Deuteronomy 15:16
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;
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15:12-18 Here the law concerning Hebrew servants is repeated. There is an addition, requiring the masters to put some small stock into their servants' hands to set up with for themselves, when sent out of their servitude, wherein they had received no wages. We may expect family blessings, the springs of family prosperity, when we make conscience of our duty to our family relations. We are to remember that we are debtors to Divine justice, and have nothing to pay with. That we are slaves, poor, and perishing. But the Lord Jesus Christ, by becoming poor, and by shedding his blood, has made a full and free provision for the payment of our debts, the ransom of our souls, and the supply of all our wants. When the gospel is clearly preached, the acceptable year of the Lord is proclaimed; the year of release of our debts, of the deliverance of our souls, and of obtaining rest in him. And as faith in Christ and love to him prevail, they will triumph over the selfishness of the heart, and over the unkindness of the world, doing away the excuses that rise from unbelief, distrust, and covetousness.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.16, 17. if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee—If they declined to avail themselves of the privilege of release and chose to remain with their master, then by a peculiar form of ceremony they became a party to the transaction, voluntarily sold themselves to their employer, and continued in his service till death. Because he is sensible that he fares well with thee. Or, because it is good, i.e. acceptable in his eyes, or pleasing to him, to be

with thee.

And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee,.... Out of his house, nor quit his service:

because he loveth thee and thine house; his master and his family, and so loath to leave them, but chooses rather to stay with them than have his liberty; hence the Jews say (k), if his master has not a wife and children, his ear is not to be bored:

because he is well with thee; lives well with him, is well used by him, wants for nothing, and enjoys peace and quietness, and has everything to make him happy as such a state will admit of, and with the which he is well contented, and highly pleased. This is an emblem of the cheerful and constant obedience of the people of Christ to him their master, flowing from love to him; whom they love above all persons and things, with all their heart and soul, and his house also, the place of his worship, his ordinances, truths, ministers and children; and therefore choose to be where they are, finding that they are there well used, fare well, having bread enough and to spare, spiritual provisions in plenty; are well clothed with the righteousness of Christ, have the good company of the saints and excellent in the earth, in whom is all their delight; and, above all, the presence of their Lord and master, and the smiles of his countenance.

(k) Maimon. in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 1. sect. 2.

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;
16. And it shall be, if he say unto thee] E, Exodus 21:5, more simply And if the slave say.

I will not go out from thee] E, I will not go out free. On go out, cp. Deuteronomy 13:13.

because he loveth thee and thine house] On the treatment of slaves see introd. note.

Verses 16, 17. - It might happen, however, that the slave chose rather to remain with his master than to be manumitted, and in that case he was not to be forced to go free, which would be a hardship to him, but was to be, by a formal process of nailing his ear to the door of his master's house, constituted his slave for life (cf. Exodus 21:5). This was not a painful operation, especially as the servant's ear was probably already pierced for a ring; nor does any infamy appear to have been attached to the bearing of this badge of perpetual servitude. There is no mention here, as in Exodus, of the matter being referred to the judges; and this has led some to suppose that, by the time this later prescription was given, the earlier usage had passed away; but it is more natural to suppose that this usage was so regular and well known that it was needless formally to announce it. Deuteronomy 15:16But if the man-servant and the maid-servant should not wish for liberty in the sixth year, because it was well with them in the house of their master, they were not to be compelled to go, but were to be bound to eternal, i.e., lifelong bondage, in the manner prescribed in Exodus 21:5-6.

(Note: Knobel's assertion, that the judicial process enjoined in Exodus 21:6 does not seem to have been usual in the author's own time, is a worthless argumentum e silentio.)

This is repeated from Exodus 21, to guard against such an application of the law as might be really cruelty under the circumstances rather than love. Manumission was only an act of love, when the person to be set free had some hope of success and of getting a living for himself; and where there was no such prospect, compelling him to accept of freedom might be equivalent to thrusting him away.

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