The Seventh-Year Celebration
7 This is what you must do whenever there are poor Israelites in one of your cities in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 8 Be generous to these poor people, and freely lend them as much as they need. Never be hard-hearted and tight-fisted with them.[a]
9 When the seventh year—the year when payments on debts are canceled—is near, you might be stingy toward poor Israelites and give them nothing. Be careful not to think these worthless thoughts. The poor will complain to the Lord about you, and you will be condemned for your sin. 10 Be sure to give to them without any hesitation. When you do this, the Lord your God will bless you in everything you work for and set out to do. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. That’s why I command you to be generous to other Israelites who are poor and needy.
12 Whenever Hebrew men or women are sold to you as slaves, they will be your slaves for six years. In the seventh year you must let them go free. 13 But when you let them go, don’t send them away empty-handed. 14 Generously give them provisions—sheep from your flocks, grain from your threshing floor,[b] and wine from your winepress. Be as generous to them as the Lord your God has been to you. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God freed you. That’s why I’m giving you this command today.
16 But suppose a male slave says to you, “I don’t want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is happy with you. 17 Then take an awl and pierce it through his ear lobe into a door, and he will be your slave for life. Do the same to a female slave ⌞if she doesn’t want to leave⌟.
18 If you have to let your slave go free, it won’t be a hardship for you. It would have cost you twice as much to hire someone to do the same work for those six years. Besides, the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
Setting Aside Firstborn Males for God
19 You must dedicate every firstborn male from your herds and flocks to the Lord your God. Never use a firstborn ox for work, and never shear a firstborn sheep. 20 Every year you and your family must eat these animals in the presence of the Lord your God in the place the Lord will choose. 21 But if an animal is lame or blind or has any other serious defect—never sacrifice it to the Lord your God. 22 Eat it in your city. Clean and unclean [c] people may eat them together as if they were eating a gazelle or a deer. 23 But never eat the blood. Pour it on the ground like water.
- 15:8 This sentence has been moved from verse 7 to express the complex Hebrew sentence structure more clearly in English.
- 15:14 A threshing floor is an outdoor area where grain is separated from its husks.
- 15:22 “Clean ” refers to anything that is presentable to God. “Unclean ” refers to anything that is not presentable to God.