Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 5: Harmony of the Law, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
The Exposition of the Commandment
Lev. 19:11, 13
11. Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.
11. Non furabimini et non negabiris, neque mentiemini quisque proximo suo.
13. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.
13. Non opprimes proximum tuum, neque rapies: nec morabitur opus mercenarii apud to usque mane.
God here explains somewhat more clearly His mind and design, for He enumerates as thefts eases in which either deceit or violence is employed. The two words, which we have translated to deny, and to lie, signify also to deceive; as also to lie, or to frustrate hope. 98 There is no question, then, but that God would restrain His people from all craft, or deceit, that they may deal sincerely and honestly with each other; even as Paul wisely explains the meaning of the Holy Spirit, when he exhorts believers to
“put away lying, and to speak every man truth with his neighbor; for we are members one of another.” (Eph 4:25.)
In the second passage, God commands men to demean themselves meekly and temperately with their neighbors, so as to abstain from all unjust oppression. The meaning which Jerome 99 and others after him, have given to the word עשק gnashak, to calumniate, is incorrect altogether; for it is everywhere used for to oppress, despoil, rob, or lay hands on the goods of another. It is clear, therefore, that as Moses had previously provided against frauds, he now prohibits the iniquity of extorting from our neighbor what we have no right to. Still, violence, or open rapine, is better expressed by the other word גזל gezal; and these 100 two words are, ill my opinion, as it were, genus and species. After he had forbidden, therefore, that they should in any way oppress their brethren and possess themselves of their goods, he at the same time adds, that they should not use violence in despoiling them unjustly. Finally, he points out one mode of unjust oppression, when a person, who has hired himself as a laborer, is defrauded of his wages, and not only if he be sent away without payment, his wages being denied him, but if payment be deferred to the morrow. For we know that hirelings generally live from hand to mouth, and therefore, if there be ever so little delay, they must go without food. Consequently, if a rich man keeps a poor and wretched individual, whose labor he has abused, in suspense, he deprives him as it were of life, in depriving him of his daily food. The sum is, that humanity is so to be cultivated that none should be oppressed, or suffer loss from default of payment.
Deut. 24:14, 15
14. Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:
14. Non opprimes mercenarium pauperem et egenum e fratribus tuis, et ex peregrinis tuis qui sunt in terra tua, intra portas tuas.
15. At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he ‘is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.
15. Die suo reddes mercedem ejus, neque occumbet super eam sol: quia pauper est, et ea sustentat animam suam: ne clamet contra te ad Jehovam, et sit in te peccatum.
14. Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant. This precept is akin to the foregoing. Moses pronounces that he who has hired a poor person for wages oppresses him unless he gives him immediate recompense for his labor; since the two admonitions, “thou shalt; not; oppress,” and “thou shalt give him his hire,” are to be read in connection with each other. Hence it follows, that if a hireling suffers from want because we do not pay him what he has earned, we are by our very delay alone convicted of unrighteousness. The reason is now more clearly expressed, viz., because he sustains his life by his daily labors. 101 Although, however, this provision only refers to the poor, lest they should suffer hunger from the negligence or pride of the rich, still humanity in general is enforced, lest, whilst the poor labor for our profit, we should arrogantly abuse them as if they were our slaves, or should be too illiberal and stingy towards them, since nothing can be more disgraceful than that, when they are in our service, they should not at least have enough to live upon frugally. Finally, Moses admonishes us that this tyranny on the part of the rich shall not be unpunished, if they do not supply their workmen with the means of subsistence, even although no account shall be rendered of it before the tribunals of men. Hence we infer that this law is not political, but altogether spiritual, and binding on our consciences before the judgment-seat of God; for although the poor man may not sue us at law, Moses teaches us that it is sufficient for him to appeal to the faithfulness of God. Wherefore, although the earthly judge may absolve us a hundred times over, let us not therefore think that we have escaped; since God will always require of us from heaven, whatever may have been unjustly excused us on earth. The question, however, here arises, whether, if he who has been oppressed should not cry out, the criminality will cease in consequence of his silence; for the words of Moses seem to imply this, when he says, that the rich will be guilty, if the poor cry unto God and make complaint of their wrongs. The reply’ is easy, that Moses had no other intention than to over-. throw the vain confidence of the despisers, whereby they arc, stimulated to greater audacity in sin, and are hardened in iniquity. He says, therefore, that although, as far as men are concerned, they may allow us to pillage and rob, still a more awful judgment is to be dreaded; for God hears the complaints of the poor, who find no protector or avenger on earth. And surely, the more patiently he who is despoiled shall bear his wrong, the more ready will God be to undertake his cause; nor is there any louder cry to Him than patient endurance. If, however, any should object that the cry here spoken of is at variance with Christ’s command, that we should pray for our enemies, we answer at once, that God does not always approve of the prayers which He nevertheless answers. The imprecation of Jotham, the son of Gideon, took effect upon the Shechemites, (Jud 9:20,) although it was plainly the offspring of immoderate anger. Besides, it sometimes happens that the miserable, although they endure their injuries with pious meekness, still cease not to lay their sorrows and their groans in the bosom of God. Nor is this a slight consolation for the poor, that if no one on earth relieves them because their condition is low and abject, still God will hereafter take cognizance of their cause.
4. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn
4. Non obligabis os bovi trituranti.
4. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox. This passage, indeed, properly belongs to the Supplements of the Commandment, but, since it is a confirmation of the foregoing decree, it seemed fit to connect them; especially because its faithful expositor, Paul, declares, that God had no other design in delivering it than that the laborer should not be defrauded of his just hire, (1Co 9:10;) for, when he is speaking of the maintenance to be afforded to the ministers of the Gospel, he adduces it. in proof of his case. And, lest any should object that there is a difference between oxen and men, he adds, that God does not care for oxen, but that it was said for the sake of those that labor. Meanwhile, we must bear in mind, that men are so instructed in equity, that they are bound to exercise it even towards the brute animals; for well does Solomon magnify the injustice, whereby our neighbor is injured, by the comparison; “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.” (Pr 12:10.) The sum is, that we should freely and voluntarily pay what is right, and that every one should be strict with himself as to the performance of his duty; for, if we are bound to supply subsistence to brute animals, much less must we wait for men to be importunate with us, in order that they may obtain their due.
21. Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
21. Peregrinum non opprimes, neque spoliabis: quia peregrini fuistis in terra AEgypti.
22. Ye shalt not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
22. Nullam viduam nec pupillum affligetis.
23. If thou afflict them in any wise, and the, and cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry:
23. Si affligendo afflixeritis eum, certe si clamando clamaverit ad me, audiendo audiam clamorem ejus:
24. And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
24. Irasceturque furor meus, et occidam vos gladio, eruntque uxores vestrae viduae, et filii vestri pupilli.
Lev. 19:33, 34
33. And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.
33. Si peregrinatus tecum fuerit peregrinus in terra vestra, non opprimetis illum.
34. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one horn among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
34. Tanquam indigena ex vobis, erit vobis peregrinus qui peregrinatur apud vos, et diliges eum sicut teipsum: quia peregrini fuistis in terra: ego Jehova Deus vester.
Leviticus 19:33. And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land. Before I pass on to the other iniquities, I have thought fit to introduce this precept, wherein the people are commanded to cultivate equity towards all without exception. Fob if no mention had been made of strangers, the Israelites would have thought that, provided they had not injured any one of their own nation, they had fully discharged their duty; but, when God recommends guests and sojourners to them, just as if they had been their own kindred, they thence understand that equity is to be cultivated constantly and towards all men. Nor is it without cause that God interposes Himself and His protection, lest injury should be done to strangers; for since they have no one who would submit to ill-will in their defense, they are more exposed to the violence and various oppressions of the ungodly, than as if they were under the shelter of domestic securities. The same rule is to be observed towards widows and orphans; a woman, on account of the weakness of her sex, is exposed to many evils, unless she dwells under the shadow of a husband; and many plot against orphans, as if they were their prey, because they have none to advise them. Since, then, they are thus destitute of human aid, God interposes to assist them; and, if they are unjustly oppressed, He declares that He will be their avenger. In the first passage He includes widows and orphans together with strangers; in the latter He enumerates strangers only; yet the substance is the same, viz., that all those who are destitute and deprived of earthly succor, are under the guardianship and protection of God, and preserved by His hand; and thus the audacity of those is restrained, who trust that they may commit any wickedness with impunity, provided no earthly being resists them. No iniquity, indeed, will be left unavenged by God, but there is a special reason why He declares that strangers, widows, and orphans are taken under His care; inasmuch as the more flagrant the evil is, the greater need there is of an effectual remedy. He recommends strangers to them on this ground, that the people, who had themselves been sojourners in Egypt, being mindful of their ancient condition, ought to deal more kindly to strangers; for although they were at last oppressed by cruel tyranny, still they were bound to consider their entrance there, viz., that poverty and hunger had driven their forefathers thither, and that they had been received hospitably, when they were in need of aid from others. When He threatens, that if the afflicted widows and orphans cry unto Him, their cry shall be heard, He does not mean that He will not interfere, if they endure their wrongs in silence; but He speaks in accordance with the ordinary practice, that those who find no consolation elsewhere, are wont to appeal to Him. Meanwhile, let us be sure that although those who are injured abstain from complaining, yet God does not by any means forget His office, so as to overlook their wrongs. Nay, there is nothing which incites Him more to inflict punishment on the ungodly, than the endurance of His servants.
The nature of the punishment is also expressed; those who have afflicted widows and orphans shall perish by the sword, so that their own widows and orphans may be exposed to the audacity, violence, and knavery of the ungodly. Moreover, it must be observed that, in the second passage, they are commanded to love strangers and foreigners as themselves. Hence it appears that the name of neighbor is not confined to our kindred, or such other persons with whom we are nearly connected, but extends to the whole human race; as Christ shows in the person of the Samaritan, who had compassion on an unknown man, and performed towards him the duties of humanity neglected by a Jew, and even a Levite. (Lu 10:30.)
17. ...God,...regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.
17. Deus non accipit personam, neque recipit munus.
18. He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
18. Faciens judicium pupillo et viduae, diligens peregrinum, dando et panem et vestimentum.
19. Love ye therefore the stranger; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt
19. Diligite igitur peregrinum, quia peregrini fuistis in terra, AEgypti.
He confirms the foregoing decree by a reference to the nature of God Himself; for the vile and abject condition of those with whom we have to do, causes us to injure them the more wantonly, because they seem to be altogether deserted. But God declares that their unhappy lot is no 102 obstacle to His administering succor to them; inasmuch as He has no regard to persons. By the word person is meant either splendor, or obscurity, and outward appearance, as it is commonly called, as we gather from many passages. In short, God distinguishes Himself from men, who are carried away by outward appearance, to hold the rich in honor, and the poor in contempt; to favor the beautiful or the eloquent, and to despise the unseemly. Προσωποληψία is, therefore, an unjust judgment, which diverts us from the cause itself, when our minds are prejudiced by what ought not to be taken into account. Therefore Christ teaches us that a judgement is righteous, which is not founded upon the appearance, (Joh 7:23;) since truth and justice never prevail, except when we attend to the case itself. It follows that the contemptible are not afflicted with impunity, for although they may be destitute of human aid, God, who sitteth on high, “hath respect unto the lowly.” (Ps 138:6.) As regards strangers, God proves that he cares for them, because He is gracious in preserving them and clothing them; and then a special reason is again adduced, that the Israelites, when they were formerly sojourners in Egypt, had need of the compassion of others.
Lev. 19:35, 36
35. Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in mete-yard, in weight, or in measure.
35. Non facietis iniquitatem in judicio, in dimensione, in pondere et mensura.
36. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just bin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.
36. Statera justa, pondera justa, epha justum, et hin justum erit vobis.
13. Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.
13. Non erit tibi in sacculo tuo pondus et pondus, majus et minus:
14. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.
14. Non erit tibi in domo tua modius et modius, major et minor.
15. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
15. Pondus perfectum et justum erit tibi, modius perfectus et justus erit tibi, ut proroges dies tuos super terram quam Jehova Deus tuus dat tibi.
