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In the parable of the Talents, the master criticized the one who hid underground the one talent he received saying, “Then you should have deposited my money in the bank, and you would have given it back to me with interest on my return” (Mt 25:27).

The practice of moneylending that existed in the Roman Empire during Jesus’ lifetime was a system introduced by the Phoenicians, and which was very unlike the modern banking system. The moneylenders provided depositors with a low interest rate and redistributed the money by giving out loans at a high rate of interest or investing the money in trading.

According to Jewish law, it was illegal to receive interest from their own people. However, they could charge it from non-Jews. “You shall not demand interest from your kindred on a loan of money or of food or of anything else which is loaned. From a foreigner you may demand interest” (Deut 23:20-21).


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