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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
Deuteronomy 15

 

 

Verses 1-11

The year of release is no doubt identical with the sabbatical year of the earlier legislation (Exodus 23:10 ff, and Leviticus 25:2 ff), the command of the older legislation being here amplified. The release was probably for the year, not total and final, and had reference only to loans lent because of poverty (compare Deuteronomy 15:4, Deuteronomy 15:7). Yet even so the law was found to be too stringent for the avarice of the people, because it was one of those which the rabbis “made of none effect by their traditions.”

Deuteronomy 15:2

Because it is called the Lord‘s release - Render, because proclamation has been made of the Lord‘s release. The verb is impersonal, and implies (compare Deuteronomy 31:10) that “the solemnity of the year of release” has been publicly announced.

Deuteronomy 15:3

The foreigner would not be bound by the restriction of the sabbatical year, and therefore would have no claim to its special remissions and privileges. He could earn his usual income in the seventh as in other years, and therefore is not exonerated from liability to discharge a debt anymore in the one than the others.

Deuteronomy 15:4

There is no inconsistency between this and Deuteronomy 15:11. The meaning seems simply to be, “Thou must release the debt for the year, except when there be no poor person concerned, a contingency which may happen, for the Lord shall greatly bless thee.” The general object of these precepts, as also of the year of Jubilee and the laws respecting inheritance, is to prevent the total ruin of a needy person, and his disappearance from the families of Israel by the sale of his patrimony.

Deuteronomy 15:9

literally: “Beware that there be not in thy heart a word which is worthlessness” (compare Deuteronomy 13:13 note).


Verse 14

Thou shalt furnish him liberally - The verb in the Hebrew is remarkable. It means “thou shalt lay on his neck,” “adorn his neck with thy gifts.”


Verses 15-18

The commands here are repeated from Exodus 21:2-6, with amplifications relative to the maidservant Deuteronomy 15:12 and to the making (Deuteronomy 15:13 ff) liberal provision for launching the freedman on an independent course of life. The release of the servant is connected with the sabbatical principle though not with the sabbatical year. It is noteworthy also that the prospect of a gift of this sort, the amount of which was left to the master‘s discretion, would be likely to encourage diligence and faithfulness during the years of servitude.

Deuteronomy 15:18

He hath been worth a double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years - “i. e.” such a servant has earned twice as much as a common hired laborer would have done in the same time.


Verses 19-23

Compare Exodus 13:11 ff. The directions of the preceding legislation (see Numbers 18:15 ff) are here assumed, with the injunction added, that the animals thus set apart to God Deuteronomy 15:19 were not to be used by their owners for their earthly purposes. It is further allowed that firstborn animals which had a blemish should be regarded as exceptions, and instead of being given to God might be used as food Deuteronomy 15:21-22. The application of the firstborn of cattle is here directed as in Deuteronomy 12:6, Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 14:23: they are to be consumed in the sacred Feasts at the sanctuary.

 


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Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 15:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/deuteronomy-15.html. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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