And if your brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold to you, and serve you six years…
The seventh year was the year of personal release as well as release from debt. Slavery among the Jews was utterly unlike the slavery of modern times. It arose when a Jew became bankrupt; he might then sell his services to his creditor, and pay off his debt by honest work. But beyond sis years his service need not continue. As soon as the sabbatic year came round he could claim his liberty. In such. a case, his master is counseled to be generous when he goes, that he may have something with which to begin the world again. "Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy, floor, and out of the winepress of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him." On the other hand, if the service was so delightful to him that he would rather not leave, it was allowable to bore his ear through with an awl, that he might be recognized as a servant forever.
I. LIBERTY IS RECOGNIZED IN GOD'S LAW AS EACH MAN'S RIGHT. It may be conditioned upon certain services, just as the liberty of Israel was conditioned upon God's redemption of them from Egypt; but come at last it will. No property in persons is recognized, merely in services for a certain definite period. Man-stealing, as we know from Exodus 21:16, was a capital crime, punishable with death, so that there is really no warrant in the Jewish institution for modern slavery.ft3 Under Jewish law no involuntary servitude was allowed; and there was always the right to freedom in the sabbatic year. And is there not underlying this arrangement for each man's liberty an undertone of gospel truth? What is the gospel but a great provision for conferring spiritual liberty upon those who have sold themselves to sin, and are in bondage? The present dispensation is, in fact, the sabbatic year, wherein liberty is preached to the captives (Isaiah 61:1, 2; Luke 4:17, 18).
II. FREEDOM WAS TO BE CONFERRED IN A SPIRIT OF GENEROUS JOY. The ransomed one was not to be sent out empty-handed, but furnished liberally. Emancipation was not to be given with a grudge, but to be granted with joy and love-tokens besides. It was not to be something in which the master reluctantly acquiesced, but in which he gladly co-operated. In fact, God's joy in emancipating Israel from Egypt was to be the type of the joy of the Jewish master in liberating the slave. And here again we have the type of the spiritual joy which the emancipation of souls should ensure in all who help therein. "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." When he "drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing" (Luke 15:10-25). No joy should be so deep as this of helping the slaves of sin to spiritual freedom.
III. LOVE ALONE COULD MAKE SERVICE PERPETUAL. For it is supposable that sometimes a slave found himself so happy with his master, especially if the master had made him his son-in-law (Exodus 21:4, 5), that he preferred slavery with love to liberty with separation. In such a case it was allowed him to have his car bored and to become a perpetual slave, because a son. Such a service was indeed perfect freedom, because its spirit and motive were devotedness and love. And it is this which is taken in Psalm 40:6 as the prophetic type of the relation of Jesus Christ to his Father. He became by voluntary and loving contract the Father's Servant or Slave forever. He found his service such a delight that liberty and independence could not be thought of. And in this we surely follow in his steps. We are the Lord's slaves after having become the Lord's freemen. He delivers us from the slavery of sin, and then he introduces us to his service; and lo, we find it so blessed that we insist on our ears being bored, and our being made his slaves forever. Now obedience is the slavery of love. When Law is delighted in, it is a "law of liberty," and the soul feels freedom perfect "under Law."
"Anywhere with Jesus, says the Christian heart;
Let him take me where he will, so we do not part;
Always sitting at his feet, there's no cause for fears; -
Anywhere with Jesus in this vale of tears.
"Anywhere with Jesus, though he leadeth me
Where the path is rough and long, where the dangers be;
Though he taketh from me all I love below,
Anywhere with Jesus will I gladly go.
"Anywhere with Jesus, for it cannot be
Dreary, dark, or desolate where he is with me;
He will love me always, every need supply;
Anywhere with Jesus, should I live or die." R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.