Generally, compensation paid to laborers for their work or services. (Le 19:13) As a verb, “hire” means to employ someone (Mt 20:1) or to rent something. (Ex 22:14, 15; Ac 28:30) “Wages” may be synonymous with “reward.” For example, King Nebuchadrezzar’s (Nebuchadnezzar’s) wages or reward for his service as Jehovah’s executioner in destroying Tyre was the conquest of Egypt with all its wealth for him to plunder. (Eze 29:18, 19; see also Ru 2:12; Isa 61:8; 62:11.) In fulfillment of Zechariah 11:12, Judas Iscariot received 30 pieces of silver from the priests (if shekels, $66) as “wages” for betraying Jesus Christ. (Mt 26:14-16; 27:3-10; Ac 1:18; see BRIBE.) Also, “wages” at times denotes “recompense.” “The wages sin pays is death.”—Ro 6:23; see also Ps 109:20; Isa 65:6, 7.
Hire was paid not only in the form of money or silver (2Ch 24:11, 12; 25:6) but also in domestic animals, agricultural products, and so forth. Jacob’s wages for 14 years of work were his two wives, Leah and Rachel. Additionally, he served six years for the agreed-upon part of Laban’s flock. (Ge 29:15, 18, 27; 31:41) Leah, in giving her son’s mandrakes to Rachel, “hired” Jacob to have relations with her, and for this reason she referred to the son born to her as “hireling’s wages.” (Ge 30:14-18) In the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the usual daily wage for agricultural workers was evidently one denarius (74 cents).—Mt 20:2.
God’s law to Israel required that hired laborers be paid at the close of the workday. (Le 19:13; De 24:14, 15) The Scriptures severely censure those dealing dishonestly with the wages of hired workers.—Jer 22:13; Mal 3:5; Jas 5:4.
Care must be exercised when hiring others to be sure that those hired are competent. Hence the proverb: “As an archer piercing everything is the one hiring someone stupid or the one hiring passersby.”—Pr 26:10.
The hospitality and material assistance extended to those exclusively devoting themselves to the interests of pure worship may be referred to as wages due them, according to the principle: “The worker is worthy of his wages.” (Lu 10:7; 1Ti 5:17, 18) The tithes of the Israelites constituted the wages of the Levites for their service at the sanctuary. (Nu 18:26, 30, 31) On the other hand, a righteous standing with God, and everlasting life, are not given as wages to those serving God, for they are gifts resulting from the undeserved kindness of God through Jesus Christ because His servants exercise faith in the ransom sacrifice of Christ.—Ro 4:2-8; 6:23.
Neglect of the sanctuary in the days of the prophet Haggai resulted in Jehovah’s withholding his blessing so that those hiring themselves out were doing so for “a bag having holes,” that is, the hire received was meager and quickly spent. (Hag 1:3-6) Then, with respect to the days before the restoration of the temple, Jehovah said through Zechariah: “For before those days there were no wages for mankind made to exist; and as for the wages of domestic animals, there was no such thing.”—Zec 8:9, 10; see GIFTS, PRESENTS; GIFTS FROM GOD; HIRED LABORER.
In contrast with the Hebrew word sa·kharʹ (usually meaning hire in the sense of a wage paid for labor or services rendered), the Hebrew word ʼeth·nanʹ, from the root na·thanʹ (give), is used in the Scriptures exclusively with reference to the hire gained from prostitution, literal or figurative. The latter is thus viewed as a gift rather than a wage earned by labor and is generally used in a bad sense. The Law forbade bringing into the sanctuary for a vow either “the hire of a harlot” or “the price of a dog,” this latter likely referring to the hire of a male homosexual. (De 23:18) In view of this, the reference to Tyre’s hire for prostitution to the nations becoming something holy to Jehovah evidently means that the Most High would sanctify Tyre’s material gain therefrom in the sense of his seeing that it was used according to his will, causing it to result in benefit for his servants. (Isa 23:17, 18; compare Ne 13:16.) Both Judah and Israel were guilty of prostituting themselves to other nations. (Eze 23:1-16; Ho 9:1; Mic 1:6, 7) But God specifically denounced Jerusalem for something unusual in this regard. Unlike harlots who receive hire, Jerusalem even gave hire to the nations committing prostitution with her.—Eze 16:26-34, 41.