Deuteronomy 15:4
Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance to possess it:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Save when there shall be no poor (man) among you.—This clause is the source of a very interesting passage in the Acts of the Apostles, Deuteronomy 4:34, “Great grace was upon them all, for neither was there among them any (one) that lacked” The words at the beginning of the verse in Hebrew, “save when” may also be rendered (as in the Margin) “to the end that,” or “to such an extent that there shall be no poor man among you.” Those who can well afford to pay need not be excused from their obligations.

For the Lord thy God shall greatly bless thee.—So in Acts 4:33, “Great grace was upon them all.” The blessing need not be equal and universal prosperity, if those who have the good things of this world will always remember the poor to such an extent that no member of the community shall be left in want.

Deuteronomy 15:4. Save when there shall be no poor — The words may be rendered thus, as in the margin of our Bibles: To the end that there be no poor among you. And so they contain a reason of this law; namely, that none be empoverished and ruined by a rigid exaction of debts. For the Lord shall greatly bless thee — If in this and other things you be obedient, God will so abundantly bless you that you shall be well able to forbear the requiring of your debts on the sabbatic year.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.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.4. Save when there shall be no poor man among you—Apparently a qualifying clause added to limit the application of the foregoing statement [De 15:3]; so that "the brother" to be released pointed to a poor borrower, whereas it is implied that if he were rich, the restoration of the loan might be demanded even during that year. But the words may properly be rendered (as on the Margin) to the end, in order that there may be no poor among you—that is, that none be reduced to inconvenient straits and poverty by unseasonable exaction of debts at a time when there was no labor and no produce, and that all may enjoy comfort and prosperity, which will be the case through the special blessing of God on the land, provided they are obedient. When there shall be no poor: so the words are an exception to the foregoing clause, which they restrain to the poor, and imply that if his brother was rich, he might exact his debt of him in that year. And indeed this law seems to be chiefly, if not wholly, designed and given in favour to the poor and to the borrower, as is manifest from Deu 15:6-11. But the words are and may be rendered thus, as in the margin of our Bibles, To the end that there be no poor among you. And so they contain a reason of this law, to wit, that none be impoverished and ruined by a rigid and unseasonable exaction of debts. They may also be translated thus, Nevertheless of a truth, or assuredly, (as the particle chi is oft used,) there shall be no poor along you; and the sense may be this, Though I impose this law upon you, which may seem hard and grievous, yet the truth is, supposing your performance of the conditions of God’s covenant, you shall not have any great occasion to exercise your charity and kindness in this matter, for God will greatly bless you, &c., so as you shall be in a capacity of lending, and few or none of you will have need to borrow, and thereby to expose his brethren to the inconvenience and burden of this law. Thus the connexion is plain and easy, both with the foregoing and following words.

Object. It is said, the poor should never cease, Deu 15:11.

Answ. That also is true, and affirmed by God, because he foresaw they would not perform their duty, and therefore would bereave themselves of the promised blessing.

The Lord shall greatly bless thee; and therefore this will be no great inconvenience nor burden to thee. Save when there shall be no poor among you,.... Then such a law could not take place, there would be no debts to be released; for this was never designed to screen rich persons from the payment of their just debts, or whoever were in a capacity of so doing, only such as were really poor, and unable to pay; and it supposes that this might sometimes be the case, that there were none poor in Israel, or needed the benefit of such a law; and, according to the Targum of Jonathan, it is suggested there would be none, if they were observant of the commands of God: and some take it for a promise, rendering the words "nevertheless" (c), notwithstanding such a law:

there shall be no poor among you; but then it must be understood conditionally: others interpret this as the end to be answered by this law, "to the end (d) there may be no poor among you"; by observing this law, all debts being released once in seven years, it would prevent persons falling into distress and poverty, to such a degree as to be in want, and become beggars; and Julian the emperor observes, that none of the Jews begged (e), which he attributes to the care that was taken of their poor:

for the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it; which is either a reason why there would be no poor, should they observe the commandments of the Lord; or a reason why they should release the debts of the poor because they were so greatly blessed with a fruitful land, which brought them such an increase, as enabled them to free their poor debtors, when in circumstances unable to pay them.

(c) "veruntamen", Munster. (d) "To the end that there be not", Ainsworth; so the margin of the Bible. (e) Opera, par. 2. Ep. 49. p. 204.

{b} 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:

(b) For if your debtor is rich, he may be forced to pay.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Howbeit there shall be no poor with thee] Dillm. etc. transl.: should be no poor. But this is not a correct rendering of the Heb. which uses the positive form of the vb.; and it weakens the writer’s confident emphasis on his ideal. He is stating not so much what should be as what shall be, if only (raḳ: see on Deuteronomy 10:15) Israel obeys the law (Deuteronomy 15:5). See introd. note above. The rest of Deuteronomy 15:4 is a parenthesis, and probably a later expansion.

for the Lord will surely bless thee] Sam., LXX add thy God; cp. Deuteronomy 2:7, Deuteronomy 28:8.

giveth thee for an inheritance, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 4:21.Verse 4. - Save when there shall be no poor among you; rather, only that there shall be no poor among you; q.d., this ordinance is not intended to prevent creditors seeking the payment of their just debts, but only to prevent there being poor in the land. The reason assigned is that the Lord would greatly bless them in the land which he had given them, so that the creditor would be no loser by refraining from exacting his debt from his brother in the seventh year. "Turn it into money," lit., "give it up for silver," sc., the produce of the tithe; "and bind the silver in thy hand," const. praegnans for "bind it in a purse and take it in thy hand...and give the silver for all that thy soul desireth, for oxen and small cattle, for wine and strong drink," to hold a joyous meal, to which the Levite was also to be invited (as in Deuteronomy 12:12, Deuteronomy 12:18, and Deuteronomy 12:19).
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