Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Hand. That is, he that is hearty and bountiful in lending to his neighbour in his necessity. (Challoner) — Fœnus, in this book means simply “lending.” (Rondet.) — This is a work of mercy, and a sort of alms. Justice requires that the thing should be restored, and if any refuse on purpose, he is as bad as a thief. (Worthington) — He who lends will receive usury from the Lord, Proverbs xix. 17., and Psalm xxxvi. 21. — In hand. Rich.
Ver. 2. Time. The neglect of this causes many to be unwilling to lend. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Hands. Like slaves. (Macrobius 1.) — Others kissed the face, neck, &c., Acts xx. 37.
Ver. 7. Found it. Seeming to make thee partaker of his good fortune, (Jansenius) or he will keep the other half as his own. (Grotius)
Ver. 9. Injuries. Thus one loses both money and friends. Must we then never lend? If the person be poor, we must be ready to give. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. And delay. Or literally, “and for an alms, drag him not along.” (Haydock) — Let not the fraud of many deter thee from assisting the poor, for the sake of God and justice. (Calmet) — Si fraudaris pecuniâ acquiris justitiam. (St. Ambrose, Tob. iii. n. 11.)
Ver. 12. Commandment. Deuteronomy xv. 7. Else where is your merit?
Ver. 13. Friend. He is entitled to partake of all thy goods. If he be only thy fellow-creature, assist him; and God will reward thee, Matthew vi. 19.
Ver. 15. Heart. Greek, “thy store-houses,” the poor. (Calmet) — I never read that one who was liberal to the poor came to an evil death, as he has so many to intercede for him, whose prayers must be heard. (St. Jerome, ad Nepot.) — Works of mercy produce the best fruits. (Worthington)
Ver. 18. Himself. Yet he will not engage his word for more than he can pay, (ver. 27., and chap. viii. 16.) nor encourage the negligence of debtors, Proverbs vi. 1.
Ver. 19. Life. Or his subsistence, (chap. xix. 28.) though some answered for the person of another, 3 Kings xx. 39.
Ver. 20. And. Greek, “will turn away the goods of his surety, (21.) and the ungrateful in mind will abandon his redeemer.” (Haydock) — “All hate the ungrateful,” (Cicero, off. ii.) and the Persians punished such with death. (Xenophon, Cyr. i.) — Him. Greek subjoins ver. 23. (Haydock)
Ver. 23. Estate, (dirigentes) whose affairs were prosperous. (Menochius) — Hence Solomon dissuades any rash engagements.
Ver. 25. Things. Tax-gatherers may deserve to fall into this misery. (Calmet)
Ver. 26. Not. Prudence requires that we should not ruin ourselves to help others. (Worthington)
Ver. 27. Shame. Clothing is like a portable house. (Grotius) — Man stands in need of little, and those who are content will not need to borrow, ver. 29.
Ver. 31. Shall. Or “has formerly entertained” those, who now reproach him, make him serve in the meanest offices, and at last cast him forth. It may also signify that people who receive ungrateful vagabonds, will be required to serve them, and had better keep them out, ver. 33. (Calmet) — Greek, “thou shalt entertain and give drink to the most disagreeable things.” (Haydock)
Ver. 32. Others. Greek, “me.” (Menochius) — Travellers carried their provisions with them. (Calmet)
Ver. 33. Give. Greek, “depart, stranger, from the face of glory; for,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 34. Lender. Who demands his money, and upbraids his debtor. (Menochius)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Of charity in lending money, and justice in repaying. Of alms, and of being surety.
1 He that sheweth mercy, lendeth to his neighbour: and he that is stronger in hand keepeth the commandments.
2 Lend to thy neighbour in the time of his need, and pay thou thy neighbour again in due time.
3 Keep thy word, and deal faithfully with him: and thou shalt always find that which is necessary for thee.
4 Many have looked upon a thing lent as a thing found, and have given trouble to them that helped them.
5 Till they receive, they kiss the hands of the lender, and in promises they humble their voice:
6 But when they should repay, they will ask time, and will return tedious and murmuring words, and will complain of the time:
7 And if he be able to pay, he will stand off, he will scarce pay one half, and will count it as if he had found it.
8 But if not, he will defraud him of his money, and he shall get him for an enemy without cause:
9 And he will pay him with reproaches and curses, and instead of honour and good turn will repay him injuries.
10 Many have refused to lend, not out of wickedness, but they were afraid to be defrauded without cause.
11 But yet towards the poor be thou more hearty, and delay not to shew him mercy.
12 Help the poor because of the commandment: and send him not away empty-handed because of his poverty.
13 Lose thy money for thy brother and thy friend: and hide it not under a stone to be lost.
14 *Place thy treasure in the commandments of the most High, and it shall bring thee more profit than gold.
15 Shut up alms in the heart of the poor, and it shall obtain help for thee against all evil.
16 Better than the shield of the mighty, and better than the spear:
17 It shall fight for thee against thy enemy.
18 A good man is surety for his neighbour: and he that hath lost shame will leave him to himself.
19 Forget not the kindness of thy surety: for he hath given his life for thee.
20 The sinner and the unclean fleeth from his surety.
21 A sinner attributeth to himself the goods of his surety: and he that is of an unthankful mind will leave him that delivered him.
22 A man is surety for his neighbour: and when he hath lost all shame, he shall forsake him.
23 Evil suretyship hath undone many of good estate, and hath tossed them as a wave of the sea.
24 It hath made powerful men to go from place to place round about, and they have wandered in strange countries.
25 A sinner that transgresseth the commandment of the Lord shall fall into an evil suretyship: and he that undertaketh many things shall fall into judgment.
26 Recover thy neighbour according to thy power, and take heed to thyself that thou fall not.
27 The chief thing for man’s life is water and bread, and clothing, and a house to cover shame.
28 *Better is the poor man’s fare under a roof of boards, than sumptuous cheer abroad in another man’s house.
29 Be contented with little instead of much, and thou shalt not hear the reproach of going abroad.
30 It is a miserable life to go as a guest from house to house: for where a man is a stranger, he shall not deal confidently, nor open his mouth.
31 He shall entertain, and feed, and give drink to the unthankful, and moreover he shall hear bitter words.
32 Go, stranger, and furnish the table, and give others to eat what thou hast in thy hand.
33 Give place to the honourable presence of my friends: for I want my house, my brother being to be lodged with me.
34 These things are grievous to a man of understanding: the upbraiding of house-room, and the reproaching of the lender.
14: Tobias iv. 10.; Ecclesiasticus xvii. 18.
28: Ecclesiasticus xxxix. 31.