Leviticus 25:39

39 “ ‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves.

Leviticus 25:39 in Other Translations

39 And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant:
39 "If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave:
39 “If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and is forced to sell himself to you, do not treat him as a slave.
39 "If one of your brothers becomes indigent and has to sell himself to you, don't make him work as a slave.
39 "If your brother among you becomes destitute and sells himself to you, you must not force him to do slave labor.

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 must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit.
38 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
39 “ ‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves.
40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee.
41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors.

Cross References 1

  • 1. 1 Kings 5:13; 1 Kings 9:22; Jeremiah 34:14; Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12; 1Ki 1 Kings 9:22