Something lent or furnished on condition of being returned. Biblical legislation concerning loans prohibits creditors from charging interest to the needy (Exod 22:24; Lev 25:35-37; Deut 23:20). Numerous references depicting the plight of debtors, however, suggest that this prohibition was often violated (1Sam 22:2; Jer 15:10). Ezekiel brands creditors who take interest as wicked, while praising those who refrain as pious (Ezek 18:8, Ezek 18:13, Ezek 17, Ezek 22:12, cf. Ps 15:5). Biblical law also instituted a cyclical cancellation of debts by decreeing the remission of all outstanding loans in the Sabbatical (i.e., seventh) Year (Deut 15:1-11), though, again, it is not clear that this was actually followed with strict regularity. Biblical law also recognizes the right of lenders to take a pledge, with certain restrictions: creditors may not enter the debtor’s home to seize a pledge, but must wait outside (Deut 24:10-11); they may not seize what is needed for one’s daily living (Deut 24:6; Job 24:3); they may not seize the garment of a widow (Deut 24:17); and the pledged garment of the poor must be returned by nightfall (Deut 24:12-13; Exod 22:25-26; Amos 2:8). Other biblical materials, however, attest to the seizing of members of the defaulting debtor’s family and to the taking of real estate to secure and satisfy a loan (2Kgs 4:1; Isa 50:1; Neh 5:3-5; Matt 18:25). There are no laws regulating surety in the biblical materials, but references to the practice of surety are found (Gen 44:32; Prov 6:1; Prov 11:15; Prov 17:18; Prov 22:26-27; Prov 27:13).

Exod 22:24

24my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

Lev 25:35-37

35If any of your kin fall into difficulty and become dependent on you, you shall support them; they shall live with you as though resident aliens.36Do not take ... View more

Deut 23:20

20On loans to a foreigner you may charge interest, but on loans to another Israelite you may not charge interest, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all ... View more

1Sam 22:2

2Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were ... View more

Jer 15:10

Jeremiah Complains Again and Is Reassured
10Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor ... View more

Ezek 18:8

8does not take advance or accrued interest, withholds his hand from iniquity, executes true justice between contending parties,

Ezek 18:13

13takes advance or accrued interest; shall he then live? He shall not. He has done all these abominable things; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him ... View more

Ezek 17

The Two Eagles and the Vine
1The word of the Lord came to me:2O mortal, propound a riddle, and speak an allegory to the house of Israel.3Say: Thus says the Lord ... View more

Ezek 22:12

12In you, they take bribes to shed blood; you take both advance interest and accrued interest, and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; and you have forgot ... View more

Ps 15:5

5who do not lend money at interest,
and do not take a bribe against the innocent.

Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Deut 15:1-11

Laws concerning the Sabbatical Year
1Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts.2And this is the manner of the remission: every creditor shall remi ... View more

Deut 24:10-11

10When you make your neighbor a loan of any kind, you shall not go into the house to take the pledge.11You shall wait outside, while the person to whom you are ... View more

Deut 24:6

6No one shall take a mill or an upper millstone in pledge, for that would be taking a life in pledge.

Job 24:3

3They drive away the donkey of the orphan;
they take the widow's ox for a pledge.

Deut 24:17

17You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow's garment in pledge.

Deut 24:12-13

12If the person is poor, you shall not sleep in the garment given you as the pledge.13You shall give the pledge back by sunset, so that your neighbor may sleep ... View more

Exod 22:25-26

25If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them.26If you take your n ... View more

Amos 2:8

8they lay themselves down beside every altar
on garments taken in pledge;
and in the house of their God they drink
wine bought with fines they imposed.

2Kgs 4:1

Elisha and the Widow's Oil
1Now the wife of a member of the company of prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servan ... View more

Isa 50:1

1Thus says the Lord:
Where is your mother's bill of divorce
with which I put her away?
Or which of my creditors is it
to whom I have sold you?
No, because of yo ... View more

Neh 5:3-5

3There were also those who said, “We are having to pledge our fields, our vineyards, and our houses in order to get grain during the famine.”4And there were tho ... View more

Matt 18:25

25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

Gen 44:32

32For your servant became surety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame in the sight of my father all ... View more

Prov 6:1

Practical Admonitions
1My child, if you have given your pledge to your neighbor,
if you have bound yourself to another,

Prov 11:15

15To guarantee loans for a stranger brings trouble,
but there is safety in refusing to do so.

Prov 17:18

18It is senseless to give a pledge,
to become surety for a neighbor.

Prov 22:26-27

26Do not be one of those who give pledges,
who become surety for debts.27If you have nothing with which to pay,
why should your bed be taken from under you?

Prov 27:13

13Take the garment of one who has given surety for a stranger;
seize the pledge given as surety for foreigners.

 NEH Logo
Bible Odyssey has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.