Jeremiah 34:14
At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear.
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(14) At the end of seven years . . .—The immediate context, “when he hath served thee six years,” shows that the liberation was intended to take place at the beginning of the seventh year. The Sabbath-year was to bring its rest to the slave as well as to the land.

Your fathers hearkened not unto me . . .—The words imply the fact already stated, that there had been a long-continued violation of the law to which the prophet refers. In Isaiah 58:6; Isaiah 61:1 (assuming the earlier date of those prophecies) we may trace a protest against that violation.

34:8-22 A Jew should not be held in servitude above seven years. This law they and their fathers had broken. And when there was some hope that the siege was raised, they forced the servants they had released into their services again. Those who think to cheat God by dissembled repentance and partial reformation, put the greatest cheat upon their own souls. This shows that liberty to sin, is really only liberty to have the sorest judgments. It is just with God to disappoint expectations of mercy, when we disappoint the expectations of duty. And when reformation springs only from terror, it is seldom lasting. Solemn vows thus entered into, profane the ordinances of God; and the most forward to bind themselves by appeals to God, are commonly most ready to break them. Let us look to our hearts, that our repentance may be real, and take care that the law of God regulates our conduct.The house of bondmen - The miserable prison in which, after being worked in the fields all day in gangs, the slaves were shut up at night.14. At the end of seven years—that is, not on the eighth year, but within the limit of the seventh year, not later than the end of the seventh year (Ex 21:2; 23:10; De 15:12). So "at the end of three years" (De 14:28; 2Ki 18:10), and "after three days, I will rise again" (Mt 27:63), that is, on the third day (compare Mt 27:64). This is but a repetition of the law, Exodus 21:2 Deu 15:12, which concerned such persons as were sold by others, or had sold themselves. God would not have his people take advantage of the sudden and rash acts of their brethren, which were the effects of passion. Notwithstanding this law the Jews, who were always a very covetous, griping people, did otherwise.

At the end of seven years,.... Not when seven years were elapsed and fully completed; but within the compass of seven years, or as soon as the seventh year was began; for this term of seven years is the term of the seventh year coming in, and not going out, as appears from the law itself, Exodus 21:9; and from an after clause in this verse, "when he hath served thee six years"; at the end of which, and the beginning of the seventh: and so Maimonides (m) interprets this law,

"he whom the sanhedrim sold served six years from the day of his sale, and at the beginning of the seventh year he was free:''

though the Vulgate Latin version very wrongly renders it, "when seven years are completed"; which version Sanctius takes a good deal of pains to reconcile to the original law. A Hebrew might sell himself for more years than six; he might sell himself for ten or twelve, as the above Jewish writer says, and nothing could release him but the year of jubilee; and that would do it, if he had served but one year (n);

let ye go every man his brother, an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; or, "hath sold himself unto thee" (o); to be a servant; for money was not given with apprentices to their masters, as is usual with us; but masters gave money for their servants, and bought them either of themselves, or of the magistrates; hence it is said, "if thou buy an Hebrew servant", &c. Exodus 21:2. A Hebrew servant was sold either against his will, or with it; if a man committed a theft, and he had not wherewith to make restoration, the sanhedrim or magistrates said him: if he was exceeding poor, the law gave him liberty to sell himself; but he might not sell himself as long as he had anything left, even a covering; and after that was gone, he might sell himself; and he was bought with silver or the value of silver or by contract or bond (p);

and when he hath served thee six years, thou shall let him go free from thee; or "from with thee" (q); from being with thee, from being in thy house, as well as from being in thy service; he was to be dismissed, so as to go where he pleased, and work for himself, or another, as he thought fit;

but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear; to obey the laws of God, and particularly this concerning servants. This is not to be understood of the fathers with whom the covenant was first made, and to whom this law was first given; but their posterity in later times, who yet lived long before the present generation, and so might with great propriety be called their fathers; and by which it appears that this law had been long neglected.

(m) Hilchot Abadim, c. 2. sect. 2.((n) Ibid. (o) "se ventdiderit tibi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (p) Hilchot Abadim, c. 1. sect. 1, 2. & c. 2. sect. 1.((q) "acuta te", Schmidt.

At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear.
14. At the end of seven years] As we should say of six (so LXX) years. In Hebrew counting of this kind both the first and the last items were reckoned in. So the jubilee was in strictness the forty-ninth (the seventh Sabbatical) not the fiftieth year. Compare the rite of circumcision administered on the eighth (seventh) day after birth, and our Lord’s Resurrection on “the third (second) day.” The words are quoted somewhat freely from Deuteronomy 15:12, rather than from the parallel passage Exodus 21:2 (“The Book of the Covenant”).

Verse 14. - At the end of seven years, etc. This is the literal rendering, but the sense, as is clear from the parallel passage in Deuteronomy 15:12, and indeed from the next clause of this very verse, is "in the seventh (not, the eighth) year." Jeremiah 34:14In Jeremiah 34:13-16 the Lord sets before the people and their rulers their new offence; in Jeremiah 34:17-22 He announces to them the punishment for this new deed by which the covenant is broken. In order to place the transgression in its proper light, He mentions, first of all, that, when He led Israel out of Egypt, He concluded with them a covenant to the effect that every one of them should set free his Hebrew servant at the end of seven years; He also mentions that their fathers had transgressed this covenant (Jeremiah 34:13, Jeremiah 34:14). The designation of Egypt as a house of bondmen, as in Exodus 13:3, Exodus 13:14; Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 6:12, etc., possesses a special emphasis, and points to what is mentioned in Deuteronomy 15:15 as the motive for obeying the law referred to in the address. Because Israel was a servant in Egypt, and the Lord has redeemed him out of this house of bondmen, therefore must they not treat as slaves their brethren who had fallen into poverty, but set them free after six years of service. The expression "at the end (after the lapse) of seven years" is to be understood in the same way as the expression "after eight days." As this just means "when seven days are completed," so also, according to the law, Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12, the emancipation was to follow in the seventh year, after six full years of service. "Who sold himself to thee" is an expression copied from Deuteronomy 15:12. - From this sin of their fathers they had now for a little turned away, and, in a solemn covenant, resolved to free the bondmen, as the law decreed (Jeremiah 34:15); but they have immediately profaned the name of the Lord again by revoking this decree, viz., by breaking the covenant made before God. לנפשׁם, "according to their pleasure," like eלנפשׁהּ, Deuteronomy 21:14.
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