15 1At the end of every seventh year, cancel all debts. 2This is the procedure: Everyone who has lent money to a neighbor writes it off. You must not press your neighbor or his brother for payment: All–Debts–Are–Canceled—God says so. 3You may collect payment from foreigners, but whatever you have lent to your fellow Israelite you must write off. 4There must be no poor people among you because God is going to bless you lavishly in this land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance, your very own land. 5But only if you listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, diligently observing every commandment that I command you today. 6Oh yes—God, your God, will bless you just as he promised. You will lend to many nations but won’t borrow from any; you’ll rule over many nations but none will rule over you. 7When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. 8No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. 9Don’t count the cost. Don’t listen to that selfish voice saying, “It’s almost the seventh year, the year of All–Debts–Are–Canceled,” and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He’ll call God’s attention to you and your blatant sin. 10Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. 11There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors. 12If a Hebrew man or Hebrew woman was sold to you and has served you for six years, in the seventh year you must set him or her free, released into a free life. 13And when you set them free don’t send them off empty–handed. 14Provide them with some animals, plenty of bread and wine and oil. Load them with provisions from all the blessings with which God, your God, has blessed you. 15Don’t for a minute forget that you were once slaves in Egypt and God, your God, redeemed you from that slave world. For that reason, this day I command you to do this. 16But if your slave, because he loves you and your family and has a good life with you, says, “I don’t want to leave you,” 17then take an awl and pierce through his earlobe into the doorpost, marking him as your slave forever. Do the same with your women slaves who want to stay with you. 18Don’t consider this an unreasonable hardship, this setting your slave free. After all, he’s worked six years for you at half the cost of a hired hand. Believe me, God, your God, will bless you in everything you do. 19Consecrate to God, your God, all the firstborn males in your herds and flocks. Don’t use the firstborn from your herds as work animals; don’t shear the firstborn from your flocks. 20These are for you to eat every year, you and your family, in the Presence of God, your God, at the place that God designates for worship. 21If the animal is defective, lame, say, or blind—anything wrong with it—don’t slaughter it as a sacrifice to God, your God. 22Stay at home and eat it there. Both the ritually clean and unclean may eat it, the same as with a gazelle or a deer. 23Only you must not eat its blood. Pour the blood out on the ground like water.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About