Surety

SURETY. 1. In the phrase “of a surety” meaning “surely,” as the translation of various words (Gen.15.13; Gen.18.13; Gen.26.9; Acts.12.11, all kjv).

2. Also in the KJV relating to the giving of a pledge and a promise to give or do something if another fails; signified by “striking hands.” Thus Judah remained in prison as surety that Benjamin would come to Joseph (Gen.43.9). Becoming surety for either a foreigner or a neighbor is consistently condemned in Proverbs (Gen.6.1-Gen.6.5; Gen.11.15; Gen.17.18; Gen.20.16; 22:26; Gen.27.13) as imperiling the assets and the peace of mind of the surety. Job, unable to find any human being to give him the needed assurance, asks God to be his surety (Job.17.3). Jesus, by his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension became the surety for the performance of all the promises of God relating to salvation and assurance in the new and better covenant (Heb.7.22).——ER


SURETY (עָרַב, H6842, take on pledge, give in pledge, exchange; עֵרָבוֹן, H6860, a pledge; ἔγγυος, G1583, guarantor). A pledge or object in the possession of the debtor handed over to the creditor as a guarantee for his debt.

The RSV in one instance and the KJV several times uses this word as an Eng. auxiliary for the emphatic Heb. construction (e.g., Gen 15:13). Elsewhere the OT references are to a person becoming surety for another. In Biblical law, the surety is the person who when the debt matures, “intervenes” (Heb. ’arab), in favor of the insolvent debtor, and assumes responsibility for the payment of the debt, either by obtaining it from the debtor or by substituting himself for him (R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 172). The act of intervening was symbolized by “striking the hands,” that is, shaking hands (Job 17:3; Prov 6:1; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26; 27:13). One should not accordingly rashly give himself as surety without careful consideration of whether he can responsibly meet the obligation.

In the one NT reference (Heb 7:22) Jesus steps in as the “guarantor” of the promises of God made in the New Covenant. With His life, death, resurrection and ascension Jesus has become God’s guarantee that the salvation which was begun for us in Jesus’ death will necessarily be followed by its completion (Preisker, TDNT). See Debt, Debtor.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

shoor’-ti: This word is used in three different connections or groups:

(1) As a derivative of the word "sure" it means "of a certainty" or "surely."--In Ge 15:13 the infinitive absolute of the verb is used to give emphasis to the idea of the verb and is rendered "of a surety." In Ge 18:13 the Hebrew ’omnam is translated "of a surety." In Ge 26:9 ’akh is similarly rendered, and has the force of our "indeed." In Ac 12:11 alethos, is translated in the King James Version "of a surety," but better in the Revised Version (British and American) "of a truth."

(2) In the sense of security or pledge for a person.--This means that one person may become security for another, that such a one will do a certain thing at a time in the future. Judah was "surety" to his father Jacob that Benjamin would safely return from Egypt (Ge 43:9). He pledged his life that the younger brother would return safely. He tells Joseph (Ge 44:32) how he had become surety for Benjamin, and offers to become Joseph’s slave for the sake of his brother. Job says (Job 17:3), "Give now a pledge, be surety for me with thyself; who is there that will strike hands with me?" The striking of hands refers to the action or gesture by which the surety or pledge was publicly manifested and thus ratified. Job here beseeches God to become surety for him, to pledge him that some time in the future He will cause Job’s innocence to be made known and be acknowledged by God Himself. In Isa 38:14 Hezekiah says, "O Lord, I am oppressed, be thou my surety." He wishes God to give him a pledge of some kind, to go security for him in such a way that he will surely be saved out of his sickness and distress. Jesus is called "the surety (egguos) of a better covenant" (Heb 7:22). Jesus is the pledge or surety that through Him we may obtain the assurance and certainty that a more excellent covenant has been established by God, and are assured also of the truth of the promises connected with it.


See Debt; Pledge; SECURITY; STRIKE.