16. For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.
16. Quia abominatio Jehovae Dei tui est quicunque facit haec, omnis faciens iniquitatem.
Leviticus 19:35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment. If you take the word judgment in its strict sense, this will be a special precept, that judges should faithfully do justice to all, and not subvert just causes from favor or ill-will. But since the word משפט, mishpat, often means rectitude, it will not be unsuitable to suppose that all iniquities contrary to integrity are generally condemned; and that he afterwards proceeds to particular cases, which he adverts to elsewhere, where he enumerates the most injurious thefts of all, and such as involve the grossest violation of public justice. For the corruption which tends to the subversion of judgments, or, by undermining rectitude, vitiates all contracts, leaves nothing in security; whilst deception in weights and measures destroys and sweeps away all legitimate modes of dealing. Now, if the laws of buying and selling are corrupted, human society is in a manner dissolved; so that he who cheats by false weights and measures, differs little from him who utters false coin: and consequently one, who, whether as a buyer or seller, has falsified the standard measures of wine or corn, or anything else, is accounted criminal. 103 By the laws of Rome, 104 he is condemned to a fine of double the amount; and by a decree of Adrian, he is to be banished to an island. It is not, therefore, without reason that Solomon reiterates this decree, that he may fix it the deeper in the hearts of all. (Prov. 20:10, 23.) But although this pestilent sin is by no means to be endured, but to be severely punished, still God, even if legal punishments be not inflicted, summons men’s consciences before His tribunal, and this he does both by promises and threats. A just weight (He says) and a just measure shall prolong a man’s life; but he who has been guilty of deception in them, is an abomination before me. Length of life, indeed, has only a figurative connection with just weights and measures: but, because the avaricious, in their pursuit of dishonest gain, are too devoted to this transitory life, God, in order to withhold His people from this blind and impetuous covetousness, promises them long life, if they keep themselves from fraud and all knavish dealings. We perceive from the conclusion, that, not in this respect only, but in all our affairs, those trickeries are condemned, by which our neighbors are defrauded. For, after God has said that He abominates “all that do such things,” He adds immediately by way of explanation, “all that do unrighteously.” We see, then, that He sets Himself against all evil and illicit arts of gain.
14. Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s land-mark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.
14. Non transferes terminum proximi tui quem finierint majores in haereditate tua, quam haereditate accipies in terra quam Jehova Deus tuus dat tibi ut possideas eam.
A kind of theft is here condemned which is severely punished by the laws of Rome; 105 for that every one’s property may be secure, it is necessary that the land-marks set up for the division of fields should remain untouched, as if they were sacred. He who fraudulently removes a landmark is already convicted by this very act, because he disturbs the lawful owner in his quiet possession of the land; 106 whilst he who advances further the boundaries of his own land to his neighbor’s loss, doubles the crime by the deceptive concealment of his theft. Whence also we gather that not only are those thieves, who actually carry away their neighbor’s property, who take his money out of his chest, or who pillage his cellars and granaries, but also those who unjustly possess themselves of his land.
Exod. 22:26, 27
26. If thou at all take thy neighbor’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down:
26. Si in pignus acceperis vestimentum proximi tui, antequam occubuerit sol restitues illud ei.
27. For that is his covering only; it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.
27. Quia ipsum solum est operimentum ejus, illud vestimentum ejus est cuti suae in quo dormiat, et erit quum clamaverit ad me, tunc exaudiam: sum enim misericors.
Deut. 24:6, 10-13, 17, 18
6. No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge.
6. Non accipiet quisquam pro pignore metam et catillum, quia animam ipse acciperet pro pignore.
10. When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge.
10. Quum mutuabis proximo tuo aliquid mutuum, non ingredieris domum ejus ut capias pignus ejus.
11. Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.
11. Foris subsistes, et vir cui mutuabis afferet ad te pignus foras.
12. And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge.
12. Quod si vir pauper fuerit, non dormies cum pignore ejus.
13. In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord thy God.
13. Restituendo ei restitues pignus dum sol occumbit: ut dormiat in vestimento suo, et benedicat tibi: eritque tibi in justitiam coram Jehova Deo tuo.
17. Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless, nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge:
17. Non pervertes judicium pupilli et peregrini, non capies in pignus vestimentum viduae.
18. But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bond-man in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.
18. Recordare quod servus fueris in AEgypto, et redemerit te Jehova Deus tuus inde: idcirco praecipio tibi ut hoc facias.
Deuteronomy 24:6 No man shall take the nether. God now enforces another principle of equity in relation to loans, (not to be too strict 107 ) in requiring pledges, whereby the poor are often exceedingly distressed. In the first place, He prohibits the taking of anything in pledge which is necessary to the poor for the support of existence; for by the words which I have translated meta and catillus, i e., the upper and nether millstone, He designates by synecdoche all other instruments, which workmen cannot do without in earning their daily bread. As if any one should forcibly deprive a husbandman of his plough, or his spade, or harrow, or other tools, or should empty a shoemaker’s, or potter’s, or other person’s shop, who could not exercise his trade when deprived of its implements; and this is sufficiently clear from the context, where it is said, “He taketh a man’s life to pledge,” together with his millstones. He, then, is as cruel, whosoever takes in pledge what supports a poor man’s life, as if he should take away bread from a starving man, and thus his life itself, which, as it is sustained by labor, so, when its means of subsistence are cut off, is, as it were, itself destroyed.
