POOLE, MATTHEW: B. at York, Eng., 1624; educated at Emmanuel College, in Cambridge; he
became minister of St. Michael-le-Quernes, London, in 1648, and devoted himself to the Presbyterian cause. In 1654 he published The Blasphemer Slain with the Sword of the Spirit,
against John Biddle, the chief Unitarian of that time. In 1658 he published a Model for the Maintaining of Students,
and raised a fund for their support at the universities. In the same year he published Quo warranto; or, a moderate Enquiry into the Warrantableness of the Preaching of unordained Persons. In 1662 he was ejected from his charge, for nonconformity, and devoted himself to Biblical studies. The fruit of these was produced, in 1669, in the Synopsis Criticorum
(5 vols., folio), a monument of Biblical learning which has served many generations of students, and will maintain its value forever. Many subsequent editions have been published at Frankfort, Utrecht, and elsewhere. He was engaged, at his death, on English Annotations on the Holy Bible,
and proceeded as far as Isa. lviii. His friends completed the work; and it was published (London, 1685, 2 vols., folio), and passed
through many editions. Poole also took part in the Romish controversy, and published two very effective works: The Nullity of the Romish Faith, or, A Blow at the Root, etc.
(London, 1666), and Dialogues between a Popish Priest and an English Protestant
(1667). On this account he was greatly hated by the Papists, and his name was on the list
of those condemned to death in the Popish Plot. He retired to Amsterdam, and died in Oct., 1679. Few names will stand so high as Poole's in the Biblical scholarship of Great Britain.
A. I. Wood, Athena Oxonienses, ed. P. Bliss, ii. 205, 4 vols., London, 1813-20.
A sketch of his life and writings appears in the English Annotations, ut sup., vol. iv., Edinburgh, 1801;
S. Palmer, Nonconformist's Memorial, i. 167, London, 1802;
DNB, xlvi. 99-100.
POOR CLARES. See CLARE (CLARA), SAINT.
POOR LAWS HEBREW: Poverty was unknown in the earliest Hebraic age. The nomad has few needs, and those are provided for by the tribe, since pasture-land is common property. Even after the conquest of Canaan there was at first no necessity for legal provision in behalf of the poor. But as soon as the people settled in the cities, the usual results of urban development followed. As the old simplicity disappeared, especially after Saul and David, national independence came in, politics began to have force, property became private, social distinctions arose, and with them the need of protecting the weak from those having the advantage in wealth.
The first efforts in that direction are found in the ancient law known as the Book of the Covenant (Ex. xx.-xxiii.). Very significant are the injunctions regulating the relation between debtor and creditor. To take usury from any of the people was forbidden (Ex. xxii. 25). A garment taken as pledge was to be returned before the sun set for the debtor to use as a covering (Ex. xxii. 26-27). The Hebrew slave was to be set free in the seventh year together with his wife and children (Ex. xxi. 2 sqq.). Field, vineyard, and olive-grove were to lie fallow the seventh year, and all that grew of itself during that year belonged to the poor (Ex. xxiii. 10-12). These enactments were no doubt observed by the right-minded in Israel, but there are reasons for believing that selfishness knew how to evade them. But even where they were observed, they did not suffice to check poverty. Under Solomon Israel began to engage in commerce. The riches which came into the country influenced all conditions of life. Prophets like Hoses, Amos, and Isaiah complained of the luxury of the rich, of their greediness, and of their usurious oppression of the poor. The rich land-owners joined house to house and field to field, till there was no place for the poor (Isa. v. 8, 22 sqq.; Mic. ii. 1 sqq.), and the usurer was not afraid to sell the poor for a trifle (Amos ii. 6-7, cf. iv. 1 sqq., v. 11, viii. 4). Naturally under these circumstances the well-meaning in Israel sought to find new means for the protection of the poor. So the law-book known as Deuteronomy came into existence during the later regal period and its author belonged to the prophetic school of thought. The legislation of Deuteronomy is in part social. Humaneness to the weak, consideration for widows, orphans, Levites, and strangers, are fundamental in the book. Former protective enact, merits are repealed, new ones are added (cf. Deut. xiv. 28 sqq., xv. 2 sqq., 12 sqq., xxiii. 20, 25-26, xxiv. 6, 10). The great priest-code, which obtained canonical authority after the exile, continued this effort to give protection and relief to the poor (Lev. xix. 9, xxiii. 22, xxv.). But with the decline of the monarchy, the executive authority to carry out these and like regulations vanished, and it is no wonder that they became a dead letter. Aside from laws which were impracticable (Deut. xv. 2 sqq., Lev. xxv. 2 sqq.) other laws were ignored. Such a law was the prohibition of usury, probably often kept, but just as often neglected. Though the immediate result of this legislation was not great, it must not be overlooked that the ideals which it expressed were not in vain. They produced their effects and promoted the knowledge that poverty and riches are differences which do not prevail before God but which as realities afford a field of labor for the highest ethical forces. The declaration of Jesus that the poor (in spirit) are blessed had its root in this legislation, which propounded the principle that the poor in spite of his poverty is a member of the people of God, and on account of it enjoys God's special protection.
D. Cassel, Die Armenverwaltung in alten lsrael, Berlin, 1887;
F. E. Kobel, Die sociale . . . Gesettpebunp des A. T., Stuttgart, 1891;
W. Nowaek, Die socialen Problems in Israel, Strasburg, 1892;
idem, Archäologie, i. 350 sqq.;
C. H. Comill, Das A. T. and die Humanität, Leipsic, 1895;
E. Schall, Die Staatsverfassung der Judea auf Grund des A. T., ib. 1898;
E. Day, Social Life of the Hebrews, New -York, 1901;
C. F. Kent, Students' O. T., iv. 129-133, ib. 1907;
DB, i. 579-880, iv. 19-20, 27-29, 323-326, Extra volume, pp. 357-359;
EB, iii. 3808-11;
DCG, ii. 385-386;
JE, iii. 667-671.