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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Deuteronomy 15

 

 

Verse 1

THE YEAR OF RELEASE, THE EMANCIPATION OF HEBREW SLAVES, AND THE APPROPRIATION OF THE FIRSTBORN OF THEIR CATTLE TO SACRED AND CHARITABLE PURPOSES.

1. Every seven years… a release — This was the same as the sabbatical rear of the earlier books. See Exodus 23:11; Leviticus 25:4.


Verse 2

2. Every creditor… shall release — This must be understood as a release from compulsory payment for that year, not an entire remission of the debt.


Verse 3

3. Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it — There would be a reason for dealing in a different way with the foreigner. He did not observe the sabbatical year. He would have his ordinary income from his land, while the Hebrew would not.


Verse 4

4. Save when there shall be no poor among you — The literal rendering of the passage is, Except that there shall yet be with thee a poor man. The meaning seems simply to be, “Thou must release the debt for the year except when there be no poor person concerned, a contingency which may happen, for the Lord shall greatly bless thee.” — Speaker’s Commentary.


Verse 7

7. If there be… a poor man — In view of the requirement not to exact the return of money loaned to the poor man there might be reluctance to aid the poor in his need. Hence the charge, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother.


Verse 8

8. Shalt surely lend him — An anticipation of the gospel injunction to do as we would be done unto.


Verse 9

9. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart — The original is very forcible. Lest there be a wicked thing in thy heart.


Verse 11

11. The poor shall never cease out of the land — Our Lord says, “Ye have the poor with you always.” Mark 14:7. Here Moses lays down rules which the people were to observe in the case of Hebrew slaves. The earlier legislation is recorded in Exodus 21:2-6.


Verse 12

12. In the seventh year thou shalt let him go free — The seventh year was not of necessity the sabbatical year, but the seventh year from the beginning of his servitude. The humane features of the Hebrew law in respect to slavery was very marked. The slave was not only manumitted, but he was not allowed to go away in poverty.


Verse 14

14. Thou shalt furnish him liberally — The Hebrew verb that is used makes the expression very emphatic, Thou shalt load him bountifully.


Verse 15

15. Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman — How tenderly Moses reminds them of their own harsh slavery!


Verse 16

16. I will not go — If the manservant or the maidservant did not wish to leave for freedom — did not wish to leave the master — they were not obliged to go, but in that case were to be bound to a lifelong bondage.


Verse 17

17. Take an awl, and thrust it through his ear — The bored ears constituted a badge of slavery.


Verses 19-23

19-23. The firstling males — The firstborn of the herd and flock, if males, were to be set apart — not used for ordinary purposes — to be devoted to the service of Jehovah.

Sanctify unto the Lord thy God — That is, these were to be used in the sacred feasts which were to be celebrated at the sanctuary, the place which the Lord shall choose.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 15:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/deuteronomy-15.html. 1874-1909.

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