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©Laura Haverkamp

Chapter 15:1-11 (ESV)

Posted on February 29, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 15:1-11 (ESV) - “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the LORD's release has been proclaimed. Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. But there will be no poor among you; for the LORD will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— if only you will strictly obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. For the LORD your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.

“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

Question to consider: Why would people have been hesitant to lend someone money in the sixth year?

Even though today’s passage was put into a new chapter, it was a continuation of Moses’ description of the people’s worship of God through the tithe. The seven-year tithing cycle, called the Shemitah, culminated in a year of rest for the land. God would provide enough in the harvests over the previous six years to be able to accommodate the annual and triennial tithes, care for the Levites and priests, and provide hospitality for the widows, orphans, and sojourners and still comfortably care for the people even though they would not gather a harvest from the soil that year.

Since the land was considered without an owner in the seventh year, God also called a moratorium on debt, allowing the borrower to be released from his obligations if he was a fellow Israelite. If the money was lent to someone from another nation, they could still expect the debt to be repaid. In doing this, God would ensure that the land continued to be held by those to whom it was promised.

Because of this land release in the seventh year, God knew there would be a temptation to be stingy toward people as the year drew closer. After all, if someone lent a large amount of money, they would receive little to none of it back. Thus, God commanded them to give freely and without grudge or be guilty of sin. Those who obeyed this were promised to be blessed in their work.

In addition to the land release, the seventh year was when the storehouses containing the triennial tithe were emptied out and distributed to the poor. You would think that with all of these provisions in place to care for the poor, that they would have eradicated poverty in Israel. However, God assured them that they would always have the poor among them. Each was an opportunity for the blessed to demonstrate hospitality and generosity toward their brothers and sisters in Israel.

Had Israel obeyed the commandments concerning the Shemitah, they would have grown in wealth and power among the nations. However, we know this is not the case since God ultimately sent Israel into exile and let the land receive its sabbatical. Their exile was 70 years which means that Israel had neglected the sabbath year for 490 years. This was stated in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21, “He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”


Dear heavenly Father, please give us a generous spirit which recognizes that all we have has been granted us by You. Help us to see the fruits of our labor as an opportunity to invest in the lives of others and see them grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Thank You for lavishing upon us Your mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ. Amen.