under a fig tree in Florida or Arizona. So three vines/fig trees per person at least.

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2022, 05:21:45 PM »
“You shall not steal…you shall not covet your neighbor’s…well, actually never mind, because we’re not going to go by individual wealth anyway.”

“They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid,” Micah 4:4.

One vine, one fig tree per male head of household.  Those are the rules.  Libertarian capitalists need not apply.

Dave Benke
Once you acknowledge the right to own a vine and a fig tree, there is no limitation to how many of them you can own. You just can’t sit under someone else’s. I think a lot of people would want a summer fig tree by the lake and maybe to winter under a fig tree in Florida or Arizona. So three vines/fig trees per person at least.

The upper midwest migrants divide somehow along Arizona and Florida West Coast lines.  Us upper Easterners pretty much own the Floria East Coast and have quarter-backs and half-backs in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia  (a quarter of the way back from Florida to NY, etc.).  There's pretty much nobody left in Canada in the winter anymore. 

Change "fig" to "palm", maybe "date palm" to keep the food source as the referent, and you're halfway there.  Substitute the result of the vine for vine - a one letter process - and you've completed the journey to your retirement dream.

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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2022, 06:10:13 PM »
The upper midwest migrants divide somehow along Arizona and Florida West Coast lines.  Us upper Easterners pretty much own the Floria East Coast and have quarter-backs and half-backs in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia  (a quarter of the way back from Florida to NY, etc.).  There's pretty much nobody left in Canada in the winter anymore. 

Change "fig" to "palm", maybe "date palm" to keep the food source as the referent, and you're halfway there.  Substitute the result of the vine for vine - a one letter process - and you've completed the journey to your retirement dream.


And some of us just stay with the palm trees all year. (Well, except for extended vacations up north during the summer. Just got back from our fourth one.) Yuma is a nicer, quieter city without all the snow birds. (We nearly double in population in the winter.)
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2022, 07:16:15 PM »
in 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan tells a parable.


There is a rich man and a poor man. Thus, there seems to have been individual wealth in the OT times.
The parable shows the rich man to be selfish - not wanting to use any of his own flock; and corrupt, stealing the one dear (pet) sheep from the poor man.


While this is a parable meant to reveal and convict King David of his sin, we might wonder if it is also a stereotype of what people thought of rich men. Certainly, at this point, wealthy David fit that stereotype.

A few quotes from Sirach 13 about rich (CEB translation). I posit that this presents one of the biblical views of the rich. It's not so positive.

   1   Whoever touches tar will get dirty,
         and those who associate with the arrogant will become like them.
   2   Don’t lift something that’s too heavy for you,
         and don’t associate with people who are more powerful and rich than you are.
      What does a clay pot have in common with a metal cauldron?
         The one will knock against the other and be shattered.
   3   Rich people inflict injury,
         but then act as if they’re the ones who have been wronged;
      the poor suffer injury,
         but they’re the ones who must apologize.
   4   If you are useful to the rich, they will work with you,
         but if you are in need, they will abandon you.
   5   If you own anything, they will live with you;
         they will exhaust what you have, and they won’t suffer.
   6   If they need you, they will deceive you
         and smile at you and give you hope;
         they will speak nicely to you and say, “What do you need?”
   7   They will embarrass you with their fine foods,
         until they have cleaned you out two or three times over.
         In the end they will mock you,
         and after these things,
            they will see you and abandon you
         and shake their heads at you.
   8   Take care that you don’t go astray,
         and don’t be humiliated by your own foolishness.
   9   When powerful people invite you,
         show yourself reluctant,
         and they will invite you all the more.
   10   Don’t be forward, or you might be rejected;
         and don’t stand far off, or you might be forgotten.
   11   Don’t think that you can speak with them as an equal,
         and don’t trust in their lengthy conversations,
            because they will test you with a lot of talking;
            and when they are smiling, they are really examining you.
   12   Those who won’t guard your secrets are cruel,
         and they won’t spare you from mistreatment and imprisonment.
   13   Be on guard and pay attention,
         because you are tiptoeing around your own downfall.
   15   All living creatures love what is like them,
         and all people their neighbors.
   16   All beings gather together with their own kind,
         and people cling to those who are like them.
   17   What does a wolf have in common with a lamb?
         So sinners have nothing in common with the godly.
   18   What peace is there between a hyena and a dog?
         And what peace is there between the rich and the poor?
   19   Wild asses in the desert are prey for lions;
         so the poor are feeding grounds for the rich.
   20   The arrogant detest humility;
         so the rich detest the poor.
   21   When rich people stumble,
         they are supported by friends.
         But when the humble fall,
            their own friends push them away.
   22   When the rich slip, their helpers are many;
         they speak things that shouldn’t be spoken,
            and people justify them.
         The humble slip, and people criticize them as well;
            they utter something sensible, and no one pays attention.
   23   The rich speak, and everyone is silent,
         and what they say is praised to the heavens.
         The poor speak, and they say, “Who is this?”
         And if the poor stumble,
            others push them down all the more.
   24   Wealth is good as long as it’s free of sin;
         the ungodly speak of poverty as an evil in and of itself.


