“Wo Unto Them That Join House to House”

K. Douglas Bassett

3 Ne. 24:5; Gal. 6:17; D&C 19:26; Micah 2:1-2; Journal of Discourses 1:248-256

“This woe is pronounced on the wealthy landowners who covet and buy up property, thus depriving the poor of their heritage. (See Micah 2:1-2). The law of ancient Israel prescribed that land could not ‘be sold for ever.’ (Leviticus 25:23; see also 1 Kings 21). It was to remain within families as a heritage for posterity. When economical circumstances necessitated the sale of land, it was to be returned to the original owners in the year of jubilee, which occurred every fifty years. (LDS Bible Dictionary, ‘Jubilee, Year of,’ p. 718).” (Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Isaiah Plain and Simple, p. 46)
“Property acquired for selfish purposes is not a blessing. Greed is never satisfied. Ownership of property is not condemned. The only question is, how did the owner get it, and to what use does he put it?” (G. Reynolds and J. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 1:334)
“We are gathering to this beautiful land, to build up ‘Zion.’ … But since I have been here I perceive the spirit of selfishness. Covetousness exists in the hearts of the Saints… . Here are those who begin to spread out buying up all the land they are able to do, to the exclusion of the poorer ones who are not so much blessed with this worlds goods, thinking to lay foundations for themselves only, looking to their own individual families, and those who are to follow them.” (Brigham Young, quoted in Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, Nibley, p. 47)
“The surplus property of this community, as poor as we are, has done more real mischief than everything else besides… . A man has no right with property, … [when the property doesn’t] do good to himself and his fellow-man.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:252)
“I was a newlywed and my husband was in medical school. [My landlady] lowered our rent when we had our first baby. When my husband later owned apartments in Provo, I reminded him often of that landlady, especially as he rented to young marrieds.” (Janette C. Hales, BYU Devotional, Mar. 16, 1993)
“It is frequently astounding to see the dereliction of people in keeping the standards of ordinary fairness and justice… . It is sometimes evident in commercial transactions, as well as in private contacts… . This unfairness and injustice results principally from one person seeking an advantage or an edge over another. Those who follow such a practice demean themselves greatly. How can those of us who do not practice ordinary fairness and justice have serious claim on the blessings of a just and a fair God? Do some of us seek to justify our taking of shortcuts and advantage of others by indulging in the twin sophistries, ‘There isn’t any justice’ and ‘Everybody does it’”? (James E. Faust, Ensign, Nov. 1986, p. 10)

Latter-Day Commentary on the Book of Mormon