Chapter 6 - The Gold Lender of Babylon
In ancient Babylon, the currency in use were official pieces of gold. Rodan was a spear maker in old Babylon. When he earned fifty pieces of gold for his exceptional work, his sister's husband immediately asked him for a loan. It was for a worthy purpose... to fund a business he had frequently dreamed about, but had no experience in. Rodan then went looking for advice on whether or not to lend his 50 pieces of gold to his sister's husband.
Rodan met Mathon, a gold lender who is usually visited only by men in need of gold, or returning the gold they had borrowed. Mathon is delighted to see somebody visiting him just for his expert advice, instead of requesting a loan of gold. Mathon tells Rodan that
"Gold bringeth unto its possessor responsibility and a changed position with his fellow men. It bringeth a fear lest he lose it or it be tricked away from him. It bringeth a feeling of power and ability to do well. Likewise, it bringeth opportunities whereby his very good intentions may bring him into difficulties."
Mathon then told Rodan a story about a donkey and an "ass" (half horse, half donkey). The smooth talking donkey tricked the well meaning ass into carrying his burden. In the end, the dumb ass wore himself out and became useless to its master. The ass ended up being sent to the Babylon glue factory. The donkey then had to carry the ass's burden along with his own. This was far more than the donkey could bear. He too, soon followed the ass's fate. After the story, Mathon explained to Rodan the moral lesson ("Don't be a dumb ass") which in their style of speaking, was:
"If you desire to help thy friend, do so in a way that will not bring thy friend's burden upon thyself."
Rodan then became very curious if most old borrowers pay back what they borrow, or not. Mathon showed him a chest of "tokens" that he collected from gold borrowers. Each token represented a loan he had made. The old, dusty ones reminded him of bad decisions lending gold to borrowers who never returned to repay him. He enumerated the following:
Safest loans are those whose possessions are of more value than the things they desire. They own land, or jewels, or camels, or other things which could be sold to repay the loan."
"Other Safe loans are to those who have the capacity to earn. They labor or serve and then repay. They have income. If they are honest and suffer no misfortune, they want to repay. These loans are based on human efforts, and good character."
"Other loans are those who have neither the property nor assured earning capacity. Some of them who cannot adjust themselves to the burden of debts fail to repay."
Mathon further explained to Rodan to:
"Be not swayed by foolish sentiments of obligation to trust thy treasure to any person. If thou wouldst help thy family or thy friends, find other ways than risking the loss of thy treasure."
"Forget not that gold slippeth away in unexpected ways from those unskilled in guarding it. Might as well waste thy treasure in extravagance, as let others lose it for thee."
"Seek to associate thyself with men and enterprises whose success is established, that thy treasure may earn liberally under their skillful use, and be guarded safely by their wisdom and experience".
The moral lesson of the story in this chapter is:
"Better a little caution than a great regret."