1. In the Old Testament:
The Hebrew law concerning exaction of interest upon loans was very humane. Hebrews were to lend to their brethren without interest (Ex 22:25; Le 25:36 f; De 23:19 f). This, however, did not apply to a stranger (De 23:20). Two stems are used in the Old Testament, rendered in the King James Version "usury," in the Revised Version (British and American) better rendered "interest": (1) verb nashah (Ex 22:25; Isa 24:2; Jer 15:10), and the noun form, mashsha' (Ne 5:7,10); (2) a stronger and more picturesque word, nashakh, "to bite," "to vex," and so "to lend on interest" (De 23:19-20); noun form neshekh (Ex 22:25; Le 25:36 f; Ps 15:5; Pr 28:8; Eze 18:8,13,17; 22:12). It would be easy to go from a fair rate of interest to an unfair rate, as seen in the history of the word "usury," which has come to mean an exorbitant or unlawful interest. Abuses arose during the exile. Nehemiah forced the people after the return to-give back exactions of "one hundredth," or 1 percent monthly which they took from their brethren (Ne 5:10 f; compare Eze 22:12). A good citizen of Zion is one who did not put out his money to usury (Ps 15:5). One who is guilty of this comes to disaster (Pr 28:8).
2. In the New Testament:
The Greek word is tokos, literally, "offspring," interest springing out of the principal. Money lenders were numerous among the Jews in Christ's day, and, in the parable of the Talents, He represents the lord of the unprofitable servant as rebuking the sloth in the words, "I should have received mine own with interest" (Mt 25:27; Lu 19:23 the Revised Version (British and American)).
Edward Bagby Pollard