Lending money (Lk 6:34-6:34)

“If you lend

To those from whom

You hope

To receive,

What credit is that

To you?

Even sinners

Lend to sinners,

To receive

As much again.”

 

καὶ ἐὰν δανίσητε παρ’ ὧν ἐλπίζετε λαβεῖν, ποία ὑμῖν χάρις ἐστίν; καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἁμαρτωλοῖς δανίζουσιν ἵνα ἀπολάβωσιν τὰ ἴσα.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus continued that if they lent money (καὶ ἐὰν δανίσητε παρ’) to those from whom they hoped to receive it back (παρ’ ὧν ἐλπίζετε λαβεῖν), what credit or gift was that to them (ποία ὑμῖν χάρις ἐστίν).  Even sinners lend to sinners (καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἁμαρτωλοῖς δανίζουσιν), to receive as much back again (ἵνα ἀπολάβωσιν τὰ ἴσα).  Matthew, chapter 5:42, had something similar about lending money.  If someone wished to borrow money from them, they should not refuse them or turn them away.  These were tough difficult recommendations, but actually based on the Torah.  People were expected to give charity and at the same time offer interest free loans.  How generous are you with your money?

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The problems in lending money (Sir 29:4-29:7)

“Many persons regard a loan

As a windfall.

This causes trouble

To those who help them.

One kisses another’s hands

Until he gets a loan.

He is very deferential

In speaking of his neighbor’s money.

But at the time

For repayment,

He delays.

He pays back

With empty promises.

He finds fault with the time.

If he can pay,

His creditor

Will hardly get back half.

The borrower will regard

That as a windfall.

If he cannot pay,

The borrower has robbed

The other of his money.

He has needlessly

Made him an enemy.

He will repay him

With curses.

He will repay him

With reproaches.

Instead of glory,

He will repay him

With dishonor.

Many refuse to lend,

Not because of meanness,

But from fear of being defrauded needlessly.”

Sirach says that this ideal of lending money to your neighbor as giving a helping hand has a few hiccups. Some people think that the loan is a gift, so that they never pay it back. They go around being very deferential to the people with money, kissing their hands. However, when it comes time to repay the loan all they give back are empty promises. They say that they need more time. Sometimes they only pay half of it back, since they think the rest of it was a gift to them. If they do not pay it back, they have robbed their neighbor. They have needlessly made him an enemy. Curses and reproaches will follow with dishonor and anger on all sides. This had led many people to refuse to lend money because they are afraid of being defrauded. Thus there are less and less no interest loans happening.

Nehemiah responds (Neh 5:6-5:13)

“I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. After thinking it over, I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them. ‘You are all taking interest from your own people.’ I called a great assembly to deal with them. I said to them. ‘As far as we are able, we have bought back our Jewish kindred who have been sold to other nations. But now you are selling your own kin that must then be bought back by us!’ They were silent. They could not find a word to say. So I said. ‘The thing that you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations who are our enemies? Moreover I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us stop this taking of interest. Return to them, this very day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the interest on the money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.’ Then they said. ‘We will restore everything. We will demand nothing more from them. We will do as you say.’ I called the priests. I made them take an oath to do as they had promised. I also shook out my garments and said. ‘May God shake out everyone from house and from property who does not perform this promise! Thus may they be shaken out and emptied.’ All the assembly said. ‘Amen.’ They praised Yahweh. The people did as they had promised.”

Nehemiah personally responded to these complaints since he was angry. This was an internal Jewish problem. The rich Jewish people were taking advantage of the poor Jewish people in their own community. Nehemiah was mad at the nobles and officials who were charging this interest on their fellow Jewish inhabitants. Although it was legal to charge interest to non-Jews, it was not legal to charge fellow Jews. He called a big assembly. He reminded them that they had been buying back other Jews from captivity. Now these officials were causing their fellow Jewish people to be put back into slave captivity. In fact, they were going to buy them then back out of captivity. He wanted all the fields, vineyards, olive orchards, and houses returned to their owners. He wanted to stop all interest on money, grain, wine, and oil. This was a strong demand to stop interest taking among the rich Jewish people among their own people. They were struck silent. They agreed to restore everything. I am not sure why they agreed so easily. He made the priests take an oath to do this also. Perhaps, it was the rich priests who were taking advantage of their kindred. Anyone who broke this promise would lose their own house and property. They all agreed with a great ‘Amen’ as they praised Yahweh. Apparently they kept this promise after the revolt of the poor Jewish people.