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Golden Standards

There are numerous references to gold in the Bible.  Gold was used to construct the ark and tabernacle (Exodus 25), adorned Solomon’s court (1 Kings 10), and is visible in Heaven in St. John’s Apocalypse (Revelation 4:4).  Gold symbolizes value (Proverbs 8:10) and earthly wealth (Acts 3:6); among its many descriptors is “fire-tried” (1 Peter 1:7).  But the Old Testament story of the golden calf is perhaps the best-known biblical reference to the mineral commodity.  “Do not make anything to rank with me,” the Lord instructed Moses on Mount Sinai, “neither gods of silver nor gods of gold shall you make for yourselves.”  While Moses was away, the Israelites fashioned a golden calf.  Moses destroyed the idol after descending, whereupon “the Lord smote the people” for having made it (Exodus 20:23, 32:19-20, 35).

The golden calf was not cited by William Jennings Bryan at the Democratic National Convention in 1896 when he employed other biblical imagery to condemn the gold standard in support of bimetallism.  “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns,” Bryan thundered.  “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”  Modernist opponents of a role for gold in the monetary order, including economists and the journalists that amplify their opinions...

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