"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Michael Slusser

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2022, 09:18:30 PM »
in 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan tells a parable.


There is a rich man and a poor man. Thus, there seems to have been individual wealth in the OT times.
The parable shows the rich man to be selfish - not wanting to use any of his own flock; and corrupt, stealing the one dear (pet) sheep from the poor man.


While this is a parable meant to reveal and convict King David of his sin, we might wonder if it is also a stereotype of what people thought of rich men. Certainly, at this point, wealthy David fit that stereotype.

A few quotes from Sirach 13 about rich (CEB translation). I posit that this presents one of the biblical views of the rich. It's not so positive.

   1   Whoever touches tar will get dirty,
         and those who associate with the arrogant will become like them.
   2   Don’t lift something that’s too heavy for you,
         and don’t associate with people who are more powerful and rich than you are.
      What does a clay pot have in common with a metal cauldron?
         The one will knock against the other and be shattered.
   3   Rich people inflict injury,
         but then act as if they’re the ones who have been wronged;
      the poor suffer injury,
         but they’re the ones who must apologize.
   4   If you are useful to the rich, they will work with you,
         but if you are in need, they will abandon you.
   5   If you own anything, they will live with you;
         they will exhaust what you have, and they won’t suffer.
   6   If they need you, they will deceive you
         and smile at you and give you hope;
         they will speak nicely to you and say, “What do you need?”
   7   They will embarrass you with their fine foods,
         until they have cleaned you out two or three times over.
         In the end they will mock you,
         and after these things,
            they will see you and abandon you
         and shake their heads at you.
   8   Take care that you don’t go astray,
         and don’t be humiliated by your own foolishness.
   9   When powerful people invite you,
         show yourself reluctant,
         and they will invite you all the more.
   10   Don’t be forward, or you might be rejected;
         and don’t stand far off, or you might be forgotten.
   11   Don’t think that you can speak with them as an equal,
         and don’t trust in their lengthy conversations,
            because they will test you with a lot of talking;
            and when they are smiling, they are really examining you.
   12   Those who won’t guard your secrets are cruel,
         and they won’t spare you from mistreatment and imprisonment.
   13   Be on guard and pay attention,
         because you are tiptoeing around your own downfall.
   15   All living creatures love what is like them,
         and all people their neighbors.
   16   All beings gather together with their own kind,
         and people cling to those who are like them.
   17   What does a wolf have in common with a lamb?
         So sinners have nothing in common with the godly.
   18   What peace is there between a hyena and a dog?
         And what peace is there between the rich and the poor?
   19   Wild asses in the desert are prey for lions;
         so the poor are feeding grounds for the rich.
   20   The arrogant detest humility;
         so the rich detest the poor.
   21   When rich people stumble,
         they are supported by friends.
         But when the humble fall,
            their own friends push them away.
   22   When the rich slip, their helpers are many;
         they speak things that shouldn’t be spoken,
            and people justify them.
         The humble slip, and people criticize them as well;
            they utter something sensible, and no one pays attention.
   23   The rich speak, and everyone is silent,
         and what they say is praised to the heavens.
         The poor speak, and they say, “Who is this?”
         And if the poor stumble,
            others push them down all the more.
   24   Wealth is good as long as it’s free of sin;
         the ungodly speak of poverty as an evil in and of itself.
Wow!

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

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Re: The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2022, 05:25:30 PM »
in 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan tells a parable.


There is a rich man and a poor man. Thus, there seems to have been individual wealth in the OT times.
The parable shows the rich man to be selfish - not wanting to use any of his own flock; and corrupt, stealing the one dear (pet) sheep from the poor man.


