Deuteronomy 15:17
Then you shall take an awl, and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant for ever. And also to your maidservant you shall do likewise.
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(17) And unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise—i.e., “in furnishing her liberally” (Rashi), and “possibly also in retaining her if she will.”

It must not be supposed that this contradicts Exodus 21:7, “She shall not go out as the menservants do.” She shall not go out according to the going of the men-servants (i.e., on the same principle). It is not said, She shall not go out at all. The exceptions are given in Exodus 21:8-11, which see. The general right of release is stated here. One difference (as stated by Rashi) is that women were not liable to be sold for theft like men, but might be sold by their parents in infancy. If the girl were not marriageable when the first Sabbatical year arrived, she would obtain her freedom absolutely, because the case contemplated in Exodus 21:8-10 could not possibly arise. And, generally, we may suppose that the rights of an unmarried female slave would be the same as those of a man, to go out free in the seventh year. (See Jeremiah 34:9.)

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. For ever, i.e. all the time of his life, or, at least, till the year of jubilee. See on Exodus 21:6.

Unto thy maid-servant thou shalt do likewise, i.e. either dismiss her honourably, and with plenty of provisions; or engage her to perpetual servitude in the same manner, and by the same rites; whence it appears that this case differs from that Exodus 21:7, and that the maid-servant there was taken in upon other and better terms than this here. Then thou shall take an awl, and thrust it through his ear unto the door,.... Not of his master's house, but of the sanhedrim, or court of judicature, according to the Targum of Jonathan, before whom he was to be brought, and declare his desire to continue with his master; See Gill on Exodus 21:6,

and he shall be thy servant for ever; that is, unto the jubilee, as the same Targum; for then all servants were released, and so Jarchi calls it the ever of jubilee:

and also unto thy maidservant thou shall do likewise; not bore her ear, for, as both Jarchi and Aben Ezra, and others say, she was not to be bored; though some are of opinion that a maidservant who was willing to continue with her master was to be bored as a manservant; but this respects the manner of dismissing her, or letting her go free, when she was not to go empty, but to be liberally furnished and supplied, as a manservant was.

Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant {f} for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise.

(f) To the year of Jubile, Le 25:40.

17. thou shalt take an awl] Lit. a borer, only here and in Exodus 21:6.

and thrust it through his ear] Lit. set, or give, it; E, bore or pierce his ear. His ear because it is the organ of obedience. Cp. Psalm 40:6, mine ears thou hast opened; Isaiah 50:4 f., morning by morning he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the taught … The Lord Jehovah hath opened mine ear. In the Code of Ḫammurabi (§ 282) the slave who denies his master has his ear cut off.

unto the door] E, to the door or doorpost, i.e. of his master’s house. See Driver on Exodus 21:6, and the meaning of the other phrase there, to the Elohim, which D omits, whether because it means the local sanctuary, abolished by D’s law, or some domestic image of deity, still more repugnant to D. See Clay Trumbull, The Threshold Covenant, 210.

thy bondman for ever] i.e. for life; ‘again a good example of the relative force of the Heb. phrase for ever’ (Berth.).

And also unto thy bondwoman, etc.] See introd. note.For the poor will never cease in the land, even the land that is richly blessed, because poverty is not only the penalty of sin, but is ordained by God for punishment and discipline.
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