Deuteronomy 15 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Deuteronomy 15)

Verse 1

[1] At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.

At the end — That is, in the last year of the seven, as is, most evident from Deuteronomy 15:9. And this year of release, as it is, called below, Deuteronomy 15:9, is the same with the sabbatical year, Exodus 23:11.

Verse 2

[2] And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD's release.

Every creditor — Here is, a law for poor, insolvent debtors. Every seventh year was a year of release, when among other acts of grace, this was one, that every Israelite, who had borrowed money, and had not been able to pay it before, should this year be released from it. And tho' if he was able, he was bound in conscience to pay it afterwards, yet it could not be recovered by law.

His brother — This is added to limit the word neighbour, which is more general, unto a brother, in nation and religion, an Israelite.

The Lord's release — Or, a release for the Lord, in obedience to his command, for his honour, and as an acknowledgment of his right in your estates, and of his kindness in giving and continuing them to you.

Verse 4

[4] Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:

Save when there shall be no poor — The words may be rendered thus, as in the margin of our Bibles, To the end that there be no poor among you. And so they contain a reason of this law, namely, that none be impoverished and ruined by a rigid exaction of debts.

Verse 8

[8] But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.

Open thine hand wide — That is, deal bountifully and liberally with him.

Verse 9

[9] Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.

Beware — Suppress the first risings of such uncharitableness.

It be sin — That is, it be charged upon thee as a sin.

Verse 10

[10] Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.

Thine heart shall not be grieved — That is, thou shalt give, not only with an open hand, but with a willing and chearful mind, without which thy very charity is uncharitable, and not accepted by God.

Verse 11

[11] For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

The poor shall never cease — God by his providence will so order it, partly for the punishment of your disobedience, and partly for the trial and exercise of your obedience to him and charity to your brother.

Verse 12

[12] And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.

If thy brother be sold — Either by himself, or his parents, or as a criminal.

Six years — To be computed from the beginning of his servitude, which is every where limited to the space of six years.

Verse 15

[15] And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.

The Lord redeemed thee — And brought thee out with riches, which because they would not, God gave thee as a just recompense for thy service; and therefore thou shalt follow his example, and send out thy servant furnished with all convenient provisions.

Verse 17

[17] Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise.

For ever — All the time of his life, or, at least, 'till the year of jubilee.

Likewise — That is, either dismiss her with plenty, or engage her to perpetual servitude, in the same manner and by the same rites.

Verse 19

[19] All the firstling males that come of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep.

All the firstling males thou shalt sanctify — Giving them to God on the eighth day. And thou shalt do no work with the female firstlings of the cow, nor shear those of the sheep. Even these must be offered to God as peace-offerings, or used in a religious feast.

Verse 20

[20] Thou shalt eat it before the LORD thy God year by year in the place which the LORD shall choose, thou and thy household.

Year by year — Namely, in the solemn feasts which returned upon them every year.