From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

profit or gain from lending money or goods. Moses enacted a law to the effect that interest should not be taken from a poor person, neither for borrowed money, nor for articles of consumption, for instance, grain, which was borrowed with the expectation of being returned,  Exodus 22:25;  Leviticus 25:35-37 . A difficulty arose in determining who was to be considered a poor person in a case of this kind; and the law was accordingly altered in  Deuteronomy 23:20-21 , and extended in its operation to all the Hebrews, whether they had more or less property; so that interest could be lawfully taken only of foreigners. As the system of the Jews went to secure every man's paternal inheritance to his own family, they could not exact it from their brethren, but only from strangers. As the law of nature does not forbid the receipt of moderate interest in the shape of rent, for the use of lands or houses, neither does it prohibit it for the loan of money or goods. When one man trades with the capital of another, and obtains a profit from it, he is bound in justice to return a part of it to his benefactor, who, in the hands of God, has been a second cause of "giving him power to get wealth." But should Divine Providence not favour the endeavours of some who have borrowed money, the duty of the lenders is to deal gently with them, and to be content with sharing in their losses, as they have been sharers in their gains. The Hebrews were therefore exhorted to lend money, &c, as a deed of mercy and brotherly kindness,  Deuteronomy 15:7-11;  Deuteronomy 24:13 . And hence it happens that we find encomiums every where bestowed upon those who were willing to lend without insisting upon interest for the use of the thing lent, Psalm 15:15; 37:21, 26; 112:5;  Proverbs 19:17;  Ezekiel 18:8 . This regulation in regard to taking interest was very well stated to the condition of a state that had been recently founded, and which had but very little mercantile dealings; and its principle, though not capable of being generally introduced into communities that are much engaged in commerce, may still be exercised toward those who stand toward us in the relation of brethren.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

Neshek , from a root "to devour." (See Loan .) Any interest was forbidden to be exacted from an Israelite brother, but was permitted from a foreigner ( Exodus 22:25;  Leviticus 25:35-38;  Deuteronomy 23:19-20). Israel was originally not a mercantile people, and the law aimed at an equal diffusion of wealth, not at enriching some while others were poor. Help was to be given by the rich to his embarrassed brother to raise him out of difficulties, without making a gain of his poverty ( Psalms 15:5;  Proverbs 28:8;  Jeremiah 15:10;  Ezekiel 18:8;  Ezekiel 18:17).

Nehemiah ( Nehemiah 5:3-13) denounces the usurious exactions of some after the return from Babylon; he put a stop to the practice. They took one percent per month, i.e. 12 percent per annum (the Roman centesimae usurae). The spirit of the law still is obligatory, that we should give timely help in need and not take advantage of our brother's distress to lend at interest ruinous to him; but the letter is abrogated, as commerce requires the accommodation of loans at interest, and a loan at moderate interest is often of great service to the poor. Hence it is referred to by our Lord in parables, apparently as a lawful as well as recognized usage ( Matthew 25:27;  Luke 19:23).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Usury. (The word usury has come in modern English to mean Excessive Interest Upon Money Loaned , either formally illegal or at least oppressive. In the Scriptures, however, the word did not bear this sense, but meant simply, interest of any kind upon money. The Jews were forbidden by the law of Moses to take interest from their brethren, but were permitted to take it from foreigners. The prohibition grew out of the agricultural status of the people, in which ordinary business loans were not needed. And loans as were required should be made only as to friends and brothers in need. - Editor).

The practice of mortgaging land, sometimes at exorbitant interest, grew up among the Jews during the captivity, in direct violation of the law.  Leviticus 25:36-37;  Ezekiel 18:8;  Ezekiel 18:13;  Ezekiel 18:17. We find the rate reaching 1 in 100 per month, corresponding to the Roman centisimae usurae , or 12 per cent per annum.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [4]

The gain taken for the loan of money or wares. The Jews were allowed to lend money upon usury to strangers,  Deuteronomy 23:20; but were prohibited to take usury from their brethren of Israel, at least, if they were poor,  Exodus 22:25 .  Leviticus 25:35;  Leviticus 25:37 . From the Scriptures speaking against the practice of usury, some have thought it unlawful,  Psalms 15:5 .  Proverbs 28:8 .  Ezekiel 18:8 . But it is replied, that usury there only means immoderate interest, or oppression, by taking advantage of the indigent circumstances of our neighbour; and that it seems as lawful for a man to receive interest for money, which another takes pain with, improves, and ruins the hazard of in trade, as it is to receive rent for our land which another takes pain with, improves, but runs the hazard of in husbandry.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

This word does not in scripture signify, as now, undue interest, but simply interest of any kind. The Israelites were forbidden to require interest from their brethren, always supposing the person having the loan to be poor, otherwise he would not need to borrow; to strangers, however, they were allowed to lend on interest.  Exodus 22:25;  Leviticus 25:35-38;  Deuteronomy 23:19,20 . On the return of the Jews, Nehemiah sharply rebuked the nobles and the rulers for taking interest of their poorer brethren.  Nehemiah 5:3-13 . Scripture strictly enjoins the rich to help the poor. The only mention of usury in the N.T. is in the parables of the Talents and the Pounds, where the master blamed the servant for not putting the gifts into use, so that he might have received his own with interest, or increase.  Matthew 25:27;  Luke 19:23 .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

