Deuteronomy 15:2
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.
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Deuteronomy 15:2. Every creditor that lendeth aught shall release it — This cannot be meant of money lent to those who had borrowed it for the purchase of lands, trade, or other improvements, and who were able to pay; for nothing could have been more absurd than to have extinguished such debts, whereby the borrower was enriched. But it must be understood of money lent to an Israelite who was in poor circumstances, as appears from verse

4. According to this law, every poor Israelite who had borrowed money, and had not been able to pay it before, should this year be released from it. And though, if he were able, he was bound in conscience to pay it afterward, yet it could not be recovered by law. His brother — This is added to limit the word neighbour, which is more general, unto a brother, in nation and religion, an Israelite. The Lord’s release — Or, a release for the Lord, in obedience to his command, for his honour, and as an acknowledgment of his right in your estates, and of his kindness in giving and continuing them to you.

15:1-11 This year of release typified the grace of the gospel, in which is proclaimed the acceptable year of the Lord; and by which we obtain the release of our debts, that is, the pardon of our sins. The law is spiritual, and lays restraints upon the thoughts of the heart. We mistake, if we think thoughts are free from God's knowledge and check. That is a wicked heart indeed, which raises evil thoughts from the good law of God, as theirs did, who, because God had obliged them to the charity of forgiving, denied the charity of giving. Those who would keep from the act of sin, must keep out of their minds the very thought of sin. It is a dreadful thing to have the cry of the poor justly against us. Grudge not a kindness to thy brother; distrust not the providence of God. What thou doest, do freely, for God loves a cheerful giver, 2Co 9:7.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.2. Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it—not by an absolute discharge of the debt, but by passing over that year without exacting payment. The relief was temporary and peculiar to that year during which there was a total suspension of agricultural labor.

he shall not exact it … of his brother—that is, an Israelite, so called in opposition to a stranger or foreigner.

because it is called the Lord's release—The reason for acquitting a debtor at that particular period proceeded from obedience to the command, and a regard for the honor, of God; an acknowledgment of holding their property of Him, and gratitude for His kindness.

Shall release it; not absolutely and finally forgive it, but forbear it for that year, as may appear,

1. Because the word doth not signify a total dismission or acquitting, but an intermission for a time, as Exodus 23:11. He shall not exact it, as it here follows, i.e. force it from him by course of law or otherwise, to wit, that year, which is easily understood out of the whole context.

2. Because the person releasing is called a creditor, and his communicating to him what he desires and needs is called lending here and Deu 15:8; whereas it were giving, and the person giving it were no creditor, but a donor, if it were to be wholly forgiven to him.

3. Because the reason of this law is temporary and peculiar to that year, wherein there being no sowing nor reaping, they were not in a capacity to pay their debts.

4. Because it seems unjust and unreasonable, and contrary to other scriptures, which require men to pay what they borrow, as Psalm 37:21. Yet I deny not that in case of poverty the debt was to be forgiven; but that was not by virtue of this law, but of other commands of God.

Or of his brother: this is added to explain and limit the word

neighbour, which is more general, unto a brother, to wit, in nation and religion; to an Israelite, who is opposed to a foreigner, Deu 15:3, Heb. and a brother, for that is a brother, the particle and being oft so used, as Genesis 13:15, &c.

The Lord’s release; or, a release to or for the Lord, in obedience to his command, for his honour, and as an acknowledgment of his right in your estates, and of his kindness in giving and continuing them to you. If you are unwilling to release this for your brother’s sake, yet do it for God’s sake, your Lord and the chief Creditor.

And this is the manner of the release,.... Or the rules to be observed in making it:

every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; that is, forgive the debt, or free the debtor from any obligation to payment. Some think this was only a release of debts for this year, in which there was no ploughing nor sowing, and so a poor man could not be in any circumstances to pay his debts, but might be exacted afterwards; but it rather seems to be a full release, so as the payment of them might not be demanded, neither this year nor afterwards; indeed, if a person afterwards should be in a capacity to pay his debts, he would be obliged, in conscience, duty, and honour, to pay them, though no reserve was made in this law, which nowhere appears:

he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother: he might receive it, if payment was offered, but he might not demand it, or sue for it; or give his neighbour or brother, whether in a natural or religious sense, any trouble about it: the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it,"his brother, an Israelite;''one of the same nation and religion with him, though he might not be related in the bonds of consanguinity:

because it is called the Lord's release; appointed and commanded by him, and was for his honour and glory, as a God gracious and merciful to the poor, and beneficent to those creditors; and which was proclaimed in his name, by the civil magistrate, according to his order; so the Targum of Jonathan,"because the house of judgment, or the sanhedrim, proclaimed it a release before the Lord.''Now this was typical of a release of debts, or of forgiveness of sins, which is an act of God's grace through Christ, and for his sake. Sins are called debts, not what men owe to God, for then it would be right to commit them, and they might be committed with impunity, yea, with praise, since it would be doing what is fit and right, and well pleasing to God; but men are debtors to fulfil the law, and in case of failure, or a breach of it, are bound to the debt of punishment; and these debts are very numerous, and men are incapable of paying them: and by a release of these is meant not a liberty of sinning, nor a freedom from the being or bondage of sin, but from the guilt of it, and from obligation to punishment for it; and is properly the forgiveness of sin, which is expressed by various phrases, as a non-imputation, a non-remembrance, a covering, blotting out, and removing of sin, and here typically a release of debts; see Matthew 6:12, and God only can make it; he is the creditor, sin is committed against him, and he only can forgive it, which he does freely, fully, and at once, see Luke 7:41.

