Study the Torah with Academic Scholarship

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Suftaja and the Laws of Interest in a Post-Biblical Economy

The Torah’s prohibition against loaning money with interest addresses a culture of subsistence farmers. Later Jews devised halakhic loopholes to enable them to make use of credit instruments such as the suftaja and to participate in market economies.

Prof. Rabbi

Phil Lieberman



How Silver Was Used for Payment

Abraham purchases the cave of Machpelah for 400 silver shekels. Biblical phrases, archaeological finds, and chemical analysis come together to paint a portrait of how early trade using silver functioned before the invention of coins.

Tzilla Eshel



What Is Wrong with Charging Interest?

The Torah prohibits lending to poor people with interest. Why did Jewish law include business loans and how did this effect the law’s original purpose?


Michael L. Satlow



Is There a Consensus That a Census Causes a Plague?

Census is a necessary and standard procedure for governing. Indeed, the Bible contains numerous stories of censuses that are mundane and unproblematic. Only two texts suggest otherwise: Exodus 30, and 2 Samuel 24, a census by King David.


Shira Golani



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