|Section 2: Practical Wisdom, Article 13
Truly Helping the Poor
“Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him,
and shalt surely lend him
sufficient for his need,
in that which he wanteth.”
|ehuveh recognized the varied social and practical abilities of men that has resulted in the “haves” and the “have nots.” But under His merciful watchcare there were provisions specifically designed to assist both rich and poor. Unlike current employment patterns which generally enrich business owners at the|
|expense of employees, Yehuveh established a plan that both provided the very help most needed by the poor, while at the same time proving to be both a blessing and a benefit to the wealthy. His “program” involved so much more than loaning or giving money that it would totally disqualify as “financial aide to the poor.” Scripture says very much regarding treatment of the poor, yet there is sufficient information in Deuteronomy 15 alone to capture a picture of the tender, compassionate, and balanced nature of Yehuveh's way.
In Israel, provision was made for limited employment. Wealthy families could hire poorer individuals or families as servants (Deuteronomy 12:12), herdsmen (Genesis 13:7-8), plowmen and vinedressers (Isaiah 61:5), reepers (Ruth 2:3), and almost any other position to which delegation was suitable. However, there were specific regulations on the terms of this employment, limitations which are very, very different from the way people are hired and retained in our current culture.
From Deuteronomy 15 and Exodus 21 we have the concept of periodic release of debts and of “servants” (“employees”). The first matter was relative to collections and provided relief for both the lender and borrower. If the borrower was in such straights as to not be able to repay within six years, the matter was written off and life went on. This was merciful to both lender and borrower.
The matter of releasing servants was also merciful. Poor people could “hire” with a wealthy family when needing income, and their services were compensated in part by the payment of those debts which they had been unable to meet. At the end of six years of service, they were to be released again. This was not a matter of arbitrarily firing people and turning them out on the streets to seek other employment. Rather, during their time of service, the individuals were to be trained for self-employment and then released with sufficient financial assistance (“start-up capital,” if you please) to establish their own business and to succeed and prosper therein. This release of debts was to be done on a regular, predictable seven-year cycle termed the Sabbatical Years. Release of service personnel was to follow six years from the time when they began, quite independent of the Sabbatical cycles.
“At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the
release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact
it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called Yehuveh’s release. Of a foreigner thou
mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release.”
“And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve
thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou
sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: Thou shalt furnish
Originally Written: 26 August 2005
Latest Update: 3 February 2010
Complete Study Guide to Article 13
Holly’s Letter Promises for All Who Aid the Poor Holly’s Answered Prayer
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