And this is the manner of the release: Every {a} 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.

(a) He shall only release his debtors, who are not able to pay for that year.

2. And this is the manner of the release] Lit. the word or law (or as we might say text) of: cp. Deuteronomy 19:4 R.V. this is the case of. The following clause is a citation of an older law, as we see further from its phrasing.

every creditor] Lit. every owner (ba‘al cp. Exodus 22:14) of a loan of his hand, of anything he has lifted or made over at his own hand.

neighbour] Heb. rçă‘, very seldom used with the Sg. address for fellow-Israelite, and possibly always, as here, in quotations, Deuteronomy 19:4 f., Deuteronomy 23:24 f., Deuteronomy 24:10. The synonymous term, brother, is used by the writer of the Sg. about 25 times, and has probably been inserted by him in this citation (Steuern.).

the Lord’s release] by His order, or for His sake.

hath been proclaimed] which shows that this year is the same for the whole nation.

Verse 2. - Creditor; literally, master of the loan of his hand, equivalent to owner of what his hand has lent to another. Comp. the expression, "what was laid in his hand" (Leviticus 5:21; Authorized Version, "in fellowship," Leviticus 6:2); and Nehemiah 10:32, "the debt of every hand" (Authorized Version, "the exaction of every debt"). Neighbor; here, fellow-Israelite. Exact it of his neighbor; literally, press or urge his neighbor, i.e. to pay. It is called the Lord's release; rather, a release for Jehovah is proclaimed; the sabbatical year, like the year of jubilee, was proclaimed, and it was for Jehovah, in his honor, and in accordance with his ordinance. Deuteronomy 15:2On the Year of Release. - The first two regulations in this chapter, viz., Deuteronomy 15:1-11 and Deuteronomy 15:12-18, follow simply upon the law concerning the poor tithe in Deuteronomy 14:28-29. The Israelites were not only to cause those who had no possessions (Levites, strangers, widows, and orphans) to refresh themselves with the produce of their inheritance, but they were not to force and oppress the poor. Debtors especially were not to be deprived of the blessings of the sabbatical year (Deuteronomy 15:1-6). "At the end of seven years thou shalt make a release." The expression, "at the end of seven years," is to be understood in the same way as the corresponding phrase, "at the end of three years," in Deuteronomy 14:28. The end of seven years, i.e., of the seven years' cycle formed by the sabbatical year, is mentioned as the time when debts that had been contracted were usually wiped off or demanded, after the year's harvest had been gathered in (cf. Deuteronomy 31:10, according to which the feast of Tabernacles occurred at the end of the year). שׁמטּה, from שׁמט morf ,, to let lie, to let go (cf. Exodus 23:11), does not signify a remission of the debt, the relinquishing of all claim for payment, as Philo and the Talmudists affirm, but simply lengthening the term, not pressing for payment. This is the explanation in Deuteronomy 15:2 : "This is the manner of the release" (shemittah): cf. Deuteronomy 19:4; 1 Kings 9:15. "Every owner of a loan of his hand shall release (leave) what he has lent to his neighbour; he shall not press his neighbour, and indeed his brother; for they have proclaimed release for Jehovah." As שׁמוט (release) points unmistakeably back to Exodus 23:11, it must be interpreted in the same manner here as there. And as it is not used there to denote the entire renunciation of a field or possession, so here it cannot mean the entire renunciation of what had been lent, but simply leaving it, i.e., not pressing for it during the seventh year. This is favoured by what follows, "thou shalt not press thy neighbour," which simply forbids an unreserved demand, but does not require that the debt should be remitted or presented to the debtor (see also Bhr, Symbolik, ii. pp. 570-1). "The loan of the hand:" what the hand has lent to another. "The master of the loan of the hand:" i.e., the owner of a loan, the lender. "His brother" defines with greater precision the idea of "a neighbour." Calling a release, presupposes that the sabbatical year was publicly proclaimed, like the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:9). קרא is impersonal ("they call"), as in Genesis 11:9 and Genesis 16:14. "For Jehovah:" i.e., in honour of Jehovah, sanctified to Him, as in Exodus 12:42. - This law points back to the institution of the sabbatical year in Exodus 23:10; Leviticus 25:2-7, though it is not to be regarded as an appendix to the law of the sabbatical year, or an expansion of it, but simply as an exposition of what was already implied in the main provision of that law, viz., that the cultivation of the land should be suspended in the sabbatical year. If no harvest was gathered in, and even such produce as had grown without sowing was to be left to the poor and the beasts of the field, the landowner could have no income from which to pay his debts. The fact that the "sabbatical year" is not expressly mentioned, may be accounted for on the ground, that even in the principal law itself this name does not occur; and it is simply commanded that every seventh year there was to be a sabbath of rest to the land (Leviticus 25:4). In the subsequent passages in which it is referred to (Deuteronomy 15:9 and Deuteronomy 31:10), it is still not called a sabbatical year, but simply the "year of release," and that not merely with reference to debtors, but also with reference to the release (Shemittah) to be allowed to the field (Exodus 23:11).
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