Deuteronomy 15

Listen to Deuteronomy 15
1 “At the end of every seventh year you must cancel the debts of everyone who owes you money.
2 This is how it must be done. Everyone must cancel the loans they have made to their fellow Israelites. They must not demand payment from their neighbors or relatives, for the LORD ’s time of release has arrived.
3 This release from debt, however, applies only to your fellow Israelites—not to the foreigners living among you.
4 “There should be no poor among you, for the LORD your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession.
5 You will receive this blessing if you are careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today.
6 The LORD your God will bless you as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations but will never need to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they will not rule over you.
7 “But if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them.
8 Instead, be generous and lend them whatever they need.
9 Do not be mean-spirited and refuse someone a loan because the year for canceling debts is close at hand. If you refuse to make the loan and the needy person cries out to the LORD, you will be considered guilty of sin.
10 Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.
11 There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.
12 “If a fellow Hebrew sells himself or herself to be your servant and serves you for six years, in the seventh year you must set that servant free.
13 “When you release a male servant, do not send him away empty-handed.
14 Give him a generous farewell gift from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress. Share with him some of the bounty with which the LORD your God has blessed you.
15 Remember that you were once slaves in the land of Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you! That is why I am giving you this command.
16 “But suppose your servant says, ‘I will not leave you,’ because he loves you and your family, and he has done well with you.
17 In that case, take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door. After that, he will be your servant for life. And do the same for your female servants.
18 “You must not consider it a hardship when you release your servants. Remember that for six years they have given you services worth double the wages of hired workers, and the LORD your God will bless you in all you do.
19 “You must set aside for the LORD your God all the firstborn males from your flocks and herds. Do not use the firstborn of your herds to work your fields, and do not shear the firstborn of your flocks.
20 Instead, you and your family must eat these animals in the presence of the LORD your God each year at the place he chooses.
21 But if this firstborn animal has any defect, such as lameness or blindness, or if anything else is wrong with it, you must not sacrifice it to the LORD your God.
22 Instead, use it for food for your family in your hometown. Anyone, whether ceremonially clean or unclean, may eat it, just as anyone may eat a gazelle or deer.
23 But you must not consume the blood. You must pour it out on the ground like water.

Deuteronomy 15 Commentary

Chapter 15

The year of release. (1-11) Concerning the release of servants. (12-18) Respecting the firstlings of cattle. (19-23)

Verses 1-11 This year of release typified the grace of the gospel, in which is proclaimed the acceptable year of the Lord; and by which we obtain the release of our debts, that is, the pardon of our sins. The law is spiritual, and lays restraints upon the thoughts of the heart. We mistake, if we think thoughts are free from God's knowledge and check. That is a wicked heart indeed, which raises evil thoughts from the good law of God, as theirs did, who, because God had obliged them to the charity of forgiving, denied the charity of giving. Those who would keep from the act of sin, must keep out of their minds the very thought of sin. It is a dreadful thing to have the cry of the poor justly against us. Grudge not a kindness to thy brother; distrust not the providence of God. What thou doest, do freely, ( 2 Corinthians. 9:7 )

Verses 12-18 Here the law concerning Hebrew servants is repeated. There is an addition, requiring the masters to put some small stock into their servants' hands to set up with for themselves, when sent out of their servitude, wherein they had received no wages. We may expect family blessings, the springs of family prosperity, when we make conscience of our duty to our family relations. We are to remember that we are debtors to Divine justice, and have nothing to pay with. That we are slaves, poor, and perishing. But the Lord Jesus Christ, by becoming poor, and by shedding his blood, has made a full and free provision for the payment of our debts, the ransom of our souls, and the supply of all our wants. When the gospel is clearly preached, the acceptable year of the Lord is proclaimed; the year of release of our debts, of the deliverance of our souls, and of obtaining rest in him. And as faith in Christ and love to him prevail, they will triumph over the selfishness of the heart, and over the unkindness of the world, doing away the excuses that rise from unbelief, distrust, and covetousness.

Verses 19-23 Here is a direction what to do with the firstlings. We are not now limited as the Israelites were; we make no difference between a first calf, or lamb, and the rest. Let us then look to the gospel meaning of this law, devoting ourselves and the first of our time and strength to God; and using all our comforts and enjoyments to his praise, and under the direction of his law, as we have them all by his gift.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or If a Hebrew man or woman is sold to you.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO DEUTERONOMY 15

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.

Deuteronomy 15 Commentaries