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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 15

 

 

Verse 1

Deuteronomy 15:1. At the end of every seven years — When the seventh year comes, which is the end or last of the seven, Deuteronomy 15:9; Deuteronomy 15:12. This termed here the year of release, was the sabbatical year spoken of Exodus 23:11;

Leviticus 25:4. The wisdom of the Hebrew constitution provided for a release of all debts and servitudes every seventh year, that the Jewish nation might not moulder away from so great a number of free subjects into the condition of slaves: see on Leviticus 25.


Verse 2

Deuteronomy 15:2. Every creditor that lendeth aught shall release it — This cannot be meant of money lent to those who had borrowed it for the purchase of lands, trade, or other improvements, and who were able to pay; for nothing could have been more absurd than to have extinguished such debts, whereby the borrower was enriched. But it must be understood of money lent to an Israelite who was in poor circumstances, as appears from verse

4. According to this law, every poor Israelite who had borrowed money, and had not been able to pay it before, should this year be released from it. And though, if he were able, he was bound in conscience to pay it afterward, yet it could not be recovered by law. His brother — This is added to limit the word neighbour, which is more general, unto a brother, in nation and religion, an Israelite. The Lord’s release — Or, a release for the Lord, in obedience to his command, for his honour, and as an acknowledgment of his right in your estates, and of his kindness in giving and continuing them to you.


Verse 4

Deuteronomy 15:4. Save when there shall be no poor — The words may be rendered thus, as in the margin of our Bibles: To the end that there be no poor among you. And so they contain a reason of this law; namely, that none be empoverished and ruined by a rigid exaction of debts. For the Lord shall greatly bless thee — If in this and other things you be obedient, God will so abundantly bless you that you shall be well able to forbear the requiring of your debts on the sabbatic year.


Verse 7-8

Deuteronomy 15:7-8. Thou shalt not shut thy hand from thy poor brother — Because this law might tend to make some people cautious and niggardly in lending to the poor, as being assured they should lose the debt at the seventh year, if it were not paid before; or, upon this account, might make them sparing of their charities in other matters; Moses here cautions them against being influenced by so mean a principle, and charges every Israelite to look upon his poor neighbour as a brother, equally related to God as himself, who therefore would be sure to punish all uncharitableness to such as were his own people, as he would be to bless and reward those who, with a generous and bountiful heart, gratefully depended on his providence, and obeyed his commands. Open thy hand — That is, deal bountifully and liberally with him.


Verse 9-10

Deuteronomy 15:9-10. Beware — Suppress the first risings of such uncharitableness.

And thine eye be evil — Envious, unmerciful, unkind, as this phrase means, Proverbs 23:6; that is, thou grudge to relieve him. The opposite to this is a bountiful eye, Proverbs 22:9. And it be sin unto thee — Charged upon thee as a sin. Thy heart shall not be grieved — That is, thou shalt give, not only with an open hand, but with a willing and cheerful mind, without which thy very charity is uncharitable, and not accepted by God.


Verse 11

Deuteronomy 15:11. The poor shall never cease — God, by his providence, will so order it, partly for the punishment of your disobedience, and partly for the trial and exercise of your obedience to him, and charity to your brother.


Verse 12

Deuteronomy 15:12. If thy brother be sold — Either by himself or his parents, or as a criminal. Six years — To be computed from the beginning of his servitude, which is everywhere limited to the space of six years.


Verses 15-17

Deuteronomy 15:15-17. The Lord redeemed thee — And brought thee out with riches, which, because they would not, God gave thee as a just recompense for thy service; and therefore thou shalt follow his example, and send out thy servant furnished with all convenient provisions. For ever — All the time of his life, or, at least, till the year of jubilee. Likewise — That is, either dismiss her with plenty, or engage her to perpetual servitude, in the same manner and by the same rites.


Verse 19-20

Deuteronomy 15:19-20. All the firstling males thou shalt sanctify — Giving them to God on the eighth day. And thou shalt do no work with the female firstlings of the cow, nor shear those of the sheep. Even these must be offered to God as peace-offerings, or used in a religious feast. Year by year — Namely, in the solemn feasts, which returned upon them every year.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 15:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-15.html. 1857.

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