As employed in our version of the Bible, means only interest. When our translation was made, the word usury had not assumed the bad sense which it now has. The Jews might require interest of foreigners,  Deuteronomy 23:19-20 , but were forbidden to receive it from each other,  Exodus 22:25   Psalm 15:5; being instructed to lend money, etc., in a spirit of brotherly kindness, "hoping for nothing again,"  Deuteronomy 15:7-11   Luke 6:33-35 . The exacting of usury is often rebuked,  Nehemiah 5:7,10   Proverbs 28:8   Ezekiel 22:12-14 . The Mosaic code was adapted to a non-commercial people, but its principles of equity and charity are of perpetual and universal obligation.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Usury, by modern usage, means exorbitant or unlawful interest, but in the Scriptures it means simply interest. The law of Moses prohibited the Jews from taking any interest of each other for the loan of money or of anything else, though they were allowed to take it of foreigners. The exchangers of money were in the habit of receiving it at low interest and loaning it at high interest, taking the difference for their gain.  Ezekiel 22:12. The practice of usury is severely denounced in the Scriptures.  Nehemiah 5:7;  Nehemiah 5:10;  Psalms 15:5;  Proverbs 28:8.

King James Dictionary [8]

U'SURY, n. s as z. L. usura, from utor, to use.

1. Formerly, interest or a premium paid or stipulated to be paid for the use of money.

Usury formerly denoted any legal interest, but in this sense, the word is no longer in use.

2. In present usage, illegal interest a premium or compensation paid or stipulated to be paid for the use of money borrowed or retained, beyond the rate of interest established by law. 3. The practice of taking interest. Obs.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [9]

 Matthew 25:27 (a) The Lord gives to His children and to His servants certain gifts and talents. He expects these to be put into use so that they will increase in value and in quantity. It is this increase that is termed "usury." Many gifts are given to Christians, and they should be used for the glory of GOD in the lives of others. (See also  Luke 19:23).

Webster's Dictionary [10]

(1): ( v. t.) The practice of taking interest.

(2): ( v. t.) Interest in excess of a legal rate charged to a borrower for the use of money.

(3): ( v. t.) A premium or increase paid, or stipulated to be paid, for a loan, as of money; interest.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [11]

 Leviticus 25:36,37 Deuteronomy 23:19,20 Psalm 15:5 Proverbs 28:8 Jeremiah 15:10 Nehemiah 5:7,10

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [12]

 Matthew 25:27 Luke 19:23Interest.

Holman Bible Dictionary [13]

 Deuteronomy 23:19-20

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [14]

USURY. —See Interest.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [15]

ū´zhū́ - ri  :

1. In the Old Testament:

The Hebrew law concerning exaction of interest upon loans was very humane. Hebrews were to lend to their brethren without interest ( Exodus 22:25;  Leviticus 25:36 f;   Deuteronomy 23:19 f). This, however, did not apply to a stranger (  Deuteronomy 23:20 ). Two stems are used in the Old Testament, rendered in the King James Version "usury," in the Revised Version (British and American) better rendered "interest": (1) verb נשׁה , nāshāh ( Exodus 22:25;  Isaiah 24:2;  Jeremiah 15:10 ), and the noun form, משּׁא , mashshā' ( Nehemiah 5:7 ,  Nehemiah 5:10 ); (2) a stronger and more picturesque word, נשׁך , nāshakh , "to bite," "to vex," and so "to lend on interest" ( Deuteronomy 23:19 ,  Deuteronomy 23:20 ); noun form נשׁך , neshekh ( Exodus 22:25;  Leviticus 25:36 f;   Psalm 15:5;  Proverbs 28:8;  Ezekiel 18:8 ,  Ezekiel 18:13 ,  Ezekiel 18:17;  Ezekiel 22:12 ). It would be easy to go from a fair rate of interest to an unfair rate, as seen in the history of the word "usury," which has come to mean an exorbitant or unlawful interest. Abuses arose during the exile. Nehemiah forced the people after the return to-give back exactions of "one hundredth," or 1 percent monthly which they took from their brethren ( Nehemiah 5:10 f; compare   Ezekiel 22:12 ). A good citizen of Zion is one who did not put out his money to usury ( Psalm 15:5 ). One who is guilty of this comes to disaster ( Proverbs 28:8 ).

2. In the New Testament:

The Greek word is τόκος , tokos , literally, "offspring," interest springing out of the principal. Money lenders were numerous among the Jews in Christ's day, and, in the parable of the Talents, He represents the lord of the unprofitable servant as rebuking the sloth in the words, "I should have received mine own with interest" (  Matthew 25:27;  Luke 19:23 the Revised Version (British and American)).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

Usury, an unlawful contract for the loan of money, to be returned again with exorbitant increase. By the laws of Moses the Israelites were forbidden to take usury from their brethren upon the loan of money, victuals, or anything else, not, it has been observed by Michaelis, as if he absolutely and in all cases condemned the practice, for he expressly permitted interest to be taken from strangers, and from the Canaanites, but only out of favor to the poorer classes. After the return of the Jews from captivity, they were required by Nehemiah to 'leave off this usury,' and to restore to their brethren what they had exacted from them—'their lands, their vineyards, their olive-yards, and their houses; also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil' . Our Savior denounced all extortion, and promulgated a new law of love and forbearance:—'Give to every man that asketh of thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.' 'Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again' .