An Addition in Exodus 22:25-27: Part 1

Source: Michael Fishbane’s Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (New York: Oxford, 1988) 174.

Exodus 22:25-27 states:

“25 If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them.
“26 If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down;
“27 for it may be your neighbor’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate” (NRSV).

According to Fishbane, the phrase “you shall not exact interest from them” is a secondary, later addition, which was intended to clarify what a creditor does. One reason he feels this way is that this phrase has a second person plural verb, whereas the surrounding phrases use verbs in the second person singular.

He may have a point here. And this is a significant criterion he uses to identify glosses or additions: does something stand out or appear awkward?

At the same time, is it inconceivable that a single author could have written all of it? He’s speaking to each person in the community, which may explain the second person singulars, but he’s also exhorting a bunch of people. Also, why wouldn’t a single author want to clarify what he said? Single authors can be redundant. But I guess that’s a personal judgment call!

Tomorrow, we’ll look at another argument Fishbane gives for v25b being a secondary addition.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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