I have three serious historical questions for which my smart, wise friends may have answers. Here goes:
1. Does the Hebrew Bible, and in particular the Torah, state a prohibition against lending out money at interest? Or, more generally, was lending out money at interest generally prohibited or frowned upon in ancient Israel and Palestine?
2. If the answer(s) to the above is/are “yes,” was lending out money at interest a prevalent practice in ancient Israel and Palestine nonetheless (that we can know)?
3. When did lending of money at interest start to become a widely accepted practice in Europe?
I have a vague version of history in my head that goes like this: For most of human history, and in most places, lending out money at interest was prohibited or considered morally suspect, since it encourages idleness and accelerates concentration of wealth. The modern era in Europe, however, reinforced the notion that lending at interest was morally neutral and sometimes morally praiseworthy.
My problem is that I don’t know how much of my vague version of history is, y’know, true.
Who can help out here? Please comment!