Nicholas Wolterstorff notes the Bible’s special attention to the vulnerable.
I think the biblical testimony is strikingly clear that … I put it like this sometimes that, when the Old Testament – and the New, but especially the Old – writes about justice, over and over and over there’s a certain quartet of the vulnerable that gets mentioned: the widows, the orphans, the aliens, and the impoverished. So often and so strikingly, and that’s very … parenthetically, the ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote about justice in The Republic. Plato doesn’t highlight this quartet of the vulnerable – the widows, the orphans, the aliens, and the impoverished. So it’s very distinctive of the biblical writings. So distinctive that one is forced to ask why.
My view is that it’s not because God doesn’t love well-to-do people; I think it’s rather because the biblical writings are not theoretical writings but they’re oriented towards practice, towards what we do, towards what God wants done and so forth. And so if you’re setting priorities, then you’ll pay attention to those who are systematically vulnerable.
Yeah, wealthy people can get clonked on the head when walking through Central Park, and that’s a bad thing and it violates their rights and so forth. But it’s the widows, the orphans, the aliens, and the impoverished whose daily condition is that of having their dignity violated, whereas the well-to-do person’s, when he gets clonked on the head … it’s episodic. So I think it’s for that reason that when you’re struggling to right injustice in society, you set priorities. And if you see a whole group of people being systematically demeaned, deprived of goods and so forth, you attend to those first of all. I think that’s the reason.