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During Bible History, a pledge was an actual item of property held by a creditor until payment was made (the modern-day equivalent term for that usage of pledge is collateral, or guarantee). The English word pledge is used to translate a number of words of the Scriptures, such as (in Hebrew pronounced as) ar-aw-bone, meaning a pawn, (in Hebrew pronounced as) kaw-bawl, meaning to bind, and (in Hebrew pronounced as) ab-ote, meaning a deposited security.


Holy Bible One of the earliest Biblical references to pledges involved a "business" transaction between the widower Judah (Genesis 38:12) and his widowed daughter-in-law Tamar (Genesis 38:11):

"He answered, "I will send you a kid from the flock." And she said, "Will you give me a pledge, till you send it?" He said, "What pledge shall I give you?" She replied, "Your signet and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand." So he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him" (Genesis 38:17-18 RSV)

Pledges sometimes took the form of human hostages:

"if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined in your prison, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households, and bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die." (Genesis 42:19-20 RSV)

In the ancient world of business, pledges were quite common. The difference among God's people however was that God commanded compassion for the poor:

"If ever you take your neighbor's garment in pledge, you shall restore it to him before the sun goes down; for that is his only covering, it is his mantle for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate." (Exodus 22:26-27 RSV)

"No man shall take a mill or an upper millstone in pledge; for he would be taking a life in pledge." (Deuteronomy 24:6 RSV)

"When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not go into his house to fetch his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep in his pledge; when the sun goes down, you shall restore to him the pledge that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before The Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 24:10-13 RSV)

Fact Finder: Is the Holy Spirit in Believers a "deposit" or "guarantee" of eternal inheritance?
Ephesians 1:13-14

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