10. When thou dost lend thy brother anything He provides against another iniquity in reclaiming a pledge, viz., that the creditor should ransack the house and furniture of his brother, in order to pick out the pledge at his pleasure. For, if this option were given to the avaricious rich, they would be satisfied with no moderation, but would seize upon all that was best, as if making an assault on the very entrails of the poor: in a word, they would ransack men’s houses, or at any rate, whilst they contemptuously refused this or that, they would fill the wretched with rebuke and shame. God, therefore, will have no pledge reclaimed, except what the debtor of his own accord, and at his own convenience, shall bring out of his house, lie even proceeds further, that the creditor shall not take back any pledge which he knows to be necessary for the poor: for example, if he should pledge the bed on which he sleeps, or his counterpane, or cloak, or mantle. For it is not just that lie should be stripped, so as to suffer from cold, or to be deprived of other aids, the use of which he could not forego without loss or inconvenience. A promise, therefore, is added, that this act of humanity will be pleasing to God, when the poor shall sleep in the garment which is restored to him. He speaks even more distinctly, and says: The poor will bless thee, and it shall be accounted to thee for righteousness. For God indicates that He hears the prayers of the poor and needy, lest the rich man should think the bounty thrown away which lie confers upon a lowly individual. We must, indeed, be more than iron-hearted, unless we are disposed to such liberality as this, when we understand that, although the poor have not the means of repaying us in this world, still they have the power of recompensing us before God, i e., by obtaining grace for us through their prayers. An implied threat is also conveyed, that if the poor man should sleep inconveniently, or catch cold through our fault, God. will hear his groans, so that our cruelty will not be unpunished. But if the poor man, upon whom we have had compassion, should be ungrateful, yet, even though he is silent, our kindness will cry out to God; whilst, on the other hand, our tyrannical harshness will suffice to provoke God’s vengeance, although he who has been treated unkindly should patiently swallow his wrong. To be unto righteousness 108 is equivalent to being approved by God, or being an acceptable act; for since the keeping of the Law is true righteousness, this praise is extended to particular acts of obedience. Although it must be observed that this righteousness fails and vanishes, unless we universally fulfill whatever God enjoins. It is, indeed, a part of righteousness to restore a poor man’s pledge; but if a mall be only beneficent in this respect., whilst in other matters he robs his brethren; or if, whilst free from avarice, he exercises violence, is given to lust or gluttony, the particular righteousness, although pleasing in itself to God, will not come into account. In fact, we must hold fast the axiom, that no work is accounted righteous before God, unless il, proceeds from a man of purity and integrity; whereas there is none such to be found. Consequently, no works are imputed unto righteousness, except because God deigns to bestow His gratuitous favor on believers. In itself, indeed, it would be true, that whatever act of obedience to God we perform, it is accounted for righteousness, i e., if the whole course of our life corresponded to it, whereas no work proceeds from us which is not corrupted by some defect. Thus, we must fly to God’s mercy, in order that, being reconciled to us, He may also accept our work.
What he had previously prescribed respecting the poor, lie afterwards applies to widows alone, yet so as to recommend all poor persons to us under their name; and this we gather both from the beginning of the verse (17,) in which lie instructs them to deal fairly and justly with strangers and orphans, and also from the reason which is added, viz., that they should reflect that they were bondmen in the land of Egypt; for their condition there did not suffer them proudly to insult the miserable; and it is natural that he should be the more affected with the ills of others who has experienced the same. Since, then, this reason is a general one, it is evident also that the precept is general, that we should be humane towards all that are in want.
35. And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him; yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner: that he may live with thee.
35. Si attenuatus fuerit frater tuus, et vacillaverit manus ejus apud te, fulcies illum (vel, apprehendes ut sustineas): peregrinum et advenam: et vivet tecum.
36. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.
36. Non accipies usuram ab eo et augmentum: sed timebis Deum tuum: vivetque frater apud te.
37. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.
37. Pecuniam tuam non dabis ei ad usuram, nec cum augmento dabis escam tuam.
38. I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
38. Ego Jehova Deus vester qui eduxi vos de terra AEgypti, ut darem vobis terram Chanann, ac essem vobis in Deum.
Deut. 23:19, 20
19. Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury.
19. Non foenerabis fratri tuo foenus pecuniae, foenus cibi, foenus cujuscunque rei in qua foenus exercetur.
20. Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury, but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend. upon usury; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
20. Extraneo foenerabis, ac fratri tuo non foenerabis: ut benedicat tibi Jehova Deus tuus in omni applicatione manus tuae super terram ad quam ingrederis, ut possideas eam.
From these passages we learn that it is not enough to refrain from taking the goods of another, unless we also constantly exercise humanity and mercy in the relief of the poor. Heathen authors also saw this, although not with sufficient clearness, (when they declared 109 ) that, since all men are born for the sake of each other, human society is not properly maintained, except by an interchange of good offices. Wherefore, that we may not defraud our neighbors, and so be accounted thieves in God’s sight, let us learn, according to our several means, to be kind to those who need our help; for liberality is a part of righteousness, so that he must be deservedly held to be unrighteous who does not relieve the necessities of his brethren when he can. This is the tendency of Solomon’s exhortation, that
“we should drink waters out of our own cistern, 110 and that our fountains should be dispersed abroad amongst our neighbors,” (Prov. 5:15, 16;)
for, after he has enjoined us each to be contented with what is our own, without seeking to enrich ourselves by the loss of others, he adds that those who have abundance do not enjoy their possessions as they ought, unless they communicate them to the poor for the relief of their poverty. For this is the reason, as Solomon tells us elsewhere, why “the rich and the poor meet together; and the Lord is the maker of them all.” (Pr 22:2.)
25. 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.
25. Si pecuniam mutuam dederis populo, meo pauperi qui est tecum, non eris ei sicut usurarius: non imponetis ei usuram.
25. If thou lend money to any of my people Humanity ought to be very greatly regarded in the matter of loans, especially when a person, being reduced to extremities, implores a rich man’s compassion; for this is, in. point of fact, the genuine trial of our charity, when, in accordance with Christ’s precept, we lend to those of whom we expect no return. (Lu 6:35.) The question here is not as to usury, as some have falsely thought, 111 as if he commanded us to lend gratuitously, and without any hope of gain; but, since in lending, private advantage is most generally sought, and therefore we neglect the poor; and only lend our money to the rich, from whom we expect some compensation, Christ reminds us that, if we seek to acquire the favor of the rich, we afford in this way no proof of our charity or mercy; and hence lie proposes another sort of liberality, which is plainly gratuitous, in giving assistance to the poor, not only because our loan is a perilous one, but because they cannot make a return in kind.
Before descending to speak of loans, God here adverts to poverty and distress, (Le 25:35,) whereby men’s minds may be disposed to compassion. If any one be afflicted with poverty, he commands us to relieve his necessity. He makes use, however, of a metaphor, 112 that he who is tottering should be strengthened, as if by catching hold of his hand. What follows about the stranger and sojourner extends and amplifies, in my opinion, the previous sentence; as if it were said that, since humanity is not to be denied even to strangers, much more is assistance to be given to their brethren. For, when it pleased God that strangers should be permitted to inhabit the land, they were to be kindly treated 113 according to the rights of hospitality; for to allow them to live is to make their condition just and tolerable. And thus God indirectly implies, that such unhappy persons are expelled and driven away, so as not to live, if they are oppressed by unjust burdens. This, then, is the sum of the first sentence, that the rich, who has the ability, should uplift the poor man who is failing, by his assistance, or should strengthen the tottering.
