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The Sabbatical Year
This chapter deals with the year of release, or the Sabbatical Year, and should be compared with Leviticus 25. In addition to the rest for the land and the manumission of Hebrew slaves in the seventh year, it prescribes a release of debts (Deuteronomy 15:1-5); only, however, so far as Hebrew creditors are concerned, and proper loans, not money due on account of purchase (Deuteronomy 15:3, Deuteronomy 15:8-9).
4. Save when there shall be] RV ’Howbeit there shall be.’ The law is intended to prevent poverty.
10. ’The Lord loveth a cheerfui giver.’
1. The ideal state of matters is contemplated in Deuteronomy 15:4: here we have the actual fact. There will always be poor people, but poverty will be exceptional, if this injunction is conscientiously carried out: see Deuteronomy 15:4, Deuteronomy 15:5.
12-18. See also Exodus 21:2-6; Leviticus 25:39-46. The subject of slavery is connected with that of poverty, as it is implied here that the poor person has been sold as a slave for debt. Every seventh year the slave has to be released. He is not to be sent away empty, as the probable result would be a return to slavery. He is to be liberally furnished, so as to be in a position to earn a livelihood and make a fresh start in life. This is a very wise as well as humane prescription.
16. If a slave elect to remain in the master’s service instead of accepting release, a formal compact must be made to that effect. In Exodus 21:6 the ceremony is performed in public before the magistrates; here it seems to be private. The boring of the ear and the fastening it to the doorpost with the awl signified that the person was permanently attached to the house and was bound to obey the words of his master: cp. on Exodus 21:6.
19, 20. In Numbers 18:15-18 the firstlings of clean beasts are the perquisite of the priests. Here they are to be eaten by the owner and. his household annually at the central sanctuary. Much ingenuity has been expended in the attempt to reconcile these two regulations. The simplest explanation is that they belong to different stages of legislation.
21. Whatever is offered to God must be the best of its kind: cp. Deuteronomy 17:1, and see on Leviticus 22:17-25.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 15". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany