the (in)humanity of the OT laws on pledges

I just read Deuts 23-24 this morning, and what really impressed upon me were the laws relating to pledges (or, I suppose, what we call charges / mortgages in modern parlance):

No man shall the lower or upper millstone in pledge, for he takes ones living in pledge. (24:6, NKJV)

When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the Lord your God. (24:10-13, NKJV)

You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widows garment as a pledge. But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing. (24:17-18, NKJV)


It’s amazing to see how humane and merciful the laws on lending were – a creditor should not take something as security when it would completely destroy the debtor and leave him with no chance to dig himself out of the pit. In short, be gracious even to those who are indebted to you.

Such practices would have shown the nations surrounding Israel how different the people of the Lord were. Such practices reflect the nature of their God – gracious and merciful even to those who were indebted to Him.

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