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The cost of idolatry, giving tithes and other rules: Deuteronomy 13–16:17

It’s hard to imagine a whole society with a culture that works like this:

Deuteronomy 15:1-2 At the end of every seventh year you must cancel the debts of everyone who owes you money. This is how it must be done. Everyone must cancel the loans they have made to their fellow Israelites. They must not demand payment from their neighbors or relatives, for the Lord’s time of release has arrived.

Any Israelite who’d become a slave was to be released, too.

What would a society like this look like?

It would make predatory lending practices less profitable, and perhaps they wouldn’t be worth it in the long run. What sort of loan shark can run his ‘business’ if his main asset (people’s debt) is erased every seven years?

It would encourage microloans (as we now call them), which have been shown to be a valuable community development tool.

It could encourage a few who would take advantage of being able to borrow money with impunity. But they’ll only do it once, if that. In a small, rural community, everyone would know everyone else; and people who borrow with no intention of paying back the loan would already be known for their character.

There would be a risk of the rich refusing to lend money towards the end of each seven years, but God warned against such an attitude:

Deuteronomy 15:7-9 But if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them. Instead, be generous and lend them whatever they need. Do not be mean-spirited and refuse someone a loan because the year for canceling debts is close at hand. If you refuse to make the loan and the needy person cries out to the Lord, you will be considered guilty of sin.