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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Deuteronomy 15

Deuteronomy 12-26, 28. A code of laws (Deuteronomy 1-26) followed by promises to the obedient and threats of punishment for the rest (Deuteronomy 28): see Introd., p. 231. The great Deuteronomic law of one sanctuary is taught or implied in Deuteronomy 12:1 to Deuteronomy 19:13 and hardly in any other part of Dt. This section may, therefore, represent essentially the original Deuteronomic code (see Introd.).

Verses 1-18

Deuteronomy 15:1-18 . Three laws in the interest of the poor: the Sabbatical year, or year of release (p. 102, Exodus 21:2-11 *, Leviticus 25:39-55 *).

Deuteronomy 15:1-6. Every seventh year (probably the same year was observed throughout the country) a creditor’ s right to distrain for debt was suspended (not, as some say, permanently cancelled). Foreigners, however (not sojourners, see Deuteronomy 1:16 *) were deprived of this privilege ( Deuteronomy 15:1-3). If, however, obedient to Yahweh, Israel would not need to borrow ( Deuteronomy 15:4-6).

Deuteronomy 15:1 . release: lit. “ a letting drop.”

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 . The proximity of the year of release must not be allowed to check the flow of ordinary charity.

Deuteronomy 15:9. The evil eye ( Deuteronomy 28:54-56) implies among many peoples jealousy (see Matthew 20:15).

Deuteronomy 15:12-18 . See Exodus 21:2-6 * (JE), the older, and Leviticus 25:39-46 (H), the later law, also p. 110. D goes beyond JE by including woman ( Deuteronomy 15:12). H, however, allows foreigners (not sojourners) only to be slaves to Hebrews. CH, though it shows some concern for widows and the oppressed (§§ 171, 177) is yet on the whole a code of justice rather than one of pity for the needy; it makes a striking difference in the treatment of men and women (§ 193) and rich and poor (§§ 14, 196, 202). D shows great concern for the sojourner ( Deuteronomy 1:16 *), the poor and the slave ( Deuteronomy 23:15 f.), and recognises the claims of even dumb animals ( Deuteronomy 22:6 f., Deuteronomy 25:4); the Babylonian code does none of those things.

Deuteronomy 15:17 . For this rite (here a domestic one) see Exodus 21:6 *, where it is a religious act. The change is necessitated by the Deuteronomic law of one sanctuary. The servant could not travel to Jerusalem in all such cases. [This is the view taken on p. 128, but possibly Exodus 21:6 contemplates taking the slave, not to the local sanctuary but to the threshold deities of the master’ s house ( Exodus 12:22 *). In that case the regulation is the same as here; but the Deuteronomist naturally drops the too heathenish reference to the Elohim.— A. S. P.]

Deuteronomy 15:18 . the double, etc.: i.e. the master would have had to pay double what the slave had cost to a labourer hired in the usual way to do the same quantity of work.

Verses 19-23

Deuteronomy 15:19-23 . The law concerning the first-born of cattle (not to be ploughed with) and sheep (not to be shorn) (see Exodus 13:11-16 *, Exodus 22:29 f.*, Exodus 34:19 f. (all JE), and Numbers 18:15-18 * (P)). The older laws are here modified to suit the law of one sanctuary, where alone the sacrificial family meal is now to be eaten. Exodus 22:30 cannot therefore be carried out. P reserves all the flesh for the priesthood ( Deuteronomy 14:22-29 *).

Deuteronomy 15:22 . See Deuteronomy 12:15.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 15". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/deuteronomy-15.html. 1919.