Comprehending laws and contracts is impossible, unless we first learn the meaning of the words and phrases they contain.

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Post by notmartha » Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:42 pm

When, if ever, did usury become lawful? When the meaning of the word was changed from "interest" to "excessive interest" did it then become lawful?

KJV References

Maśśāʾ, Hebrew Strong's #4855, is used 2 times in the Old Testament, translated as “usury” in the following verses:
Nehemiah 5:7-10 - Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them. And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer. Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies? I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.
Nāshâ, Hebrew Strong's #5378, is used 4 times in the Old Testament. It is translated as exact (2), debt (1), giver of usury (1). It is translated as “giver of usury” in the following verse:
Isaiah 24:2 - And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
Nāshâ, Hebrew Strong's #5383, is used 13 times in the Old Testament. It is translated as exact (3), lend (3), lend on usury (2), creditor (2), extortioner (1), taker of usury (1), usurer (1).
Exodus 22:25 - 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.

Isaiah 24:2 - And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.

Jeremiah 15:10 - Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.
Nāshak, Hebrew Strong's #5391, is used 16 times in the Old Testament. It is translated bite (14), and lend upon usury (2), in the following verses:.
Deuteronomy 23:19 - Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:
Deuteronomy 23:20 - 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.

Neshek, Hebrew Strong's #5392, is used 12 times in the Old Testament, translated as “usury” in the following verses:
Exodus 22:25 - If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer (5383), neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.
Leviticus 25:36 - Take thou no usury 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 usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.
Psalm 15:5 - He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
Proverbs 28:8 - He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.
Ezekiel 18:8 - He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,
Ezekiel 18:13 - Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.
Ezekiel 18:17 - That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.
Ezekiel 22:12 - In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD.
Tokos, Greek Strong's #5110, is used 2 times in the New Testament. It is translated as “usury” in the following verses:
Matthew 25:27 - Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Luke 19:23 - Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
Smith's Bible Dictionary, William Smith, 1863

The law strictly forbade any interest to be taken for a loan to any poor person, and at first, as it seems, even in the case of a foreigner; but this prohibition was afterward limited to Hebrews only, from whom, of whatever rank, not only was no usury on any pretence to be exacted, but relief to the poor by way of loan was enjoined, and excuses for evading this duty were forbidden. Exod 22:25; Levit 25:35, 37 As commerce increased, the practice of usury, and so also of suretyship, grew up; but the exaction of it from a Hebrew appears to have been regarded to a late period as discreditable. Psal 15:5; Prov 6:1, 4; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26; Jere 15:10; Ezek 18:13 Systematic breach of the law in this respect was corrected by Nehemiah after the return from captivity. Nehe 5:1, 13 The money-changers, who had seats and tables in the temple, where traders whose profits arose chiefly from the exchange of money with those who came to pay their annual half-shekel. The Jewish law did not forbid temporary bondage in the case of debtors, but it forbade a Hebrew debtor to be detained as a bondman longer than the seventh year, or at farthest the year of jubilee. Exod 21:2; Levit 25:39, 42; Deut 15:9


(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. Levit 25:36, 37; Ezek 18:8, 13, 17 We find the rate reaching 1 in 100 per month, corresponding to the Roman centisimæ usuræ, or 12 per cent. per annum.
Easton's Bible Dictionary, M.G. Easton, 1897

The sum paid for the use of money, hence interest; not, as in the modern sense, exorbitant interest. The Jews were forbidden to exact usury (Lev 25:36, 37), only, however, in their dealings with each other (Deut 23:19, 20). The violation of this law was viewed as a great crime (Ps 15:5; Prov 28:8; Jer 15:10). After the Return, and later, this law was much neglected (Neh 5:7, 10).


The Mosaic law encouraged the practice of lending (Deut 15:7; Ps 37:26; Mat 5:42); but it forbade the exaction of interest except from foreigners. Usury was strongly condemned (Prov 28:8; Ezek 18:8, 13, 17; Ezek 22:12; Ps 15:5). On the Sabbatical year all pecuniary obligations were cancelled (Deut 15:1-11). These regulations prevented the accumulation of debt.