While this is a parable meant to reveal and convict King David of his sin, we might wonder if it is also a stereotype of what people thought of rich men. Certainly, at this point, wealthy David fit that stereotype.

A few quotes from Sirach 13 about rich (CEB translation). I posit that this presents one of the biblical views of the rich. It's not so positive.

   1   Whoever touches tar will get dirty,
         and those who associate with the arrogant will become like them.
   2   Don’t lift something that’s too heavy for you,
         and don’t associate with people who are more powerful and rich than you are.
      What does a clay pot have in common with a metal cauldron?
         The one will knock against the other and be shattered.
   3   Rich people inflict injury,
         but then act as if they’re the ones who have been wronged;
      the poor suffer injury,
         but they’re the ones who must apologize.
   4   If you are useful to the rich, they will work with you,
         but if you are in need, they will abandon you.
   5   If you own anything, they will live with you;
         they will exhaust what you have, and they won’t suffer.
   6   If they need you, they will deceive you
         and smile at you and give you hope;
         they will speak nicely to you and say, “What do you need?”
   7   They will embarrass you with their fine foods,
         until they have cleaned you out two or three times over.
         In the end they will mock you,
         and after these things,
            they will see you and abandon you
         and shake their heads at you.
   8   Take care that you don’t go astray,
         and don’t be humiliated by your own foolishness.
   9   When powerful people invite you,
         show yourself reluctant,
         and they will invite you all the more.
   10   Don’t be forward, or you might be rejected;
         and don’t stand far off, or you might be forgotten.
   11   Don’t think that you can speak with them as an equal,
         and don’t trust in their lengthy conversations,
            because they will test you with a lot of talking;
            and when they are smiling, they are really examining you.
   12   Those who won’t guard your secrets are cruel,
         and they won’t spare you from mistreatment and imprisonment.
   13   Be on guard and pay attention,
         because you are tiptoeing around your own downfall.
   15   All living creatures love what is like them,
         and all people their neighbors.
   16   All beings gather together with their own kind,
         and people cling to those who are like them.
   17   What does a wolf have in common with a lamb?
         So sinners have nothing in common with the godly.
   18   What peace is there between a hyena and a dog?
         And what peace is there between the rich and the poor?
   19   Wild asses in the desert are prey for lions;
         so the poor are feeding grounds for the rich.
   20   The arrogant detest humility;
         so the rich detest the poor.
   21   When rich people stumble,
         they are supported by friends.
         But when the humble fall,
            their own friends push them away.
   22   When the rich slip, their helpers are many;
         they speak things that shouldn’t be spoken,
            and people justify them.
         The humble slip, and people criticize them as well;
            they utter something sensible, and no one pays attention.
   23   The rich speak, and everyone is silent,
         and what they say is praised to the heavens.
         The poor speak, and they say, “Who is this?”
         And if the poor stumble,
            others push them down all the more.
   24   Wealth is good as long as it’s free of sin;
         the ungodly speak of poverty as an evil in and of itself.

I can imagine many today reading this portion of Sirach as though it were asserting a Marxist version of class warfare whent that is NOT it's point at all.  Scripture often use "rich" and "poor" as categories for "unbelievers" and "believers" respectively - with the understanding the believers are poor precisely because they are being persecuted by unbelievers who happen to be rich (partly because of their criminal behavior).

Obviously, this section of Sirach is not condemning being rich per se because it ends with these words:  "Wealth is good as long as it’s free of sin; the ungodly speak of poverty as an evil in and of itself."   This fits with my view of the Pharisees during Jesus' day who viewed poverty as a sign that one had displeased God.  Earlier in this section from Sirach it says:  "...sinners have nothing in common with the godly."  The reader can take this as a warning for BELIEVERS to avoid the UNGODLY rich and not to be their friends simply because they are rich.

In fact, Psalm 73 is a good example of how a believer was confused about the fact that many unbelievers were rich and well off whereas believers who did their best to be faithful to God suffered persecution and poverty.  At the end of the Pslam we see that the answer to this mystery is that earthly riches of unbelievers can't save them from eternal judgment and the earlthy poverty of believers can't separate them from the eternal hope they have in Christ.

So, once again, Scripture's emphasis is not on economic status per se but on the false hope we put in wealth versus faith in Christ.
I'm an LCMS Pastor in Jamestown, ND.