|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
34:8-22 A Jew should not be held in servitude above seven years. This law they and their fathers had broken. And when there was some hope that the siege was raised, they forced the servants they had released into their services again. Those who think to cheat God by dissembled repentance and partial reformation, put the greatest cheat upon their own souls. This shows that liberty to sin, is really only liberty to have the sorest judgments. It is just with God to disappoint expectations of mercy, when we disappoint the expectations of duty. And when reformation springs only from terror, it is seldom lasting. Solemn vows thus entered into, profane the ordinances of God; and the most forward to bind themselves by appeals to God, are commonly most ready to break them. Let us look to our hearts, that our repentance may be real, and take care that the law of God regulates our conduct.
Verse 14. - At the end of seven years, etc. This is the literal rendering, but the sense, as is clear from the parallel passage in Deuteronomy 15:12, and indeed from the next clause of this very verse, is "in the seventh (not, the eighth) year."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
At the end of seven years,.... Not when seven years were elapsed and fully completed; but within the compass of seven years, or as soon as the seventh year was began; for this term of seven years is the term of the seventh year coming in, and not going out, as appears from the law itself, Exodus 21:9; and from an after clause in this verse, "when he hath served thee six years"; at the end of which, and the beginning of the seventh: and so Maimonides (m) interprets this law,
"he whom the sanhedrim sold served six years from the day of his sale, and at the beginning of the seventh year he was free:''
though the Vulgate Latin version very wrongly renders it, "when seven years are completed"; which version Sanctius takes a good deal of pains to reconcile to the original law. A Hebrew might sell himself for more years than six; he might sell himself for ten or twelve, as the above Jewish writer says, and nothing could release him but the year of jubilee; and that would do it, if he had served but one year (n);
let ye go every man his brother, an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; or, "hath sold himself unto thee" (o); to be a servant; for money was not given with apprentices to their masters, as is usual with us; but masters gave money for their servants, and bought them either of themselves, or of the magistrates; hence it is said, "if thou buy an Hebrew servant", &c. Exodus 21:2. A Hebrew servant was sold either against his will, or with it; if a man committed a theft, and he had not wherewith to make restoration, the sanhedrim or magistrates said him: if he was exceeding poor, the law gave him liberty to sell himself; but he might not sell himself as long as he had anything left, even a covering; and after that was gone, he might sell himself; and he was bought with silver or the value of silver or by contract or bond (p);
and when he hath served thee six years, thou shall let him go free from thee; or "from with thee" (q); from being with thee, from being in thy house, as well as from being in thy service; he was to be dismissed, so as to go where he pleased, and work for himself, or another, as he thought fit;
but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear; to obey the laws of God, and particularly this concerning servants. This is not to be understood of the fathers with whom the covenant was first made, and to whom this law was first given; but their posterity in later times, who yet lived long before the present generation, and so might with great propriety be called their fathers; and by which it appears that this law had been long neglected.
(m) Hilchot Abadim, c. 2. sect. 2.((n) Ibid. (o) "se ventdiderit tibi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (p) Hilchot Abadim, c. 1. sect. 1, 2. & c. 2. sect. 1.((q) "acuta te", Schmidt.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. At the end of seven years—that is, not on the eighth year, but within the limit of the seventh year, not later than the end of the seventh year (Ex 21:2; 23:10; De 15:12). So "at the end of three years" (De 14:28; 2Ki 18:10), and "after three days, I will rise again" (Mt 27:63), that is, on the third day (compare Mt 27:64).
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