The Special Seventh Year
1At the end of every seven years, you must tell those who owe you anything that they do not have to pay you back. 2This is how you must do it: Everyone who has loaned money must cancel the loan and not make a neighbor or relative pay it back. This is the Lord’s time for canceling what people owe. 3You may make a foreigner pay what is owed to you, but you must not collect what another Israelite owes you. 4But there should be no poor people among you, because the Lord your God will richly bless you in the land he is giving you as your own. 5He will bless you if you obey the Lord your God completely, but you must be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. 6The Lord your God will bless you as he promised, and you will lend to other nations, but you will not need to borrow from them. You will rule over many nations, but none will rule over you.
7If there are poor among you, in one of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be selfish or greedy toward them. 8But give freely to them, and freely lend them whatever they need. 9Beware of evil thoughts. Don’t think, “The seventh year is near, the year to cancel what people owe.” You might be mean to the needy and not give them anything. Then they will complain to the Lord about you, and he will find you guilty of sin. 10Give freely to the poor person, and do not wish that you didn’t have to give. The Lord your God will bless your work and everything you touch. 11There will always be poor people in the land, so I command you to give freely to your neighbors and to the poor and needy in your land.
Letting Slaves Go Free
12If one of your own people sells himself to you as a slave, whether it is a Hebrew man or woman, that person will serve you for six years. But in the seventh year you must let the slave go free. 13When you let slaves go, don’t send them away without anything. 14Give them some of your flock, your grain, and your wine, giving to them as the Lord has given to you. 15Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and the Lord your God saved you. That is why I am commanding this to you today.
16But if your slave says to you, “I don’t want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and has a good life with you, 17stick an awl through his ear into the door; he will be your slave for life. Also do this to a female slave.
18Do not think of it as a hard thing when you let your slaves go free. After all, they served you six years and did twice the work of a hired person. The Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
Rules About Firstborn Animals
19Save all the first male animals born to your herds and flocks. They are for the Lord your God. Do not work the first calf born to your oxen, and do not cut off the wool from the first lamb born to your sheep. 20Each year you and your family are to eat these animals in the presence of the Lord your God, in the place he will choose to be worshiped. 21If an animal is crippled or blind or has something else wrong, do not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. 22But you may eat that animal in your own town. Both clean and unclean people may eat it, as they would eat a gazelle or a deer. 23But don’t eat its blood; pour it out on the ground like water.