XVII. (71) And Moses thinks the number seven worthy of such reverence that even all other things which at all partake of it are honoured by him; at all events, on every seventh year he ordains a remission of debts, assisting the poor, and inviting the rich to humanity; {10}{#de 15:1.} that so they, from their abundance, giving to those that are in want, may also look forward to receiving services from them in the case of any disaster happening to them. For the accidents of human life are numerous, and life is not always anchored on the same bottom, but is apt to change like the fickle wind which blows in different directions at different times. (72) It is well, therefore, that the kindness shown by the creditors should extend to all the debtors. But since all men are not naturally inclined to magnanimity, but some men are the slaves of money, or perhaps not very rich, the law has appointed that they should contribute what will not inconvenience them when parted with. (73) For while it does not permit them to lend on usury to their fellow countrymen, it has allowed them to receive interest from foreigners; calling the former, with great felicity of expression, their brothers, in order to prevent any one’s grudging to give of his possessions to those who are as if by nature joint inheritors with themselves; but those who are not their fellow countrymen are called strangers, as is very natural. For the being a stranger shows that a person has no right to a participation in any thing, unless, indeed, any one out of an excess of virtue should treat even those in the conditions of strangers as kindred and related, from having been bred up under a virtuous state of things, and under virtuous laws which look upon what is virtuous alone as good. (74) But the action of lending on usury is blameable; for a man who lends on usury has not abundant means of living, but is clearly in some want; and he does so as being compelled to add the interest to his principal in order to subsist, and so he at last becomes of necessity very poor; and while he thinks that he is deriving advantage he is in reality injured, just as foolish animals are when they are deceived by a present bait. (75) But I should say to such persons, “O you who lend on usury, why do you seek to disguise your unsociable disposition by an apparent pretence of good fellowship? And why do you in words, indeed, pretend to be a humane and considerate person, while in your actions you exhibit a want of humanity and a terrible hardness of heart, exacting more than you gave, and sometimes even doubling your original loan, so as to make the poor man an absolute beggar? (76) Therefore no one sympathises with you in your distress, when, having endeavoured to obtain more, you fail to do so, and besides lose even what you had before. But, on the contrary, all men are glad of your misfortunes, calling you a usurer, and a skinflint, and all kinds of names like those, looking on you as one who lies in wait for human misfortunes, and who esteems the misfortunes of others his own prosperity.” (77) But, as some have said, wickedness is a most laborious thing; and he who lends on usury is blind, not seeing the time of repayment, in which he will scarcely, or perhaps not at all, receive the things which in his covetousness he had hoped to gain. (78) Let such a man pay the penalty of his avaricious disposition, not recovering back what he has expended, so as to make a gain of the misfortunes of men, deriving a revenue from unbecoming sources. But let the debtors be thought worthy of a humanity enjoined by the law, not paying back their loans and usurious interest upon them, but paying back merely the original sum lent. For again, at a proper season, they will give the same assistance to those who have aided them, requiting those who set the example of kindness with equal services.