Deuteronomy 15

Talks for Growing Christians

Canceling of Debts and Release of Slaves

Deuteronomy 15

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Lesson Number 15

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Under the Law, Hebrew debts were remitted in the seventh year.
  2. Under the Law, Hebrew slaves were released in the seventh year.

Practical Application

  1. Don’t give the Lord your defective stuff.


  1. How does Deuteronomy 15 fit into the overall structure of the book?
  2. What was special about every seventh year in the Hebrew calendar?
  3. Debts were to be cancelled in the sabbatical year. Give two points for this law.
  4. When were Hebrew slaves supposed to be released?
  5. What is emphasized in Deuteronomy 15 regarding the release of Hebrew slaves?


  1. It is part of the second sermon of Moses to the Children of Israel on the plains of Moab, before they entered the Land (Deuteronomy 5-26). The bulk of this second sermon consists of a review and exposition of the various laws under the Mosaic Covenant.
  2. Every seventh year in Israel was designated as a sabbatical year. Under the Law certain restrictions applied during the sabbatical year – for the good of the land and for the good of the people.
  3. 1. To aim at eliminating poverty from the land (verse 4), because there will always be poor people (verse 11).
    2. To prove that God would bless them and provide more than they need to help the poor if they would obey Him in this matter of kindness to the poor.
  4. After they had served for six years, they would be released in the seventh year – whatever that year was. In the year of Jubilee, however, all Hebrew slaves were released regardless of how many years they served (Leviticus 25).
  5. Hebrews slaves were not only to be set free, but they should not be sent away empty-handed (verse 13). They were to be given enough to get established in the society of Israel.


  1. Sometimes people are hesitant to give to the poor because of a bad experience with “freeloaders.” What is your attitude? How do you show kindness to the truly poor?
  2. If any servant decided that he would rather not go free because he loved his master who treated him kindly and fairly, then he would have his ear pierced with an awl and he would serve permanently (verse 17). Discuss the beautiful picture we have here of the committed Christian who has been set free and now serves the Lord in love.


  1. Under the Law, the firstborn of the flocks and herds belonged to the Lord, but no defective animals were to be given to the lord. Do you offer the Lord defective stuff? Your spare time? Your leftover talent? Don’t give the Lord your defective stuff.

Key Verses

  • “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother.” Deuteronomy 15:7
  • “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’” Deuteronomy 15:11

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