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Deuteronomy 15:7-15

Context
The Spirit of Liberality

15:7 If a fellow Israelite 1  from one of your villages 2  in the land that the Lord your God is giving you should be poor, you must not harden your heart or be insensitive 3  to his impoverished condition. 4  15:8 Instead, you must be sure to open your hand to him and generously lend 5  him whatever he needs. 6  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 7  be wrong toward your impoverished fellow Israelite 8  and you do not lend 9  him anything; he will cry out to the Lord against you and you will be regarded as having sinned. 10  15:10 You must by all means lend 11  to him and not be upset by doing it, 12  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 13  your hand to your fellow Israelites 14  who are needy and poor in your land.

Release of Debt Slaves

15:12 If your fellow Hebrew 15  – whether male or female 16  – is sold to you and serves you for six years, then in the seventh year you must let that servant 17  go free. 18  15:13 If you set them free, you must not send them away empty-handed. 15:14 You must supply them generously 19  from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress – as the Lord your God has blessed you, you must give to them. 15:15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore, I am commanding you to do this thing today.

1 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.

2 tn Heb “gates.”

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

4 tn Heb “from your needy brother.”

5 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.

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

7 tn Heb “your eye.”

8 tn Heb “your needy brother.”

9 tn Heb “give” (likewise in v. 10).

10 tn Heb “it will be a sin to you.”

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

12 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.

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

14 tn Heb “your brother.”

15 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.

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

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

18 tn The Hebrew text includes “from you.”

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



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