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Protection for Livelihood

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Protection for Livelihood

Debt could not be used to deprive one of his means of work.

Deuteronomy 24:6

“No one shall take a mill or an upper millstone in pledge, for that would be taking a life in pledge.”

Taking someone’s livelihood in pledge for a loan was absolutely forbidden. It is part of being in the image of God for men to work; thus, no one could deprive another of his vocation and means of support without, at the same time, assaulting his dignity as the image-bearer of God.

Loans were not encouraged, but, of course, they were necessary from time to time. With the loan came the pledge, usually a physical token given to the lender as a declaration of intent to repay. But that pledge could not be of the sort that jeopardized a man’s ability to provide for himself and his family or to repay his pledge, or that compromised his dignity as the image-bearer of God. Nor, if he was a Hebrew, could interest be fixed to the loan (although there is a debate about whether the issue is interest or inordinate interest, that is, usury).

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In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T. M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).

Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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