Deuteronomy 15

The year to forget about debts

1 At the end of every seven years you must forget about every debt.

2 This is how you must do it. Every person who has lent money must forget about this amount of money. He must not demand his money from any Israelite, because another Israelite is like his brother. The Lord himself says that you must forget about all these debts. 3 You can demand your money from a foreign person. But you must forget about every amount of money that you have lent to another Israelite. 4 If you obey the Lord your God, he will give you plenty of everything in your country. Not one Israelite should be poor 5 if you obey him completely. So, be careful to obey all the rules that I give to you today. 6 For the Lord your God will make you great, as he has promised. You will lend money to the people in many countries, but they will not lend money to you. You will rule many people, but no one will rule you.

7 Perhaps you will meet a poor man among the Israelites, in one of your towns. If you do meet a man like that, do not refuse to help him. Do not refuse to lend him money. 8 Instead, you must be kind to him and lend him whatever he needs.

9 Be careful not to think this bad thought: ‘The seventh year will happen soon. That is the year when I must forget about debts!’ You must not be cruel to that poor Israelite and give him nothing. He might speak against you to the Lord. If he does, the Lord will be angry with you. He will be angry with you because you have sinned against him. 10 Be very happy to give to that Israelite what he needs. If you do that, the Lord your God will cause everything to be well for you. 11 There will always be poor people in the country. Give to other Israelites and to all poor people, whatever they need. This is my command to you.

Slaves must become free people

12 Someone may sell you another Israelite, who is a man or a woman. Let him work for you for 6 years. Then in the seventh year, let him go out free. 13 And when you let him go, you must not send him away with nothing in his hands. 14 Give him gifts of sheep, food and drink. Give good things to him as the Lord has given good things to you. 15 Remember that you too were slaves in Egypt. But the Lord your God bought you. This is why I am giving you this rule today.

16 But perhaps your servant will say to you, ‘I do not want to leave you!’ He may say this because he loves you and your family. He is happy with you. 17 If he says that, you must take a metal stick with a sharp point. Push it through his ear, into the door. This will make him your servant for his whole life. Do the same thing for your female servant.

18 You must not be sorry to make your servant free. Remember, that he has worked well for you for 6 years. He has been worth twice as much as a servant whom you pay. And the Lord your God will help you in everything that you do.

The first animals that are born

19 You must keep separate every male animal that is the first to be born from any animal among your animals. They are for the Lord your God. Do not make these animals do any work. Do not cut off the hair from the sheep that are the first to be born. 20 Each year, you and your family must eat these special animals in front of the Lord your God. You must do this in the special place that he will choose. 21 But you must not give to the Lord any animal that has something wrong with it. It must not have weak legs or bad eyes. 22 You can eat these animals at home. People that are obeying God can eat them. But people that are not yet ready for God can eat them too. You can eat them as you would eat deer. 23 But you must not eat the blood. You must pour it on the ground like water.