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 passers-by.”—Prov. 26:10.
The hospitality and material assistance extended to those exclusively devoting themselves to Kingdom interests may be referred to as wages due them, according to the principle: “The worker is worthy of his wages.” (Luke 10:7; 1 Tim. 5:17, 18) On the other hand, a righteous standing with God, and 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.—Rom. 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.”—Zech. 8:9, 10; see BRIBE; GIFTS, PRESENTS; HIRED LABORER.
In contrast with a slave, a hired laborer received a wage for his work, the Law requiring that he be paid at the end of the workday. (Lev. 19:13; Deut. 24:14, 15) At least by the first century C.E., it appears that the wages were agreed upon before the laborers ever began their work, that the workday was twelve hours long, from about 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and that the customary day’s wage for vineyard workers was evidently a denarius (c. 16c). (Matt. 20:1-13) The Scriptural reference to “years of a hired laborer” seems to indicate that the duration of the work agreement (or, contract) was also fixed.—Isa. 16:14; 21:16.
Evidently in Israel many of the hired laborers were uncircumcised, for the Law prescribed that they not partake of the passover, although circumcised slaves could do so, being viewed as members of an Israelite family. Likewise, while the hired laborers of a priest could not eat of the holy things, no such prohibition rested on circumcised slaves, as these were so actually members of the priest’s household.—Ex. 12:43-45; Lev. 22:10, 11.
An Israelite who, because of financial reverses, had to sell himself into slavery to a fellow Israelite, or to an alien resident, a settler, or a member of the alien resident’s family, was to be treated, not tyrannically, but with due consideration like a hired laborer. Then, if in his case it had not been possible to take advantage of the right of repurchase, he was to be set free from servitude either in the seventh year of his servitude or in the Jubilee year, depending upon which came first.—Ex. 21:2; Lev. 25:39, 40, 47-49, 53; Deut. 15:12.
The hired laborer generally was anxious to see the close of the workday and to receive his wages. (Job 7:1, 2) He often did not properly have the interests of his employer fully at heart, as is evident from Jesus Christ’s statement that, unlike the hired man who flees in the case of danger, he, as the Fine Shepherd, would surrender his soul in behalf of the sheep. (John 10:11-15; see also Jeremiah 46:21.) Jacob, however, was one who protected the Interests of his employer Laban, even though Laban did not always deal fairly with him. (Gen. 31:38-41) The hired laborer could find a certain “pleasure” in having completed his task and then receiving his wages and being able to rest at the end of the day. It appears that Job’s desire was to be like a man granted the relative rest of a hired worker, one reconciled to his lot in life and free from special afflictions and difficulties.—Job 14:6.
At times hired laborers were subjected to abuses from their employers. Through his prophet Malachi, Jehovah warned that He would become a speedy witness against those acting fraudulently with the wages of a wage worker. (Mal. 3:5; see also James 5:4.) God-fearing Jews, however, were not guilty of defrauding their hired men. In Jesus’ illustration the hired laborers of the prodigal son’s father had plenty of food. Hence, the prodigal, realizing how much better off they were than he was and no longer feeling worthy of being considered a son, requested that his father constitute him as one of his hired men.—Luke 15:17-21; see HIRE, WAGES; SLAVE.
Abraham had some dealings with the Hittites, who resided in Canaan prior to his moving there in 1943 B.C.E. When his wife Sarah died, he bargained with Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite at the gate of the city of Hebron, for the cave of Machpelah, which was in Ephron’s field. Ephron refused to sell the cave by itself. The outcome was that Abraham had to buy the entire field. (Gen. 23:1-20) Before this time Jehovah had promised to give to Abraham’s seed the land of Canaan, inhabited by nations one of which was the Hittite nation. However, Jehovah told Abraham that “the error of the Amorites [a term often used generally for the nations in Canaan] has not yet come to completion.” (Gen. 15:16) Therefore Abraham respected the Hittite ownership of the land.—Gen. 15:18-21.
UNDER NOAH’S CURSE
The descent of the Hittites from Canaan brought them under the curse placed by Noah upon Canaan, and when Israel subjugated them it was in fulfillment of Noah’s words at Genesis 9:25-27. The religion of the Hittites was pagan, undoubtedly being phallic, as were the other Canaanite religions. When Abraham’s grandson Esau married Hittite women this was “a source of bitterness of spirit to Isaac and Rebekah,” Esau’s father and mother.—Gen. 26:34, 35; 27:46.
God described the land that the Hittites and other associated nations occupied as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Ex. 3:8) But these nations had become so corrupt that their presence on the land defiled it. (Lev. 18:25, 27) Many are the warnings that God gave Israel as to the danger of association with them in their degraded, filthy practices. He lists many immoralities, forbidding the Israelites to engage in them, and then says: “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, because by all these things the nations [including the Hittites] whom I am sending out from before you have made themselves unclean.”—Lev. 18:1-30.
In Joshua’s day the Hittites are described as inhabiting the land that covered an area “from the wilderness and this Lebanon to the great river, the river Euphrates, that is, all the land of the Hittites.” (Josh. 1:4) Apparently they lived mainly in the mountainous regions, which would include Lebanon and, possibly, areas in Syria.—Num. 13:29; Josh. 11:3.
The Hittites were one of the seven nations named as due to be devoted to destruction. These nations were described as “more populous and mighty” than Israel. So the seven nations at that time must have numbered more than three million persons, and the Hittites in their mountain stronghold would be a formidable foe. (Deut. 7:1, 2) They manifested their enmity by assembling with the other nations of Canaan to fight Israel (led by Joshua) when they got news of Israel’s crossing the Jordan and destroying the cities of Jericho and Ai. (Josh. 9:1, 2; 24:11)