As God hath prospered him.--Better, whatsoever he may be prospered in. These words do not imply that only in cases of exceptional prosperity was a man to contribute, but every man was to give out of whatever fruits he had from his labour.
"The alms dish was every day, but the alms chest from evening of the sabbath to the evening of the sabbath,''
It was collected and distributed then, as their commentators say (z).
Let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him. The persons who are to contribute are everyone, of every sex, age, state, and condition, male and female, young and old, servants and masters, the meaner as well as the richer sort; the poor widow threw in her mite into the treasury as well as the rich men: the act of communication or distribution is signified by laying by him in store; for this is not to be understood of separating a part of his substance from the rest, and laying it up "in his own house", as the Syriac version renders it, or the putting it in his pocket in order to give it; though both these acts may be necessary, as preparatory to the work: but it intends the very act itself: for communicating to the poor is laying up in store a good foundation for the time to come; it is a laying up treasure in heaven, and riches there, which will never corrupt: the manner in which this is to be done, and the measure of it, "as God hath prospered him"; according to the success he has in his worldly business, and the increase of his worldly substance, and which is the way to have it enlarged. The Jews have a saying (a),
"if a man observes his provisions to be straitened, let him do alms of them, how much more if they are large.''
The Vulgate Latin version renders, it, "laying up what pleases him well"; and the Arabic version, "what through liberality he pleases, and shall be convenient for him"; for this ought to be a freewill offering, as a matter of bounty and generosity, and not of covetousness, or of force and necessity, but as a man, of himself has purposed in his own heart, and which he does with cheerfulness and freedom.
That there be no gatherings when I come; who had other work, and greater service to do among them; besides, he was desirous of having this collection over and ready when he came, that he might directly send it away to Jerusalem, knowing the pressing necessities of the saints there.
(w) Apolog. 2. p. 98, 99. (x) Apolog. c. 39. (y) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 8. 2. Maimon, Hilch. Mattanot Anayim, c. 9. sect. 6. (z) Maimon. R. Samson & Bartenora in Misn. Peah, c. 8. sect. 7. (a) T. Bab. Gittim, fol. 7. 1.