Deuteronomy 15 The Voice (VOICE)
15 Moses: At the end of every seventh year, cancel all debts. 2 This is how it will work: anyone who has made a loan to someone else will just let the debtor keep whatever he’s borrowed. That is, if the loan was made to a fellow citizen, to another Israelite, the lender won’t demand repayment because it has been announced that the Eternal is canceling all the debts of His servants. 3 If you’ve made a loan to a foreigner, you can still demand repayment, but let your fellow Israelites keep whatever they’ve borrowed from you. 4-5 However, ideally, there shouldn’t be any poor people among you. If you listen attentively to the voice of the Eternal your God and carefully obey all the commands I’m giving you today, then the Eternal will bless you with great prosperity in the land He’s giving you to live in and pass down within your family. 6 Because the Eternal your God will bless you as He promised, you will lend to many nations, but you won’t borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they won’t rule over you.
7 If, in one of the towns in the land the Eternal your God is giving you, a fellow Israelite does become poor, don’t ignore him and limit your generosity just because the debt will be forgiven. 8 Open your hand willingly, and generously lend as much as is needed at the time. 9 Don’t think like this: “It’s almost the seventh year when debts are canceled. If I lend anything to this other person now, I’ll never get it back!” If you think this way, you’ll be hostile toward your neighbors and you won’t give them anything. They’ll cry out to the Eternal against you, and He’ll consider what you’ve done a sin. 10 So give generously to the person in need. Don’t feel badly about this when you’re doing it; because of your generosity, the Eternal your God will bless you in everything you do, in every project you begin. 11 Unfortunately, there will always be poor people throughout the country. That’s why I’m giving you this command: give generously to your fellow Israelite, to the poor and needy in the land.
12 If a fellow Israelite, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you as a slave, only make that person serve you for six years. In the seventh year, set him free from your service. 13 And don’t send him away destitute! 14 Provide generously: give sheep and goats, grain and wine. Give some of what the Eternal your God has blessed you with. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and He liberated you from another master so you could serve Him. That’s why I’m commanding you today to do this. 16-18 Don’t feel you’ve been cheated when you set your slave free. It would have cost you twice as much to hire someone to do the same work over those six years, and He will bless you in everything you do because of your generosity. But perhaps your slave will say to you at the end of the six years, “I don’t want to be set free! I love you and your whole family. It’s really good for me to be here with you.” You can accept a slave like this into lifetime service. Perform a special ceremony to mark his new status. Have the slave stand right next to the door of your house, take an awl, and drive it through the slave’s ear lobe into the door. Then pull it out. This will make marks in the ear lobe and in the door that will symbolize the slave. Either a male or a female slave can enter lifetime service this way with this physical mark.
19 If the firstborn of any animal in your herd or flock is a male, set it apart or consecrate it for the Eternal your God. Don’t put the firstborn of any ox to work, and don’t shear your firstborn sheep. These animals already belong to the Eternal One, so their labor and products belong to Him too. 20 Bring them every year to the place the Eternal will choose, and make them part of the feast you and your household eat in the presence of the Eternal your God. 21 But if the firstborn has some defect such as lameness or blindness—any serious problem—don’t offer it as a sacrifice to Him. 22 Instead eat it as a regular meal in your own city. This is not a sacred meal, so people don’t need to be ritually pure to eat it. It will be like eating a gazelle or a deer. 23 But don’t eat its blood; pour it out on the ground like water.
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