The grant of temporary use. Because of Israel's experience of deliverance from slavery, her moral code, gave special care to marginal folk (Exodus 22:21-24;
Proverbs 31:8-9). Thus, loans were to be acts of generosity, not acts for profit at the poor's expense (Leviticus 25:35-37). Furthermore because the earth was God's (Leviticus 25:23;
Deuteronomy 10:14) and human possessions were gifts from God (Deuteronomy 8:1-10), lending was sharing God's gifts.
Thus Old Testament forbade charging interest to fellow Israelites (Exodus 22:25;
Deuteronomy 23:19), for requesting loans indicated economic hardship. One might charge interest to sojourners (Deuteronomy 23:20), though this arrangement was not meant to be exploitative (Exodus 22:21;
Ezekiel 22:7). Laws for collateral focused on protecting the debtor. The pledge must not threaten the debtor's dignity (Deuteronomy 24:10-11), livelihood (Deuteronomy 24:6), family (Job 24:1-3,Job 24:9), or physical necessities (Exodus 22:26-27;
Deuteronomy 24:12-13). Compassionate lending was one measure of a righteous person (Psalms 15:1;
Years of release and the jubilee year (Exodus 23:10-11;
Leviticus 25:1) provided a systematic means for addressing long-term economic hardship by returning family property, freeing slaves, and canceling debts.
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 warns against scheming creditors who would refuse loans because a year of release was near; lending was to be an act of generosity (Deuteronomy 15:10). As in most human communities, greed prevailed; and the prophets railed against the exploitation of the poor (e.g.,
Amos 8:4), including violations of charging interest and abusing pledges (Ezekiel 18:12-13;
Habakkuk 2:6-9; see
Nehemiah 5:6-11). See Borrow, Borrowing; Coins; Ethics in the Bible; Jubilee, Year of; Justice; Law; Poor, Widows, Orphans, Levites; Sabbatical Year; Slavery; Stranger
David Nelson Duke