A precept is added as to lending without interest, which, although it is a political law, still depends on the rule of charity; inasmuch as it can scarcely happen but that the poor should be entirely drained by the exaction of interest, and that their blood should be almost sucked away. Nor had God any other object in view, except that mutual and brotherly affection should prevail amongst the Israelites. It is plain that this was a part of the Jewish polity, because it was lawful to lend at interest to the Gentiles, which distinction the spiritual law does not admit. The judicial law, however, which God prescribed to His ancient people, is only so far abrogated as that what charity dictates should remain, i.e., that our brethren, who need our assistance, are not to be treated harshly. Moreover, since the wall of partition, which formerly separated Jew and Gentile, is now broken down, our condition is now different; and consequently we must spare all without exception, both as regards taking interest, and any other mode of extortion; and equity is to be observed even towards strangers. “The household of faith.” indeed, holds the first rank, since Paul commands us specially to do good to them, (Ga 6:10;) still the common society of the human race demands that we should not seek to grow rich by the loss of others.
As touching the political law, no wonder that God should have permitted His people to receive interest, from the Gentiles, since otherwise a just reciprocity would not have been preserved, without which one party must needs be injured. God commands His people not to practice usury, and still lays the Jews alone, and not foreign nations, under the obligation of this law. In order, therefore, that equality (ratio analogica) might be preserved, He accords 114 the same liberty to His people which the Gentiles would assume for themselves; for this is the only intercourse that can be endured, when the condition of both parties is similar and equal. For when Plato 115 asserts that usurers are not to be tolerated in a well-ordered republic, lie does not go further than to enjoin, that its citizens should abstain from that base and. dishonest traffic between each other.
The question now is, whether usury is evil in itself; and surely that which heathens even have detested appears to be by no means lawful to the children of God. We know that the name of usurer has everywhere and always been infamous and detested. Thus Cato, 116 desiring to commend agriculture, says that thieves were formerly condemned to a fine of double, and usurers quadruple; from which he infers, that the latter were deemed the worst. And when asked what he thought of usury, he replied, “What do I think of killing a man?” whereby he wished to show, that it was as improper to make money by usury as to commit murder. This was the swing of one private individual, yet it is derived from the opinions of almost all nations and persons. And assuredly from this cause great tumults often arose at Rome, and fatal contentions were awakened between the common people and the rich; since it can hardly be but that usurers suck men’s blood like leeches. But if we come to an accurate decision as to the thing itself, our determination must be derived from nowhere else than the universal rule of justice, and especially from the declaration of Christ, on which hang the law and the prophets, — Do not unto others what ye would not have done to thyself. (Mt 7:12.) For crafty men are for ever inventing some little subterfuge or other to deceive God. Thus, when all men detested the word foenus, another was substituted, which might avoid unpopularity under an honest pretext; for they called it usury, as being a compensation for the loss a man had incurred by losing the use of his money. But 117 there is no description of foenus to which this specious name may not be extended; for whosoever has any ready money, and is about to lend it, he will allege that it would be profitable to himself if he were to purchase 118 something with it, and that at every moment opportunities of gain are presenting themselves. Thus there will be always ground for his seeking compensation, since no creditor could ever lend money without loss to himself. Thus usury, 119 since the word is equivalent to foenus, is but a covering for an odious practice, as if such glosses would deliver us in God’s judgment, where nothing but absolute integrity can avail for our defense. There was almost a similar mode of subterfuge among the Israelites. The name נש5, neschec, which is derived from biting, sounded badly; since then no one chose to be likened to a hungry dog, who fed himself by biting others, some escape from the reproach was sought; and they called whatever gain they received beyond the capital, תרבית, therbith, as being an increase. But God, in order to prevent such deception, unites the two words, (Le 25:36,) and condemns the increase as well as the biting. For, where He complains of their unjust modes of spoiling and thieving in Ezekiel, 120 and uses both words as He does here by Moses, there is no doubt but that He designedly cuts off their empty excuses. (Eze 18:13.) Lest any, therefore, should reply, that although he derived advantage from his money, he was not on that account guilty of usury, God at once removes this pretense, and condemns in general any addition to the principal. Assuredly both passages clearly show that those who invent new words in excuse of evil, do nothing but vainly trifle. I have, then, admonished men that the fact itself is simply to be considered, that all unjust gains are ever displeasing to God, whatever color we endeavor to give to it. But if we would form an equitable judgment, reason does not suffer us to admit that all usury is to be condemned without exception. If the debtor have protracted the time by false pretences to the loss and inconvenience of his creditor, will it be consistent that he should reap advantage from his bad faith and broken promises? Certainly no one, I think, will deny that usury ought to be paid to the creditor in addition to the principal, to compensate his loss. 121 If any rich and monied man, wishing to buy a piece of land, should borrow some part of the sum required of another, may not he who lends the money receive some part of the revenues of the farm until the principal shall be repaid? Many such cases daily occur in which, as far as equity is concerned, usury is no worse than purchase. Nor will that subtle argument 122 of Aristotle avail, that usury is unnatural, because money is barren and does not beget money; for such a cheat as I have spoken of, might make much profit by trading with another man’s money, and the purchaser of the farm might in the meantime reap and gather his vintage. But those who think differently, may object, that we must abide by God’s judgment, when He generally prohibits all usury to His people. I reply, that the question is only as to the poor, and consequently, if we have to do with the rich, that usury is freely permitted; because the Lawgiver, in alluding to one thing, seems not to condemn another, concerning which He is silent. If again they object that usurers are absolutely condemned by David and Ezekiel, (Ps 15:5; Eze 18:13,) I think that their declarations ought to be judged of by the rule of charity; and therefore that only those unjust exactions are condemned whereby the creditor, losing’ sight of equity, burdens and oppresses his debtor. I should, indeed, be unwilling to take usury under my patronage, and I wish the name itself were banished from the world; but I do not dare to pronounce upon so important a point more than God’s words convey. It is abundantly clear that the ancient people were prohibited from usury, but we must needs confess that this was a part of their political constitution. Hence it follows, that usury is not now unlawful, except in so far as it contravenes equity and brotherly union. Let each one, then, place himself before God’s judgment-seat, and not do to his neighbor what he would not have done to himself, from whence a sure and infallible decision may be come to. To exercise the trade of usury, since heathen writers accounted it amongst disgraceful and base modes of gain, is much less tolerable among the children of God; but in what cases, and how far it may be lawful to receive usury upon loans, the law of equity will better prescribe than any lengthened discussions.
