(The word usury has come in modern English to mean excessive interest upon money loaned, either formally illegal or at least oppressive. In the Scriptures, however the word did not bear this sense, but meant simply interest of any kind upon money. The Jews were forbidden by the law of Moses to take interest from their brethren, but were permitted to take it from foreigners. The prohibition grew out of the agricultural status of the people, in which ordinary business loans were not needed. and loans as were required should be made only as to friends and brothers in need.--ED.) The practice of mortgaging land, sometimes at exorbitant interest, grew up among the Jews during the captivity, in direct violation of the law. (Leviticus 25:36,37; Ezekiel 18:8,13,17) We find the rate reaching 1 in 100 per month, corresponding to the Roman centisimae usurae, or 12 per cent. per annum.
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