BANK. In its modern form banking is of recent origin (seventeenth century a.d.), but banking of a primitive kind was known in ancient times among both Jews and Gentiles. Money was received on deposit, loaned out, exchanged for smaller denominations or for foreign money. Israelites were not permitted to charge each other interest (
BANK, BANKING (τράπεζα, G5544, bench, table,
During the Rom. empire in NT times the bank became prominent among the people of Pal. The banker’s bench or shop stood beside those of bakers, butchers, and fish vendors.
Jesus makes frequent references to the subject: “You ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest” (
Most bankers, however, got into the banking business through moneychanging which was necessary in any city which used coins from other countries. In Israel much foreign currency was changed into the “shekel” for the temple tax. The great confusion of money systems in the ancient world allowed bankers to make easy profits which later were placed into loans and investments at high interest rates. Bankers (often called usurers) were generally wealthy people who would lend others money for mortgages, purchases, and emergencies. Interest rates were very high, generally between twelve and twenty percent. In times of high inflation interest rates in Rome and Athens reached as high as forty-eight percent.
In wealthy merchant centers in the Rom. world, one found many complex banking establishments. One could make deposits and make arrangements for foreign exchanges. Payment was authorized by a MS check. Bills could be drawn on a bank in one city and payment made in another, thus avoiding theft and robbery during travel. Bankers helped clients with investments and through foreign connections supplied travelers with what one might call a letter of credit today. The Jewish people became adept in the commercial enterprise. International loans were made by wealthy bankers in Israel and nearby cities. In fact, all the essential aspects of modern business are to be found in the old world of business 2,000 years ago. See TRADE, COMMERCE AND BUSINESS.
A. Bailey, Daily Life In Bible Times (1943), 218; F. H. Wright, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands (1953), 224; A. C. Bouquet, Everyday Life in Bible Times (1954), 133; S. Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews (1960), vols. I-IV, see I. 255, 261. IV. 197ff., 338ff.; H. Daniel-Rops, Daily Life in Palestine at the Time of Christ (1962), 153, 249-251.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(1) (saphah, "lip," "edge"): "By the bank of the Jordan" (
(2) (gadhah, "cuttings"): Always of banks overflowed (
(5) (charax, "a stake," "entrenchment"): "Thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee" (
(6) BANK; BANKING (which see).
M. O. Evans
2. Banking among the Ancient Hebrews:
(1) The Hebrew money-changer, like his modern Syrian counterpart, the saraf (see PEFS, 1904, 49 ff, where the complexity of exchange in Palestine today is graphically described), changed the large coins current into those of smaller denominations, e.g. giving denarii for tetradrachms, or silver for gold, or copper for silver.
(2) But no mean part of his business was the exchanging of foreign money, and even the money of the country of a non- Phoenician standard, for shekels and half-shekels on this standard, the latter being accepted only in payment of the temple dues (see Money). The "money-changers" of
(3) "Usury" inof the Bible is simply Old English for what we today call "interest," i.e. the sum paid for the use of money, Latin usura; and "interest" should take the place of it in all passages in the and , where it has such significance.
3. Banking in New Testament Times:
The Greek word rendered (tokos), "usury" in the New Testament (see
(1) In Christ’s time, and immediately following, there was great need for money-changers and money-changing, especially on the part of foreign Jews whom custom forbade to put any but Jewish coins into the temple treasury (see
(2) The language of
4. Interpretations, Figurative Uses, etc.:
(1) In Christ’s parable (
(2) Then some have thought that Christ was here pointing to prayer as a substitute for good works, when the disciple was unable to do such. Such views seem far-fetched and unnecessary (compare Bruce, Parabolic Teaching of Christ, 209 f).
(3) The "money-changers," then as now, had ever to be on guard against false money, which gives point to the oft-quoted extra-scriptural saying (agraphon) of Jesus to His disciples: "Be ye expert money-changers" (Greek ginesthai trapezitai dokimoi; see Origen, in Joam, XIX), which was taken (Clem., Hom.,. III, 61) to mean, "Be skillful in distinguishing true doctrine from false" (HDB, 1-vol).
George B. Eager