Let us now examine the words. In the first place, where we have translated the words, “Thou shalt not be to him as a usurer,” 123 there is some ambiguity in the Hebrew word נש5, nashac, for it is sometimes used generally for to lend, without any ill meaning; but here it is undoubtedly applied to a usurer, who bites the poor; as also in Ps 109:11, “Let the usurer catch all that he hath.” 124 The sum is, that the poor are to be liberally aided, and not to be oppressed by harsh exactions: and therefore immediately afterwards it is added, “neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.” When again He repeats, “And if thy brother be waxen poor,” etc., we see that reference is everywhere made to the poor; because, although sometimes those who possess large properties are ruined by usury, (as Cicero says that certain luxurious and prodigal persons ill his days contended against usury with the fruits of their farms, because their creditors swallowed up the whole produce; 125 ) still the poor alone, who had been compelled to borrow by want, and not by luxury, were worthy of compassion.
The third passage, however, admirably explains the meaning of God, since it extends usury to corn and wine, and all other articles. For many contracts were invented by artful men, whereby they pillaged the needy without ignominy or disgrace: and now-a-days no rapacity is more cruel than that which imposes a payment upon debtors, without any mention of usury; for instance, if a poor man should ask the loan of six measures of wheat, the creditor will require seven to be repaid; or if the same thing should happen as regards wine. This profit will not be called usury, because no money will pass; but God, indirectly casting ridicule upon their craftiness, shows that this plague of usury 126 extends itself to various things, and to almost all sorts of traffic; whence it clearly appears that nothing else is prescribed to the Israelites, but that they should humanely assist each other. But, since cupidity blinds men, and carries them, aside to dishonest dealings, God sets His blessing in opposition to all such iniquitous arts, whereby they hawk, as it were, for gain; and commands them to look for riches rather to Him the author of all good things, than to hunt for them by rapine and fraud.
1. Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother.
1. Non videbis bovem fratris tui aut pecudem errantes, et abscondes te ab eis: reducendo reduces ad fratrem tuum.
2. And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not; then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again.
2. Etiam si non fuerit frater tuus propinquus tibi, neque noveris eum, colliges tamen illos in domum tuam, et erunt tecum donec requirat frater tuus ut restituas ei.
3. In like manner shalt thou do with his ass, and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself.
3. Sic facies de asino ejus, sic facies de vestimento ejus, sic facies de omni re amissa fratris tui quae perierit ab ipso: si inveneris eam, non occultabis te.
4. If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.
4. Si occurreris bovi inimici tui, et asino ejus erranti, reducendo reduces ad illum.
Exodus 23:4. If thou meet thine enemy’s ox. From these two passages it is very clear that he who abstains from evil doing, is not therefore guiltless before God, unless he also studies to do good. For our brethren’s advantage ought to be so far our care, that we should be disposed mutually to aid each other as far as our means and opportunities permit. This instruction is greatly needed; because, whilst everybody is more attentive to his own advantage than he ought to be, he is willing to hold back from the assistance of others. But God brings him in guilty of theft who has injured his neighbors by his negligence; and justly, because it depended only upon him that the thing should be safe, which he knowingly and willfully suffered to perish. This duty, too, is extended even to enemies; wherefore our inhumanity is the more inexcusable, if we have not helped our friends. The sum therefore is, that believers should be kind, 127 that they may imitate their heavenly Father; and should not only bestow their labor upon the good, who are worthy of it, but should treat the unworthy also with kindness: and since many might invent means of subterfuge, God anticipates them, and commands that the beast of a person unknown should be kept until reclaimed by its owner; and lays down the same rule as to all things that may be lost.
5. And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying,
5. Loquutus est Jehova ad Mosen, dicendo:
6. Speak unto the children of Israel, when a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the Lord, and that person be guilty;
6. Alloquere filios Israel, Vir sive mulier quum fecerint ex omnibus peccatis hominum, transgrediendo transgressione in Jehovam, et deliquerit anima illa:
7. Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.
7. Fatebuntur peccatum suum quod fecerunt: et restituet delictum suum in solidum, et quintam ejus partem superaddet, dabitque ei in quem peccaverit.
5. And the Lord spoke unto Moses. Although at the outset He seems to include all trespasses, yet we gather from the context that the precept only refers to things stolen or fraudulently withheld, that he, who is conscious of his guilt, should make reparation. It must be observed, however, that the law relates to more secret thefts, which are not usually brought to justice: and on this account it is said, “If they have committed any sin after the manner of men, they must not seek for subterfuge from ordinary use and custom.” Although, therefore, they may have many companions, God declares that this will not avail for their excuse; and consequently commands them voluntarily to restore what they have fraudulently or wrongfully appropriated. He will treat hereafter of the punishment of theft; He now only prescribes that, although no one shall bring the guilty parties to justice, and their crime may not be discovered, still they should diligently examine their consciences, and themselves ingenuously declare the secret transgression; and also make compensation for the loss conferred, since, without restitution, their confession would be but illusory. I now pass over what Moses adds, that, if no heir exists to whom the stolen goods may be restored, they should offer it to the priest, because I have already expounded it: except that we gather frost thence, that a contamination is contracted by fraud and rapine, which is never purged unless the house is well cleared of the ill-gotten gain. But this offering was treated of amongst the laws of the priests: 128 now, with respect to the restitution, we must consider that the fifth part was superadded, not so much in order that he, who had suffered the loss, should be enriched, as that all should diligently beware of every offense, which they hear not only to be useless to themselves, but also to be productive of loss. Besides, when a man has been robbed, it is often of more consequence than this additional fifth part, that he should have been deprived of the use of his property.
8. And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.
8. Ne accipias munus: quia munus excaecat videntes, et pervertit verba justorum.
15. Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.
15. Non facies iniquitatem in judicio, non suscipies faciem pauperis, neque honorabis causam magni: in justitia judicabis proximum tuum.
