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Deuteronomy 15

Deuteronomy 15:12-18

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.

12. Si venditus fuerit tibi frater tuus Hebraeus, vel Hebraea, et servierit tibi sex annis: anno septimo dimittes eum liberum a te.

13. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty:

13. Et quum dimittes eum liberum a te, non dimittes eum vacuum.

14. Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy wine-press: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.

14. Onerando onerabis eum, de pecudibus tuis, et de area tua, et de torculari tuo: in quibus benedixit tibi Jehova Deus tuus, dabis ei.

15. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bond-man in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today.

15. Et recordaberis quod servus fuisti in terra AEgypti, et redemerit te Jehova Deus tuus: idcirco ego praecipio tibi hoc hodie.

16. And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; (because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee;)

16. Quod si dixerit tibi, Non egrediar a te: propterea quod diligat te et domum tuam, et quod bene sit ei tecum:

17. Then thou shalt take an awl, 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.

17. Tunc accipies subulam, et adiges in aurem ejus in porta: eritque tibi servus in saeculum: sic etiam ancillae tuae facies.

18. It shall not seem hard unto thee when thou sendest him away free from thee; for he hath been worth a double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.

18. Non sit durum in oculis tuis quum dimittes eum liberum a te, quia duplo secundum mercedem mercenarii servivit tibi sex annis: et benedicet tibi Jehova in omnibus quae facies.


13. And when thou sendest him out free from thee. Here not only is the enfranchisement of slaves enjoined, but an exhortation to liberality is also added, viz., that they should not send away their slaves without their hire; for this is not a civil enactment for the purpose of extorting from the avaricious more than they were willing to give. The rule of Paul here applies:

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7.)

But, since the Hebrew slaves were brethren, God would not allow them to be placed in a worse condition than hirelings. That He commands them to be furnished out of the wine-press, and floor, and flock, does not mean that they were to be enriched, or that a large provision should be assigned to them, but He justly lays a constraint on the rich, whose varied abundance supplied them with the means of liberality; as if He would show them from whence they received their gratuitous gifts, which were at the same time a just compensation for the labors of their slaves.

18. It shall not seem hard unto thee. I have lately observed how difficult and inconvenient to the Jews was the observance of this law; wherefore it is not without reason that God reproves their mean and niggardly pride, if they enfranchised their slaves grudgingly. And, indeed, He first urges them to obey on the score of justice, and then from the hope of remuneration. For He reminds them that for six years the slave had earned double the wages of a hireling, either because his life was more laborious, inasmuch as heavier tasks are required from slaves than from free-men, who are paid for their work; or because he had completed twice as long a period as hirelings were wont to be engaged for. For the Jewish (commentators) 149149     “The Chaldee, Vatablus, and other more recent commentators translate it, Since he has served thee for six years for double the wages of a hireling; which the Hebrews thus explain, that the wages of a slave of six years’ standing are called double, because hirelings amongst the Hebrew’s only engaged themselves for three years, whereas the slave served for sir years; therefore he served twice as long, and earned twice as much.” — Corn. a Lapide in loco. infer from this passage, that three years was the term prescribed for hired servants; and thus they suppose the six years were counted. But since this is a mere conjecture, I know not whether my opinion is not more suitable, that for six years their labors had been twice as profitable as would have been those of a free-man who is not under the compulsion of a slave.

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