Money or goods given on condition of future repayment. In the simpler and more closely knit tribal society of Israel there was no system of loans, as in the modern world, whereby a person could launch a new business or buy a farm. Loans were for the relief of need and those who supplied credit were supposed to be acting out of generosity with few legally acceptable economic advantages. Interest could be charged from non-Israelites (Deut. 23:20) and the existence of impoverished debtors (Jer. 15:10) argues for wider extension of such charges. The parable [[➝ parables]] of the talents implies that in the time of Jesus the payment of interest on sums lent was widespread (Matt. 25:27). Debts were supposed to be cancelled every seventh (Sabbatical) year (Deut. 15:1–11) and there were numerous safeguards to protect those who were obliged to borrow. Bailiffs could not enter a house to seize a pledge (Deut. 24:10–11) or take the clothing of a widow (Deut. 24:17), and a pledged garment of a poor person was supposed to be returned for the night (Exod. 22:25–6); but evidently it was not always so (Amos 2:8).

Dictionary of the Bible.

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