|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
25:35-38 Poverty and decay are great grievances, and very common; the poor ye have always with you. Thou shalt relieve him; by sympathy, pitying the poor; by service, doing for them; and by supply, giving to them according to their necessity, and thine ability. Poor debtors must not be oppressed. Observe the arguments here used against extortion: Fear thy God. Relieve the poor, that they may live with thee; for they may be serviceable to thee. The rich can as ill spare the poor, as the poor can the rich. It becomes those that have received mercy to show mercy.
Verses 35-38. - Slavery. It is presumed that no Hebrew will become a slave except on the pressure of poverty, and this poverty his brethren are commanded to relieve; but foreseeing that either want of charity on the part of the rich or unthrift on the part of the poor would certainly bring about slavery, the legislator makes regulations so as to soften its character as far as possible. The literal translation of verse 35 is as follows: If thy brother becomes poor, and his hand faileth by thee, thou shalt lay hold of him; a stranger or a sojourner that he may live with thee. The translation of the latter clause adopted by the Authorized Version, yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee, makes the duty of giving charitable support and loans of money to apply to the case of the stranger and sojourner as well as of the Israelite. The other and more probable rendering confines its application to native Israelites. If thy brother becomes poor, and his hand faileth, thou shalt support him as a stranger or a sojourner, that is, treat him with the forbearance shown to resident foreigners, to whose state he had reduced himself by the loss of his land. The command in verse 36, Take thou no usury of him, or increase, does not bear upon the general question of taking interest for money when lent to wealthy men or companies for business purposes. It simply forbids the taking of interest or increase of a brother Israelite who had become poor. The history of Rome shows how much cruelty and revolution such an injunction may have prevented. The words, or increase, added to usury, forbid the exaction of any greater quantity of food or clothing (a method of evading the law against usury) than that which had been lent. The injunction was transgressed in the time of Nehemiah, when "he rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother.... Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer" (Nehemiah 5:7, 8).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And if thy brother be waxen poor,.... An Israelite, as Aben Ezra, be reduced to a low estate, through afflictions in body, or in family, or through losses in trade, or want of business, or through one providence or another:
and fallen in decay with thee; in his worldly substance: or "his hand wavers", or "fails" (p); so that he cannot support himself and his family, has not a sufficiency, or it is not in the power of his hands to do it; and it is not owing to sloth and negligence, but to unavoidable want and necessity:
then thou shalt relieve him; not merely by sympathizing with him, but by communicating to him, and distributing to his necessities; holding him up that he may not utterly fall, and strengthening his hands, that he may have a supply for his present wants:
yea, though he be a stranger or a sojourner; whether a proselyte of righteousness, who is circumcised, and in all things conforms to the true religion; or a proselyte of the gate, who takes it upon him not to worship idols, and eat things that die of themselves, as Jarchi notes:
that he may live with thee; continue in the land of Canaan, and not be obliged to quit it, and be laid under temptations of apostatizing from the true religion professed by him, and so far as he is come into it, which would bring a worse death than corporeal upon him; or that he may have a livelihood in some tolerable manner at least, and even live comfortably and cheerfully.
(p) "et nutaverit manus ejus", Montanus, Vatablus, Fagius; "vacillabit", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
35-38. if thy brother be waxen poor, … relieve him—This was a most benevolent provision for the poor and unfortunate, designed to aid them or alleviate the evils of their condition. Whether a native Israelite or a mere sojourner, his richer neighbor was required to give him food, lodging, and a supply of money without usury. Usury was severely condemned (Ps 15:5; Eze 18:8, 17), but the prohibition cannot be considered as applicable to the modern practice of men in business, borrowing and lending at legal rates of interest.
Leviticus 25:35 Parallel Commentaries
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