The Mosaic law required that when an Israelite needed to borrow, what he asked was to be freely lent to him, and no interest was to be charged, although interest might be taken of a foreigner (Ex 22:25; Deut 23:19, 20; Lev 25:35-38). At the end of seven years all debts were remitted. Of a foreigner the loan might, however, be exacted. At a later period of the Hebrew commonwealth, when commerce increased, the practice of exacting usury or interest on loans, and of suretiship in the commercial sense, grew up. Yet the exaction of it from a Hebrew was regarded as discreditable (Ps 15:5; Prov 6:1, 4; Prov 11:15; Prov 17:18; Prov 20:16; Prov 27:13; Jer 15:10).

Limitations are prescribed by the law to the taking of a pledge from the borrower. The outer garment in which a man slept at night, if taken in pledge, was to be returned before sunset (Ex 22:26, 27; Deut 24:12, 13). A widow's garment (Deut 24:17) and a millstone (6) could not be taken. A creditor could not enter the house to reclaim a pledge, but must remain outside till the borrower brought it (Ex 10, Ex 11). The Hebrew debtor could not be retained in bondage longer than the seventh year, or at farthest the year of jubilee (Ex 21:2; Lev 25:39, 42), but foreign sojourners were to be "bondmen for ever" (Lev 25:44-54).
Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828
U'SURY, noun s as z. [Latin usura, from utor, to use.]

1. Formerly, interest; or a premium paid or stipulated to be paid for the use of money.
[Usury formerly denoted any legal interest, but in this sense, the word is no longer in use.]

2. In present usage, illegal interest; a premium or compensation paid or stipulated to be paid for the use of money borrowed or retained, beyond the rate of interest established by law.

3. The practice of taking interest. obsolete
Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1856
USURY, contracts.

1. The illegal profit which is required and received by the lender of a sum of money from the borrower for its use. In a more extended and improper sense, it is the receipt of any profit whatever for the use of money: it is only in the first of these senses that usury will be here considered.

2. To constitute a usurious contract the following are the requisites: 1. A loan express or implied. 2. An agreement that the money lent shall be returned at all events. 3. Not only that the money lent shall be returned, but that for such loan a greater interest than that fixed by law shall be paid.

3. 1. There must be a loan in contemplation of the parties; 7 Pet. S. C. Rep. 109, 1 Clarke R. 252; and if there be a loan, however disguised, the contract will be usurious, if it be so in other respects. Where a loan was made of depreciated bank notes to be repaid in sound funds, to enable the borrower to pay a debt he owed dollar for dollar, it was considered as not being usur ious. 1 Meigs, R. 585. The bona fide sale of a note, bond or other security at a greater discount than would amount to legal interest, is not per se, a loan, although the note may be endorsed by the seller, and he remains responsible. 9 Pet. S. C. Rep. 103; 1 Clarke, R. 30. But, if a note, bond; or other security be made with a view to evade the laws of usury, and afterwards sold for a less amount than the interest, the transaction will be considered a loan; 2 Johns. Cas. 60; 3 Johns. Cas. 66; 15 Johns. R. 44 2 Dall. 92; 12 Serg. & Rawle, 46 and a sale of a man's own note, endorsed by himself, will, be considered a loan. lt is a general rule that a contract, which, in its inception, is unaffected by usury, can never be invalidated by any subsequent usurious transaction. 7 Pet. S. C. Rep. 109. On the contrary, when the contract was originally usurious, and there is a substitution by a new contract, the latter will generally be considered usurious. 15 Mass. R. 96.

4. 2. There must be a contract for the return of the money at all events; for if the return of the principal with interest, or of the principal only, depend upon a contingency, there can be no usury; but if the contingency extend only to interest, and the principal be beyond the reach of hazard, the lender will be guilty of usury, if he received interest beyond the amount allowed by law. As the principal is put to hazard in insurances, annuities and bottomry, the parties may charge and receive greater interest than is allowed by law in common cases, and the transaction will not be usurious.

