On the general subject, as a matter of law or precept, SEE LOAN.
In Ex 12:35, we are told that the Israelites, when on the point of their departure from Egypt, "borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment;" and it is added that "the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians." This was in pursuance of a divine command which had been given to them through Moses (Ex 3:22; Ex 11:2). This has suggested a difficulty, seeing that the Israelites had certainly no intention to return to Egypt, or to restore the valuables which they thus obtained from their Egyptian "neighbors." (See Justi, Ueber die den Egqptern von d. Israeliten bei ihrer Abreise abgeforderten Gerathe, Frkft. a. M. 1777; Danvill. Rev. Sept. 1864; Ev. Quar. Rev. [Gettysb.] Jan. 1865.) It is admitted that the general acceptation of the word here (hut not usually elsewhere) rendered borrow (שָׁאִל, shaal'), is to request or demand; although there are places (Ex 22:14; 1Sa 1:28; 2Ki 6:5) where borrowing is certainly denoted by it. Some therefore allege that the Israelites did not borrow the valuables, but demanded them of their Egyptian neighbors, as an indemnity for their services, and for the hard and bitter bondage which they had endured. But this does not appear to us to mend the matter much; for the Israelites had been public servants, rendering certain onerous services to the state, but not in personal bondage to individual Egyptians, whom nevertheless they, according to this account, mulcted of much valuable property in compensation for wrongs committed by the state. These individual Egyptians also were selected not with reference to their being implicated more than others in the wrong treatment of the Israelites: they were those who happened to be their " neighbors," and, as such, open more than others to the exaction. Hence we incline to the interpretation (Clarke, Comment. on Ex 3:22) that the Israelites simply requested the valuables of the Egyptians, without any special (except a tacit) understanding on the part of the latter that they were to be restored. This agrees with the fact that the professed object of the Hebrews was not to quit Egypt forever, but merely to withdraw for a few days into the desert, that they might there celebrate a high festival to their God. SEE EXODE. At such festivals it was usual among all nations to appear in their gayest attire, and decked with many ornaments; and this suggests the grounds on which the Israelites might rest the application to their Egyptian neighbors for the loan of their jewels and rich raiment. Their avowed intention to return in a few days must have made the request appear very reasonable to the Egyptians; and, in fact, the Orientals are, and always have been, remarkably ready and liberal in lending their ornaments to one another on occasions of religious solemnity or public ceremony. It would seem, also, as if the avowed intention to return precluded the Hebrews from any other ground than that of borrowing; for if they had required or demanded these things as compensations or gifts, it would have amounted to an admission that they were quitting the country altogether. Turn which way we will in this matter, there is but a choice of difficulties; and this leads us to suspect that we are not acquainted with all the facts bearing on the case, in the absence of which we spend our strength for naught in laboring to explain it. One of the difficulties is somewhat softened by the conjecture of Professor Bush, who, in his Note on Ex 11:2, observes, "We are by no means satisfied that Moses was required to command the people to practise the device here mentioned. We regard it rather, as far as they were concerned, as the mere prediction of a fact that should occur." It will further relieve the difficulty if we consider that it was a principle universally recognised in ancient times, that all property belonging to their opponents in the hands of any nation against which war was declared became forfeited; and, in accordance with this supposed right, the jewels, precious vases, etc., which were borrowed by the Hebrews from the Egyptians, became, when Pharaoh commenced war upon them, legal spoil. It is evident that the Egyptians were but too glad to get rid of their dangerous captives at last to hesitate, or even stipulate for a restoration of the ornaments; nor did the Hebrews themselves at the time positively know that they should never return them.-Hengstenberg, Pentat. ii, 417 sq.