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Deuteronomy 15:2-14

15:2 This is the nature of the cancellation: Every creditor must remit what he has loaned to another person; 1  he must not force payment from his fellow Israelite, 2  for it is to be recognized as “the Lord’s cancellation of debts.” 15:3 You may exact payment from a foreigner, but whatever your fellow Israelite 3  owes you, you must remit. 15:4 However, there should not be any poor among you, for the Lord 4  will surely bless 5  you in the land that he 6  is giving you as an inheritance, 7  15:5 if you carefully obey 8  him 9  by keeping 10  all these commandments that I am giving 11  you today. 15:6 For the Lord your God will bless you just as he has promised; you will lend to many nations but will not borrow from any, and you will rule over many nations but they will not rule over you.

The Spirit of Liberality

15:7 If a fellow Israelite 12  from one of your villages 13  in the land that the Lord your God is giving you should be poor, you must not harden your heart or be insensitive 14  to his impoverished condition. 15  15:8 Instead, you must be sure to open your hand to him and generously lend 16  him whatever he needs. 17  15:9 Be careful lest you entertain the wicked thought that the seventh year, the year of cancellation of debts, has almost arrived, and your attitude 18  be wrong toward your impoverished fellow Israelite 19  and you do not lend 20  him anything; he will cry out to the Lord against you and you will be regarded as having sinned. 21  15:10 You must by all means lend 22  to him and not be upset by doing it, 23  for because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you attempt. 15:11 There will never cease to be some poor people in the land; therefore, I am commanding you to make sure you open 24  your hand to your fellow Israelites 25  who are needy and poor in your land.

Release of Debt Slaves

15:12 If your fellow Hebrew 26  – whether male or female 27  – is sold to you and serves you for six years, then in the seventh year you must let that servant 28  go free. 29  15:13 If you set them free, you must not send them away empty-handed. 15:14 You must supply them generously 30  from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress – as the Lord your God has blessed you, you must give to them.

1 tn Heb “his neighbor,” used idiomatically to refer to another person.

2 tn Heb “his neighbor and his brother.” The words “his brother” may be a scribal gloss identifying “his neighbor” (on this idiom, see the preceding note) as a fellow Israelite (cf. v. 3). In this case the conjunction before “his brother” does not introduce a second category, but rather has the force of “that is.”

3 tn Heb “your brother.”

4 tc After the phrase “the Lord” many mss and versions add “your God” to complete the usual full epithet.

5 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with “surely.” Note however, that the use is rhetorical, for the next verse attaches a condition.

6 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

7 tn The Hebrew text includes “to possess.”

8 tn Heb “if listening you listen to the voice of.” The infinitive absolute is used for emphasis, which the translation indicates with “carefully.” The idiom “listen to the voice” means “obey.”

9 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 15:4.

10 tn Heb “by being careful to do.”

11 tn Heb “commanding” (so NASB); NAB “which I enjoin you today.”

12 tn Heb “one of your brothers” (so NASB); NAB “one of your kinsmen”; NRSV “a member of your community.” See the note at v. 2.

13 tn Heb “gates.”

14 tn Heb “withdraw your hand.” Cf. NIV “hardhearted or tightfisted” (NRSV and NLT similar).

15 tn Heb “from your needy brother.”

16 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute before both verbs. The translation indicates the emphasis with the words “be sure to” and “generously,” respectively.

17 tn Heb “whatever his need that he needs for himself.” This redundant expression has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons.

18 tn Heb “your eye.”

19 tn Heb “your needy brother.”

20 tn Heb “give” (likewise in v. 10).

21 tn Heb “it will be a sin to you.”

22 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with “by all means.”

23 tc Heb “your heart must not be grieved in giving to him.” The LXX and Orig add, “you shall surely lend to him sufficient for his need,” a suggestion based on the same basic idea in v. 8. Such slavish adherence to stock phrases is without warrant in most cases, and certainly here.

24 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with “make sure.”

25 tn Heb “your brother.”

26 sn Elsewhere in the OT, the Israelites are called “Hebrews” (עִבְרִי, ’ivriy) by outsiders, rarely by themselves (cf. Gen 14:13; 39:14, 17; 41:12; Exod 1:15, 16, 19; 2:6, 7, 11, 13; 1 Sam 4:6; Jonah 1:9). Thus, here and in the parallel passage in Exod 21:2-6 the term עִבְרִי may designate non-Israelites, specifically a people well-known throughout the ancient Near East as ’apiru or habiru. They lived a rather vagabond lifestyle, frequently hiring themselves out as laborers or mercenary soldiers. While accounting nicely for the surprising use of the term here in an Israelite law code, the suggestion has against it the unlikelihood that a set of laws would address such a marginal people so specifically (as opposed to simply calling them aliens or the like). More likely עִבְרִי is chosen as a term to remind Israel that when they were “Hebrews,” that is, when they were in Egypt, they were slaves. Now that they are free they must not keep their fellow Israelites in economic bondage. See v. 15.

27 tn Heb “your brother, a Hebrew (male) or Hebrew (female).”

28 tn Heb “him.” The singular pronoun occurs throughout the passage.

29 tn The Hebrew text includes “from you.”

30 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with “generously.”

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