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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(usually some form of חָבִל, chabda, to bind as by a chattel mortgage; occasionally forms of עָבִט, abdt, to exchange, and עָרִב, ardb, to give security; Talmud, מַשְׁכּוֹן ), in a legal sense, an assurance given as security by a debtor to his creditor, which is alluded to in the Mosaic books in several instances. Thus

1. The creditor was not permitted to go to the house of his debtor to take his pledge, but must receive it before the door (Deuteronomy 24:10 sq.). The reason of this requirement and its merciful object are obvious.

2. The articles which were forbidden to be taken in pledge were,

(a) the raiment or outer garment (Exodus 22:26 sq.; Deuteronomy 24:10 sq., but see below), because this served the poor also as a covering by night for the bed;

(b) the hand mill (q.v.; Exodus 24:6. Comp. Mishna, Baba Mez. 9, 13). But notwithstanding these merciful provisions of the law, hard- hearted creditors were found among the Israelites who oppressed their debtors by taking pledges (Proverbs 20:16; Proverbs 27:13; Ezekiel 18:12; Ezekiel 33:15; Habakkuk 2:6; comp. Job 22:6; Job 24:3). See Delitzsch, ad loc., and especially Michaelis, Aos. Recht, 3, 61 sq. The custom of giving pledges prevailed extensively in the ages succeeding the exile, from the fact that by the decisions of the scribes all Jews were prohibited from making any payments on the Sabbath; hence he who would make a purchase on that day left some pledge with the seller (see Mishna, Shab. 23, 1), as his outer garment, to be redeemed by payment the next day. The taking of pledges is still further restricted by the Talmud (Baba Mez. 9, 13). A pledging of land, mortgaging, appears first in the Talmud (Mishna, Shebiith, 10, 6). However, the legal transfer of land under the Mosaic economy was properly but a pledging; for it could at any time be redeemed, and in the year of Jubilee it returned without repayment to the original owner. Pawning of personal property for debt, however, was a very ancient custom (Genesis 38:17 sq.). Personal guarantees of faith. pledges, or hostages, are mentioned (2 Kings 14:14, בְּנֵי תִּעִרֻרוֹת ). The general abhorrence of the usurer, and of his taking pledges, among the Arabs of the present day, is often mentioned by travelers. Mohammed entirely forbids all lending on interest, and the Mosaic precepts (comp. Exodus 22:25-27) are generally so understood in the East. Yet nothing is more common there than exorbitant usury, and the taking of pledges (Thomson, Land and Book, 1, 499 sq.). (See LOAN).

PLEDGE is something given in hand as a security for the fulfillment of a contract or the performance of a promise. When a man of veracity pledges his word, his affirmation becomes an assurance that he will fulfill what he has promised. But as the word of every man is not equally valid in matters of importance, it becomes necessary that a valuable article of some kind should be deposited as a bond for fulfillment on his part. In the Protestant Episcopal Church Catechism a sacrament is defined as ";an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us; ordained by Christ himself, as a Ineans whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof;" in which the pledge is the token that we receive the grace.

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Pledge'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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