Surety (some form of עָרִב, arb, to barter, and especially to deposit a pledge, either in money, goods, or in part payment, as security for a bargain; ἔγγυος). "Suretyship" in the A. V. is usually the rendering for תּוֹקעַי, tokeim, literally in marg. "those that strike (hands)," from תָּקִע, to strike (Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 1517). The phrase: תּשׂוּמֶת יָד, tesumeth yad. (Sept. παραθήκη), "depositing in the hand," i.e. giving in pledge, may be understood to apply to the act of pledging, or virtual, though not personal, surety ship (Le 6:2; Heb 5:14]). In the entire absence of commerce, the law laid down no rules on the subject of surety ship; but it is evident that in the time of Solomon, mercantile dealings had become so multiplied that surety ship in t he commercial sense was common (Pr 6:1; Pr 12:15; Pr 17:18; Pr 20:16; Pr 22:26; Pr 27:13). But in older times the notion of one mall becoming a surety for a service to be discharged by another was in full force (see Ge 44:32), and it is probable that the same form of undertaking existed, viz. the giving the hand to (striking hands with), not, as Michaelis represents, the person who was to discharge the service in 'the commercial sense' the debtor-but the person to whom it was due, the creditor (Job 17:3; Pr 6:1; Michaelis, Laws of Moses, § 151, 2, 322, ed. Smith). The surety, of course, became liable for his client's debts in case of his failure. In later Jewish times the system had become common, and caused much distress in many instances, yet the duty of surety ship in certain cases is recognized as valid (Ecclus. 8:13; 29 14, 145, 16,18, 19). SEE PLEDGE.
The earliest form of suretyship mentioned in Scripture is the pledging of person for person, as when Judah undertook with his father to be surety for Benjamin (אֶעֶרבֶנּוּ, I will exchange for him, put myself in place of him, Ge 43:9); and when circumstances emerged which seemed to call for the fulfillment of the obligation, he actually offered himself in the room of Benjamin. In this sense the psalmist asks God to be surety for him for good (Ps 119:122), as did also, in his great distress, Hezekiah (Isa 38:14), though the sense here is a little weakened in the A.V. by the rendering "undertake for me." More commonly, however, the kind of suretyship spoken of had reference to pecuniary obligations or debts, and forms the subject of prudential advices and warnings in the book of Proverbs (Pr 6:1; Pr 11:15; Pr 17:18; Pr 20:16). In the first of these passages, the dangerous practice of entering into sureties is put in two forms-first, "if thou be surety for thy friend," then "if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger;" there being no further difference, between them than that the one has respect to the thing itself the other to the mode of going about it: the person agreeing to become surety gave his hand to his friend. Hence, also, in Pr 17:18, a man "who strikes hands," that is, readily becomes a surety, is declared to be void of understanding. In the highest sense the term is applied to Christ, who, in his character as mediator, is represented as "the surety (ἔγγυος) of a better covenant" (Heb 7:22), having made himself responsible for all that in. this covenant was required to be accomplished for the salvation of those who were to share in its provisions. SEE MEDIATION.