Chapter 37 - Blog Rants and Quotes about Religion and Usury


Usury is forbidden in the Jewish scriptures known as the Torah and other books of the Tanakh, also held by Christians to be scripture as part of the Old Testament. Jews are forbidden to use usury in dealing with fellow Jews, however they are permitted to charge interest on loans to non-Jews. [31] From the Jewish Publication Society's 1917 Tanakh,[32] with Christian verse numbers in parentheses:

Exodus 22:24 (25)-If thou lend money to any of My people, even to the poor with thee, thou shalt not be to him as a creditor; neither shall ye lay upon him interest.

Leviticus 25:36- Take thou no interest of him or increase; but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.

Leviticus 25:37- Thou shalt not give him thy money upon interest, nor give him thy victuals for increase.

Deuteronomy 23:20 (19)-Thou shalt not lend upon interest to thy brother: interest of money, interest of victuals, interest of any thing that is lent upon interest.

Deuteronomy 23:21 (20)-Unto a foreigner thou mayest lend upon interest; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon interest; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou puttest thy hand unto, in the land whither thou goest in to possess it.

Ezekiel 18:17-that hath withdrawn his hand from the poor, that hath not received interest nor increase, hath executed Mine ordinances, hath walked in My statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.

Psalm 15:5-He that putteth not out his money on interest, nor taketh a bribe against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. [370]

Andy Chalkley  How can it be considered logical that you can treat people of another religion differently to those in your own religion? How can a nation with a mixture of religions operate in peace when people of one religion treat people of another religion differently? If a religion deems it a sin lend money at interest to people of one's own religion, then how can it be considered acceptable to lend to people of another religion? How can a society live in harmony when one group considers it acceptable to take advantage of another group? How long will it take until the second religion takes action against the first religion?

iliocentrism argument from Saint Thomas Aquinas, the gist of which is that the charging of interest amounts to fraud since it involves the interest-collector selling to the interest-payer 'something that doesn't exist'. [371]

Rabbi Jeremy Rosen

The Torah is very definite in its condemnation of lending money for interest:

Exodus 22:24 - If you ever lend money to anyone amongst the poor of My People (says God) do not become an oppressor by lending for interest.

Leviticus 25:36 - Do not take interest (from someone fallen on hard times). Do not take interest or apply oppressive terms, but respect (the will of) God and allow your brother to live with you (in dignity)...for I am the YHVH your God who took you out of Egypt.

And, finally, Deuteronomy 23:20 - Do not oppress your brother through money or charging interest on food or anything else or any other way of oppressing him financially.

In Judaism, lending money to start or sustain a business has been regarded as the highest expression of charity, giving someone in one's community the opportunity to be self-sufficient with dignity. ...

But it was an assertion of the need to make credit available to the poor of your society (not exclusively, but as a priority), to help them establish themselves without taking on an intolerable burden. ...

Over time, as commerce became more sophisticated and dominant, in trading internationally interest became the norm and Jews participated in order to survive financially (the Christian world having closed off almost every other opportunity to make a living). ...

It is also interesting that only now, as Jews have so many more opportunities to make money than they did, that the use of the Heter Iska has become far more widespread than previously, particularly in Israel. ...

Judaism banned usury only to ensure that money was available to the poor and the poor would not be taken advantage of. ...

The sadness of modernity is that it is precisely the poor who pay the most exorbitant rates of interest to loan sharks and criminals, and of course the usurious rates charged by certain types of lenders operating within the law, because they have no other access to money. This is why the new fashion for micro-lending is an essential element in modern charity. ...

Anyone familiar with the Orthodox world knows that the "Gemach", Free Loan Society, takes its name from Gemillut Chesed, Kindness, and is the foundation of lending in Orthodox, Charedi social life. Only outside of the Orthodox world is the concept almost unheard of (as indeed is the Chevra Kaddisha, the voluntary society of those who help clean the dead and prepare them for burial), so far removed from our essential values are the majority of Jews nowadays. ...

You see, money usually lies at the root of most conflicts and that is precisely why the Torah warns us consistently, in these laws I have quoted, against making financial gain the primary concern. It is charity, human sensitivity, and Gemilut Chesed that should be the decisive factor in human affairs, not profit. [372]

Comment by 'Leila'

It must have been very difficult for Jews after they came here with William the Conqueror, as money-lending was about the only job available to them. Guilds were barred to them. They were used, abused and sometimes killed by their debtors as a way of avoiding payment. There is little evidence that they lent money for interest to their own or that their rates were exorbitant to non-Jews. Let us hope that those of the Community who are today's money -lenders do not take gross advantage of the people to whom they lend. [372]

Comment by 'robbyn'

The biblical bans are restricted to causing hardship by oppressing them. Why has it been widened to a prohibition against interest to any Jew even if it does not oppress him? ...

I find it strange that we interpret Israelite as Jews generally but that the laws relating to the Land of Israel are considered only to relate to that area. [372]


The Torah and Talmud encourage the granting of loans if they do not involve interest. But the halakhah [applicable Jewish law] regarding free loans apply only to loans made to other Jews. It is permissible to make loans with interest to non-Jews.[3] Charging interest is classed in the Book of Ezekiel as being among the worst sins,[4] and is forbidden according to Jewish law. [373]

Andy Chalkley  This still contains the element where a religion considers lending at interest to be a despicable sin when lent to a person of the same religion but is acceptable when lent to a person of another religion.



[372] Jeremy Rosen's Blog. combining a traditional Jewish outlook with a critical perspective on religious and political issues Retrieved 2016-04-10