Exodus 21:2

Hebrew Servants

2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything.

Read Exodus 21:2 Using Other Translations

If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.
When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing.
“If you buy a Hebrew slave, he may serve for no more than six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom.

What does Exodus 21:2 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Exodus 21:2

If thou buy an Hebrew servant
Who sells himself either through poverty, or rather is sold because of his theft, see ( Exodus 22:3 ) and so the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it,

``when ye shall buy for his theft, a servant, a son of an Israelite;''

agreeably to which Aben Ezra observes, this servant is a servant that is sold for his theft; and he says, it is a tradition with them, that a male is sold for his theft, but not a female; and the persons who had the selling of such were the civil magistrates, the Sanhedrim, or court of judicature; so Jarchi, on the text, says, "if thou buy" that is, of the hand of the sanhedrim who sells him for his theft:

six years he shall serve;
and no longer; and the Jewish doctors say {d}, if his master dies within the six years he must serve his son, but not his daughter, nor his brother, nor any other heirs:

and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing;
without paying any money for his freedom, as it is explained ( Exodus 21:11 ) , nay, on the other hand, his master was not to send him away empty, but furnish him liberally out of his flock, floor, and wine press, since his six years' servitude was worth double that of an hired servant, ( Deuteronomy 15:13 Deuteronomy 15:14 Deuteronomy 15:18 ) , and his freedom was to take place as soon as the six years were ended, and the seventh began, in which the Jewish writers agree: the Targum of Jonathan is, at the entrance of the seventh; and Aben Ezra's explanation is, at the beginning of the seventh year of his being sold; and Maimonides F5 observes the same. Now as this servant, in the state of servitude, was an emblem of that state of bondage to sin, Satan, and the law, which man is brought into by his theft, his robbing God of his glory by the transgression of his precepts; so likewise, in his being made free, he was an emblem of that liberty wherewith Christ, the Son of God, makes his people free from the said bondage, and who are free indeed, and made so freely without money, and without price, of pure free grace, without any merit or desert of theirs; and which freedom is attended with many bountiful and liberal blessings of grace.


F4 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 1. sect. 2.
F5 Hilchot Abadim, c. 2. sect. 2.
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