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Is Deuteronomy 23:19, about lending to thy brother impractical, counterproductive, and even unjust?


“Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:” Deuteronomy 23:19

God’s Word says that many people wander from the faith and pierce themselves with many griefs when they allow money to have an improper hold on their hearts. That’s why the Bible contains hundreds of verses on how God wants us to treat money, and this includes the lending of it.

Moses addressed this issue in the Old Testament. Essentially, the Israelites were not permitted to charge interest when they loaned money to an impoverished brother. They could, however, charge interest on loans made to foreigners.

This rule was part of the Mosaic Law: “If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.” (Exodus 22:25; also Psalm 15:5).

This prohibition against charging interest actually included “food or anything else that may earn interest” (Deuteronomy 23:19). The purpose of the law was two-fold: an interest-bearing loan would only exacerbate the plight of the poor, and God promised a blessing on the gracious lender that would far surpass any interest he would make. Additionally, at the end of every seven years, creditors were to cancel all the debts they were owed by fellow Israelites (Deuteronomy 15:1).

In the New Testament, Jesus tells us not to “turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42). He applied this principle even to our enemies in their time of need: “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Luke 6:35

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