15:12 If your brother . . . is sold. Because this law of servitude is similar to the sabbatical year regulation, it might be thought that the sabbatical year freed all slaves. But that is not stated. Rather, the period of servitude was six years for every Hebrew slave and in the seventh year he went free.
Recalling the nation’s experience of servitude in Egypt (v. 15), Israel was to be merciful to slaves. The slave in ancient Israel had rights (Ex. 21:1–11, 20), and the redemption provisions here are generous—the freed slave must be given something with which to start fresh (v. 13, 14; cf. Ex. 12:35, 36). The law of servitude described does not contradict the provision for freedom in the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:39–43). That provision probably refers to the special case of an impoverished servant whose ancestral property was gone and who therefore had nowhere to go if freed. When the Year of Jubilee came, his home was restored and he went to it.