De 15:1-11. The Seventh
Year, a Year of Release for the Poor.
1. At the end of every seven
years—during the last of the seven, that is, the sabbatical
year (Ex 21:2; 23:11; Le 25:4; Jer 34:14).
2. Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his
neighbour shall release it—not by an absolute discharge of
the debt, but by passing over that year without exacting payment. The
relief was temporary and peculiar to that year during which there was a
total suspension of agricultural labor.
he shall not exact it … of his
brother—that is, an Israelite, so called in opposition to a
stranger or foreigner.
because it is called the Lord's
release—The reason for acquitting a debtor at that particular
period proceeded from obedience to the command, and a regard for the
honor, of God; an acknowledgment of holding their property of Him, and
gratitude for His kindness.
3. Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it
again—Admission to all the religious privileges of the
Israelites was freely granted to heathen proselytes, though this
spiritual incorporation did not always imply an equal participation of
civil rights and privileges (Le 25:44; Jer 34:14;
compare 1Ch 22:2; 2Ch 2:17).
4. Save when there shall be no poor man among
you—Apparently a qualifying clause added to limit the
application of the foregoing statement [De 15:3]; so that "the brother" to be released
pointed to a poor borrower, whereas it is implied that if he were rich,
the restoration of the loan might be demanded even during that year.
But the words may properly be rendered (as on the Margin) to
the end, in order that there may be no poor among you—that
is, that none be reduced to inconvenient straits and poverty by
unseasonable exaction of debts at a time when there was no labor and no
produce, and that all may enjoy comfort and prosperity, which will be
the case through the special blessing of God on the land, provided they
7-11. If there be among you a poor man …
thou shalt not harden thine heart—Lest the foregoing law
should prevent the Israelites lending to the poor, Moses here
admonishes them against so mean and selfish a spirit and exhorts them
to give in a liberal spirit of charity and kindness, which will secure
the divine blessing (Ro 12:8; 2Co 9:7).
11. For the poor shall never cease out of the
land—Although every Israelite on the conquest of Canaan
became the owner of property, yet in the providence of God who foresaw
the event, it was permitted, partly as a punishment of disobedience and
partly for the exercise of benevolent and charitable feelings, that
"the poor should never cease out of the land."
De 15:12-19. Hebrew
12. if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew
woman, be sold unto thee—The last extremity of an insolvent
debtor, when his house or land was not sufficient to cancel his debt,
was to be sold as a slave with his family (Le 25:39; 2Ki 4:1; Ne 5:1-13; Job 24:9; Mt 18:25). The term of servitude could not
last beyond six years. They obtained their freedom either after six
years from the time of their sale or before the end of the seventh
year. At the year of jubilee, such slaves were emancipated even if
their six years of service were not completed [see on Le 25:39].
13-15. thou shalt not let him go away
empty—A seasonable and wise provision for enabling a poor
unfortunate to regain his original status in society, and the motive
urged for his kindness and humanity to the Hebrew slave was the
remembrance that the whole nation was once a degraded and persecuted
band of helots in Egypt. Thus, kindness towards their slaves,
unparalleled elsewhere in those days, was inculcated by the Mosaic law;
and in all their conduct towards persons in that reduced condition,
leniency and gentleness were enforced by an appeal which no Israelite
16, 17. if he say unto thee, I will not go away
from thee—If they declined to avail themselves of the
privilege of release and chose to remain with their master, then by a
peculiar form of ceremony they became a party to the transaction,
voluntarily sold themselves to their employer, and continued in his
service till death.
18. he hath been worth a double hired servant to
thee—that is, he is entitled to double wages because his
service was more advantageous to you, being both without wages and for
a length of time, whereas hired servants were engaged yearly (Le 25:53), or at most for three years
19. All the firstling males of thy herd and of thy
flock thou shalt sanctify unto the Lord thy God—[See on Ex 13:2]; see Ex 22:30).
thou shalt do not work with the firstling of thy
bullock—that is, the second firstlings (see De 12:17, 18;