Leviticus 25:39

39 1"If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave:

Leviticus 25:39 Meaning and Commentary

Leviticus 25:39

And if thy brother [that dwelleth] by thee be waxen poor
The above laws and instructions seem designed to prevent such extreme poverty as obliged to what follows, namely, a brother being sold either to an Israelite or to a stranger, by relieving his wants or lending him money; but when these were insufficient to support him, and keep him from sinking into the lowest state of distress and misery, then he was obliged to be sold, as follows: and be sold unto thee;
either by himself, being ready to starve and perish, or by the sanhedrim, having stolen something, as Aben Ezra observes; in such a case the civil magistrate had a power of selling a man, ( Exodus 22:3 ) ; thou shall not compel him to serve as a bondservant;
such as were Heathens, and bought of them, or taken in war and made slaves of; but an Israelite sold was not to serve as they, either with respect to matter or manner, or time of service; such as were bondmen were put to the hardest service, the greatest drudgery, as well as what was mean and reproachful, and were used in the most rigorous and despotic manner, and were obliged to serve for ever, and were never released; but a brother, an Israelite, sold to another through extreme poverty, was not to be put to any low, mean, base, and disgraceful service, by which it would be known that he was a servant, as Jarchi notes; such as to carry his master's vessels or instruments after him to the bath, or to unloose his shoes; but, as the same writer observes, he was to be employed in the business of the farm, or in some handicraft work, and was to be kindly and gently used, rather as a brother than a servant, and to be freed in the year of jubilee.

Leviticus 25:39 In-Context

37 You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.
38 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
39 "If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave:
40 he shall be with you as a hired servant and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee.
41 Then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his own clan and return to the possession of his fathers.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12; 1 Kings 9:22; 2 Kings 4:1; Nehemiah 5:5