And you shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your slaves for ever: but over your brothers the children of Israel, you shall not rule one over another with rigor.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children.—That is, they may appropriate them to themselves, as their personal property, which is transmissible as inheritance to posterity with the family land.
They shall be your bondmen for ever.—These are not subject to the laws of jubile. They remain in perpetual serfdom unless they or their friends redeem them, or their master has maimed any one of them. In case of injury the master is obliged to manumit him (Exodus 21:26-27). The authorities during the second Temple enacted that the master’s right, even with regard to this kind of bondmen, is restricted to their labour, but that he has no right to barter with them, to misuse them, or to put them to shame.
Over your brethren . . . ye shall not rule . . . with rigour.—In contrast to these heathen bondmen the Jewish bondmen are here designated “brethren.” They are co-religionists, who have been reduced to temporary servitude, but who are, nevertheless, fellow-heirs with them in the land of their possession. Hence the greatest consideration was to be shown to them in these adverse circumstances. The authorities during the second Temple have therefore enacted that there must be no difference between the daily food, raiment, and dwelling of the master and his Hebrew slave, and that the master and the servant are alike in these respects.And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigor.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Exodus 22:24; Deuteronomy 23:20-21), from fear of God, who had redeemed Israel out of bondage, to give them the land of Canaan. In Leviticus 25:37 וחי is an abbreviation of וחי, which only occurs here. - From Leviticus 25:39 onwards there follow the laws relating to the bondage of the Israelite, who had been obliged to sell himself from poverty. Leviticus 25:36-46 relate to his service in bondage to an (other) Israelite. The man to whom he had sold himself as servant was not to have slave-labour performed by him (Exodus 1:14), but to keep him as a day-labourer and sojourner, and let him serve with him till the year of jubilee. He was then to go out free with his children, and return to his family and the possession of his fathers (his patrimony). This regulation is a supplement to the laws relating to the rights of Israel (Exodus 21:2-6), though without a contradiction arising, as Knobel maintains, between the different rules laid down. In Exodus 21 nothing at all is determined respecting the treatment of an Israelitish servant; it is simply stated that in the seventh year of his service he was to recover his liberty. This limit is not mentioned here, because the chapter before us simply treats of the influence of the year of jubilee upon the bondage of the Israelites. On this point it is decided, that the year of jubilee was to bring freedom even to the Israelite who had been brought into slavery by his poverty, - of course only to the man who was still in slavery when it commenced and had not served seven full years, provided, that is to say, that he had not renounced his claim to be set free at the end of his seven years' service, according to Exodus 21:5-6. We have no right to expect this exception to be expressly mentioned here, because it did not interfere with the idea of the year of jubilee. For whoever voluntarily renounced the claim to be set free, whether because the year of jubilee was still so far off that he did not expect to live to see it, or because he had found a better lot with his master than he could secure for himself in a state of freedom, had thereby made a voluntary renunciation of the liberty which the year of jubilee might have brought to him (see Oehler's art. in Herzog's Cycl., where the different views on this subject are given).
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