Regulations Concering Debt Cancellation

A man was once boasting to an acquaintance, “We have a whole roomful of furniture from France that goes back to Louis the 14th.” “That’s nothing,” replied the other. “We’ve got a whole house full of furniture that goes back to Sears on the 12th.&q … More


In this chapter Moses states that during this seventh year the Israelites were not to be pressed to pay their debts. This does not mean that the debts would be eliminated completely but simply that the time of payment was extended for one year. The Israelites were allowed to press foreigners during this time for payment of loans; but were not allowed to press their brethren (v. 3). Moses gives the regulations concerning the sabbatical year or the year of debt release.  The law of “debtcancellation” is stated in verse 1 and explained in verses 1-11. To cancel the loan could mean the loan was to be eliminated or it could mean it was to be cancelled only during the seventh year. Regardless, the payment could not be demanded in the seventh year, but after the seventh year the loan would still have to be repaid. The borrower would receive an extra year for paying back the loan and the person making the loan would lose interest for one year. The law of debt cancellation was intended to instill a spirit of generosity within the Israelites and thus the freedom from the love of money and things.

God told the Israelites to help the poor among them when they arrived in the Promised Land (vv. 7-11). Since there will always be poor people, Israel was commanded to open its heart and hand to them. Therefore, an Israelite was guilty of sin if he refused, out of fear, to loan to a poor brother (v. 7) or a needy brother (v. 11), immediately before the year of debtrelease. Being hardened or tight fisted meant he was not trusting the Lord to bless. Moses summarized the attitude the Israelites should have toward those in need by telling them to be “open handed” (vv. 8,11).


I want to be especially careful to never create indebtedness on things that depreciate. I do not want to overspend on things that I do not really need. Also, I need to be more conscious of the poor and needy and look for ways I can help them with what you bless me with.

Deuteronomy 15:1-11 (English Standard Version)

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