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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 15

Verses 1-18


The year of release (15:1-18)

At the end of every seven years all Israelites were to forgive any debts that other Israelites owed them. They were to consider themselves one big family where no one should be driven into poverty or refused a loan in time of hardship, even if the year of release was approaching. God would reward those Israelites who were generous to their fellow Israelites. This law of release did not affect debts owed by foreigners. In those cases normal business procedures applied (15:1-11). (For further details concerning this seventh or sabbatical year see Leviticus 25:1-7,Leviticus 25:18-24.)

An Israelite could not keep another Israelite as a slave for more than six years. If the slave wished, he could give himself to his master for lifelong service. If he preferred to go free, his master had to give him enough goods to enable him to begin his new life satisfactorily. The master had no cause for complaint in giving this aid, as he had benefited from the slave’s cheap labour for the previous six years (12-18; see also Exodus 21:1-11).

If the Israelites ignored these and other laws concerning the sabbatical year, God would punish them by driving them out of their land and into foreign captivity. This would release those they had kept in their power, and give the land rest during their absence (Leviticus 26:34-43; 2 Chronicles 36:20-21; 2 Chronicles 36:20-21; Jeremiah 34:13-22).

Verses 19-23


Firstborn animals (15:19-23)

Since the firstborn of all animals belonged to God, people could not use them for their personal benefit (see notes on Exodus 13:1-16). Every firstborn clean animal was sacrificed to God and then eaten by the priests, unless it had some defect. In that case it was used as ordinary meat (19-23; see also Numbers 18:17-18).


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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 15". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/deuteronomy-15.html. 2005.