5. 3. To constitute usury the borrower must not only be obliged to return the principal at all events, but more than lawful interest: this part of the agreement must be made with full consent and knowledge of the contracting parties. 3 Bos. & Pull, 154. When the contract is made in a foreign country the rate of interest allowed by the laws of that country may be charged, and it will not be usurious, although greater than the amount fixed by law in this. Story, Confl. of Laws, §292.
Maxim from Bouvier’s
Usury is odious in law.

Black’s Law Dictionary, 1st edition, 1891
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The Century Dictionary, an Encyclopedic Lexicon of the English Language, 1895
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Anti-Thought Control Dictionary, Ben Williams

CONTROLLED MEANING: Excessive interest on money lent: i.e.. a higher rate of interest than allowed by local statute. If no limits are set by statute, there can be no usury because interest is legal no matter how high it goes.

TRUE MEANING: Exorbitant profit on anything (Dt 23:19). Usury is strictly forbidden by God's law. Any interest or increase exacted by a lender from a borrower as the price of a loan is usury and is condemned by Scripture (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:35; Deuteronomy 23:19). Jesus taught that usury is theft (Matthew 25:26-27).
Price gouging is usury. Over-charging for anything is usury. Interest (rent) charged for use of money is usury because it is exorbitant, for money is non-productive, nor is it devalued by age or use, and therefore cannot be rented like a house or a piece of equipment.

As money changes hands, it changes owners. Like wine or bread, money is used up (extinguished) in its use. Unlike a house or equipment, it cannot be returned in the same manner given, any more than the wine and bread can be used and then returned. As with the use of wine or bread, the former owner of money cannot charge for use of the money he no longer owns.

"He who takes usury for a loan of money acts unjustly for he sells what does not exist . . ." (Aristotle)

Through usury, the rich permanently rule the poor, enslave them, gain possession of all their property and thus control nations.

"The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." — Proverbs 22:7

In societies where usury is not prohibited, and debt continues from generation to generation, family inheritances are all eventually lost to the bankers.

In the Scriptures, "usury" is translated from:
1. HEBREW "naskak": A sting (as a serpent): interest on a debt.
2. GREEK "tokos": interest on money loaned.

CONTROLLED MEANING: A means to facilitate commerce through credit. The borrower is benefited in that he gets to buy the item/s sooner than if he waited until he could afford to pay cash. The seller is benefited in that the item/s sell faster since they can be purchased now, and financed by the bank.

ACTUAL MEANING: Liability or obligation created by borrowing.

"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender." — Proverbs 22:7

Debtors are slaves to the lenders. This is exacerbated even further by the practice of usury. Lenders become richer, and borrowers become poorer.

Bankers have perfected a method of perpetuating debt, thus perpetuating their rule over the common people. That method is called "usury." Usury prevents debts from ever being settled, thus the people are kept forever in debt to the bankers.

The Babylonian/Jewish-style banking system turns lending into a tool to benefit the lender. Scripturally, lending is supposed to be an act of kindness ... to benefit the needy — not a usurious scheme to benefit an enterprising lender. Jews have historically been the premier money lenders and usurers due to the fact that they ignore Bible law and reject Christian ethics.

Scripture prohibits the practice of lending or borrowing for profit or business investment. Rather, biblical lending is a means to help a brother in need. God's law forbids a lender from oppressing a debtor to collect a debt. His law further declares that six years is the limit any debt may exist. A godly lender must be ready to forgive any debt that the borrower cannot afford to pay back, or which extends beyond "the year of release."

CONTROLLED MEANING: A grant of temporary use of something, especially money at interest. Loaning money at interest serves both lender and borrower in that the lender makes profit on the loan, and the borrower is furnished with working capital.