Exodus 23:8 And thou shalt take no gift. This kind of theft is the worst of all, when judges are corrupted either by bribes, or by affection, and thus ruin the fortunes which they ought to protect: for, since their tribunal is as it were sacred asylum, to which those who are unjustly oppressed may fly, nothing can be more unseemly than that they should there fall amongst robbers. 129 Judges are appointed to repress all wrongs and offenses; if therefore they show favor to the wicked, they are harborers of thieves; than which there is no more deadly pest. And besides, since their authority excludes every other remedy, they are themselves like rob-hers with arms in their hands. The greater, therefore, their power of injury is, and the greater the damage committed by their unjust sentences, the more diligently are they to be warned to beware of iniquity; and thus it was necessary to keep them in the path of duty by special instructions, lest they should conceal and encourage thievery by their patronage. Now, as avarice is the root of all evils, when it thus lays hold of the minds of judges, no integrity can continue to exist. But, since all utterly condemn this vice, even though they may be entirely under its influence, God speaks of it the more plainly and popularly, enjoining that judges should withhold their hands from every gift: for there is no more fatal poison for the extinction of all uprightness, than when a judge suffers himself to be cajoled by gifts. Let those who accept gifts allege as much as they please that they still maintain their integrity, the fact itself clearly shows that they are venal, and seek their own pecuniary advantage when they are thus attracted by gain. Formerly it was enough to render judges infamous that they were called nummarii, (moneyers.) 130 But it is superfluous to treat any further of this matter, since God cuts off all handles for subterfuge in a single sentence: “for gifts (He says) blind the eyes of him that seeth, and pervert the judgment of the righteous.” If, then, we acquiesce in His decision, there is no light of intelligence so bright but that gifts extinguish it, nor any probity so great but that they undermine it; in fact, gifts infect a sound mind before they soil the hand; I mean those which a person receives in reference to the judgment of a cause; for there is no question here as to those gifts of mutual kindness which men reciprocate with each other. Thus, in the passage from Deuteronomy 16, before God speaks of gifts, He forbids that justice should be wrested., or men’s persons respected: whence we gather, that only those snares are condemned which are set to curry favor. It must be observed on the passage from Leviticus, that to judge in righteousness is contrasted with respecting the person: and consequently, as soon as the judge turns away his eyes ever so little from the cause itself, he forgets equity. Moreover, to wrest judgment is equivalent to doing iniquity in judgment; but since injustice is not always openly manifested, but rather disguised by various artifices, after God in Leviticus has condemned corrupt and unjust judgments, He uses this word to wrest (inclinandi), in Deuteronomy, in order to dissipate all vain pretexts.
Deut. 16:19, 20
19. Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.
19. Non inflectes judicium, non agnosces personam, neque capies munus: quia munus excaecat oculos sapientum, et pervertit verba justorum.
20. That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
20. Justitiam, justitiam sequeris, ut vivas, et possideas terram quam Jehova Deus tuus dat tibi.
20. That which is altogether just 131 By an emphatic repetition God inculcates that judges should study equity with inflexible constancy; nor is this done without cause, for nothing is more likely to happen than that men’s minds should be clouded by favor or hatred. Besides there are so many quibbles whereby justice is perverted, that, unless judges are very cautious in watching against deception, they will often find themselves ensnared.
Exod. 23:3, 6
3. Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.
3. Pauperem non honorabis ex sua causa.
6. Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.
6. Non inflectes judicium pauperis tui in lite ejus.
6. Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor. Since laws are enacted to repress the vices which are of frequent occurrence, no wonder that God should put forward the case of the poor, to whom it often happens that they fail though their causes are good, both because they are without interest and are exposed to injury through the contempt in which they are held, and also because they cannot contend with the rich in incurring expense. Justly, then, is provision made for their inferiority, lest the iniquity of judges should rob them of the little they possess. But the other point here referred to might appear superfluous, viz., that judges should not favor the poor, which very rarely takes place. It would also be incongruous that what God elsewhere prescribes and praises should here be reprehended. I reply, that rectitude is so greatly pleasing to God, that the judge would in no wise be excusable, under whatever pretext he might decline from it ever so little, and that this is the intention of this precept. For, although the poor is for the most part tyrannically oppressed, still ambition will sometimes impel a judge to misplaced compassion, so that he is liberal at another’s expense. And this temptation is all the more dangerous, because injustice is done under the cloak of virtue. For, if a judge only directs his attention to the poverty of the litigant, a foolish fear will at the same time insinuate itself lest his sentence should ruin the man whom he would wish to save; thus he will award to the one what belongs to the other. Sometimes the temerity, audacity, and obstinacy of the poor in commencing and prosecuting suits is greater than that of the rich; and when they despair of their cause, they are sure to have recourse to tears and lamentations, by which they deceive incautious judges, who, forgetful of the cause itself, only consider how their misery and want is to be relieved. Besides, too, whilst they think little of the rich man’s loss, because he can easily bear it, they make no scruple of declining from equity in favor of the poor. But hence it better appears how greatly God is offended by the oppression of the poor, when He will not have even them befriended to the injury of the rich.
A. V., “deal falsely, neither lie.” Ainsworth, “neither falsely deny, nor deal falsely.”
A. V., “Non facies calumniam proximo tuo, nec vi opprimes eum.” “The first of these terms signifies to oppress by fraud; the second to oppress by violence. Against both these offenses, John the Baptist warned the soldiers who came to him; Lu 3:14.” — Bush from Ainsworth.
“Et a mon avis que le premier est comme genre, et le second comme espece;” and, in my opinion, that the first is, as it were, genus, and the second species. — Fr.
The expression on which C. founds this statement is translated by himself “ea (i.e., mercede) sustentat animam suam;” in our A. V., “setteth his heart upon it;“ margin, “Heb., lifteth his soul unto it.” Dathe has, “eam anhelat;” Ainsworth, “and unto it he lifteth up his soul,” and his note is, “that is, hopeth for and desireth it for the maintenance of his life. So the Greek here translateth, he hath hope; and in. Jer 22:27, and Jer 44:14, the lifting up of the soul signifieth a desire; and the soul is often put for the life. Hereupon the Hebrews say, Whosoever with-holdeth the hireling’s wage, is as if he took away his soul (or life) from him” etc.
The Fr. gives a different turn to this: “Or Dieu declare que leur pourete et misere n’empechera point de les secourir: d’autant qu’ils ne amusent point a la personne;” Now, God declares, that their poverty and misery shall not prevent their being succored; so that they should not be interested by their person.
“Inter falsarios.” — Lat. “Pour faussaire.” — Fr.
Modest. 1. penult, ad legem Corn. de fals. — C. This law is to be found in Digest. 48, tit. 11, De falsis, 32, “Si venditor mensuras publice probatas vini, frumenti, vel cujuslibet rei, aut emptor corruperit, dolove malo fraudem fecerit, quanti ea res est, ejus dupli condemnatur. Decretoque Divi Hadriani praeceptum est in insulam eos relegari, qui pondera, aut mensuras falsassent.”
