The Special Year of Canceling Debts
1 “At the end of every seven years, you must cancel debts. 2 This is the way you must do this: Everyone who has lent money to another Israelite must cancel the debt. He should not ask a fellow Israelite to repay the debt, because the LORD said to cancel debts during that year. 3 You may require a foreigner to repay you, but you must cancel any debt another Israelite owes you. 4 There should not be any poor people in your country, because the LORD your God is giving you this land. And the LORD will greatly bless you. 5 But this will happen only if you obey the LORD your God. You must be careful to obey every command that I have told you today. 6 Then the LORD your God will bless you, as he promised. And you will have enough money to make loans to many nations. But you will not need to borrow from anyone. You will rule over many nations. But none of these nations will rule over you.
7 “When you are living in the land the LORD your God is giving you, there might be some poor people living among you. You must not be selfish. You must not refuse to give help to them. 8 You must be willing to share with them. You must lend them whatever they need.
9 “Don’t ever refuse to help someone simply because the seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near. Don’t let an evil thought like that enter your mind. You must never have bad thoughts about someone who needs help. You must not refuse to help them. If you don’t help the poor, they might complain to the LORD, and he will judge you guilty of sin.
10 “So be sure to give to the poor. Don’t hesitate to give to them, because the LORD your God will bless you for doing this good thing. He will bless you in all your work and in everything you do. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. That is why I command you to be ready to help your brother or sister. Give to the poor in your land who need help.
Letting Slaves Go Free
12 “You might buy a Hebrew man or woman to serve you as a slave. You may keep that person as a slave for six years. But in the seventh year, you must let that person go free. 13 But when you let your slave go free, don’t send him away with nothing. 14 You must give him some of your animals, grain, and wine. The LORD your God blessed you and gave you plenty of good things. In the same way you must give plenty of good things to your slave. 15 Remember, you were slaves in Egypt. And the LORD your God set you free. So that is why I am giving you this command today.
16 “But one of your slaves might say to you, ‘I will not leave you.’ He might say this because he loves you and your family and because he has a good life with you. 17 Make this servant put his ear against your door and use a sharp tool to make a hole in his ear. This will show that he is your slave forever. You must do this even to the women slaves who want to stay with you.
18 “Don’t regret letting your slave go free. Remember, he served you six years for half of what you would have paid a hired worker.* Remember … hired worker Or “Remember, he served you for six years for the same amount you would have paid a hired worker.” The LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.
Rules About Firstborn Animals
19 “All the first male animals born in your herd and flock are special. You must give them to the LORD. Don’t use any of these animals for your work and don’t cut wool from any of these sheep. 20 Every year you must take these animals to the place the LORD your God will choose. There with the LORD, you and your family will eat these animals.
21 “But if an animal has something wrong with it—if it is crippled or blind or has something else wrong with it—then you must not sacrifice that animal to the LORD your God. 22 But you may eat the meat from that animal at home. Anyone may eat it—people who are clean and people who are unclean. The rules for eating this meat are the same as the rules for eating gazelles and deer. 23 But you must not eat the blood from the animal. You must pour the blood out on the ground like water.
*15:18 Remember … hired worker Or “Remember, he served you for six years for the same amount you would have paid a hired worker.”