TRUE MEANING: Loaning money is the most common way of enslaving men. Loans at usury are the most efficient way to turn temporary slavery into permanent slavery … since the usury can never be fully paid.

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." Proverbs 22:7

Interest charged on loans of money is usury and God forbids it among brethren. In the Bible, loans among brethren were considered acts of mercy, not investments or opportunities to profit.

"If your brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with you, then you shall relieve him; ... Take you no usury of him, or increase: but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not give him your money upon usury, nor lend him your victuals for increase" (Lev. 25:35-37).

Usury is theft, and putting out money at usury is an act of war lawful only against enemies worthy of death.

"You shall not charge usury to your brother; ... Unto a stranger (an enemy) you may charge usury, ..." (Deut. 23:19-20).

In Deut. 24:10-15 and Luke 6:34-35 we are taught that when we make a loan to a brother our motive must be to aid him, and that we must be prepared to forgive the debt if he cannot pay it back.

CONTROLLED MEANING: Lawful enforcement of a defaulted contract. A lender's right to claim the property on which he holds the mortgage.

CORRECT DEFINITION: Confiscation of property through deceit, fraud and artifice. Money-lending (fractional usury-banking) is a criminal artifice of con-men. It is dishonest and unethical. Bible Law clearly prohibits lending at usury except to enemies – a prohibition recognized by Christian society for hundreds of years. Borrowing at usury and placing your property in mortgage is like playing cards with the deck stacked and you lose every time. "Mortgaged property" is "lost property." Bankers, like card sharks, know how the game works. Lending at usury guarantees riches for the lender and slavery for the borrower.

Usurers prefer Christians as borrowers because Christians usually try to be honest and make every effort to pay the mortgage, although it is ultimately impossible. Usury, unlike the principal, cannot be repaid because it was never issued into existence in the first place. If it doesn't exist, it cannot be found. If it cannot be found, it cannot be paid. Only the principal can be repaid. Nonetheless, Christians always feel guilty for being unable to do the impossible and pay the usurer. The result is that they peacefully hand over their family farms, homes, cars and other personal property whenever the banker demands them. "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the tender." Proverbs 22:7
Ezra Pound:
The phase of the usury system which we are trying to analyze is more or less Patterson's perception that the Bank of England could have benefit of all the interest on all the money that it creates out of nothing. ... Now the American citizen can, of course, appeal to his constitution, which states that Congress shall have power to coin money or regulate the value thereof and of foreign coin. Such appeal is perhaps quixotic.
Marcus Tullius Cicero:
We are taxed in our bread and our wine, in our incomes and our investments, on our land and on our property not only for base creatures who do not deserve the name of men, but for foreign nations, complaisant nations who will bow to us and accept our largesse and promise us to assist in the keeping of the peace - these mendicant nations who will destroy us when we show a moment of weakness or our treasury is bare, and surely it is becoming bare! We are taxed to maintain legions on their soil, in the name of law and order and the Pax Romana, a document which will fall into dust when it pleases our allies and our vassals. We keep them in precarious balance only with our gold. Is the heartblood of our nation worth these? Were they bound to us with ties of love, they would not ask our gold. They take our very flesh, and they hate and despise us. And who shall say we are worthy of more? ... When a government becomes powerful it is destructive, extravagant and violent; it is an usurer which takes bread from innocent mouths and deprives honorable men of their substance, for votes with which to perpetuate itself.
Thomas A. Edison:
If the Nation can issue a dollar bond it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good also. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money broker collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20%. Whereas the currency, the honest sort provided by the Constitution pays nobody but those who contribute in some useful way. It is absurd to say our Country can issue bonds and cannot issue currency. Both are promises to pay, but one fattens the usurer and the other helps the People.
The trade of the petty usurer is hated with most reason: it makes a profit from currency itself, instead of making it from the process which currency was meant to serve. Their common characteristic is obviously their sordid avarice.
William Lyon Mackenzie King:
Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes the nations laws. Usury, once in control, will wreck any nation. Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of parliament and of democracy is idle and futile.
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Re: Usury