“In the digests there is a vague law, de termino moto, Digestor. Lib. 47. tit. 21, on which Calmer remarks, that, though the Romans had no determined punishment for those who removed the ancient land-marks, yet, if slaves were found to have done it with an evil design, they were put to death; that persons of quality were sometimes exiled when found, guilty; and that others were sentenced to primary fines, or corporal punishment. — Adam Clarke, in loco.
“Est desia assez convaincu par ce seul acte d’avoir voulu debouter le possesseur de son champ;” is already sufficiently convicted by this act alone of having wished to deprive the possessor of his land. — Fr.
Added from Fr.
“It shall be righteousness unto thee,” A V., and rightly, as it would appear, for, as Piscator (in Poole’s Syn.) remarks, “ante צצץ deficit praepositio.”
Added from Fr. “Atque ita placet Stoicis, quae in terris gignuntur ad usum hominum omnia creari, homines autem hominum causa esse generatos, ut ipsi inter se aliis alii prodesse possent.” — Cic. de Off. 1:7.
It will be seen that these verses are abbreviated, and slightly paraphrased by C. His exposition of them, which is not the ordinary one, agrees with that of Junins in Poole’s Syn.
See C. on Luke 6:35. Harmony of the Evang., vol. 1 p. 302. — (Calvin Soc. edit.,) together with the Editor’s note.
Margin. A. V., “If his hand faileth, then thou shalt strengthen him.” “When a man is so impoverished that he hath no means, they are commanded to strengthen him, as taking him by the hand; so the Lord is said to strengthen the right hand of Cyrus, when he assisted him against his enemies, Isa 45:11, etc.” — Willet, in loco.
“Il a entendu qu’on les traittast humainement;” He implied that they should be treated with humanity. — Fr.
“Il permet aux Juifs pareille liberte envers les nations estranges, que les Payens se donnoyent envers les Juifs; “He permits the Jews to have equal liberty with respect to foreign nations, with that which the heathen gave themselves with respect to the Jews. — Fr.
Πολιτεία Γ. in fin.
“Furem dupli condenmari, foeneratorem quadrupli.” Cato de R. Rust. in procem. “Ex quo genere comparationis illud est Catonis senis; a quo quum quaereretur, quid maxime in re familiari expediret, respondit, Bene pascere. Quid secundum? Satis bene pascere. Quid tertium? Male pascere. Quid quartum? orare. Et, cum ille, qui quaesierat, dixisset, Quid foenerari? Tum Cato, Quid hominem, inquit, occidere?” Cic. de Off. 2:24.
In Fr. the following sentence is here inserted: — “Ce titre la doncques a este favorable: comme en nostre langage Francois le mot d’Usure sera assez en horreur, mais les interests ont la vogue sous nulle difficulte ni scrupule:” This title then was an euphemism, as in our French language, the word Usury will be sufficiently dreaded, whilst Interest is current without difficulty or scruple. Say. Econ. Polit. B. 2 Ch. 8 Section 1., tells us that, “L’interet...s’appelait, auparavant usure, et c’etait le mot propre, puisque l’interet est un prix, un loyer qu’on paie pour avoir la jouissance d’une valeur. Mais ce mot est devenu odieux; il ne reveille plus que l’idee d’un interet illegal, exorbitant, et on lui en a substitue un autre plus honnete et moins expressif selon la coutume.”
“Terre ou marchandise.” — Fr.
“Ainsi, combien que ce nom d’Usure ait este favorable de soy du commencement, en la fin il a este diffame;” Thus, although this word Usury was of no ill meaning in its origin, in the end it has been abused. — Fr.
See C. on Ezekiel 18:5-9, where the subject is more fully discussed. C. Soc. Edit. vol. 2 p. 225, et seq. See also Mr. Myers’s Dissertation, ibid., p. 469.
Addition in Fr., “Je say qu’on nomme cela Interest, mais ce m’est tout un:” I know that they call this interest, but this is all the same to me.
Polit., lib. 1. cap. 10. “The enemies to interest in general, (says Blackstone,) make no distinction between that and usury, holding any m-crease of money to be indefensibly usurious. And this they ground, as well on the prohibition of it by the Law of Moses among the Jews, as also upon what is said to be laid down by Aristotle, that money is naturally barren, and to make it breed money is preposterous, and a perversion of the end of its institution, which was only to serve the purposes of exchange, and not of increase.” The hypothetical form in which he attributes this dictum to Aristotle, he explains in a note to be, because “this passage hath been suspected to be spurious.” — Comment, on the Laws of England, b. 2. ch. 30 sec. 454.
C. here uses the word foenerator; whereas his translation is, it will be seen, usurarius.
A. V., “The extortioner.”
“Neque id (quod stultissimum est) certare cum usuris fructibus praediorurn.” Cic. Or. in Cat. 2da. 8, i.e., says Facciolati in voce certo, “tot usuris se onerare, ut praediorum fructus exaequent: qua ratione fructus cum usuris committuntur, et certant, et plerumque superantur, quia usurae quotannis certae sunt, fructus autem incerti.” Fr., “Car combien que ceux qui possedent beaucoup soyent aucunefois epuisez, pource qu’ils ne sont que receveurs de ceux auxquels ils doyvent;” for, although those who possess much are often ruined, because they are only the receivers of their creditors, etc.
Foenebre malum.” — Lat. “Ceste vermine d’usure.” — Fr.
“Soyent pitoyables, et humains pour faire plaisir a chacun;” should be pitiful and humane, to show kindness to all. — Fr.
See vol. 2, p. 273, on Numbers 5:8.
“Il n’y a rien plus enorme, que d’en faire une caverne de brigans;” there is nothing more enormous than to make a den of robbers of it. — Fr.
Fr. “Et de faict, ce titre la suffit entre les payens pour diffamer les juges, de les appeler argentiers;” and, in fact, this title sufficed among the heathen to bring their judges into disrepute, to call them argentiers. See Cic. Ep. in Att. 1:16, “Insectandis vero, exagitandisque nummariis judicibus.” Item, Verr. 5:57, et pro Cluent., 36.
“Justitiam, justitiam.” — Lat. See Margin A. V., “Heb., Justice, justice.”