Leviticus 25:35
And if your brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with you; then you shall relieve him: yes, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with you.
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(35) And if thy brother be waxen poor.—This part of the jubile laws which relates to the manumission of the Israelites who through poverty are compelled to sell themselves as bondsmen (Leviticus 25:39-55) is introduced by a pathetic appeal to the benevolence of the people to bestow brotherly help to the poor (Leviticus 25:35-38).

And fallen in decay with thee.—Literally, and his hand wavered with thee, that is, when it is weak and can no longer render support, or gain a livelihood. As the laws of jubile guard the future interests of the Israelite who is driven by stress of poverty to sell his patrimony, the Lawgiver now points out the duties of each member of the community to the impoverished brother who has to wait till the year of jubile for the restoration of his property, but who in the meantime is unable to support himself.

Then thou shalt relieve him.—Literally, thou shalt lay hold of him. When his hand is thus trembling, it is the duty of every Israelite to support his weak hand, and enable it to gain a livelihood.

Though he be a stranger, or a sojourner.—Better, as a stranger and a sojourner, that is, he is not to be treated like an outcast because he has been compelled by poverty to sell his patrimony, but is to receive the same consideration which strangers and sojourners receive, who, like the unfortunate Israelite, have no landed property. (See Leviticus 19:33-34.)

25:35-38 Poverty and decay are great grievances, and very common; the poor ye have always with you. Thou shalt relieve him; by sympathy, pitying the poor; by service, doing for them; and by supply, giving to them according to their necessity, and thine ability. Poor debtors must not be oppressed. Observe the arguments here used against extortion: Fear thy God. Relieve the poor, that they may live with thee; for they may be serviceable to thee. The rich can as ill spare the poor, as the poor can the rich. It becomes those that have received mercy to show mercy.Rather, And if thy brother (an Israelite) becomes poor and falls into decay with thee, thou shalt assist him and let him live with thee like a resident foreigner. He was not to be regarded as an outcast, but was to be treated with the same respect and consideration as a resident foreigner who, like him, could possess no land, but could accumulate property and live in comfort as a free man. See Leviticus 16:29 note. 35-38. if thy brother be waxen poor, … relieve him—This was a most benevolent provision for the poor and unfortunate, designed to aid them or alleviate the evils of their condition. Whether a native Israelite or a mere sojourner, his richer neighbor was required to give him food, lodging, and a supply of money without usury. Usury was severely condemned (Ps 15:5; Eze 18:8, 17), but the prohibition cannot be considered as applicable to the modern practice of men in business, borrowing and lending at legal rates of interest. Fallen in decay, Heb. his hand wavereth, of faileth

or is decayed so that he hath not power to get or keep wealth, as the phrase is, Deu 8:18; as on the contrary, when a man is able, his hand is said to attain and find sufficiency, as here above, Leviticus 25:26.

Relieve him, Heb. strengthen him, comfort his heart, and strengthen his hand.

A sojourner; understand it of proselytes only, for of other strangers they were permitted to take usury, Deu 23:20. And if thy brother be waxen poor,.... An Israelite, as Aben Ezra, be reduced to a low estate, through afflictions in body, or in family, or through losses in trade, or want of business, or through one providence or another:

and fallen in decay with thee; in his worldly substance: or "his hand wavers", or "fails" (p); so that he cannot support himself and his family, has not a sufficiency, or it is not in the power of his hands to do it; and it is not owing to sloth and negligence, but to unavoidable want and necessity:

then thou shalt relieve him; not merely by sympathizing with him, but by communicating to him, and distributing to his necessities; holding him up that he may not utterly fall, and strengthening his hands, that he may have a supply for his present wants:

yea, though he be a stranger or a sojourner; whether a proselyte of righteousness, who is circumcised, and in all things conforms to the true religion; or a proselyte of the gate, who takes it upon him not to worship idols, and eat things that die of themselves, as Jarchi notes:

that he may live with thee; continue in the land of Canaan, and not be obliged to quit it, and be laid under temptations of apostatizing from the true religion professed by him, and so far as he is come into it, which would bring a worse death than corporeal upon him; or that he may have a livelihood in some tolerable manner at least, and even live comfortably and cheerfully.

(p) "et nutaverit manus ejus", Montanus, Vatablus, Fagius; "vacillabit", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And if thy brother be waxen poor, and {r} fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.

(r) In Hebrew it is, if his hand shake: meaning if he stretch forth his hand for help as one in misery.

35. be waxen poor] See on Leviticus 25:25.

his hand fail with thee] i.e. if he lose his power of self-support by personal effort, and thou art able as a neighbour to help him.

uphold] The text gives the literal sense of the Heb. verb, and the mg., relieve, its application in this context.

as a stranger and a sojourner shall he live with thee] The Heb. rather connects the first words of the clause with that which precedes, and so Dillm. and Driver (with the LXX.) suppose that the two substantives are a later insertion here under the influence of Leviticus 25:23; Leviticus 25:47.

35–38. Prohibition of usury in the case of a poor Israelite (H with perhaps a slight admixture of P)Verses 35-38. - Slavery. It is presumed that no Hebrew will become a slave except on the pressure of poverty, and this poverty his brethren are commanded to relieve; but foreseeing that either want of charity on the part of the rich or unthrift on the part of the poor would certainly bring about slavery, the legislator makes regulations so as to soften its character as far as possible. The literal translation of verse 35 is as follows: If thy brother becomes poor, and his hand faileth by thee, thou shalt lay hold of him; a stranger or a sojourner that he may live with thee. The translation of the latter clause adopted by the Authorized Version, yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee, makes the duty of giving charitable support and loans of money to apply to the case of the stranger and sojourner as well as of the Israelite. The other and more probable rendering confines its application to native Israelites. If thy brother becomes poor, and his hand faileth, thou shalt support him as a stranger or a sojourner, that is, treat him with the forbearance shown to resident foreigners, to whose state he had reduced himself by the loss of his land. The command in verse 36, Take thou no usury of him, or increase, does not bear upon the general question of taking interest for money when lent to wealthy men or companies for business purposes. It simply forbids the taking of interest or increase of a brother Israelite who had become poor. The history of Rome shows how much cruelty and revolution such an injunction may have prevented. The words, or increase, added to usury, forbid the exaction of any greater quantity of food or clothing (a method of evading the law against usury) than that which had been lent. The injunction was transgressed in the time of Nehemiah, when "he rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother.... Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer" (Nehemiah 5:7, 8). Alienation and redemption of houses. - Leviticus 25:29, Leviticus 25:30. On the sale of a dwelling-house in a wall-town (a town surrounded by a wall) there was to be redemption till the completion of the year of its purchase. ימים, "days (i.e., a definite period) shall its redemption be;" that is to say, the right of redemption or repurchase should be retained. If it was not redeemed within the year, it remained to the buyer for ever for his descendants, and did not go out free in the year of jubilee. קם to arise for a possession, i.e., to become a fixed standing possession, as in Genesis 23:17. לא אשׁר for לו אשׁר as in Leviticus 11:21 (see at Exodus 21:8). This law is founded upon the assumption, that the houses in unwalled towns are not so closely connected with the ownership of the land, as that the alienation of the houses would alter the portion originally assigned to each family for a possession. Having been built by men, they belonged to their owners in full possession, whether they had received them just as they were at the conquest of the land, or had erected them for themselves. This last point of view, however, was altogether a subordinate one; for in the case of "the houses of the villages" (i.e., farm-buildings and villages, see Joshua 13:23, etc.), which had no walls round them, it was not taken into consideration at all.
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