Post by notmartha » Sun Sep 11, 2016 11:40 am

Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States, vol. 3, John Joseph Lalor, 1881
USURY. When every one produced nearly everything that he consumed, and commerce consisted in almost accidental exchange, loaning was only a friendly service or charitable act. Morality or religion might then have justly branded the greedy man who made a vile use of the distress of his neighbor. But the relations of men to one another increased, and became complicated; in one way or another capital came into existence. Here, a conqueror took violent
possession of lands, houses and animals; there, a pirate came to shore loaded with booty; elsewhere, wealth was accumulated by labor and saving. The surplus thus acquired (whether rightly or wrongly) was transformed into capital by the employment which was made of it. For, it is the use for which an object is intended which constitutes it capital. By the force of things the remunerated loan gradually lost part of the reprobation which attached to it, and interest was enabled to establish itself, but not without a struggle. Unfortunately, capital long remained a monopoly, and the loaning of it was necessarily dear, and all the dearer since loans were made in the beginning less by industry than by luxury and dissipation. The capitalist drew from his possessions all that he could; this he had a right to do, a right which, doubtless, he sometimes abused. Hence governments, having been long accustomed to look upon subjects as minors, believed themselves obliged to fix the rate of interest. Since then times have changed; labor has become more general; the sciences have pointed out the means of increasing its products by rendering it more efficient; wealth has accumulated in the hands of many; there is competition among lenders; and now luxury is scarcely ever, and industry almost always, the borrower: yet in certain countries prejudice has preserved a restrictive legislation. This is much to be regretted. The hiring of capital differs in nothing from that of any other object; and its price, too, depends on the action of demand and supply, as do the prices of all objects. In this world all abundant things are cheap, and all rare things dear. Human laws are powerless to modify this natural law, to which we may apply the words, dura lex, sed lex.

—Restrictive laws on the subject of usury can only aggravate the evil which they propose to prevent. Interest is composed of at least two elements: 1, the remuneration of the service rendered by the loan (or, which is the same thing, the compensation which the lender imposes on himself); and 2, insurance against the risk of loss. Solvent and honest borrowers may, by a combination of unfavorable circumstances, find it impossible to return the principal. There are times in which these circumstances become frequent; and if the law prevents the capitalist from insuring himself against loss by his proportionately raising the rate of interest, one of two things will happen: either the capitalist will abstain from giving credit, or he will raise the rate of interest by the addition of a third element, insurance against the risk of punishment.

—A pretense is made to justify the limitation of the rate of interest, by the obligation of protecting the needy person who borrows. Many objections to this immediately present themselves to the mind. 1. If the borrower agrees to pay the price, the reason is that the service rendered him does not seem to him too dear; a man may borrow at 20 or 30 per cent. if he foresees that he can gain 40 per cent. 2. Is the case that of a spend-thrift? You can not prevent him from wasting his fortune; if he does not do it in one way, he will in another. 3. Why not put one's self at the lender's point of view also? If the return of the funds he loans seems to him more or less doubtful, why should he not have the right to cover his risk? 4. What difference is there between goods and money? and can not the former be sold legally at any price one wishes? 5. Lastly, admitting that some abuses are inevitable (and where is abuse wanting?), must we interfere with the use which is frequent, nay daily, to reach some abuses which are relatively rare? Are these abuses sufficient to warrant the putting of all those under the guardianship of the law, who for one reason or another desire to borrow? It is of general utility that trade in money should be as free as trade in merchandise; fraud alone should be punished. Moreover, to limit the rate of interest we should know what its normal rate is. But who can fix it? The legal rate is 5 per cent. In France, and 10 per cent. in Algeria. What is the legal rate in Turkey? What was the legal rate at Rome or during the middle ages?

—The arguments we have just given have not escaped legislators, and in many countries the crime of usury has been blotted from the penal code, and gradually it will be blotted from the penal codes of all countries.
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