At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.The year of release is no doubt identical with the sabbatical year of the earlier legislation (Exodus 23:10 ff, and Leviticus 25:2 ff), the command of the older legislation being here amplified. The release was probably for the year, not total and final, and had reference only to loans lent because of poverty (compare Deuteronomy 15:4, Deuteronomy 15:7). Yet even so the law was found to be too stringent for the avarice of the people, because it was one of those which the rabbis "made of none effect by their traditions."
And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD'S release.Because it is called the Lord's release - Render, because proclamation has been made of the Lord's release. The verb is impersonal, and implies (compare Deuteronomy 31:10) that "the solemnity of the year of release" has been publicly announced.
Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release;The foreigner would not be bound by the restriction of the sabbatical year, and therefore would have no claim to its special remissions and privileges. He could earn his usual income in the seventh as in other years, and therefore is not exonerated from liability to discharge a debt anymore in the one than the others.
Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:There is no inconsistency between this and Deuteronomy 15:11. 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." The general object of these precepts, as also of the year of Jubilee and the laws respecting inheritance, is to prevent the total ruin of a needy person, and his disappearance from the families of Israel by the sale of his patrimony.
Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day.
For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.
If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.literally: "Beware that there be not in thy heart a word which is worthlessness" (compare Deuteronomy 13:13 note).
Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.
And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty:
Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.Thou shalt furnish him liberally - The verb in the Hebrew is remarkable. It means "thou shalt lay on his neck," "adorn his neck with thy gifts."
And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.The commands here are repeated from Exodus 21:2-6, with amplifications relative to the maidservant Deuteronomy 15:12 and to the making (Deuteronomy 15:13 ff) liberal provision for launching the freedman on an independent course of life. The release of the servant is connected with the sabbatical principle though not with the sabbatical year. It is noteworthy also that the prospect of a gift of this sort, the amount of which was left to the master's discretion, would be likely to encourage diligence and faithfulness during the years of servitude.
And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee;
Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise.
It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest him away free from thee; for he hath been worth a double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.He hath been worth a double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years - "i. e." such a servant has earned twice as much as a common hired laborer would have done in the same time.
All the firstling males that come of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep.Compare Exodus 13:11 ff. The directions of the preceding legislation (see Numbers 18:15 ff) are here assumed, with the injunction added, that the animals thus set apart to God Deuteronomy 15:19 were not to be used by their owners for their earthly purposes. It is further allowed that firstborn animals which had a blemish should be regarded as exceptions, and instead of being given to God might be used as food Deuteronomy 15:21-22. The application of the firstborn of cattle is here directed as in Deuteronomy 12:6, Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 14:23 : they are to be consumed in the sacred Feasts at the sanctuary.
Thou shalt eat it before the LORD thy God year by year in the place which the LORD shall choose, thou and thy household.
And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy God.
Thou shalt eat it within thy gates: the unclean and the clean person shall eat it alike, as the roebuck, and as the hart.
Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it upon the ground as water.