New International Reader's Version

Deuteronomy 15

The Year for Forgiving People What They Owe

1At the end of every seven years you must forgive people what they owe you. Have you made a loan to one of your own people? Then forgive what is owed to you. You can’t require that person to pay you back. The Lord’s time to forgive what is owed has been announced. You can require someone from another nation to pay you back. But you must forgive what any of your own people owes you. There shouldn’t be any poor people among you. The Lord will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you. You will take it over as your own. The Lord your God will bless you if you obey him completely. Be careful to follow all the commands I’m giving you today. The Lord your God will bless you, just as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations. But you won’t have to borrow from any of them. You will rule over many nations. But none of them will rule over you.

Suppose someone is poor among you. And suppose they live in one of the towns in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Then don’t be mean to them. They are poor. So don’t hold back money from them. Instead, open your hands and lend them what they need. Do it freely. Be careful not to have an evil thought in your mind. Don’t say to yourself, “The seventh year will soon be here. It’s the year for forgiving people what they owe.” If you think like that, you might treat the needy people among you badly. You might not give them anything. Then they might make their appeal to the Lord against you. And he will find you guilty of sin. 10 So give freely to needy people. Let your heart be tender toward them. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all your work. He will bless you in everything you do. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. So I’m commanding you to give freely to those who are poor and needy in your land. Open your hands to them.

Set Your Hebrew Servants Free

12 Suppose any Hebrew men or women sell themselves to you. If they do, they will serve you for six years. Then in the seventh year you must let them go free. 13 But when you set them free, don’t send them away without anything to show for all their work. 14 Freely give them some animals from your flock. Also give them some of your grain and wine. The Lord your God has blessed you richly. Give to them as he has given to you. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. The Lord your God set you free. That’s why I’m giving you this command today.

16 But suppose your servant says to you, “I don’t want to leave you.” He loves you and your family. And you are taking good care of him. 17 Then take him to the door of your house. Poke a hole through his earlobe into the doorpost. And he will become your servant for life. Do the same with your female servant.

18 Don’t think you are being cheated when you set your servants free. After all, they have served you for six years. The service of each of them has been worth twice as much as the service of a hired worker. And the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.

Male Animals Born First to Their Mothers

19 Set apart every male animal among your livestock that was born first to its mother. Set it apart to the Lord your God. Don’t put a firstborn cow to work. Don’t clip the wool from a firstborn sheep. 20 Each year you and your family must eat them. Do it in front of the Lord your God at the place he will choose. 21 Suppose an animal has something wrong with it. It might not be able to see or walk. Or it might have a bad flaw. Then you must not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. 22 You must eat it in your own towns. Those who are “clean” and those who are “unclean” can eat it. Eat it as if it were antelope or deer meat. 23 But you must not eat meat that still has blood in it. Pour the blood out on the ground like water.