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That they took usury, though they were forbidden; and that they devoured men’s substance wrongfully;- we have prepared for those among them who reject faith a grievous punishment.

Jews were forbidden to charge interest on loans.  This injunction might have been tampered with and was possibly reworded to say that Jews were only forbidden to charge interest to other Jews, but that they could charge interest to non-Jews.  (See Exodus 22:24, Deuteronomy 23:19-20 and Ezekiel 18:8-9, 13, 17)  Besides being an exceptional example of injustice, many Jews (even to this day) have also continued to charge interest to other Jews, thus making them guilty of disobeying their own (possibly doctored) law. (See Exodus 22:12 where God makes this very same charge against them.)  The description used here in this verse – of ‘eating’ the property of others – is especially apt given that the Hebrew word for interest is neshek, which literally means “a biting.”

References:

Emerick, Yahiya. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 829). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

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