Deuteronomy 15:1-18

The Year for Canceling Debts

1 At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.
2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the LORD’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed.
3 You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you.
4 However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you,
5 if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.
6 For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.
8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need.
9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.
10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Freeing Servants

12 If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free.
13 And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed.
14 Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the LORD your God has blessed you.
15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.
16 But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you,
17 then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your female servant.
18 Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because their service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.

Deuteronomy 15:1-18 Meaning and Commentary


This chapter treats of a release of debts every seventh year, to which a blessing is promised if attended to, De 15:1-6, which seventh year of release should not hinder lending to a poor man in distress, even though it was nigh at hand, De 15:7-11 and of letting servants go free, whether manservant or maidservant, at the end of six years' servitude, De 15:12-15 but if unwilling to go, and desirous of staying, must have his ear bored through with an awl, and serve to the year of jubilee, De 15:16-18 and of sanctifying and eating the firstlings of the herd and flock where the Lord directs, De 15:19-23.

Cross References 19

  • 1. Deuteronomy 31:10; Nehemiah 10:31
  • 2. S Genesis 31:15; Deuteronomy 23:20; Deuteronomy 28:12; Ruth 2:10
  • 3. Deuteronomy 28:8
  • 4. S Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 7:12; Deuteronomy 28:1
  • 5. Dt 28:12-13,44
  • 6. ver 11; Matthew 26:11
  • 7. 1 John 3:17
  • 8. Matthew 5:42; Luke 6:34; S Acts 24:17
  • 9. ver 1
  • 10. Matthew 20:15
  • 11. S Exodus 22:23; S Job 5:15; James 5:4; Deuteronomy 24:15
  • 12. 2 Corinthians 9:5
  • 13. S Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 24:19
  • 14. S ver 7
  • 15. Matthew 26:11; Mark 14:7; John 12:8
  • 16. Exodus 21:2; Leviticus 25:39; Jeremiah 34:14
  • 17. S Numbers 18:27
  • 18. Exodus 13:3; Jeremiah 34:13; Deuteronomy 5:15
  • 19. Exodus 20:2; S Deuteronomy 4:34; S Deuteronomy 9:26; Deuteronomy 16:12; Deuteronomy 24:18; Jeremiah 16:14; Jeremiah 23:7
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