Did God forbid the Jews to loan money?

Could you throw any light on the apparent contradictions between the 12th and the 44th verses of Deuteronomy 28:12, 14? We often hear the former quoted in support of the Jews being money-lenders down the course of time. The position in verse is in exactly the opposite order from that of verse 12.

That is so. In verse 12 we read: “Thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow,” and in verse : “He (i.e. the stranger that is within thee) shall lend to thee and thou shalt not lend to him.” The positions are reversed, because the conditions are altered. In verse 12, Moses is enumerating the blessings which will accrue to Israel upon obedience, and though the obedience of the nation was very far from perfect, yet for the sake of the godly, and especially of the Messiah, God did accord them a measure of prosperity, though whether we ever hear of Israel actually lending “to many nations,” I very much doubt. But in verse 44 (beginning back from verse 15) Moses is enumerating the disabilities—the cursings on those who disobey, and these have been terribly realised in the great majority of the people. The idea that all Jews are wealthy is a superficial one. Many have accumulated wealth, it is true, in countries like our own and the United States, where they live and carry on business on equal terms with others. In many lands, however, they are hampered and handicapped, with the result that the mass of Jews at the present day are very far from being able to lend, and are reduced to living on a very low scale, on the debtor rather than on the creditor side, if ever the latter. Verse I2 is, moreover, national; verse , individual. I think when above considerations are weighed, even the appearance of a contradiction disappears.

W.H.