plej (verbs chabhal (10 times), `arabh (2 Kings 18:23 equals Isaiah 36:8); nouns chahal (Ezekiel 18:12,16; 33:15), chabcholah (Ezekiel 18:7), `arubbah), (1 Samuel 17:18), erabhon (Genesis 38:17,18,20); also abhoT (Deuteronomy 24:10-13) and (the Revised Version (British and American) only) abhTiT (Habakkuk 2:6)):
All these words have about the same meaning.
(1) The "pledge" is, as in modern English, security given for future payment (Genesis 38:17-24) or conduct (Habakkuk 2:6, where the conquered nations have given guaranties of their subserviency to the Chaldeans; the King James Version's "thick clay" here rests on a misreading of the Hebrew). In 2 Kings 18:23 (equals Isaiah 36:8) the "pledge" is a wager (so the Revised Version margin). Rabshakeh mockingly dares Hezekiah to stake a "pledge" that he can produce 2,000 men for the defense of Jerusalem, although the mighty Assyrian host has that number of horses alone. The general point of the obscure passage Proverbs 20:16 (equals 27:13) is that he who guarantees strangers needs a guaranty himself. 1 Samuel 17:18 is uncertain and the text may be corrupt. If not, the "pledge" is some (prearranged?) token of the welfare of David's brethren.
(2) Most of the occurrences of "pledge," however, deal with the debts of the very poor, who had no property that they could spare even temporarily. Consequently, the exaction of a pledge from such persons worked genuine hardship, and to take a pledge at all was a cruel act (Job 24:3), although of course the dishonesty of withholding a pledge (Ezekiel 18:7; 33:15) was worse. Lowest in the scale was the creditor who took the garment the borrower was wearing (Amos 2:8; Job 22:6; 24:9 margin), and special legislation controlled this practice. A garment (the outer "cloak" (see DRESS) not worn while doing manual labor) so taken must be restored at night (Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:12,13), for it was the usual covering of the sleeper. (Apparently, though, the creditor regained custody of it in the daytime until the debt was paid.) A widow's clothing, however, was entirely exempt (Deuteronomy 24:17), as was the handmill used for bread-making (Deuteronomy 24:6). The lender had no right of entry into the borrower's house to obtain the pledge (Deuteronomy 24:10,11), but it is not said that he could not dictate what he would accept; indeed, the contrary is inconceivable.
(3) the American Standard Revised Version gives "pledge" for the King James Version and the English Revised Version "faith" in 1 Timothy 5:12.
See also EARNEST.
Burton Scott Easton