- Orders concerning the release of debts every seventh year, verse 1-6.
- Concerning lending, verse 7-11.
- Concerning the release of servants, verse 12-18.
- Concerning the firstlings, verse 19-23.
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.
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.
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.
Open thine hand wide - That is, deal bountifully and liberally with him.
Beware - Suppress the first risings of such uncharitableness. It be sin - That is, it be charged upon thee as a sin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Year by year - Namely, in the solemn feasts which returned upon them every year.